Politics, Europe

Scholz to take up German chancellorship as Merkel bids farewell

New chancellor to face several challenges, among them fighting coronavirus pandemic and climate change

Oliver Towfigh Nia   | 07.12.2021
Scholz to take up German chancellorship as Merkel bids farewell

BERLIN

Olaf Scholz is due to become the next German chancellor on Wednesday when the country’s parliament votes for his center-left coalition government, ending 16 years of Angela Merkel’s rule.

The soft-spoken Scholz, who served as vice chancellor and finance minister for the last three-and-a-half years, will become the 10th chancellor of Germany after the Second World War.

The incoming chancellor will head the three-party coalition of Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), also known as the "traffic light coalition" because of its parties’ colors: red, yellow and green.

While Scholz has said the new government will be one of continuity, the incoming chancellor will also face several challenges, among them fighting the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.

Scholz is only the fourth Social Democratic chancellor in Germany’s post-World War II era after Gerhard Schroeder (1998-2005), Helmut Schmidt (1974-1982) and Willy Brandt (1969-1974).

Born in the northwestern German city of Osnabrueck in 1958, Scholz grew up in the port city of Hamburg where he became interested in politics at the early age of 17.

Scholz served as vice president of the Jusos, the leftist youth organization of the Social Democrats, from 1982-1988.

He continued his university education and graduated from Hamburg Law School and started practicing law in 1985.

The experienced politician, with a specialization in labor law, was elected as a Social Democratic member of the German parliament (Bundestag) in 1998.

Having held various senior positions within the party over the past 20 years, Scholz assumed the post of general secretary of the SPD in 2002-2004, in addition to being vice chairman from 2009-2019 and interim chairman for two months in 2018.

Scholz, who was elected prime minister of the city state of Hamburg in 2011, withdrew from politics at the federal level, but kept his ties with Berlin by continuing his position as SPD deputy chairman.

He became a candidate for the SPD co-chairmanship with Klara Geywitz in 2019, but lost the battle to Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans.

Scholz, who was named "the most popular Social Democratic politician in the country" in the polls, was nominated for the chancellorship by the SPD in 2020.

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