Two and a half months after the German election, Social Democrat Olaf Scholz will become chancellor on Wednesday, bringing the center-left back to power and finally closing the 16 years of the Angela Merkel era.
As a 63-year-old, Olaf Scholz, who was finance minister in the Merkel government, led his party, the SPD, to victory in the September parliamentary elections. In a secret ballot, he was supported by an absolute majority of 395 of the 736 members of the Bundestag. There was no doubt about his election as the ninth chancellor of post-war Germany: his Social Democratic Party (SPD) had a comfortable majority (206 seats), with its two new coalition partners, the Greens (118 seats) and the liberal FDP (92). He needed 369 votes to get elected.
Once the new head of government is elected, he will head to the Bellevue Palace, on the other side of Berlin’s Tiergarten park, where he will be received by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The Chancellor and his ministers will receive his “Act of Appointment”, an administrative document marking the official start of his term of office. Once this ceremony around the President is over, the Chancellor and his ministers will return to the Bundestag to take the oath.
Swiss President Guy Parmelin warmly congratulated the new Chancellor. He also thanked Angela Merkel. Switzerland and Germany are bound by an exemplary good neighborly relationship, the federal councilor wrote on Twitter. “Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her team have made a crucial contribution to this.”
Switzerland and Germany connect an exemplary gutnachbarliches Verhältnis. Retiring Chancellor Angela Merkel and her team have made a decisive contribution to this – thank you very much! And I congratulate Chancellor @OlafScholz and his government wholeheartedly to the election!
– Guy Parmelin (@ParmelinG) December 8, 2021
French President Emmanuel Macron, who receives Olaf Scholz on Friday, has promised to write “the rest together”, while the President of the European Commission, German Ursula von der Leyen, intends to work with him “for a strong Europe”. . The Kremlin, for its part, wanted a “constructive relationship” with the new chancellor at a time when tensions between the EU and Moscow are high.
A common government
A convinced feminist, Olaf Scholz wants to take over the reins of a government that, for the first time, consists of as many men as women. Three of them will head central ministries: Foreign Affairs for ecologist Annalena Baerbock, Defense and Home Affairs for the two Social Democrats Christine Lambrecht and Nancy Faeser.
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The government will also be unprecedented in its political composition. For the first time since the 1950s, it will bring together three parties: the SPD, the Greens and the Liberal Democratic Party (FDP). Despite electoral programs, sometimes in conflict, these three parties quickly managed to agree on a program that honors climate protection, budgetary rigor and Europe.
Christian Lindner, the leader of the Liberals and a role model for budgetary austerity, will also take over as head of the powerful Ministry of Finance.
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The end of the Merkel era
The result of the parliamentary vote marks Angela Merkel’s resignation after four terms in office, which within nine days would not have allowed her to break the life record held by Helmut Kohl (1982-1998). The leader, who has received a tinge of homage in recent weeks, is definitely leaving the chancellery after a handover ceremony with Olaf Scholz, her political opponent, but also, played by alliances committing, her finance minister and vice chancellor in these last 4 years.
Angela Merkel, at the peak of her popularity not so long ago, is ending a 31-year political career, 16 of which spearhead Europe’s leading economy.
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