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Photo: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

Olaf Scholz will become the next chancellor of Germany after his center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) finalized a deal with the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) on Wednesday to form a new governing coalition.

Why it matters: Scholz, who serves as finance minister and vice chancellor in the current coalition, will lead Europe's largest economy into the post-Merkel era.

The big picture: The announcement comes three months after the SPD won an astonishing comeback victory in Germany's elections, narrowly defeating the conservative bloc that had led the government for 16 years under Angela Merkel.

  • Scholz is viewed as a steady, experienced politician who is not expected to make radical changes to Germany's foreign policy.
  • He campaigned on raising the minimum wage, tackling climate change and strengthening the European Union, and had a far stronger approval rating than Merkel's chosen successor, Armin Laschet.

Zoom in: While Scholz has long been expected to be the next chancellor — he accompanied Merkel in her meetings with foreign leaders at the G20 last month — the various portfolios in the coalition of strange bedfellows were only revealed on Wednesday.

  • Annalena Baerbock, the chancellor candidate for the Greens, will be foreign minister. Robert Habeck, the co-leader of the party alongside Baerbock, will be vice chancellor.
  • The Greens campaigned on a human rights-centric foreign policy and have been highly critical of Russia and China, in stark contrast with the more measured, less confrontational approach favored by both Merkel and Scholz.
  • Christian Lindner, who leads the fiscally conservative FDP, will be finance minister. His party favors low taxes, which could prove to be a roadblock as the SPD and Greens push for massive investment to address climate change.

Go deeper

Dec 2, 2021 - World

U.S. and EU signal "converging" views on China

President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. and the European Union are adopting "increasingly convergent" views on the threat posed by the Chinese government, according to senior Biden administration officials, deepening a trend that could tilt the scales in an era of great power competition.

Why it matters: European leaders were initially wary of President Biden's campaign to rally a coalition of U.S. allies to challenge China, hoping to duck a confrontation between the bloc's two largest trading partners. But the winds in Europe seem to be shifting, in part due to Beijing's growing belligerence.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life. The 11 charges she faces have been widely criticised as politically motivated.

4 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"