Olaf Scholz, a man who wants to be Merkel’s successor


Edits of Olaf Scholz

Asked during the summer if he did not like it, Olaf Scholz replied that he was “running for the chancellor’s job, not the circus director”.

It was a compound from a very cold and sometimes robotic person so called “Scholzomat”. In some countries this may be a disability, but in Germany it is better. Just two weeks before the national election, Scholz is set to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor.

It’s an amazing development. A few months ago Scholz’s Social Democrats suffered between 14 and 16% of the vote. She is now 25 years old, and has left Merkel’s CDK / CSU in the middle.

Everyone looks surprised – except for Scholz himself. He often says that this year’s elections will be special: for the first time in the history of Germany after the war that the chancellor who did not stand for election. “Then the question. . . we will be: what country do we want to run? “he told FT in the summer.” And I think a lot of people consider me better. ”

Indeed, Scholz’s credentials have been longer than his two rivals, ArmU Laschet of CDU / CSU and Annalena Baerbock of Greens, whose campaigns were marred by gaffes and mistakes. Now he seems to have managed to interpret them for the better by choosing a patient SPD.

He has done so by appointing himself as Merkel’s successor. Scholz also appeared in front of a popular magazine last month and made Merkel’s “diamond” – the chancellor’s signature. According to one ally, all of this is a direct result of the so-called “Merkel Sozis” – people who “voted for the CDU / CSU when Merkel was in power but could consider voting for the SPD or Green”.

Scholz’s request was unveiled last Sunday at a conference in Leipzig. At first he was not really impressed – a small, face-to-face person who seemed to be lost in the account meeting. But within a few minutes he urged the people to eat from his hand, repeating the straightforward message that has been the hallmark of the SPD campaign: no tax on the rich; fixed pensions; many development buildings; and carbon non-carbon dioxide.

He added that the epidemic had identified the main culprits – workers, hardworking nurses, investors in major markets and suppliers. He was applauded but “applause is… Insufficient”.

One word has become an unacceptable meaning in asking Scholz to become chancellor: “honor”. “The weather crisis has shown that our team is built, who work hard and still earn little because of the economy,” he told FT.

Proving his promises to the cause is a political belief. Scholz is a favorite of Michael Sandel, author Moral Oppression, international terrorists who are supposed to be generous have arrested and accused them of violating the alliance.

Scholz, a former labor lawyer who is married to another senior SPD politician, agrees. In an article published in March, he said that the “need for publicity” has created a problem where “all those who do not pursue a university degree or work in a large city-based manufacturing industry are disgusted”.

The message of “respect” seems to be touching. But experts underestimate the importance of SPD promises, many of which would be difficult to implement in a coalition government. “The SPD does not have a clear idea of ​​what it can do in government,” says Uwe Jun, a political scientist at Trier University. “All their work is about Scholz’s personality.”

The approach uses the fact that Scholz is a more prominent figure than his colleague Laschet, a new Prime Minister of the North Rhine-Westphalia government and a newcomer to politics, as well as Baerbock, a 40-year-old inexperienced MP in the state.

Compared to both of these Scholz is an old hand. Born in 1958 in Osnabrück, he first joined the SPD in 1975, and as a young activist he advocated “dealing with capitalist wealth”. But he later became the SPD’s wing superintendent, serving as prime minister under Merkel and Hamburg mayor for seven years since 2011. He then in 2018 became finance minister and second chancellor in Merkel’s fourth state.

In doing so he quickly led Germany to the epidemic, borrowing € 400bn to make it one of the world’s most economically viable programs.

But some are skeptical. At a conference in Leipzig, Jean-Paul Walter’s first voter wrote down what he called Scholz’s failure to hold office – riots at the 2017 G20 summit in Hamburg that he did not know or prevent, the collapse of the payroll company Wirecard and its role in the tax evasion of Cum-Ex, a business group who share the spoils of German millions of dollars. “How can I trust SPD after all this?” He asked.

Scholz said his finance ministry had “found the right thing to do” in Wirecard’s affairs and amended a number of rules to control the flow of funds. “We did not hesitate to take action,” he said.

Walter could not believe his eyes. “What I want him to say is sorry and I apologize. But it is clear he will not be able to accept the responsibility.”

guy.chazan@ft.com



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