The Lower House of the German Parliament, the Bundestag, has elected the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz as the new chancellor, at the head of a tripartite coalition that also incorporates Greens and Liberals and that ends 16 years of uninterrupted power of Angela Merkel.
The coalition traffic lights, as the alliance between the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) is known, has added 395 votes in favor in the Bundestag this Wednesday, enough for Scholz to have exceeded the threshold of 369 he needed to be appointed new chancellor.
Scholz, 63, thus assumes the main government post after serving as “number two” and as coalition minister in the now defunct “grand coalition” with Merkel, who did not aspire to reelection in the September legislative elections.
Once you receive the approval of the president, Frank-Walter SteinmeierScholz will return to the Bundestag to take office and become the ninth chancellor of Germany since World War II. The last Social Democratic Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, invited in Parliament, was present at the vote.
His main short-term priorities include containing the COVID-19 pandemic and also international challenges such as escalating tensions with Russia due to its growing presence on the Ukraine border. Merkel has guaranteed him a smooth transition, even presenting him in large international forums.
Germany has never had a coalition before traffic lights at the federal level and, as the three parties have agreed, it will be equal, since it will have 16 ministries divided equally between women and men. The leader of the Greens Annalena Baerbock will be the new head of Foreign Affairs, while the liberal Christian Lindner he will replace Scholz in Finance.
The tripartite was born in principle with a solvent majority, but almost two-thirds of Germans predict that Scholz will be chancellor of a single legislature, according to a survey by YouGov for the DPA agency. Twenty percent of those interviewed believe that the coalition will break down within four years and 44 percent that Scholz will run for reelection but lose.
What does seem difficult is that she will remain in office as long as her predecessor. Only 1.3 percent of Germans expect the Social Democrat to reach Merkel’s record and last 16 years as chancellor.