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Monday, October 18, 2021

Who is Olaf Scholz, Angela Merkel’s possible successor as Chancellor of Germany

The Social Democrat Olaf Scholz is on track to be Angela Merkel’s successor, as indicated by the results that put the SPD at the head of the elections in Germany, whose political forces are negotiating the formation of the new government.

Scholz is no stranger to the opposition or the outgoing Conservative government. Was Merkel’s Deputy Chancellor and Finance Minister and, although he is recognized as one of the most moderate of the force he represents, he presented himself as the “next chancellor” as soon as the first results of the elections fell.

“Many citizens want there to be a change of government” and “they also want the next chancellor to be named Olaf Scholz,” he said of himself in the third person.

Scholz knew how to take advantage of his low profile

Merkel’s “successor” has 63 years, is married to a member of the SPD (Social Democratic Party) and knew how to use his low profile in the campaign after being, for years, the object of sarcasm for his austere profile and his speeches in an “automaton” tone, which earned him the nickname “Scholzomat.”

Born in Osnabrück on June 14, 1958, Scholz joined the SPD at age 17. He had long hair at the time and flirted with the party’s more left-wing ideas.

Became a lawyer specialist in labor law and in 1998 he was elected deputy. That secretary general of the SPD (2002-2004), had to explain every day before the cameras the details of the unpopular liberal reforms of the then chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

After a series of electoral defeats, Scholz had to leave his post as secretary general in 2004, before returning in 2007 as Minister of Labor.

Outcast at his own party

With merkel, who supported him in 2017 when he faced calls to resign after violent demonstrations during the G20 summit in Hamburg, maintained a relationship of trust.

His centrist stance led him to be marginalized for a time in his own party. Nevertheless, he was mayor of Hamburg and he knew how to survive the crisis of social democracy throughout Europe.

In fact, despite his defeat in 2019, the SPD, one of the oldest parties in Europe, chose Scholz as its candidate for September.

He took advantage of the mistakes of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and in 2018 he replaced Orthodox Christian Democrat Wolfgang Schaüble as Finance Minister.

“You don’t give what you don’t have”

“You do not give what you do not have”, is his motto that he marked the austerity of their administrations. In 2019 he proposed to lead the SPD, but the militants chose two almost unknown clearly more to the left.

Scholz managed to regain ground with the pandemic. I did not hesitate break with budget orthodoxy And after a decade running up surpluses, Germany has contracted billions of euros in new debt since 2020, to the detriment of its strict constitutional standards. “All this is expensive, but doing nothing would be even more expensive,” he argued.

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