Scholz becomes first new German chancellor in 16 years

Olaf Scholz became the first new German chancellor in 16 years on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel. 

Scholz, who is from the nation’s Social Democratic Party, was formally appointed by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and won a majority of 395 votes in the lower house of Parliament, The Associated Press reported.

The former vice chancellor and finance minister is leading a three-party coalition between the Social Democrats, the environmentalist Greens and Free Democrats. 

Scholz omitted the phrase “so help me God” when taking the oath for office as he does not have a religious affiliation, the AP noted. 

The new chancellor faces some major challenges going into his tenure, as he must grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. He is also looking to tackle climate change and improve internet networks, according to the news service. 

Merkel had been the leader of Germany for 16 years, working with four different U.S. presidents. 

“We have been able to overcome many crises in a spirit of respect, in an effort always to find common solutions” she said at her last European Union summit, the AP noted. “But we also have a series of unresolved problems, and there are big unfinished tasks for my successor.”

Leaders from around the world have expressed their appreciation for Merkel, whom Forbes has called “The World’s Most Powerful Woman” for the past 10 years.

European Council President Charles Michel told Merkel at her last EU summit that a gathering without her will be like “Rome without the Vatican or Paris without the Eiffel Tower.”

Tags Angela Merkel Government of Germany Olaf Scholz

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