Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, has been elected as German Chancellor into the Bundestag earlier, signalling Angela Merkel’s 16-year reign in power is at its end.
Olaf’s appointment was confirmed by the Bundestag by 395 votes to 303 before then being formally appointed as the 9th federal German chancellor by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Scholz, part of the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) and is considered to be centre-left on the political spectrum, will be the leader of a coalition formed in conjunction with two other political parties, being the Greens and FDP (Free Democratic Party). Obviously, the Green Party’s main agenda involves environmental protection and the wellbeing of the climate. The FDP is considered to have a pro-business approach to economics and politics, and are positioned centre-right of the spectrum, with their policies premised on ideas of classical liberalism.
The three parties in the coalition are pro-Europeanism, reinforcing Germany’s strong ties with the European Union.
Scholz and the coalition may have to put many of their policies on the back burner for the meantime as the highly transmissible Omicron variant has caused coronavirus cases to surge in Germany and continental Europe. Further, Germany’s vaccination rollout has come to almost a standstill, meaning the coalition’s top priority is sure to be to tackle the pandemic.
Their manifesto plan was seen as attractive to the German electorate as they pledged to increase investment across the country. The coalition also pledges to take a firm approach to resolve climate change by phasing out the use of coal and making the switch to renewable and sustainable energy sources.
Further, they say they will respond to Russia’s proposed invasion of Ukraine as well as stand up to Moscow and Beijing despite the impact it will have on Germany’s business, trade and economy.
Scholz helped the Social Democrats win the election back in late September, and now the coalition commands the Bundestag with a huge majority.
Scholz will succeed Angela Merkel, who has held the position of German Chancellor for 16 years. She received a standing ovation in the Bundestag marking her last appearance as leader and her 31-year political career.
Merkel will be remembered as having an open-door policy approach to the European migration crisis in 2015, indicating her pro-immigration views. Further, she will leave a long-lasting impact on the country as she increased living standards and employment rates, boosting Germany’s economy and business trade significantly. Her rhetoric influenced other European and non-European nations to adopt the same policy and agenda.
She also gained praise from the Bundestag and its electorate on her handling of the 2008 financial crisis and the 2011 sovereign debt crisis, is widely regarded as the one who saved the Euro from collapsing.
Scholz will officially take over as German Chancellor at 14:00 UK time (15:00 Germany local time). His cabinet will feature as many women as men, making it the most gender-diverse cabinet seen in German political history.