Who is Olaf Scholz, the new Chancellor of Germany with an “incredible resemblance” to Angela Merkel


Photo: REUTERS / copyright

He won Germany’s general election and now the man who has been Angela Merkel’s vice chancellor for three years has taken office.

The Bundestag, the German parliament, appointed Olaf Scholz as the new chancellor on Wednesday.

Its formation, the Center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), will govern together with Los Verdes and the Free Democratic Party, in what has been baptized as the “semaphore government”, by the colors of the parties that will form it ( Red for Social Democrats, Green for Greens and Yellow for Liberal Democrats).

The handover of power marks the end of 31-year political career -16 of them as chancellor- of Merkel– who received a long standing ovation in the Bundestag.

Long political career

Scholz, 63, has been on the front lines of German politics for years, so it will hardly come as a surprise to voters.

It is seen as a guarantee of stability and moderation, and in the September elections he managed to lead the German left to a victory that had been resisting it for years.

Chancellor Scholz is not known for his charisma or inspiring speeches. In fact, in her style, her attitude and even her policies she bears an incredible resemblance to Angela Merkel, ”underlines the BBC’s correspondent in Germany, Jenny Hill.

Olaf Scholz at his swearing-in as the new Chancellor.

EPA
Olaf Scholz at his swearing-in as the new Chancellor.

Married to his SPD partner Britta Ernst, he grew up in Hamburg and entered politics as a leader of the Young Socialists, having studied labor law.

He was mayor of Hamburg from 2011 to 2018 and first elected to the Bundestag in 1998.

Since 2018 it has been Vice Chancellor and Minister of Finance in Merkel’s coalition government.

His pragmatic handling of the COVID-19 crisis earned him much praise and high approval ratings.

Pandemic management

As Minister of Finance, Olaf Scholz oversaw the emergency financing package of 750,000 million euros (US $884,000 million) produced by the federal government to help German companies and workers survive the pandemic.

“We are putting all our weapons on the table to show that we are strong enough to overcome any economic challenges this issue may pose,” Scholz said.

He presided over cabinet meetings when Chancellor Merkel had to isolate herself as a precautionary measure.

Despite all the troubles from the pandemic, Scholz had a platform to manage a colossal amount of state benefits and fight for social cohesion, true to his left-wing roots.

Before his candidacy for the post of chancellor was announced, when asked if he would run, he said: “we have to work, not let ourselves be carried away by vanities.”

Angela Merkel receives a bouquet of flowers from Olaf Scholz.

EPA
Olaf Scholz was part of the government led by Angela Merkel for almost three years.

With France, Scholz was also the architect of the recovery fund the European Union.

However, his detractors question his record as finance minister and accused him of failing in two big financial scandals: Wirecard and cum-ex business fraud.

The collapse of the payments company Wirecard was the biggest fraud scandal in Germany and a report this year said that Scholz was responsible for the failure of the German regulator.

He also got caught up in a cum-ex stock dividend scam because he was mayor of Hamburg when millions of euros were lost.

However, neither issue hurt him too much in the elections. Commentators suggested that the scandals were too complex for voters to care.

Frustrations on the left

Within the ranks of the SPD, Olaf Scholz is seen as conservative. The party is co-led by Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans, who are further left.

Olaf Scholz.

EPA

In fact, he promised voters continuity after 16 years of the conservative Merkel’s rule.

The SPD was a junior partner in Merkel’s Christian Democratic Coalition (CDU) for much of the past eight years, and many party members complained that the policies agreed to by the “grand coalition” were too conservative.

Now, Scholz will have to come to terms with his two coalition partners, led by younger politicians and whose forces together garnered more votes than the SPD, so the new chancellor will have to make concessions to his fellow travelers and it will take an effort. deal maker.


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