Scholz’s election as German chancellor planned for December 8th

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is expected to be officially elected German chancellor on December 8th, replacing Angela Merkel after 16 years at the helm, parliament said in a planning statement on Thursday.

Olaf Scholz at Westhafen, Berlin
Incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives at Westhafen at the unveiling of the new government's coalition pact on November 24th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

“Chancellor election day expected on Wednesday, December 8th, 2021”, the Bundestag said in the note. The election of Social Democrat Scholz, 63, would officially end Merkel’s 16 years in office.

Scholz’s SPD last week announced a coalition tie-up with the Greens and liberal Free Democrats (FDP), putting the centre-left in charge for the first time in 16 years.

Scholz, 63, was labour minister in Merkel’s first coalition from 2007 to 2009 before taking over as vice-chancellor and finance minister in 2015.

Known for being meticulous, confident and fiercely ambitious, he has cemented his reputation as a fiscal conservative — something that at times puts him at odds with his workers’ party.

During the election campaign, Scholz had styled himself as the continuity candidate, mimicking Merkel down to her “rhombus” hand gesture.

In the run-up to the power transfer, Merkel had taken pains to ensure an orderly transition — taking Scholz with her to the G20 summit in October in Rome where he also participated in key bilateral meetings including with US President Joe Biden.

He has also featured prominently in talks on Germany’s response to tame surging coronavirus infections.

In strong endorsement for him, Merkel herself has shrugged aside the fact that Scholz stems from a rival political party, saying she will be “able to sleep soundly” with him as chancellor.

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel set to hand over power

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Turkish support in Germany for Erdogan fuels integration debate

Strong backing for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan among Turks in Germany in last weekend's historic election has sparked renewed soul-searching about whether Berlin's attempts to integrate the minority are failing.

Turkish support in Germany for Erdogan fuels integration debate

There were scenes of jubilation in some German cities after Erdogan extended his two decade rule in Sunday’s runoff vote, with cars decked out with flags driving through the streets and honking.

Germany — home to the world’s biggest Turkish community overseas — had about 1.5 million registered voters in the polls, and Erdogan received some 67 percent of votes cast.

That is far above the 52 percent share of the vote Turkey’s longest-serving leader garnered at home, where he had to overcome strong competition from secular challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

That so many voters in a liberal European democracy opted for a ruler frequently accused of pursuing increasingly authoritarian policies sparked fresh debate over Berlin’s integration policies.

Most of those celebrating Erdogan’s victory in Germany “were born here, went to school here, enjoy freedom and prosperity, but consider the ‘West’ the realm of evil,” read a commentary piece in conservative daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

“It is a truism that is now being echoed from left to right — something is going wrong with integration in Germany.”

READ ALSO: Are Germany’s Turkish voters more likely to back Erdogan?

The results fed into a political row on a plan by the coalition government, led by the left-leaning SPD, to ease the path to gaining German citizenship and make it easier to become a dual citizen, which is almost impossible under current rules.

“After this Turkish election, the (coalition) should finally have understood: ‘turbo naturalisation’ and dual citizenship for all are the wrong way,” Andrea Lindholz, a lawmaker from the right-wing CSU party told the Bild tabloid.

But Islam expert Ahmad Mansour argued the result should not stop the rules on dual citizenship being changed — as most of those who voted only held Turkish citizenship and were banned from having two passports.

‘Emotional approach’

Erdogan’s success in Germany was helped in large part by well-organised, and well funded overseas organisations, said Gokay Sofuoglu, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, which advocates for greater rights for those of Turkish origin.

“Of course, they can mobilise a lot of people,” he told AFP.

Erdogan was presented as a strong, successful leader in a way that would appeal to Turks in Germany, many of whom are descended from so-called “guest workers” who arrived under an economic programme in the 1960s and ’70s, and hailed from rural, conservative communities.

READ ALSO: Turks in Germany hope for citizenship law overhaul

Turkish flag Berlin Kottbusser Tor

A Turkish flag hangs from a balcony near Berlin’s Kottbusser Tor. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

While many Turks in modern-day Germany have high levels of education, good jobs and decent incomes, critics say some can still feel disillusioned by relatively low levels of participation in politics and civil society.

In contrast to Erdogan’s “emotional approach” to the Turkish community in Europe’s most populous country, Germany appeared to have little to offer, said Eren Guvercin, a Turkish journalist living in the country.

Those who are not seeking to develop “counter-offers” to build up “emotional access” to Turks in Germany, “should not be surprised that Erdogan fills this gap,” he added.

‘Conservative attitudes’

As Germany sought to get back on its feet after World War II, hundreds of thousands of Turks came over to work in industries ranging from construction to car-making.

Times were often tough for the newcomers, many of whom earned lower salaries than Germans and lived in low-quality housing. But many stayed and brought family members over, and are now an integral party of society.

Germany is home to about three million people of Turkish origin, although many hold only German citizenship, due to the current ban on dual nationalities for migrants from non-EU states.

Turkish election polling station Germany

A polling station in Hannover displays a Turkish flag during the Turkish elections. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

Despite the worries triggered by the weekend election results, some argue that the backing for Erdogan in Germany should not ring alarm bells.

Many of the best integrated Turks have in fact taken on German nationality over the years, which excluded them from the vote, observers note.

The result also fits with a trend of strong support for the leader among Turks in other parts of Europe where, as in Germany, migrant communities originally came from rural communities, Yunus Ulusoy, from the Centre for Turkish Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen, told AFP.

READ ALSO: Turkish diaspora voters head to the polls in Germany

“They brought conservative, religious attitudes with them to the countries where they migrated,” he said.

In countries like the United States and Britain, where Turkish migrants usually hail from more affluent backgrounds, the opposition typically performs better, he added.

By Sam Reeves