If re is a new strong man in Angela Merkel's government that is starting today, that is certainly Olaf Scholz. The former mayor of Hamburg is called to occupy second most important office in Berlin. It will be chancellor, but above all will be new finance minister, crown jewel of German government.
Its ascent to Olympus of Berlin is fruit of a certain one. The pressure of social democratic bases, which threatened until last moment with dynamiting birth of a new great coalition, forced Merkel to turn over to Social Democrats (SPD), minority partner, portfolio of finances as a trophy.
But Scholz, 59, is no newcomer to politics, where he has done almost everything. He has been Minister of Labour (2007-2009) and secretary general of SPD (2002-2004). He is a man who knows perfectly intricacies of power and that no strident decisions are expected. Within SPD, he is considered representative of party's most liberal wing.
This Monday shortly before signing coalition contract with Merkel's conservative bloc, he made it clear that, at least in domestic politics, he plans to preserve legacy of his predecessor, Wolfgang Schäuble, by continuing budgetary rigour; Very popular with Germans. "I can only spend what I have," he says, to explain that he is fleeing from debt as a plague, but that he also defends social investment, as he has shown in Hamburg in last seven years.
Scholz today becomes a key figure in design of eurozone reform and European finance, as was Schäuble. It arrives at Post also at a time when Berlin and Paris promise to "refound" Europe and strengn it to resist onslaughts of coming crises. It is not expected of Scholz major ruptures eir in this area. It is considered a convinced European, but at same time a safe and risk-free option in eyes of German taxpayer.
The government's own-Program coalition agreement places Europe at centre and promises to devote more funds to EU. The text is decidedly pro-European, yet vague, which would allow Scholz to drag his feet at time of fighting for decisive reforms, in a country like Germany, where anything that smells of financing debts from or countries produces rashes on voters.
Scholz, a labour lawyer, leaves behind mayor's office in Hamburg, second German city and great European port, where globalization is not a political ory, but a daily reality that Alderman knows first hand. It is also city that last July burned by protests against G20 summit. Unsurprisingly, Scholz has not been billed that wild and out of control clash between police and protesters in heart of Hanseatic city. Scholz was rained by criticism of summit's organizational flaws, but all of that seems like last water today.
The Germans say of Scholz that it is robotic-Scholzomat, y call it-, cold and pragmatic and it is true that its expressiveness is limited. On stage during election campaign in Hamburg last autumn, he showed himself to be in emotions and seemed rar telonero instead of strong plate of acts. Last Monday, during presentation of coalition agreement with Merkel, her first big press conference and her release, it was hard to hear him. His tone of voice was low and monocorde, accompanied by a content of similar plain, which did not allow to guess that that was new strong man of Berlin. As of today, it is.