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The leaders of the three parties determined to form Germany’s new government have announced a coalition deal to make Social Democrat Olaf Scholz the country’s next chancellor.



ARI SHAPIRO, host:

Germany met today with its new government after Angela Merkel. The three political parties that have been negotiating for weeks agreed on the form of their new coalition under a new chancellor. They also agreed on a long list of priorities and a new direction for Germany.

NPR Berlin correspondent Rob Schmitz joins us to talk about this. Hey, Rob.

ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Tell us about these three parties and the direction they intend to take Germany.

SCHMITZ: Yes. Germany’s new coalition will consist of the center-left Social Democrats, the Libertarian Free Democrats and the climate-focused Green Party. And they have just released a coalition agreement that delivers many bold and aggressive promises, which, if fulfilled, will take Germany far beyond the country where Merkel has led the country. First of all, climate change and a carbon neutral economy are a very big part of this deal. This new coalition government aims to phase out coal, ideally within the next eight years – sooner than Merkel had planned. It also aims for Germany to rely on 80% of its renewable resources by 2030 – a bold goal if it can be achieved and which will require a complete transformation of Germany’s industrial landscape. The next chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke about this today. Here is what he said.

(TECHNIQUE OF ARCHIVED REGISTRATION)

OLAF SCHOLZ: (Spoken in non-English).

SCHMITZ: And he is saying here that this deal means Germany’s biggest industrial modernization in more than 100 years. And they will seek to expand renewable energy at a completely different pace from what Germany is used to, because that means that German citizens and its economy are more likely to be dependent on electricity from now on. from renewable energy. He said that this is good for our country and the rest of the world, because if Germany develops the technologies and knowledge needed to make its industrial sector green and competitive globally, then this can be a model for all others.

SHAPIRO: All right. So in addition to fighting climate change, what are the top priorities in this agreement?

SCHMITZ: Well, the liberalization of social policies in Germany seems to be another key goal for this future government. Scholz’s long-held plan for a minimum wage of 12 euros is working. That equates to about $ 14 an hour, and that means a pay rise for more than 10 million Germans. This is more than 10% of the country. He also announced that the new government will aim to build 400,000 new homes a year and that the government will subsidize a quarter of this new stock. This is an attempt to get rid of the impending housing crisis in Germany and out-of-control rents in much of urban Germany. The agreement also included easing citizenship rules so that immigrants could obtain dual citizenship more quickly. This is an effort to help resolve the country’s aging workforce. And the agreement also promised legalization of cannabis for adult use.

SHAPIRO: This is very much on the domestic agenda, and we have not yet talked about the rest of the world. What is on the foreign agenda?

SCHMITZ: Yes, there will be many changes in that category as well. Although Scholz did not name his new cabinet members, Annalena Baerbock of the Green Party is expected to be the country’s first female foreign minister. And she wants Germany to play a safer role on the international stage. It is interesting that it will put Germany on a path closer to the United States. The Green Party is deeply concerned about human rights, and Baerbock has vowed to do more to oppose autocratic leaders like Vladimir Putin in Russia and Xi Jinping in China. In fact, the new coalition agreement includes language about China’s threat to Taiwan and says Germany’s new foreign policy will place a greater focus on values.

SHAPIRO: When does the transition take place?

SCHMITZ: Well, this coalition deal now goes to all three parties so that their members can vote on it. And we are expected to see the end of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government within two weeks. And Olaf Scholz and this three-party coalition government will start ruling Germany.

SHAPIRO: This is NPR Berlin correspondent Rob Schmitz. Thank you.

SCHMITZ: Thank you.

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