Germany is experiencing a metamorphosis of sorts. An era has ended, after sixteen years in power Angela Merkel has stepped down as the German Chancellor and Olaf Scholz has taken her place. Over this period, Merkel has become synonymous with stability, guiding her country through the Financial Crises, Migrant Crises and now the Covid pandemic. Scholz, despite coming from a different political party, used this notion of stability to secure his political position, marketing himself as a continuation of the stability and prosperity that Merkel brought.
Scholz himself is not a new face to politics, first being elected to the Bundestag in 1998 before leaving to become mayor of Hamburg in 2011. In 2018 he once again entered mainstream German politics as the Federal Minister of Finance whilst simultaneously holding the position of Vice Chancellor. This is to say that his experience appears to leave him in good stead for his new position of power at the helm of the largest economy in Europe.
Olaf Scholz is the oldest Chancellor to be elected since 1966, yet despite this, his vision for Germany seems to be one of progressive embracement. Scholz has pledged to introduce harsher regulations in regards to carbon production, as well as encourage a minimum standard for climate policy in developing countries, all in an attempt to curb the climate change. Additionally, where Merkel was criticised for prioritizing trade over humanitarian issues, in regards to Beijing and Russia, Scholz has aligned himself closer with the US by promising to take a firmer stance against these regimes in the future. Another area of concern that Scholz has promised to focus on is the rapidly ageing infrastructure throughout Germany, as well as developing the poor internet connection that affects much of the German countryside. This is ever more crucial in a world where Covid restrictions have caused us to spend an increased amount of time inside on the internet.
A particular stance which has been received with mixed emotions among Germans is his approach to the EU. Where Merkel played a careful game of cat and mouse in order to maintain the control Germany has over the EU it appears that Scholz has taken a different approach. Days after his inauguration as Chancellor Scholz travelled to France where he discussed the future of the EU as a federal body, with the French President Macron. What this means for the future of the EU is not clear as of yet; but one thing is for certain, change is coming.
That being said, while Scholz does have plans for the future he must first overcome the hurdles that he immediately faces. That being the massive wave of Corona Virus that Germany is experiencing currently. With more deaths than ever before it is paramount that the new Chancellor is swift in enacting policies which stem the virus. On top of this, Scholz must also deal with the ever power-hungry Russia who seems poised to strike at Ukraine at any time. While he has pledged to increase military spending, although not to the mandated 2% of GDP as NATO requires, only time will tell if this will be a sufficient counter measure to the encroaching Russian bear.
On paper Scholz seems to have all the qualities of a politician that can lead Germany into a bright future. However, he has some very big shoes to fill and only time will tell if he can move out of the shadow of Angela Merkel.