Germany swears in new Chancellor to end Angela Merkel 16 years reign

Angela Merkel bows out from the political stage on Wednesday as she hands over to new Chancellor, Olaf Scholz.

Olaf Scholz took his oath of office at the Bundestag on Wednesday as he became Germany's new chancellor after he was elected by the German Bundestag. The vote by Germany's lower legislative chamber — held by secret ballot and without debate — was seen as a formality.

Scholz's centre-left Social-Democratic party of Germany (SPD) and its coalition partners, the Free Democrats and the Greens, have 416 seats in the 736 lower house of the German parliament.

Merkel who is standing down after 16 years at the helm wished Scholz luck at a handover ceremony at the chancellery.

“Take possession of this house and work with it for the good of our country,” she said. Scholz thanked Merkel for her work, telling her “you made your mark on this country.”

Scholz said on Tuesday that the new government -- which forces Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) into opposition for the first time since 2005 -- "takes up the major challenges of this decade and well beyond that".

If it succeeds, he said, “that is a mandate to be re-elected together at the next election”.

Scholz, 63, has been Germany’s vice-chancellor and finance minister since 2018 and is a former mayor of the city of Hamburg.

A former lawyer who joined the Social Democrats at 17, Scholz had been positioning himself to succeed Merkel for some time.

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