Scholz Set for German Chancellor After Greens Back Coalition
(Bloomberg) -- Olaf Scholz cleared the final hurdle on his path to becoming German chancellor when Green Party members overwhelmingly approved their coalition deal with his center-left Social Democrats and the pro-business Free Democrats.
The Greens said that 86% of about 71,000 members who voted backed the accord, which includes an ambitious climate agenda and plans to upgrade Germany’s technology infrastructure. The SPD and FDP each approved the alliance at special party meetings over the weekend, where support exceeded 90%.
“The big task of our political generation will be to resolve the tension between ecological questions and economic necessities,” Greens Co-leader Robert Habeck said Monday at a news conference in Berlin. “This dominates the whole coalition agreement and will be, besides all other crises, the central task for this government.”
The Greens are under pressure to deliver on their pledge to protect the environment, and have faced grumblings that the coalition pact fell short on issues such as speed limits on German highways and wielding a climate veto on government policy.
For their activist base, some elements have been a hard sell -- particularly ceding the transport ministry to the FDP, which will oversee auto emissions targets and the shift to electric mobility.
Still, Habeck will take over an influential economy and climate ministry, while his co-leader, Annalena Baerbock, will become Germany’s first female foreign minister.
“We are really pleased with this great, great result,” a beaming Baerbock said Monday alongside Habeck. “We’re starting now with a strong tailwind from the vote with a strong new government,” she added, promising a “paradigm shift” in policies designed to deal with challenges like climate change and the pandemic.
“The situation with the coronavirus is worse than ever,” Baerbock said. “For all the joy that we’re experiencing here today as Greens, the priority and the absolutely most important task of the new government in coming weeks and months will be to get the pandemic under control.”
Scholz and his government will be sworn in by the lower house of parliament on Wednesday, taking the helm of Europe’s largest economy from Angela Merkel and bringing her 16-year tenure to an end.
The Social Democrat, whom many in Germany had written off as recently as the summer, staged a surprise comeback victory in September’s national election. He then spent most of two months forging an alliance between parties with starkly different policies in key areas, including finance.
Germany’s ninth post-World War II chancellor will first have to tackle a surge in Covid-19 infections, which has been compounded by a lagging vaccination rate. On Saturday, Scholz told his party that fighting the pandemic will be “our first and most important task” after the government takes office.
The 177-page coalition accord bears the finger prints of each party. Scholz’s SPD secured a minimum-wage increase to 12 euros ($13.56) an hour and pension guarantees; the Greens brought the country’s coal-exit date forward to 2030; and the FDP won out on a promise not to raise taxes and to preserve constitutional debt limits.
FDP Chairman Christian Lindner, who secured 92% backing for the coalition at a party conference on Sunday, will become finance minister, succeeding Scholz.
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