Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel wished Olaf Scholz good luck doing “the best job there is.” The new German parliament elected Scholz as Merkel departs after 16 years at the helm of Europe’s largest economy.
The German Bundestag elected Olaf Scholz as chancellor on Wednesday morning, as Angela Merkel bows out from the political stage.
The morning vote by Germany’s lower legislative chamber — held by secret ballot and without debate — was seen as a formality.
Merkel wished Scholz the best of luck, using a German idiom that might be loosely translated as a “felicitous hand,” while carrying out “the best job there is.”
“I know from personal experience what a moving moment it is to be elected to this office.”
President of the Bundestag Bärbel Bas opened the voting. Members of the parliament voted by 395 of 707 votes cast for Scholz to become Germany’s new head of government.
However, not all members of Scholz’s so-called “traffic light coalition” voted in favor. Had they done so, he would have had received 416 votes.
There were 303 votes against, and 6 abstentions from a total of 736.
For his part, Scholz tweeted that he had accepted the task when called upon to accept by the Bundestag president. “I said ‘yes’,” he wrote.
Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats (SPD) emerged as the largest party in September’s general election and has since negotiated a coalition deal with the environmentalist Greens and the business-focused Free Democratic Party (FDP).
Congratulations from outside Germany
US President Joe Biden congratulated Scholz, vowing “strong ties,” between both countries.
Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Biden also wanted to thank Angela Merkel, who has stepped down after “her many years of leadership in Germany.”
French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday told new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz the two countries would work together to shape the future of Europe.
“We will write the next chapter together. For the French, for the Germans, for the Europeans,” Macron told Scholz in a tweet welcoming his election.
Macron also thanked Merkel for “never forgetting the lessons of history, for doing so much for us, with us, to move Europe forwards.”
Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen — herself a member of Merkel’s CDU — said she looked forward to working with Scholz.
“I wish you a good start and look forward to further trusting cooperation for a strong Europe,” she tweeted.
The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin would seek dialogue with Germany. “We hope that the president and the new chancellor develop constructive relations,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“We hope, that the German side will continue to proceed from the understanding that there is no alternative to dialogue in order to resolve even the most difficult differences of opinion.”
“Congratulations to @OlafScholz on your appointment as German Chancellor. Germany and the UK are close friends and staunch allies and I look forward to working closely together in the years ahead,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter. Scholz will be the first chancellor to have a Twitter handle under his own name while in office.