German politics International

Olaf Scholz to take charge of Germany as Merkel era ends

Olaf Scholz speaking at the Social Democratic Party (SPD) party headquarters in Berlin on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Germany’s Parliament will officially elect Olaf Scholz on Wednesday as the country’s next Chancellor, bringing the curtain down on Angela Merkel’s 16-year reign and ushering in a new political era with the centre-left in charge.

Mr. Scholz led his Social Democrats to victory against Ms. Merkel’s conservative CDU-CSU bloc in an epochal election in September, as the veteran chancellor prepared to leave politics after four consecutive terms in office.

Together with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats, Mr. Scholz’s SPD managed in a far shorter time than expected to forge a coalition that aspires to make Germany greener and fairer.

“I want the 20s to be a time of new beginnings,” Mr. Scholz told Die Zeit weekly, declaring an ambition to push forward “the biggest industrial modernisation which will be capable of stopping climate change caused by mankind”.

Putting equality rhetoric into practice, he unveiled the country’s first gender-balanced Cabinet on Monday, with women in key security portfolios. “That corresponds to the society we live in — half of the power belongs to women,” said Mr. Scholz, who describes himself as a “feminist”.

The centre-left’s return to power in Europe’s biggest economy could shift the balance on a continent still reeling from Brexit and with the other major player, France, heading into presidential elections in 2022.

Mr. Scholz has spoken out in favour of mandatory vaccination, saying he wanted MPs to vote on the issue before year’s end with a view of implementing it in February.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 6:15:16 PM |

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