November 25, 2021 08:09
German Social Democrat leader Olaf Scholz is poised to become the country's new chancellor, announcing Wednesday he has reached an agreement with the environmentalist Greens party and the pro-business Free Democrats to form a coalition government that will end the 16-year administration of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Scholz, the center-left leader among Germany's major political figures, crafted a 177-page pact with the other parties to advance public investment in green technology and the country's economy before returning to strict debt limits starting in 2023.
Scholz, who has been Merkel's finance minister and vice chancellor since 2018, said he expected members of the three parties would agree to the coalition government in the next 10 days. "We want to dare to make more progress," Scholz told a news conference in Berlin, flanked by leaders of the Free Democrats and Greens. "We will massively invest in Germany to keep it at the forefront."
Scholz, 63, said the new government would not seek "the lowest common denominator, but the politics of big impacts." On foreign policy, he expressed the importance of a sovereign Europe, friendship with France and partnership with the United States, continuing Germany's long tradition in the aftermath of its defeat in two world wars in the 20th century.
The three parties have been negotiating an agreement since the Social Democrats narrowly won the country's national election on Sept. 26. Merkel, who has led Germany since 2005, did not seek a fifth term as chancellor.
The three would-be governing parties say they hope parliament will elect Scholz as chancellor in the week beginning Dec. 6. But first, their deal requires approval from a ballot of the Greens' roughly 125,000 members and from conventions of the other two parties.
The political alliance is unusual because it brings together two traditionally left-leaning parties with one, the Free Democrats, which has tended to ally with the center-right.
A preliminary agreement last month indicated that Germany, Europe's most powerful economy, would move up its deadline for ending the use of coal-fueled power from 2038 to 2030, while expanding renewable energy generation. At the Free Democrats' insistence, the three partners said they won't raise taxes or loosen curbs on running up debt.
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