POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - EUROPE

Germany

End of Merkel era as Scholz seals coalition deal



Germany’s chancellor-to-be Olaf Scholz (SPD) Photo: Shutterstock

Germany’s chancellor-to-be Olaf Scholz (SPD) Photo: Shutterstock

A new coalition is on the horizon in Germany with Olaf Scholz expected to be elected chancellor in early December at the head of a three-party coalition including the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Liberals (FDP).

Scholz (SPD) has been serving as outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel’s deputy and finance minister since 2018. He managed to negotiate a coalition deal following the September elections. The 63-year-old must be confirmed by the Bundestag as chancellor before he can take office.

The coalition is similar to that in power in Luxembourg (DP, LSAP, Déi Gréng) although in Germany, the Social Democrats are in the lead, followed by the Greens and with the Liberals in last place.

The three parties must validate the coalition agreement, a move largely considered a formality. 

Some new faces are already confirmed. The Green’s Annalena Baerbock is set to become Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn’s (LSAP) new German counterpart, while Pierre Gramegna (DP) will meet at the negotiating table with Christian Lindner (FDP) in future. The German Green’s co-leader Robert Habeck will become vice-chancellor and oversee the green energy transition.

Among the plans announced by the parties as part of their coalition deal, they plan on making Germany climate neutral by 2045, five years ahead of a 2050 EU target. They also want to phase out coal by 2030 and increase the share of renewable energies to 80% by that deadline.

The parties are seeking to lower the voting age from 18 to 16, increase the minimum wage and legalise the sale of cannabis in licensed premises.

Germany will also follow Luxembourg in opening up citizenship to people who have lived in the country for five years and allowing dual citizenship. Currently, if a foreigner seeks German citizenship, they must give up their birth nationality. However, Germans can get another passport if the other country allows dual citizenship.

With Germany in the throes of a fourth pandemic wave, Scholz during a press conference on Wednesday said the country would consider making vaccinations mandatory for certain professions, such as healthcare workers. A covid-19 crisis team will also be set up within the chancellery, Scholz announced.

The coalition is also referred to as a traffic light coalition, representing the parties’ colours: red for the SPD, yellow for the FDP and green for the Greens. Together, the parties hold 416 out of 735 seats in Germany’s parliament.