BERLIN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) will support a decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives to back Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann to become the head of the European Central Bank, the newspaper Die Zeit reported on Wednesday.
SPD support would improve Weidmann's chances of succeeding ECB President Mario Draghi, despite some skepticism in southern Europe about his hawkish monetary policy stance.
Euro zone finance ministers on Monday chose a southern European, Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, as ECB vice president. That was seen as clearing the way for a German to take over the top job in 2019, when Draghi's mandate ends .
Die Zeit cited German government sources as saying that Merkel got the Social Democrats' go-ahead for a Weidmann candidacy during coalition talks earlier this month. A spokesman for the SPD was not immediately available to comment.
Picking the Bundesbank chief for the ECB presidency may be tricky, though. Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said on Wednesday that it should not be taken for granted that Weidmann would be the next ECB president.
Although Weidmann is considered a top-notch central banker, he has alienated some officials with his opposition to the ECB's ultra-easy monetary policy, which is credited with reviving economic growth. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber, editing by Madeline Chambers, Larry King)