Greens join the Government. Olaf Scholz formally sworn in as German chancellor

The new German government led by Social Democratic Party leader Olaf Scholz was sworn into office at the Bundestag in Berlin today ending 16 years of leadership by Angela Merkel.

The Greens have five ministers in the 16 member cabinet, including Foreign minister: Annalena Baerbock and Vice-chancellor and minister for economics and climate protection: Robert Habeck.

Foreign Minister Baerbock who led the Greens in the September election which resulted in third place finish and nearly 90 seats in the Bundestag will now be a presence on the world stage.

It was the first time in their 40 year history that the Greens fielded a candidate for Chancellor.

Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 12.8.2021
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.
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.

The new government has said it will place dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and tackling climate change at the heart of its program.

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Foreign minister: Annalena Baerbock and Vice-chancellor and minister for economics and climate protection: Robert Habeck.

DW’s Nina Haase said that, given that Scholz’s SPD had been part of a grand coalition with Merkel’s CDU-CSU bloc, there would be some continuity. However, she added, there would be a marked change.

“The parties are completely different,” said Haase. “The Social Democrats are a center-left party. The conservatives under Anglea Merkel have blocked some of the projects that the Social Democrats had always hoped to push through with the conservatives as their partners.”

“That wasn’t possible so the Social Democrats are now going to try. They say they’re going to make the country fairer, more liberal and more digital.”

Merkel leaves office as Germany’s second-longest serving postwar chancellor, just 10 days short of the 16 years and 26 days that Helmut Kohl spent in office between 1982 and 1998.

DW’s Melinda Crane said Merkel’s departure was “the end of an era.”

“Young Germans aged 16 to 25 really don’t remember any other chancellor but Angela Merkel so this is really momentous for them,” said Crane.

The outgoing chancellor was present for the vote as a guest seated alongside her own predecessor Gerhard Schröder.

Before the September election, Merkel had already said she would not serve another term as chancellor and her conservative Christian Democrats are looking to reshape after suffering their worst-ever election result.

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New foreign minister Annalena Baerbock with Chancellor Olaf Scholz

How the new Cabinet breaks down

The new Cabinet is made up of 16 ministers — seven from the SPD, five from the Greens and four from the FDP. There is one portfolio more than in the previous government, due to the creation of a construction ministry.

  • Vice-chancellor and minister for economics and climate protection: Robert Habeck (Greens)
  • Finance minister: Christian Lindner (FDP)
  • Interior minister: Nancy Fäser (SPD)
  • Foreign minister: Annalena Baerbock (Greens)
  • Health minister: Karl Lauterbach (SPD)
  • Justice minister: Marco Buschmann (FDP)
  • Labor and social affairs: Hubertus Heil (SPD)
  • Defense minister: Christine Lambrecht (SPD)
  • Nutrition and Agriculture: Cem Özdemir (Greens)
  • Family, senior citizens, women and youth: Anne Spiegel (Greens)
  • Transport and digital: Volker Wissing (FDP)
  • Environment, nature, conservation, nuclear safety and consumer protection: Steffi Lemke (Greens)
  • Construction minister: Klara Geywitz (SPD)
  • Economic cooperation and development: Svenja Schulze (SPD)
  • Education and research: Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP)
  • Head of chancellery: Wolfgang Schmidt (SPD)