German Chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz’s center-left party meets on Saturday to decide whether to approve a deal to form a new government with green and pro-business parties – the first of three such decisions needed for Scholz takes up his post next week.
Scholz’s Social Democrats narrowly won the September 26 elections in Germany and launched negotiations with the business-friendly Greens and Free Democrats to form a government coalition that has never been attempted before at the federal level. They reached a deal on November 24 after relatively quick negotiations.
The three-way alliance aims to modernize Europe’s largest economy and step up efforts against climate change. This will send the center-right Union bloc of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel into opposition after 16 years and end an uncomfortable ‘grand coalition’ of the big traditional German parties in which the Social Democrats were the junior partners .
The plan is for Scholz to be elected chancellor on Wednesday and to lead what has been called a “traffic light” coalition after the parties’ red, green and yellow colors.
Before that happens, party members must approve the coalition deal. The Social Democrats are holding a convention on Saturday and the Free Democrats have one scheduled for Sunday. The result of a ballot made up of around 125,000 members of the Greens is expected on Monday.
Key commitments from potential partners include an increase in the German minimum wage to 12 euros ($ 13.50) an hour from the current 9.60 euros – a move which, according to Scholz, “means a salary increase for $ 10 million. citizens”. And they are also aiming to build 400,000 new apartments per year in order to curb the rise in rental prices.
Scholz, 63, has been finance minister and Merkel’s vice-chancellor since 2018. Unlike the other two parties, the Social Democrats have yet to nominate their other seven cabinet candidates, which will include interior ministers, Defense and Health. Overseeing the health ministry is a crucial task at a time when Germany imposes new restrictions to break a wave of coronavirus infections.