Thursday, January 20, 2022

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Scholz takes the reins in Germany as Merkel takes a bow

Olaf Scholz will on Wednesday become chancellor of Germany, turning the page on 16 years with Angela Merkel at the helm as a new centre-left-led coalition takes the wheel of Europe’s top economy.

Scholz, who will be formally elected by the Bundestag lower house of parliament and then sworn in by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has pledged broad “continuity” with the popular Merkel while making Germany greener and fairer.

The finance minister under Merkel led his Social Democrats to victory in the September 26 election — an outcome considered unthinkable at the start of the year given the party’s then festering divisions and anaemic support.

Scholz, 63, who turned to emulate Merkel in style and substance into a winning strategy, has now cobbled together Germany’s first national “traffic light” coalition with the ecologist Greens and the liberal Free Democrats, nicknamed after the parties’ colours.

Their four-year pact sealed late last month is called “Dare for More Progress”, a hat tip to Social Democratic chancellor Willy Brandt’s 1969 historic pledge to “Dare for More Democracy”.

“We have a chance for a new beginning for Germany,” Scholz told his party at the weekend as it gave its blessing to the coalition agreement with 99 percent support.

The alliance aims to slash carbon emissions, overhaul decrepit digital infrastructure, modernise citizenship laws, lift the minimum wage and have Germany join a handful of countries worldwide in legalising marijuana.

Culled from AFP

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