حفلة 2024

Olaf Scholz becomes Germany’s new leader, ending Merkel 16-year historic era

Olaf Scholz has been sworn in on Wednesday as Germany’s new chancellor, marking an end to Angela Merkel’s 16-year historic leadership. This will be the first time in 16 years, Germany will now have a centre-left government led by a new chancellor.

The country’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier gave Olaf Scholz his official certificate of office, to herald a new chapter for Europe’s largest democracy. Merkel received a standing ovation in Parliament.

Scholz was voted in by the German parliament, the Bundestag, where his three-party coalition has obtained a substantial majority, getting 395 votes to 303, and received a standing ovation.

Angela Merkel, top centre, received a standing ovation in the German Parliament on Wednesday, December 8, 2021. (Photo Credit: Stefanie Loos / Associated Press)

His centre-left Social Democrats is set to govern along with the Greens and the business-friendly Free Democrats under his three-party coalition deal, which was signed on Tuesday.

He takes over from Merkel at 15:00 local time (14:00 GMT), and will lead Germany’s first 16-strong Cabinet to include as many women as men.

The new government has ambitious plans as it lays out key objectives, including raising the minimum wage to €12 /hour ($13.50), phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2030, focusing on renewable energy, and a pledge for the country to go carbon neutral by 2045. However, its initial priority will be tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

Who is Olaf Scholz?

Scholz, a soft-spoken 63-year-old, steered the Social Democrat Party to election victory in late September, positioning himself as the continuity candidate as he played a key role in the Merkel government as vice-chancellor.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, receiving his certificate of appointment from German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on Wednesday, December 8, 2021. (Photo Credit: Emmanuele Contini/Getty Images)

 

For decades, he has served a wide range of posts: member of parliament, mayor of Hamburg, labour minister, and finance minister in coalition governments under Merkel.

Scholz has often been compared to U.S. President Joe Biden as he is a known quantity, who has a deep understanding of the political process and how to get things done,

One of the reasons he and his party won in the federal election is that in Scholz, Germans see a continuation of Merkel’s ruling style: He is a calm, steady hand in a crisis and a pragmatic leader who strives for compromise.

Yet, there are a few major differences between Scholz and Merkel.

“Angela Merkel grew up in the east of Germany in the GDR. She has a different outlook, particularly on foreign policy and on European policy,” Marcel Fratzscher, president of the German Institute for Economic Research, told NPR.

Under a Scholz-led government, Fratzscher believes Germany will be more aligned with the United States on the world stage and aim for a more assertive, unified European Union.

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