Angela Merkel’s 16-year stint as chancellor of Germany came to an end with the election of Social Democrat Olaf Scholz. On Wednesday, MPs formally approved the former minister of finance in Merkel’s last cabinet. In all, 395 people voted for the new chancellor. Scholz required 369 legislators – an overall majority – out of 736 Bundestag members to become the new chancellor. In Germany’s Lower House, his three-party governing coalition has about 416 MPs. After 16 years of continuous control by Merkel’s conservative coalition, which was allied with the Social Democrats or the Free Democrats throughout her four terms as chancellor, his victory signals a momentous shift in Germany’s political atmosphere.
Scholz was inaugurated as chancellor with his cabinet on Wednesday following a meeting with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who provided him with formal documentation of appointment. Scholz is the country’s fourth Social Democratic chancellor in its postwar history. After the election in September, his party came out as the most powerful force in the Bundestag, narrowly defeating Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – this time being spearheaded by her successor, Armin Laschet.
Scholz, who is 63 years old, is a seasoned politician. He was mayor of Hamburg, Germany’s second-largest city after Berlin, from 2011 to 2018, and it, like Berlin, is a distinct federal state. Between 2007 and 2009, he was a labor minister in Merkel’s first government, where he fought for a short-work program to safeguard German employees from the effects of the global financial meltdown. He served as the Social Democratic Party’s vice leader from 2009 until 2019. (SPD). Since March 2018, he has also served as minister of finance and vice-chancellor in Merkel’s fourth cabinet. He permitted unprecedented state borrowing as finance minister to assist in protecting German firms and workers from the effects of the Covid-19 shutdowns.