Olaf Scholz called on his party to make the fight against the coronavirus the new German government’s foremost task as his party approved the coalition agreement that moves him a step closer to replacing Angela Merkel as chancellor.
“It is clear that our first and most important task is to protect the health of the citizens and to fight the pandemic,” Scholz, who is due to be sworn in on Wednesday, told SPD delegates at a party conference in Berlin.
Scholz’s Social Democrats overwhelmingly supported the 177-page coalition accord that outlines the government’s plan for the next four years. The pro-business FDP is set to approve the deal at a meeting, while the Greens are waiting for the results of a membership ballot that will conclude and is also likely to endorse the agreement.
Merkel, 67, who is stepping aside from politics, has remained in charge as caretaker chancellor since the SPD’s narrow victory in September’s national election.
The complex negotiations needed to forge an alliance of three parties led to a prolonged transfer of power which has complicated the battle against a brutal surge in Covid-19 infections.
Fighting Germany’s worst outbreak of the pandemic will dominate Scholz’s first weeks in office, overshadowing the new government’s ambitious agenda to transform Europe’s largest economy into a climate leader.