Olaf Scholz was confirmed as the new chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, leading a three-party government that takes over from Angela Merkel after her 16 years in office.
Scholz was voted in by the German parliament, where his coalition has a substantial majority. He was given an ovation after the German parliament, the Bundestag, backed him by 395 votes to 303.
Scholz’s new government is made up of a coalition of his Social Democrat party along with the Greens and Free Democrats.
The 63-year-old steered the Social Democrats to election victory in late September, positioning himself as a continuity candidate because he played a key role in the Merkel government as vice-chancellor.
Scholz led Social Democrats to victory
SPD had won 25.7 percent of the vote. Angela Merkel’s CDU party and their candidate, Armin Laschet, sank to a historic low in a federal election, with just 24.1 percent.
Scholz called the outcome of the elections in Germany a “great success. Many citizens have put their crosses next to the SPD because they want there to be a change in government and also because they want the next chancellor of this country to be called Olaf Scholz,” he had said.
Scholz and his Cabinet of 16 ministers — seven from the SPD, five from the Greens and four from the FDP — are to be appointed by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the presidential palace Schloss Bellevue and sworn in at the Bundestag.
Over the course of the day, Merkel’s ministers will formally hand over their portfolios to their successors.
The new government in Germany has ambitious plans to fight climate change by phasing out coal as soon as possible and focusing on renewable energy, but their initial priority will be on tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
The new Finance Minister of Germany praises Greece
Germany’s incoming Finance Minister said on Tuesday that “Germany must aspire to become as ambitious as Greece’s domestic policy.”
Christian Lindner, head of the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), which will share power in Europe’s biggest economy with the Social Democrats and Greens, praised efforts made by Greece to turn things around, according to Reuters.
“In the last few years, (the Greek government) has succeeded in putting the Greek economy on a new course for success with very impressive reform measures,” said Lindner.
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis reminded Merkel of the austerity Germany imposed on Greece. “You admitted that you asked a lot from the Greeks,” the Prime Minister noted during a joint press conference.
Germany was the largest single contributor to three successive international bailout packages Greece received from 2010 to 2018. But the rescue loans came with strings attached.