Germany’s finance minister run for chancellor in 2021 vote

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File—File picture taken May 14, 2020 shows German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz addressing the media during a press conference in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party plans to name Finance Minister Olaf Scholz as its candidate to become chancellor in the country’s national election next year.

Party co-leader Saskia Esken said Monday on Twitter that the decision “represents an unexpected twist for some” but asked for members’ trust going forward.

Scholz, 62, who is considered to be on the right of the Social Democrats, will face a candidate yet to be named by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc. Merkel herself has said she won’t run for a fifth term in the 2021 election.

A former mayor of Hamburg, Scholz took on the finance portfolio in Merkel’s Cabinet two years ago. He largely continued his conservative predecessor’s frugal policies until the coronavirus pandemic forced the German government to loosen the purse strings in a bid to keep the economy afloat.

Support for the Social Democratic Party has slumped from 20.5% in the 2017 election to around 15% in recent opinion polls. Along with a decline in its traditional working class support, the party has been overtaken on the left by the environmentalist Green Party.

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