Olaf Scholz

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Olaf Scholz
Olaf Scholz – Bürgerschaftswahl in Hamburg 2015 02.jpg
First Mayor of Hamburg
Assumed office
7 March 2011
Preceded by Christoph Ahlhaus
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
In office
21 November 2007 – 27 October 2009
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Franz Müntefering
Succeeded by Franz Josef Jung
Minister of the Interior of Hamburg
In office
30 May 2001 – 31 October 2001
Mayor Krista Sager
Preceded by Hartmuth Wrocklage
Succeeded by Ronald Schill
Personal details
Born (1958-06-06) 6 June 1958 (age 58)
Osnabrück, Germany
Political party Social Democratic Party
Alma mater University of Hamburg
Website Official website

Olaf Scholz (German pronunciation: [ˈoːlɐf ˈʃɔlts]; born (1958-06-14)14 June 1958, in Osnabrück) is a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and First Mayor of Hamburg since 7 March 2011.

Political career[edit]

A former Vice President of the International Union of Socialist Youth, Scholz represented Hamburg Altona in the Bundestag between 1998 and 2001 as well as between 2002 and 2011. From May to October 2001, he was Minister of the Interior (Innensenator) of Hamburg under First Mayor Ortwin Runde and from 2002 to 2004 he was Secretary-General of the SPD; he resigned from that office when Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, facing disaffection within his own party and hampered by persistently low public approval ratings, announced that he would step down as chairman of the Social Democratic Party.[1]

Scholz served as the SPD parliamentary group’s spokesperson on the inquiry committee investigating the German Visa Affair in 2005. Following the federal elections later that year, he served as First Parliamentary Secretary of the SPD parliamentary group and as Member of the Parliamentary Control Panel, which provides parliamentary oversight of Germany’s intelligence services. In addition, he was a member of the parliamentary body in charge of appointing judges to the Highest Courts of Justice, namely the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), the Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG), the Federal Fiscal Court (BFH), the Federal Labour Court (BAG), and the Federal Social Court (BSG).

Scholz succeeded Franz Müntefering as Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in the first cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel, when Müntefering left office in November 2007.[2][3]

Following the 2009 elections, Scholz served as deputy chairman of the SPD parliamentary group. Between 2009 and 2011, he served on the group’s Afghanistan/Pakistan Task Force.[4] In 2010 he also participated in the annual Bilderberg Meeting in Sitges, Spain.[5]

First Mayor of Hamburg, 2011-present[edit]

On 20 February 2011 the Social Democrats led by Scholz won the 2011 Hamburg state election with 48.3% of the votes, resulting in 62 out of 121 seats in the Hamburg Parliament.[6] Scholz resigned as a member of the seventeenth Bundestag on 11 March 2011 shortly after his election as First Mayor; Dorothee Stapelfeldt, also a Social Democrat, was made Deputy First Mayor.

On June 7, 2011, Scholz attended the state dinner hosted by President Barack Obama in honor of Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House.[7]

In 2013, Scholz opposed a public initiative aiming at a complete buyback of energy grids Hamburg had sold to utilities Vattenfall Europe AG and E.ON decades before; he argued this would overburden the city, whose debt pile stood at more than 20 billion euros at the time.[8]

Scholz participated in the exploratory talks between the CDU, CSU and SPD parties to form a coalition government following the 2013 federal elections.[9] In the subsequent negotiations, he led the SPD delegation in the financial policy working group; his co-chair from the CDU/CSU was Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.[10] Alongside fellow Social Democrats Jörg Asmussen and Thomas Oppermann, Scholz was considered a possible successor to Schäuble in the post of finance minister at the time.[11]

In a paper compiled in late 2014, Scholz and Schäuble proposed redirecting revenue from the so-called solidarity surcharge on income and corporate tax (Solidaritätszuschlag) to subsidize the federal states’ interest payments.[12]

Under Scholz’ leadership, the Social Democrats handily won the 2015 state elections in Hamburg, receiving around 47 percent of the vote.[13] His coalition government with the Green Party – with Green leader Katharina Fegebank serving as Deputy First Mayor – was sworn in on 15 April 2015.

