Toronto Star

Scholz seals deal to succeed Merkel

Unflappabl­e, unshakable politician set to become Germany’s ninth chancellor

- GEIR MOULSON

Olaf Scholz is set to become post-Second World War Germany’s ninth chancellor, crowning a career that has seen him serve in a string of top government posts, after leading his party to an election comeback that appeared hugely unlikely just a few months ago.

The 63-year-old on Wednesday sealed a deal for his centreleft Social Democrats to lead Germany’s next government in a coalition with the environmen­talist Greens and the probusines­s Free Democrats. The agreement followed relatively quick talks that were discipline­d and discreet, qualities that reflect Scholz’s own image.

Scholz has a terse, no-nonsense approach typical of his home city of Hamburg, where he once worked as a lawyer — an even more sober style than that of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel. He joined the Social Democratic Party at 17 and elected to parliament in 1998. He is unflappabl­e and unshakably self-confident, but no master of rhetoric. During a turbulent stint as the Social Democrats’ general secretary in the early 2000s, he earned the nickname “Scholzomat” for what critics said was a habit of constantly repeating the same phrases in support of thenChance­llor Gehard Schroeder’s economic reforms.

Scholz’s experience, attention to detail and sometimes technocrat­ic image became an asset during this year’s election, in which he led the long-struggling Social Democrats from third place in polls to a narrow win in the Sept. 26 election.

The Social Democrats’ stock rose as Scholz, the finance minister and vice-chancellor in Merkel’s government, calmly ran through a largely accidentfr­ee campaign and turned in unspectacu­lar but solid performanc­es in three televised preelectio­n debates.

He also appeared to portray himself as Merkel’s natural successor, although from a different party.Scholz first served in government from 2007-09 as Merkel’s labour minister.

 ?? ?? Olaf Scholz has served in a string of top government posts.
Olaf Scholz has served in a string of top government posts.

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