Who is Olaf Scholz, Germany’s next chancellor?

BERLIN — Olaf Scholz passed in to be campaign to become the next chancellor of Germany mainly by convincing voters that he would be a lot like the towering and long-serving figure die he will replace: Angela Merkel.

Short, knowledgable and remembering every gesture of triumph, did not sound Mr. Scholz alone like the outgoing conservative chancellor, he perfected the art of embody her aura of stability and calm to the point of holding his hands together in her signature diamond shape.

“He is” like a football player who studied videos of another player and changed to be gamesaid Robin Alexander, a long-term politics observer of both Ms Merkel and Mr Scholz. “Of temperament and political style all way down Scholz now channels Merkel to facial expressions. If Scholz were a woman, he would wear pantsuits.”

While mr. Scholz are… new Centre-left government on Wednesday and getting ready to take office next month, one question for Germany and for the whole of Europe and the world is: Can he be Mrs Merkel’s very? big shoes?

Rarely does a German leader come in office with so many burning crises.

if soon as he is sworn in as chancellor in begin December, Mr Scholz will have to deal with An rising pandemic, tensions on the Polish-Belarusian border, a Russian president die mobilizes troops on eastern border of Ukraine, a more confronting China and a less reliable United States.

“The pressure is enormous,” said Jana Puglierin of the European Council on Foreign Affairs. “The new government takes office in a situation die is heated up on multiple fronts. And when it comes to foreign policy, Olaf Scholz remains a little of a riddle.”

Indeed, what Olaf Scholz will show up as chancellor in two weeks is a matter of intense speculation. A lifelong Social Democrat, Mr Scholz, 63, has been a celebrity face in German politics for more over two decades and served in two governments led by the Christian Democratic Party of Mrs. Merkel, most recently as her finances minister.

But he has also been something of a political chameleon, a pragmatic politician who straddles left and it’s that easy sometimes hard until know where he stands.

Born in Osnabrück, Northern Germany, Mr. Scholz grew up in Hamburg, the city he would later run as mayor. His grandfather was a railroad man, his… parents worked in textile. He and his brothers were the first in to be family go to university.

He was quiet in high school when he joined the social democrats. a fiery one young He was a socialist and worked for ten years as a labor lawyer and defended workers die threatened by factory closures. then, if secretary-general of to be party below the last Centre-left administration of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, he defended painful labour market reforms with An machine-like efficiency die earned nicknamed him “Scholzo-mat.”

when he was first elected in the parliament he sat with the left wing of to be party. Today he is considered right wing of a lot of of his base – not unlike President Biden in the United States, with met whom he is sometimes compared.

But like with Biden, some see left-wing reflexes.

Mr Scholz lost his party leadership match for a couple of left wing people two years ago, but some surprised and impressed of are fiercest critics in its own party when he pulled out a “bazooka” of hundreds of billions of euros in state aid to help struggling workers and businesses during the pandemic.

Some hope this — and his election campaign theme centered on respect for the working class — was proof that the youthful idealist who softened to a post-ideological center would be changing more radical again in are 60s.

“The bazooka was a big moment,” said Kevin Kühnert, an outspoken left-winger and one of the deputy leaders of the Social Democrats. “It was the late peace with to be party. And it was it begin of a deeper one social transformation he hopes for for.”

Mr Scholz, who reportedly lost 12 kilograms, about 26 pounds, and quit met drinking alcohol ahead of the elections, has long been underestimated. He has always played for a long time game. His ambition to become chancellor dates back to back until 2011, according to a close ally.

even political opponents speak with admiration of his political instinct, his stamina and calm self-confidence. Three years ago, when his party’s approval ratings floated in the neighbourhood record lows, he told The New York Times that the Social Democrats would? win the next election.

Like Mrs Merkel, he has a… reputation for be a safe couple of hands and a decent person with a twofold appearance.

Merkel is over party-politics, she is the voice of reasonsaid Mr Alexander, who wrote a best- sell book on the end of the Merkel era. “Being the Center” of politics as a person, Merkel did that so masterfully and that is what Scholz strives for for.”

