Germany’s Scholz Lays Down Rules for Future Coalition Allies
(Bloomberg) -- Olaf Scholz, the German Social Democrat candidate looking to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor after next week’s election, said conditions for a potential coalition partner would include support for taxing the rich.
He’d also require backing for raising the minimum wage to 12 euros ($14) next year, Scholz said in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “The pension level will remain stable and the retirement age will not rise any further,” he said.
Scholz’ Social Democrats have overtaken Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led bloc and the Greens, raising the likelihood that Germany’s oldest party will lead a government for the first time since 2005. However, it’s likely to need at least one coalition partner to achieve a majority.
Based on latest poll results, Scholz could lead a so-called grand coalition with the Christian Union bloc as junior partner. The 63-year-old former mayor of Hamburg could also opt for an alliance with the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats or a left-leaning government with the Greens and the Left Party.
Scholz told the newspaper he wants to ease the financial burden for 95% of taxpayers, with deductions for single people earning less than 100,000 euros per year and married couples earning below 200,000 euros. In return, the highest tax rate would be lifted to 45% from 42%.
“We can only finance this by moderately raising taxes for those who earn considerably more,” Scholz said. “Because people who earn as much as I do or even much more can make a slightly higher contribution to financing our community.”
The SPD candidate, who has been the finance minister in Merkel’s coalition government since 2018, is leading his competitors by a wide margin. If Germans could vote for the head of government directly, 31% of the respondents said they would make him chancellor, according to a poll this weekend.
Green party leader Annalena Baerbock is betting on an alliance with the SPD and wants the Christian Union bloc in opposition after 16 years in power under Merkel. “We want to convince many of the undecided voters,” the 40-year-old said in an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper. “Maybe in the end it will even be enough for a two-party alliance,” she said.
FDP leader Christian Lindner dismissed the idea that the strongest party would automatically field the next chancellor. “The race for first place is interesting, but not decisive for forming a government,” he told Bild am Sonntag, indicating that he may be ready to form a government with the conservatives and the Greens, bypassing Scholz.
Scholz, CDU/CSU candidate Armin Laschet and Baerbock are facing off in the last of three televised debates on Sunday evening. On Monday, Scholz will face questions at a parliamentary hearing about a raid on the finance ministry last week.
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