Scholz elected as Germany’s next chancellor, after 16 years of Merkel

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Scholz elected as Germany’s next chancellor, after 16 years of Merkel

Social Democrat (SPD) Olaf Scholz, who won the ballot in Germany’s lower house parliament with 395 of 707 votes, is set to succeed Angela Merkel who served as chancellor for 16 years.

The SPD, together with the Greens and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), has 416 seats in the new, 736-seat parliament. Scholz needed a majority of 369 votes to be elected as the next chancellor.

Scholz, who nodded wearing a face mask and waved as he received a standing ovation from lawmakers, received bouquets of flowers from the leaders of the parliamentary groups.

After being nominated by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Bellevue Castle, Scholz will return to parliament to take the oath of office in front of the lawmakers.

In the afternoon, Merkel will hand over the chancellery to the new leader of Europe’s largest economy which is facing a brutal fourth wave of coronavirus infections.

Scholz, 63, served as vice-chancellor and finance minister in Merkel’s outgoing government.

His center-left Cabinet made up of eight male and eight female ministers will be the first coalition of its kind at the federal level in Germany.

With his down-to-earth but rather overly calm manner, Scholz has positioned himself as Merkel’s successor and by some considered a safe pair of hands to steer Germany through challenges ranging from tackling the climate crisis to dealing with a more confrontational Russia and a more assertive China.