Finance Minister Olaf Scholz set to take reigns as next chancellor
A center-left-led alliance of parties is poised Wednesday to announce a deal to form Germany's new government, putting the Social Democrats (SPD) in charge for the first time in 16 years.
Two months after the SPD beat Angela Merkel's conservative CDU-CSU coalition in a general election, its negotiators put the finishing touches on the deal with the Greens and liberal Free Democrats that will install Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, 63, as chancellor.
The relatively rapid accord is likely to be greeted by a heave of relief by international partners wary of a hamstrung Germany while crises from the coronavirus pandemic to Belarus and a weak economic recovery rage.
Critical voices within Germany have grown louder for greater urgency from the new coalition to curb a surging fourth wave of the pandemic as hospital beds fill up and new infections soar to record highs day after day.
In a sign of the emergency, Merkel, who is retiring from politics after four terms, summoned the leaders of the new coalition parties for talks over the rapidly deteriorating Covid situation midway during their last spurt of negotiations Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the parties said they will meet for a "final session" of talks.
"Afterwards, the leaders of the three parties and the candidate for chancellor, Olaf Scholz, will present the coalition agreement negotiated in recent weeks," they added.
With the so-called coalition contract, the parties have essentially set their policy roadmap for the next four years.
Expected to feature in the agreement along with their stance vis-a-vis foreign policy will be a plan to bring Germany's exit out of coal forward to 2030 from 2038 and a proposal to legalize recreational use of cannabis.