German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said he had been proposed by his Social Democrat party’s leadership as their candidate to for Chancellor at next year’s elections, when current conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fourth and final term ends.
“Now it’s out,” Scholz said on Twitter. “I look forward to a fun, fair and successful election campaign.”
Jetzt ist es raus: Auf Vorschlag unserer Vorsitzenden @EskenSaskia und @NowaboFM haben mich Präsidium und Vorstand der @spdde gerade einstimmig als Kanzlerkandidaten nominiert. Ich freue mich auf einen tollen, fairen und erfolgreichen Wahlkampf in einem starken Team. #KK_SPD pic.twitter.com/3OFQepqQxj
— Olaf Scholz (@OlafScholz) August 10, 2020
The decision marks a comeback for the former Hamburg mayor, who was last year defeated in the race to lead his party by two left-wing outsiders. Now, Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans have nominated their erstwhile rival.
But Scholz, who has been turned by the coronavirus crisis from an austere-minded custodian of the public purse to the free-spending paymaster in charge of massive stimulus and healthcare spending to sustain Europe’s largest economy through the pandemic, faces a stiff challenge.
The party, which for decades vied with Merkel’s Christian Democrats to dominate the political scene, has not won a national election since 2002 and now languishes a distant third in most polls behind the conservatives and the upstart Greens.
In what some saw as a recognition of this reality, party co-leader Walter-Borjans on Sunday conceded what had once been anathema: that alongside the Greens, the party would be open to govern in coalition with the Left party, heirs to the Communist Party of the former East Germany.