German Social Democrat Olaf Scholz said he had reached a coalition agreement to modernize Europe’s largest economy and form a new government that would try to remove the curtain on Angela Merkel’s time.
Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats (SPD), Green Ecologists and Libertarian Free Democrats (FDP) want to accelerate the transition to a green economy and digitalization while maintaining fiscal discipline, according to a 177-page agreement.
The alliance – designated a coalition of three-party traffic lights – has a majority in the lower house of parliament and expects the government to swear in early next month after the parties ratify the coalition pact.
The first federal-level alliance between ideologically diverse parties will mark the end of 16 years of conservative government led by Merkel, marking a new era of relations with Europe and the world.
At a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday, with the FDP and Greens leaders on his side, Scholz recalled that when the city’s first traffic light at Potsdamer Platz was put up in 1924, many questioned whether it would work.
“Today, the traffic light is essential to regulate things clearly and provide proper guidance and ensure that everyone moves forward safely and smoothly,” he said.
“My ambition is that this alliance of traffic lights as chancellor will also play a pioneering role for Germany.”
Merkel leaves big shoes to fill. He has sailed through several crises in Germany and Europe and has been a champion of liberal democracy around the world in the face of the rise of authoritarianism.
His critics say he has handled the problems rather than solved them and left tough decisions for his successor in many respects.
The government that will join Scholzen must face immediate challenges, with the aftermath of Europe’s Brexit, the European Union’s border crisis with Belarus, and the escalation of COVID-19 cases.
Although the German election campaign focused largely on internal affairs, the coalition treaty clarified the next government’s foreign policy priorities.
The parties agreed to strengthen the EU’s economic and monetary union and said they were open to reforming the bloc’s fiscal rules, known as the Stability and Growth Pact.
They also agreed that Germany would remain part of the NATO nuclear-sharing deal, a move that would prevent the break-up of the Western military alliance at a time when tensions with Russia are rising.
The female foreign minister was expected
Co-head of the Greens Annalena Baerbock, 40, is expected to be the country’s first female foreign minister. Although the parties have not yet announced the formation of the cabinet, Scholz has said he already wants a gender equality government.
FDP leader Christian Lindner, 42, will take over the finance ministry and Green Leader Robert Habeck, 52, is expected to take on a newly expanded economy and climate change ministry.
The coming coalition will have to balance the Greens ’claims for a tougher line on human rights to Russia and China with Scholz’s likely lack of confrontation with the two countries over issues like Taiwan and Ukraine.
Emphasizing its socially liberal tendency, the coalition agreed to allow multiple citizenships and legalize the sale of recreational cannabis in licensed stores.
Dominic Kane of Al Jazeera, reported from Berlin, said the new government was in full swing.
“Olaf Scholz is likely to be confirmed and voted on as chancellor of parliament for the next 10 days or so. , he said.
“The Greens will gain control of a powerful new ministry that will promote the economy and become a ministry against climate change. And the Free Democrats, the so-called liberal center-right party in Germany, will get the finance ministry and three other key ministries in the new cabinet.”
“The relevant parties have to vote internally, but they all seem to be quite an agreement. By agreeing to this new coalition, Merkel’s Christian Democrat is effectively targeting the opposition, ”he said.
Leading what could have been the last meeting of his cabinet, Merkel said goodbye to her colleagues the same day, and Scholz presented the longest-serving EU leader with a tree to plant in his garden.
As the finance minister and vice-chancellor of the “grand coalition” of the SPD and the Conservatives, Scholz, 63, was seen as more competent than a charismatic politician, like Merkel, with moderate views and skilled at dialogue.
Now it needs to build and maintain a consensus between the Greens and the SPD, which is widely seen as a natural partner of the center-left, and the FDP for black prosecutors, who have historically been closer to the German Conservatives.
Merkel did not run for re-election as chancellor after four terms in office.
He continues to have a high appraisal of his personal reputation, but his party is in turmoil and has to face a leadership contest after getting the worst results in a federal vote after the chancellor’s candidacy is a gaffe-play campaign.