Angela Merkel replaced by Olaf Scholz as Germany’s new chancellor, after 16 years leading Europe’s powerhouse
Europe | Germany
FACT BOX: After 16 years and 16 days Angela Merkel missed out on becoming the longest serving post WW2 leader of Germany by only 10 days.
Olaf Scholz has been sworn in as Germany’s new Chancellor today, bringing to an end Angela Merkel’s colossal 16 year, 4 terms reign at the helm of Europe’s largest economy.
Scholz, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), won the secret vote in the Parliament as expected, a culmination of months of negotiations following the SPD’s narrow victory in September’s federal elections.
Following the ceremonial protocols, Scholz went to see German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier who officially appointed him as the country’s new Chancellor. He was then sworn in at the Parliament.
At 63, the life long member of the SPD, Scholz, served as the Labor and Social Affairs minister in Merkel’s first coalition government in the late 2000s. In 2011 he was elected mayor of Hamburg, a position that he held with high levels of support until 2018.
Since then, he has served as the vice-chancellor and finance minister in Merkel’s grand coalition government, a powerful position in German national politics.
Scholz’s political style is not dissimilar to that of Merkel, the two are alike in many ways, despite hailing from rival parties.
Scholz, who has formed a three-party coalition with the Greens and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), has positioned himself as a pragmatist and a safe pair of hands. He is seen as a moderate and centrist, which has made him somewhat of an outlier within his party.
Merkel leaves office as the most popular politician in the country, with 69% approval, one of the highest long-term approval ratings of any world leader in history.
The rest of Scholz’s cabinet is expected to be appointed on Wednesday. The three coalition parties have agreed on how to divide the top ministerial posts among themselves, with SPD getting the interior, defense and health ministries.
The Greens will be taking over the foreign ministry, the environment ministry and the newly created ministry of the economy and climate, while the FDP will be in charge of the finance ministry, the justice department and the education ministry.
Annalena Baerbock, who was the Green Party’s candidate for Chancellor, is expected to become the foreign secretary. Christian Lindner, the leader of the FDP, is set to become the finance minister.
The incoming government’s vision for Germany includes plans to legalize cannabis and ease naturalization and dual citizenship rules. It also aims to phase-out coal by 2030 and have at least 15 million electric cars on the road by the same year. Mandatory Covid-19 vaccines will likely also be considered, amid soaring cases in the country.
Merkel, who watched the parliamentary proceedings from the visitors’ gallery alongside former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, received applause from lawmakers when name-checked by the parliamentary president Baerbel Bas.
Having led Germany for 16 years and 16 days, Merkel has narrowly missed on becoming the longest serving post-war Chancellor, trailing Helmut Kohl by mere 10 days.
© 2021 Al-Sahawat Times, Printed and Distributed by IPMG, an Al-Said Group entity.
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