Can Germany’s New Chancellor Revive the Left in Europe? - The New York Times
Dec 07, 2021 2 mins, 49 secs
Olaf Scholz wants to win back workers who defected to the populist far right.

Success could make him a model for Social Democrats everywhere.

BERLIN — Last December, as he was plotting what most considered to be a hopeless bid to become Germany’s next chancellor, Olaf Scholz interrupted his campaign preparations for a video call with an American philosopher.

Scholz, a Social Democrat, wanted to talk to the philosopher, Prof.

Sandel of Harvard, about why center-left parties like his had been losing working class voters to populists, and the two men spent an hour discussing a seemingly simple theme that would become the centerpiece of the Scholz campaign: “Respect.”.

Scholz will be sworn in as Germany’s ninth postwar chancellor — and the first Social Democrat in 16 years — succeeding Angela Merkel and heading a three-party coalition government.

For the first time since 2005, the Social Democrats became the strongest party among the working class.

“But he is a Social Democrat to the core.”.

Yet he also intends to make Germany a political laboratory of sorts, to try to repair the bridge between the Social Democrats and the working class, an effort with parallels to President Biden’s political agenda in the United States.

Then he spent months analyzing why the Democrats lost and reading a raft of books by authors from working class backgrounds in the United States, France and Germany.

Scholz’s own party collapsed in the 2017 election, losing for the fourth time in a row, he wrote an unsparing paper concluding that one reason the Social Democrats had lost their core voters was because they had failed to offer them “recognition.”.

“What Social Democratic elites missed was the insult implicit in this response to inequality, because what it said was, ‘If you’re struggling in the new economy, your failure is your fault.’”.

During the last Social Democratic government in Germany, the chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, cut benefits and undertook a painful overhaul of the labor market between 2003 to 2005 in a bid to bring down a jobless toll that had surpassed five million.

Scholz, then the party’s general secretary, became the public face of the changes.

For the first time in 16 years, Germany will have a center-left government and a new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, whose job will be to fill the shoes of Angela Merkel.

Who is Olaf Scholz.

Scholz brings together three parties — the Social Democrats, the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats.

“He was an idealist in his youth, then became a technocrat and even a hyper-technocrat, but I think he might be getting more radical again, at a more advanced age,” said Kevin Kühnert, a prominent figure in the Social Democrat’s left wing who is the party’s new general secretary.

Scholz said during the campaign.

Across the European Union, Social Democrats govern in nine of the 27 member states, and lessons from Germany are already proving influential.

The Social Democrats came in first in the splintered September vote in Germany, but mustered only 26 percent of the total, a far cry from the 40 percent they recorded at the start of Mr

Kühnert, the party’s general secretary, said that Mr

Scholz’s challenge is to show that the Social Democratic model is the right approach for the country and beyond

“We hope that our election victory in Germany will send a signal for the revival of social democracy internationally,” Mr


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