The German Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, has been the bet of his political formation, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) to reach the Chancellery after eight years as a minority partner of the coalition chaired by Angela Merkel.
Scholz, a pragmatic Social Democrat belonging to the most centrist current of the group, has been in the last legislature at the head of the Finance portfolio and as vice chancellor in the team of Merkel.
The rank and file of the party, tired of the grand coalition, did not want him as the leader of the group and preferred the duo formed by Saskia Eskien and Norbert Walter-Borjans.
However, when Eskien and Walter-Borjans had to choose a candidate for Chancery they resorted to Scholz knowing that he was the best suited to capture votes from the center and allay fears of a shift to the left in German politics.
Scholz, born in Osnabrück (north of Germany) in 1959, came to the fore in politics during the era of the last Social Democratic Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder.
Despite the fact that his image suffered with the serious disturbances registered in the streets of Hamburg during the G20 summit in 2017, when he was mayor-governor of the city-state, his career has been one of constant rise.
Between 2002 and 2004, when Schröder was not only Chancellor but also President of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Scholz He was secretary general of political formation and, as such, a radical defender of the package of reforms known as Agenda 2010.
Schröder’s initiative involved social cuts and led to a split within the SPD and the emergence of the Left Party, in which the Social Democratic dissidents joined the post-communists.
Being general secretary, Scholz He declared that the differences that the SPD had with the Left were greater than those it had with any other party. At that time, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) did not yet exist.
In any case, his support for Agenda 2010 and his rejection of possible coalitions with the Left have led to Scholz being routinely placed within the more conservative wing of the SPD, and the adjective “Schröderian” is even often applied to him.
His pragmatic character was again highlighted during his tenure as Minister of Labor of the first great coalition of Merkel, when he was responsible for the law that established a gradual increase in the retirement age to 67 years.
FLEXIBILITY IN SPENDING
His past and his management in the Labor portfolio made for a time that his name was almost a provocation for the left wing of the SPD.
However, there is also another side to the pragmatism of Scholz That became evident both in his tenure as mayor of Hamburg and in his time as head of Labor, and it is his willingness to resort to spending at times when he considers it necessary, without thinking too much about financing.
That continued in his tenure in recent years as Finance Minister when he had to deal with the economic repercussions of the pandemic.
As minister, he promoted the law that regulated subsidized reduced working hours, one of the key instruments with which the first grand coalition prevented unemployment from soaring in Germany during the international financial and economic crisis.
“Scholz was willing to spend money when he considered it politically necessary”, explained an analyst of the economic newspaper “Handelsblatt”, Chistoph Kapalschinski, in an article titled “The financing is arranged later”.
The same slogan seemed to guide the decisions that were made in the face of the pandemic that led Germany to relax the strict course of fiscal consolidation that it had followed with the former Finance Minister, the conservative Wolfgang Schäuble.
In the campaign of Scholz the key is in investments, related to both economic reconstruction and the fight against the climate crisis.
His management under the Government of Merkel It has allowed it to create trust in many sectors that tend to identify it as a commitment to a certain degree of continuity.
Aware of Merkel’s prestige, he has flirted with it and posed before photographers making a typical gesture of the chancellor, a diamond formed with the fingers of both hands, which created outrage among conservatives.
If he reaches the Chancellery, Scholz may have conflicts with the left wing of his party, and with the leadership, which would repeat what happened during the Schröder era when many militants left the party in protest of the 2010 agenda.
Now, however, the circumstances that invite strong state action in economic reconstruction may allow Scholz to make concessions to the most purists within the group.