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Germany’s choice of new chancellor confirmed

Germany’s choice of new chancellor confirmed
Germany’s so-called traffic light coalition has unveiled its plan to form a government eight weeks after the federal election, with former finance minister Olaf Scholz set to be chancellor.

In a leaked 177-page draft document, titled “Dare to advance more – Alliance for Freedom, Justice and Sustainability” and seen by Reuters, the SPD (Social Democratic Party), the Greens, and the FDP (Free Democratic Party) revealed their coalition agreement for the next government of Germany. 

The leak on Wednesday came after a final day of discussions between the three parties. The deal will see Germany’s first three-way federal coalition government since the 1950s. The leak also preceded a 3pm (2pm GMT) press conference in which the coalition was formally presented.

The coalition deal includes the promise to increase the minimum wage of 12 euro per hour and will see the voting age lowered to 16. An earlier commitment to build more apartments also features in the coalition pact, with the state funding a quarter of the targeted 400,000 flats a year. 

Additional policy decisions include allowing immigrants to apply for citizenship after five years of residency and the creation of a crisis team to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new coalition also says it is ready for a constructive dialogue with Russia, according to the draft coalition agreement.

Coalition negotiations began on October 21, after the three traffic light parties – a reference to the group’s colors – laid the foundations for exploratory talks to proceed. The SDP, led by former finance minister Olaf Scholz, was narrowly declared the largest party in the Bundestag after the September 26 election. 

In an exploratory paper, the SPD, Greens, and FDP had already made some “preliminary determinations” and cleared away some issues.  

If the coalition agreement is approved by party members in the coming weeks, the traffic light coalition would replace the current coalition of the Christian Social Union and outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

The deal will also see Scholz replace Merkel as the country’s chancellor after 16 years in power. The long-time leader decided not to stand for a fifth term in office.  

Speaking to the press, Scholz hailed the “groundbreaking” coalition. “The first traffic light [in Germany] was erected in Berlin in 1924 in Potsdamer Platz. At that time, it was still an unusual technology. ‘Can it work?’ people asked sceptically,” Scholz stated.

“Today, the traffic light is indispensable… My ambition as chancellor is that this traffic light alliance will play a similarly groundbreaking role for Germany.” 

Greens co-leader Annalena Baerbock admitted that the parties would always have their differences, but would work together, vowing to take the country forward through public and private investments as well as a focus on the green agenda.

The three-party bloc has vowed to modernize Europe’s largest economy by investing heavily to upgrade national infrastructure and develop green industries. Sources told Reuters that the parties had agreed to phase out coal by 2030 and to end power generation from gas by 2040.

It is understood that the Greens may get control over the foreign ministry, while Robert Habeck, the co-leader of the party, is expected to become a “superminister” overseeing the economy as well as climate and energy policy.

The announcement comes as the caretaker government, led by Merkel, struggles to manage a surge in Covid-19 cases.  

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