Olaf Scholz, the man who follows Angela Merkel as leader of Germany

A social-democrat leads Germany
Very moderate
He began as an international socialist
Family of blue-collar origins
Roots in Hamburg
A tireless worker within the party
A married man, no kids
Hamburg city hall
From Hamburg (back) to the Bundestag
A Gerhard Schroeder Man
Secretary General of the SPD
Mayor of Hamburg
A conservative under Merkel
Coalition between Social Democrats and Conservatives
Minister of Finance during the pandemic
An electoral surprise?
Merkel's heir
A social-democrat leads Germany

His name is Olaf Scholz, his party is the SPD (German Social Democratic Party) and they narrowly won the elections in September. What do we know about this 63-year-old politician who's taking the lead in one of the most powerful countries in the Western world?

Very moderate

Scholz is a very moderate leftist. So moderate that he could serve without any great tension under Angela Merkel (Christian-democrat) as the Minister of Finance. He served a coalition government that brought together Conservatives and Social Democrats.

He began as an international socialist

Born in Osnabrück (Lower Saxony) on June 14, 1958, Olaf Scholz joined the SPD Youth as a teenager. His first important position in politics was that of vice president of the International Union of Socialist Youth.

(Image: Gladstone ~ dewiki - own work, Wikimedia)

Family of blue-collar origins

Olaf Scholz comes from a working-class family: his grandfather was a railwayman and his parents worked in the textile industry.

Roots in Hamburg

Olaf Scholz is the eldest of three children. He spent his childhood and adolescence in Hamburg, the city where he also studied law and opened a law firm.

A tireless worker within the party

With the law firm and his ascendance within the SPD, Scholz became more moderate. He worked his way up and became a member of the Bundestag when he was 40.

A married man, no kids

Olaf Scholz is married to Britta Ernst. Just like Angela Merkel, he has no children. At present, the couple usually resides in Potsdam.

Hamburg city hall

In 1998 he was elected to represent Hamburg in the Bundestag, but he soon returned to the city to join its municipal government. Scholz was in charge of law enforcement, and his commitment to a strong hand got him some criticism.

From Hamburg (back) to the Bundestag

Olaf Scholz's time in the municipal government of Hamburg did not go too well. He lost the elections for the next term and decided to return to the Bundestag to continue his political career on the national level.

A Gerhard Schroeder Man

Olaf Scholz was placed in the circle of confidence of Gerhard Schroeder, the Chancellor of Germany between 1998 and 2005. Schroeder has been known for advocating a controversial shift to the right for his social-democratic party.

Secretary General of the SPD

Under Schroeder, Scholz was the Secretary General of the SPD. From 2002 to 2004 he became the guardian of the moderate orthodoxy within the German social-democratic party.

Mayor of Hamburg

In 2011, Scholz managed to achieve a wide electoral victory in the mayoral elections of Hamburg (48% of the votes). From there, Scholz jumped back into national politics as the Minister of Finance for Merkel.

A conservative under Merkel

Since he was a Schroeder man, it did not take much ideologically to switch from the SPD Chancellor to the more conservative Angela Merkel. In fact, as Minister of Finance, Scholz advocated a rather conservative and restrictive policy regarding debt and public spending.

Coalition between Social Democrats and Conservatives

Olaf Scholz was part of the negotiating team of the Grand Coalition that governed Germany from 2013.

Minister of Finance during the pandemic

Olaf Scholz, a veteran Social Democrat, had to run Germany's finances in a government with the Conservatives, but that was no problem for him. Until COVID-19 happened. At that moment, Scholz knew that the country needed help to get through the crisis. Analysts have evaluated his leadership during the pandemic positively.

An electoral surprise?

The strength of the German Greens and some qualms from the leftist electorate formed a minor threat to the candidacy of Scholz for Chancellor. In the end, however, he triumphed in electoral debates.

Merkel's heir

Scholz has played the card of stability and has presented himself as the true heir to Angela Merkel. For political analysts, it seems that things will stay more or less the same in Germany as far as politics are concerned.

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