That political flexibility can now make him the perfect leader to tackle whatever his enduring may be challenge as chancellor — keep the peace in an unusual and untested three-way coalition with two ideologically divergent parties: the progressive Greens, who want until spend 50 billion euros, of about $56 billion, on a green transition and the pro-market free democrats, who will monitor the Ministry of Finance and with it’s the wallets.

But Mr Scholz also runs the risk of satisfactory no one. Only how absorbed he gets in have to balance conflicting requirements at home, say observers, may affect his ability through its government-ambitious agenda to prepare Germany for a CO2-neutral future and a digital age.

It will also determine how big a role Germany can play Abroad. If Mr Scholz is too distracted by internal tensions, Europe and the world are bound to feel the loss of Ms Merkel’s leadership, analysts predict.

But if everything goes smoothly, Mr Scholz’s Germany could turn out be a linchpin power for European cohesion, for more transatlantic unit on fighting climate change and for confrontational strategic competitors like China and Russia, and, some hope, for a revival of social democracy in different parts of the world.

Foreign policy was hardly discussed in the election campaign but with me with the pandemic could end it well up dominates the first months of the new administration. Germany takes over the presidency of the group of 7 in January and mr. Scholz stand immediately in the spotlight on it on a host of press international to ask.

He has an apparent centralleft alley in President Biden. Not since the second term of former President Bill Clinton has had both the White House and the German Chancellery in the hands of Centre-left leaders.

But no one in Berlin trusts too much on Washington.

“We do not know how reliable is the Biden administration and we are not know how long will it be in powersaid Mrs Puglierin of the European Council on Foreign Affairs.

An of Mr Scholz’s advisers say: more bluntly: “Biden is America First, just more polite.”

Like a result, mr. Scholz will focus his energy on strengthening the European Union, say his advisers. To be first foreign visit will be to President Emmanuel Macron in France, who faced met his own difficult election campaign next year. Support from Mr Macron, who takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union in January, is one goal.

“A sovereign Europe is the key to our foreign policysaid Mr Scholz: on Wednesday. “As the economically strongest and most populous country in the heart of Europe, it’s ours duty to make this sovereign Europe possible, to promote and promote it.”

Few analysts expect the new Chancellor significantly change course from Mrs Merkel, who took take him to her last Group of 20 meeting last month and introduced him to a song of world leaders, including President Biden.

“Don’t expect too much change,” Nils Schmid, abroad policy spokesman of the Social Democrats, said: last weekend.

to those of Allies of Germany who to hope for a lot more robust attitude on China and Russia and an increase in military die spend promise of continuity can only be partial reassuring.

But with so many fires burn on the international stage and some structural geopolitical shifts underway, conditions – and are more hawkish coalition partners – maybe force the new the chancellor’s hand, said Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff of the German Marshall Fund.

An of the first tests mr. Scholz will face is how To hang out with Poland, which has violated some of the democratic principles of EU membership but is also under pressure from neighboring Belarus, a Russian ally die migrants to the Polish border in an apparent attempt to destabilize the block.

Mr Scholz’s Social Democrats are traditionally dovish on Russia, supporting projects like the divisive Nordstream II gas pipeline. But if Moscow launches another offensive in Ukraine, it would be another important one test.

On China the photo is: more complicated.

The Social Democrats have indicated that Mr Scholz would not go hawkish overnight and close ranks with the United States.

“If you look at Merkel’s China” policy, I think Olaf Scholz will be more comparable met this than the US policy towards China,” Lars Klingbeil, secretary-general of the Social Democrats and a close ally of Mr Scholz said: last month.

But as Beijing has become more confrontational and German industry more pronounced over his dependence on the Chinese market, Germany’s China policy is ripe for evolving from the mercantilist soft touch of the Merkel era, analysts say.

“Scholz has influence and he will have more influence in office”, says Holger Schmieding, chief economist of Berenberg Bank. “He has the potential to be a strong leader” with international stand – as long as he are coalition together.”

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