In 2015, Scholz led Hamburg’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics at an estimated budget of 11.2 billion euros ($12.6 billion), competing against Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and Budapest;[14] the citizens of Hamburg, however, later rejected the candidacy in a referendum, with more than half voting against the project.[15]

In 2015, Scholz – alongside Minister-President Torsten Albig of Schleswig-Holstein – negotiated a restructuring deal with the European Commission that allowed the German regional lender HSH Nordbank to offload 6.2 billion euros in troubled assets – mainly non-performing ship loans – onto its government majority owners and avoid being shut down, saving around 2,500 jobs.[16]

Other activities[edit]

  • HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, Ex-Officio Chairman of the Supervisory Board
  • Hamburger Marketing Gesellschaft mbH (HMG GmbH), Ex-Officio Chairman of the Supervisory Board
  • Stiftung Lebendige Stadt, Member of the Board of Trustees (since 2009)
  • Deutsches Museum, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Hamburg Leuchtfeuer, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Übersee-Club, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • ZDF, Member of the Board of Directors
  • German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), Chairman of the Task Force on International Aviation Policy[17]
  • ZDF, Member of the Television Board (2002-2010)
  • Policy Network, Member of the Board (2002-2007)

Controversy[edit]

When Die Tageszeitung interviewed Scholz, then serving as secretary general of the ruling SPD, during a 2003 party conference, he later demanded massive changes and threatened to pull the entire piece. When the editors said they would go ahead and publish it without authorization, Scholz warned that the paper would be excluded from all future SPD background talks.[18] The newspaper published the interview with all of Scholz's answers blacked, and the paper's editor-in-chief Bascha Mika condemned his behavior as a "betrayal of the claim to a free press, a betrayal of the journalist's self-definition, a betrayal of the reader."[19]

Personal life[edit]

Olaf Scholz is married with Britta Ernst (born 1961); they have no children. She is also a politician (SPD).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richard Bernstein (February 7, 2004), [1] New York Times.
  2. ^ Andreas Cremer and Brian Parkin, "Muentefering, Vice-Chancellor Under Merkel, Quits", Bloomberg.com, November 13, 2007.
  3. ^ "Merkel defends record as Germany's tense governing coalition hits 2-year mark", Associated Press, 21 November 2007.
  4. ^ Olaf Scholz SPD Parliamentary Group.
  5. ^ Official Bilderberg Meeting Website
  6. ^ AICGS Coverage of the 2011 Land Elections
  7. ^ Expected Attendees at Tonight's State Dinner Office of the First Lady of the United States, press release of June 7, 2011.
  8. ^ Nicholas Brautlecht (September 23, 2013), Hamburg Backs EU2 Billion Buyback of Power Grids in Plebiscite Bloomberg News.
  9. ^ Arne Delfs and Patrick Donahue (September 30, 2013), Germany Sets Coalition Talks Date as Weeks of Bartering Loom Bloomberg News.
  10. ^ Patrick Donahue (October 28, 2013), Merkel Enters Concrete SPD Talks as Finance Post Looms Bloomberg News.
  11. ^ Rainer Buergin and Birgit Jennen (September 20, 2013), Schaeuble Seen Keeping Finance Post Even in SPD Coalition Bloomberg News.
  12. ^ Rainer Buergin (March 4, 2015), Merkel Weighs End of Reunification Tax for East Germany Bloomberg Business.
  13. ^ Caroline Copley (February 15, 2015), Merkel's Conservatives Suffer Blow in State Vote, Eurosceptics Gain New York Times.
  14. ^ Hamburg mayor: our Olympics will cost $12.6bn, less than London 2012 The Guardian, October 8, 2015.
  15. ^ Karolos Grohmann (November 29, 2015), Hamburg drops 2024 Games bid after referendum defeat Reuters.
  16. ^ Arno Schuetze and Foo Yun Chee (May 27, 2015), HSH Nordbank strikes rescue deal with EU Reuters.
  17. ^ Study Groups, Discussion Groups and Task Forces German Council on Foreign Relations.
  18. ^ Moritz Schuller (September 7, 2003), The right to revise The Guardian
  19. ^ Ben Knight (January 19, 2016), Time to end interview authorization in Germany? Deutsche Welle
Party political offices
Preceded by
Franz Müntefering
Secretary-General of the Social Democratic Party
2002–2004
Succeeded by
Klaus Uwe Benneter
Political offices
Preceded by
Franz Müntefering
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
2007–2009
Succeeded by
Franz Josef Jung
Preceded by
Christoph Ahlhaus
First Mayor of Hamburg
2011–present
Incumbent