German Chancellor Angela Merkel is stepping down after 16 years of serving in the role, with Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz expected to take office on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.
Merkel, a member of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), was made the first female chancellor of Germany on Nov. 22, 2005, according to the AP. Her 16-year tenure in the position is second only to former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who held the post for roughly one week longer than Merkel.
Scholz, the former mayor of Hamburg and member of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SDP), will succeed Merkel as chancellor. Scholz and Merkel met on Dec. 2 to discuss further COVID-19 lockdown measures for the unvaccinated in Germany as Scholz prepared to take the position. (RELATED: France And Germany Restrict Moderna Vaccine For Those Under 30)
Merkel’s CDU party is currently coming off its worst performing year since its founding, only garnering 24.1% of the vote in the September German Federal Election. The SDP, meanwhile, managed to collect 25.7% of the vote, giving Scholz’s party the ultimate edge.
The SDP managed to cobble together a coalition with the Free Democrats, a pro-business faction, as well as the environmentalist Greens, the AP reported.
Merkel’s extensive term in office was not without friction among key allies. Sen. Tom Cotton referred to Merkel as a “friend to the Chinese Communist Party” following her 12th official trip to Beijing.
Merkel also faced criticism from within Germany, with thousands of Germans marching in protest against her immigration policy in 2018. “Merkel must go!” protestors chanted at the time.
“Sixteen years as chancellor of Germany were full of events, often very challenging — politically and as a human being,” Merkel said at her farewell address on Dec. 2. She added that Democracy’s longevity will be dependent “on solidarity, on listening to one another, and also on facts.”
“I would like to encourage you in the future to look at the world from other people’s perspectives as well,” the then-chancellor concluded.