Olaf Scholz is a German politician who has served as the chancellor of Germany since 8 December 2021. A member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), he previously served as Vice Chancellor under Angela Merkel and as Federal Minister of Finance from 2018 to 2021. He was also First Mayor of Hamburg from 2011 to 2018 and deputy leader of the SPD from 2009 to 2019. Following the 2021 German federal election, Scholz's federal government is a traffic light coalition composed of his SPD, the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP).
Early life and education
Scholz was born on 14 June 1958, in Osnabrück, Lower Saxony, but grew up in Hamburg's Rahlstedt district. His parents worked in the textile industry. He has two younger brothers, Jens Scholz, an anesthesiologist and CEO of the University Medical Center Schleswig Holstein; and Ingo Scholz, a tech entrepreneur. Olaf Scholz attended the Bekassinenau elementary school in Oldenfelde but then switched to the Großlohering elementary school in Großlohe. After graduating from high school in 1977, he began studying law at the University of Hamburg in 1978 as part of a one-stage legal training course. He later found employment as a lawyer specialising in labour and employment law. Scholz joined the Social Democratic Party at the age of 17.
Scholz's family is traditionally Lutheran and he was baptized in the Evangelical Church in Germany; he holds largely secular views and left the Church in adulthood, but has called for appreciation of the country's Christian heritage and culture.
Chancellor of Germany (2021–present)
Scholz was elected Chancellor by the Bundestag on 8 December 2021, with 395 votes in favour and 303 against. His new government was appointed on the same day by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. At 63 years, 177 days of age, Scholz is the oldest person to become Chancellor of Germany since Ludwig Erhard who was 66 years, 255 days old when he assumed office on 17 October 1963.
Scholz came to Warsaw in December 2021 for talks with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. They discussed the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which would bring Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany bypassing Poland, and Poland's dispute with the EU over the rule of law and the primacy of European Union law. Scholz backed Poland's efforts to stop the flow of migrants seeking entry from Belarus.
On 22 February 2022, Scholz announced that Germany would be halting its approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in response to Russia's recognition of two self-declared separatist republics within Ukraine. Scholz spoke against allowing the EU to cut Russia off from the SWIFT global interbank payment system. However, on 27 February, in an emergency meeting of Parliament, Scholz made an historic speech announcing a complete reversal of German military and foreign policy, including shipping weapons to Ukraine and dramatically increasing Germany's defense budget.