Olaf Scholz elected to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor

Olaf Scholz will succeed Angela Merkel as Germany’s new chancellor after securing a majority of 395 of 736 delegates’ ballots in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday morning.

Scholz will oversee a liberal-left “traffic light” coalition government between his Social Democratic party (SPD), the Greens and the liberal Free Democratic party (FDP), the first power-sharing agreement of such a kind in Germany, and the first governing alliance with three parties since 1957.

Scholz, a former mayor of Hamburg and finance minister in Merkel’s final term, secured 21 fewer votes than the 416 seats the three coalition parties have in the Bundestag, though several politicians were absent from the vote due to illness.

Wearing a bordeaux red tie, the Social Democrat politician removed his black mask to accept the vote. Amid applause, delegates personally congratulated Scholz on his result with fist bumps, handshakes and several bouquets of flowers. One handed Germany’s new chancellor a basket of red apples.

After the vote Scholz headed to the Bellevue Palace residence of the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to be formally appointed.

By noon, he was back in the Bundestag to take his oath of office, swearing to use the powers bequeathed to him “for the good of the German people”. Scholz, who was raised in a Protestant household but later opted to leave the church, declined to utter the optional final line of the oath, “So help me god”.

Guests watching over the ceremony from the visitors’ gallery included ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Scholz’s wife Britta Ernst, his parents Gerhard und Christel Scholz, as well as brothers Jens and Ingo.

The new government is to be announced in parliament, after which the ministers in Scholz’s cabinet will swear their oaths.

Merkel too watched proceedings from the visitors’ gallery. The outgoing chancellor, who is ending her political career and will not continue as an MP, received a standing ovation from almost all delegates in the last minutes of her tenure. Only members of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland remained seated.

As the new president of the Bundestag, Bärbel Bas, read out the names of all delegates eligible to vote for the new chancellor, a mask-wearing Merkel scribbled furiously on a notepad.

Merkel’s final day as chancellor was her 5,860th day in office, falling short of the record set by her late former mentor Helmut Kohl by a mere ten days.

Merkel will formally hand over her offices at the chancellory in central Berlin to Scholz and his team on Wednesday. The cube-like building opposite the parliament, nicknamed the “federal washing machine”, has been the seat of German leaders since 2001, making Scholz only the third chancellor to govern from its premises.

Scholz’s new spokesperson and representatives of the 14 federal ministers will hold their first press conference on Monday, in keeping with a thrice-weekly question-and-answer session with the media.

Merkel’s spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, has indicated his intention to withdraw from politics, with his tweets from the official government handle to be archived.


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