【CGTN】Olaf Scholz becomes Germany's new chancellor
Source: CGTN | 09-Dec-2021
Original link: https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2021-12-09/Olaf-Scholz-becomes-Germany-s-new-chancellor--15PEFiMqmQw/index.html
Olaf Scholz is now officially chancellor of Germany, concluding Angela Merkel's 16-year leadership. He was elected on Wednesday by Germany's federal parliament with 395 votes in favor, 303 votes against and six abstentions.
A beaming Scholz nodded when asked by parliament speaker Baerbel Bas whether he accepted the election results. Scholz has promised to make Europe's biggest economy greener, more modern, and fairer.
On Tuesday, the somewhat unlikely governing coalition, made up of Olaf Scholz's public welfare-focused Social Democrats, the environmental Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats, signed their 177-page coalition agreement, outlining how the three parties plan to run the country over the next four years.
What are the immediate priorities?
Priority number one will be ending the surge in COVID-19 infections and increasing the vaccination rates. The government has already set up a crisis team tasked with assessing the pandemic on a daily basis, and Germany's new parliament is set to vote on compulsory vaccinations by February.
Next will be combating climate change. The Greens have pushed to phase out coal by 2030 and ensure that 80 percent of Germany's electricity comes from renewable energy. Social welfare programs will also be improved under the new government, with promises to raise the minimum wage, stabilize pensions and build more affordable housing.
And Berlin will use a values-based approach when it comes to foreign policies. Chancellor Scholz has already taken a stronger tone with Russia over their movement of troops along its border with Ukraine, something that was echoed by France, the U.S. and the UK.
Who is Scholz?
Chancellor Olaf Scholz, 63, did work alongside Merkel for many years in successive coalition governments between his left of center SPD and her conservative Christian Democrats, dubbed the "Grand Coalition."
He was her vice-chancellor and finance minister in the last government. While he has faced accusations of corruption he was seen as Merkel's natural successor early on in the election campaign.
After 16 years of steering Germany through turbulent times and ten weeks after Germany's September 26th elections, Merkel has stepped aside, beginning a new political era for the country.
Public opinion mixed
Despite being odd bedfellows of Germany's new coalition, many Germans are optimistic that these changes will bring long wanted change, says Munich resident Vicki Lemmel.
"I think Angela Merkel was a really great woman," she tells CGTN, "but I think there has to be a change. I don't think it is just the Greens, or the FDP or the SPD, but all together there could be a change in the government and I think this could be very successful."
But fellow Munich resident Martin Gleich is not so excited. "I don't expect anything new," he admits. "It is the same as before. Scholz and Merkel are the same. Unfortunately, there is nothing new coming."