The new chancellor will lead an unprecedented coalition of three parties, the SPD, greens and liberals
Deputy Foreign Minister and Minister of Finance of the government, the moderate and austere Social Democrat Olaf Scholz is preparing to take over from Angela Merkel in Germany, to lead an unprecedented three-party coalition thanks to his experience as a minister and a campaign without missteps.
At age 63, Scholz revealed on Wednesday the final coalition agreement negotiated for two months with environmentalists and liberals. The way is thus opened to his election, in the week of December 6, as chancellor of the first European economy, after an unexpected comeback of an SPD party that was left for dead until recently, and which narrowly won the legislative elections. of September.
Without making much noise and taking inspiration from the sober Merkel style, this lover of long walks has managed to prevail despite being little known by the Germans themselves.
In fact, there is no biography of the future chancellor, despite having been minister or former mayor of Hamburg, the second largest city in the country, several times.
Described by Spiegel as “the embodiment of boredom” in politics, Scholz has been through all levels of public action since the 1970s.
Born in Osnabruck on June 14, 1958, Olaf Scholz joined the SPD at age 17. He had long hair at the time and flirted with the more left-wing ideas of the party.
He became a lawyer specializing in labor law and in 1998 he was elected deputy, and then secretary general of the SPD (2002-2004). In that position, Scholz had to explain every day to the cameras the details of the unpopular liberal reforms of then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
The object of ridicule for his austere demeanor and his automaton-toned speeches that earned him the nickname “Scholzomat,” the now-future Chancellor admitted that “it was not a totally false description.” But he added: “I was always asked the same questions, and I gave the same answers.”
In 2004, labor market liberalization would divide the left, precipitating Schroder’s defeat to Angela Merkel in 2005.
In 2007 he was appointed Minister of Labor in a large government coalition, and in 2011 he would become Mayor of Hamburg. There, Scholz carried out an ambitious policy on housing and early childhood protection, even at the cost of exhausting the city’s budget.
Olaf Scholz, in another Merkel coalition government, succeeds in 2018 in the prestigious finance ministry the very orthodox Christian Democrat Wolfgang Schäuble, whose inflexible financial management continues.
Instead, Scholz broke with the often blunt and moralizing tone of his predecessor, especially in the face of southern European countries considered lax.
This 63-year-old centrist-leaning social democrat seems to have convinced a large part of the electorate by offering an image of competition.
In 2019, Scholz had proposed to lead the SPD, but the militants chose two near-strangers clearly further to the left.
However, Scholz managed to regain ground with the pandemic, when he did not hesitate to break with budget orthodoxy. The SPD then appointed him as a candidate for the legislative elections of September 2021.
After a decade of accumulating surpluses, Germany has contracted billions of euros in new debt since 2020, to the detriment of its strict constitutional rules.
“All this is expensive, but doing nothing would be even more expensive,” insisted Scholz, from his position as Minister of Finance, to justify the expenses in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the September elections, the Scholz-led SPD achieved a short victory, relegating Angela Merkel’s conservatives to second place. His way to the chancellery was clear.
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