- The Washington Times
Monday, December 6, 2021

German Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s era will officially end this week as the final piece fell into place Monday for a new center-left-led coalition government headed by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and his Social Democratic party.

Mrs. Merkel, a towering figure in German and European politics since first taking office in 2005, is slated to step down Wednesday as the Bundestag approves the new government.

Officials of the leftist Green party announced Monday that rank-and-file members had voted overwhelmingly at weekend gatherings around the country to join the Social Democrats and the more conservative, pro-business Free Democrats in a three-party government.

Some 86% of Green party members voted to join the new “traffic light coalition” — a play on the parties’ red, yellow and green signature colors.

Green party co-Chair Annalena Baerbock has been tapped to be the first female foreign minister in German history. Robert Habeck, Ms. Baerbock’s co-chair, will be vice chancellor under Mr. Scholz.

“We are going into a strong new government, with a very strong and diverse Cabinet, with strong tailwind from the ballot,” Ms. Baerbock told reporters in Berlin Monday.

Although Mr. Scholz is seen as a safe pair of hands, the new government will have a distinctly more ideological cast than was the case under Mrs. Merkel, who oversaw a series of “grand coalition” governments with her center-right Christian Democratic Union in charge.

The coalition partners spent more than two months hammering out a governing agenda after Mr. Scholz won a narrow plurality in late September.

Among the items on the new government’s platform: a raise in the minimum wages; a push to promote renewable energy sources and merge climate and economic policies; lowering the voting age to 16; and legalizing recreational marijuana use.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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