The Scholz team: key players in the new German government | WGN 720 radio

FILE – German Chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz smiles during a press conference after the signing of the coalition agreement with two other parties for the new German government in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, December 7, 2021. The Vice-Chancellor and finance minister in Merkel’s government, Scholz is rising to the top after propelling his center-left Social Democrats to an electoral victory that seemed unlikely just a few months ago. (AP Photo / Markus Schreiber, File)

BERLIN (AP) – Olaf Scholz took over from the new German Chancellor as head of a tripartite coalition government on Wednesday, ending the 16-year era of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel. Scholz will head a 17-member cabinet, with one more minister than Merkel’s, made up of nine men and eight women. Here is an overview of the main players.


Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Finance in the Merkel government, Scholz propelled his center-left Social Democrats to an electoral victory that seemed unlikely just a few months ago. Scholz, 63, is a former mayor of Hamburg and was German Minister of Labor during the global financial crisis. His experience, attention to detail and technocratic image became an asset during the campaign. Scholz has a taciturn and pragmatic approach; he is imperturbable and unshakeable in himself. He has positioned himself as both Merkel’s natural successor and an agent of change after his long tenure. He lost a candidacy for his party in 2019, but was his undisputed choice to run for the chancellery.


The co-leader of the Greens ecologists will head the newly created Ministry of Economy and Climate, and will become vice-chancellor. Habeck, 52, was Minister of Agriculture and Environment for the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein from 2012 to 2018. He became party leader alongside Annalena Baerbock in 2018. Habeck lost to Baerbock to become the party’s candidate for chancellery ahead of the election. , but emerged after his third place at the head of the government team of the Greens.


The leader of the pro-business Free Democrats will hold the government’s purse strings as finance minister. Lindner dominates his party, which he returned to parliament in 2017 after a four-year absence. He is bringing Free Democrats to government after halting talks four years ago to join Merkel’s last administration. Lindner, 42, says “we stand for strong finances in Germany and Europe”. He insisted that the new coalition government not raise taxes or ease the debt brakes.


The other Greens co-leader becomes Germany’s first female foreign minister after being the party’s first chancellor candidate. His campaign never recovered from the first mistakes, but still ended with the best electoral performance ever recorded by the party. Baerbock, 40, studied political science and international law in Hamburg and London. She called for “dialogue and firmness” towards China and took a similar approach towards Russia. Baerbock has been a vocal opponent in the past of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which was built to bring more Russian gas to Germany, but is not yet operational.


The lawyer who heads the branch of the Social Democrats in the central Hesse region becomes Germany’s first female interior minister – the country’s top security official – overseeing the federal police and the intelligence agency interior. Faeser, 51, spent 12 years as his party’s spokesperson for home affairs in Hesse. She says that “of particular concern” will be to combat the threat of right-wing extremism.


The media-savvy epidemiologist, Social Democratic legislator since 2005, becomes Minister of Health. Lauterbach, 58, has been one of Germany’s most prominent voices calling for caution and tough action against COVID-19 and a regular TV expert. Lauterbach studied in Germany and the United States, notably at the Harvard School of Public Health, and is Director of the Institute for Health Economics and Clinical Epidemiology at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cologne. He says that “the pandemic will last longer than many think, but we will get there – vaccination will play the central role, but not only”.


Wolfgang Schmidt, a longtime confidant of Scholz and his deputy finance minister, will be the chancellor’s chief of staff.

The Social Democrats have also chosen the outgoing Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht as Minister of Defense. She will be replaced by lawmaker and Free Democratic lawyer Marco Buschmann.

The former leader of the Greens, Cem Ozdemir, becomes Minister of Agriculture and the first member of the Cabinet of Turkish origin.

Steffi Lemke becomes Minister of the Environment and one of only two members of the formerly Communist Eastern Cabinet.


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