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Olaf Scholz elected new chancellor by German lawmakers

The new German parliament has elected Olaf Scholz as chancellor as Angela Merkel departs after 16 years at the helm of Europe’s largest economy. He is now scheduled to be sworn in, along with a new Cabinet.

The German Bundestag elected Olaf Scholz as chancellor on Wednesday morning, as Angela Merkel bows out from the political stage.

The morning vote by Germany’s lower legislative chamber — held by secret ballot and without debate — was seen as a formality.

President of the Bundestag Bärbel Bas opened the voting. Members of the parliament voted by 395 of 707 votes cast for Scholz to become Germany’s new head of government.

However, not all members of Scholz’s so-called “traffic light coalition” voted in favor. Had they done so, he would have had received 416 votes.

Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats (SPD) emerged as the largest party in September’s general election and has since negotiated a coalition deal with the environmentalist Greens and the neoliberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).

How will the switch take place?
Scholz and his Cabinet of 16 ministers — seven from the SPD, five from the Greens and four from the FDP — are to be appointed by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the presidential palace Schloss Bellevue and sworn in at the Bundestag.

The new chancellor and those selected to be members of his Cabinet then head back to the palace for the new ministers to be inaugurated.

Over the course of the day, Merkel’s ministers will formally hand over portfolios to their successors.

Scholz, who served as finance minister under Merkel, will present his own brief to FDP leader Christian Lindner.

The new government has said it will place dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and tackling climate change at the heart of its program.

Merkel leaves office as Germany’s second-longest serving postwar chancellor, just 10 days short of the 16 years and 26 days that Helmut Kohl spent in office between 1982 and 1998.

DW’s Melinda Crane said Merkel’s departure was “the end of an era.”

“Young Germans aged 16 to 25 really don’t remember any other chancellor but Angela Merkel so this is really momentous for them,” said Crane.

The outgoing chancellor was present for the vote as a guest seated alongside her own predecessor Gerhard Schröder.

Before the September election, Merkel had already said she would not serve another term as chancellor and her conservative Christian Democrats are looking to reshape after suffering their worst-ever election result. [ Credit: dw.com]

rc/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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