The German parliament will formally elect Olaf Scholz as the country’s next prime minister on Wednesday, bringing the curtain to Angela Merkel’s 16-year rule and ushering in a center-left wing A new political era in power.
Schultz led his Social Democrats to defeat Merkel’s conservative CDU-CDU group in the landmark elections in September, because the senior prime minister was about to leave politics after four consecutive terms.
Together with the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats, Schultz’s Social Democratic Party formed a coalition in a much shorter time than expected, hoping to make Germany greener and fairer.
“I hope the 1920s will be a new beginning period,” Scholz told TIME. He declared that he would promote “the largest industrial modernization that can prevent human-induced climate change.”
The center-left regaining power in Europe’s largest economy may change the balance of this continent still affected by Brexit, and another major player, France, will participate in the presidential election in 2022.
But even before taking office, Schultz’s “traffic light” alliance-named after the colors of the three parties-had been baptized by fire in the form of a fierce fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
-‘No red line’-
As intensive care beds in some areas have been used up, the number of infections has risen sharply, and there is no sign of abating, Schultz and his new team were under pressure before they were sworn in by parliament-including Merkel- Agree to the new restrictions.
After Austria has set an example, as Germany strives to increase the number of stagnant vaccinations, all parties are also under pressure to change the promise of non-mandatory vaccination made early in the pandemic.
Schultz later publicly expressed his support for mandatory vaccination, saying he hoped that members of Congress would vote on this issue before the end of the year, with a view to implementing it in February.
“For my government, there is no red line for what must be done. We do not rule out any possibility,” he told Time Weekly.
“We cannot do this during periods of huge natural disasters or health disasters such as pandemics.”
The 63-year-old Scholz is referred to by the left-leaning daily TAZ as a “cautious man” and is often described as serious or mechanical.
But he is also known for his meticulous work.
Schultz is an experienced government official who served as Minister of Labor in Merkel’s first coalition from 2007 to 2009, and then took over as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in 2015.
However, his three-party coalition is the first such combination at the federal level because the Liberal Democratic Party is not a natural partner of the Social Democratic Party or the Green Party.
Considering FDP’s business-friendly tendencies, SPD’s social instincts, and the Green Party’s requirements for sustainability, combining the three requires a delicate balance.
According to their alliance agreement, the parties have agreed to ensure that Germany is on the road to carbon neutrality, including through huge investments in sustainable energy.
They also plan to restore the constitutional no new debt rule by 2023-suspended during the pandemic.
The incoming Green Party foreign minister Annalena Belbok also vowed to put human rights at the core of German diplomacy.
After Merkel’s business-oriented pragmatism for 16 years in power, she stated in a recent interview that she has taken a more confident stance against authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia.
Critics accuse Merkel of putting the country’s export-dependent economy at the top of international transactions.
Despite this, she is still so popular in Germany, and if she seeks a term, she may win a fifth term.
This veteran politician is also widely praised abroad for his steady hand in guiding Germany through countless crises.
As time goes by, her term as prime minister is coming to an end. Merkel made it clear in the final episode of more than 600 podcasts a week that overcoming the pandemic is still the pressure in her heart.
She once again pushed Germans to vaccinate and thanked those who abide by the restrictions. She said: “You have demonstrated such a wonderful civic responsibility of our country. Without it, no prime minister or government can achieve anything.”
hmn / tgb