A new era dawned for Germany on Wednesday, when center-left leader Olaf Scholz became its newest Chancellor.
Taking the baton from Angela Merkel, who was a quietly dominant presence in German politics for 16 years, Scholz has gargantuan shoes to fill. Pressing matters, such as a country captive to a devastating wave of COVID cases and climate change, demand his attention, as well as the need to modernise Europe’s largest economy.
Merkel wished Scholz luck at the chancellery. “Take possession of this house and work with it for the good of our country,” she said. Scholz congratulated Merkel, telling her “you made your mark on this country.”
During the swearing-in ceremony Scholz, a professed non-believer, opted to drop the phrase “so help me God.” It makes him the second Chancellor to do so since Gerhard Schroeder, Merkel’s predecessor, in 1998.
Scholz will lead a left-liberal coalition of three parties, a first for the country.