Olaf Scholz

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Olaf Scholz
Olaf Scholz - Deutscher Radiopreis 2016 01.jpg
Leader of the Social Democratic Party
Assumed office
13 February 2018
Preceded by Martin Schulz
First Mayor of Hamburg
Assumed office
7 March 2011
Preceded by Christoph Ahlhaus
Leader of the Social Democratic Party in Hamburg
Assumed office
6 November 2009
Preceded by Ingo Egloff
In office
Preceded by Jörg Kuhbier
Succeeded by Mathias Peterson
Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party in the Bundestag
In office
22 October 2009 – 10 March 2011
Leader Peter Struck
Preceded by Thomas Oppermann
Succeeded by Wilhelm Schmidt
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
Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party
In office
20 October 2002 – 21 March 2004
Leader Gerhard Schröder
Preceded by Franz Müntefering
Succeeded by Klaus Uwe Benneter
Minister of the Interior of Hamburg
In office
30 May 2001 – 31 October 2001
Mayor Ortwin Runde
Preceded by Hartmuth Wrocklage
Succeeded by Ronald Schill
Member of the Bundestag
In office
22 September 2002 – 10 March 2011
In office
27 September 1998 – 30 May 2001
Personal details
Born (1958-06-14) 14 June 1958 (age 59)
Osnabrück, Lower Saxony, West Germany (now Germany)
Political party Social Democratic Party
Alma mater University of Hamburg
Website Official website

Olaf Scholz (German pronunciation: [ˈoːlaf ˈʃɔlts]; born (1958-06-14)14 June 1958) is a German politician serving as First Mayor of Hamburg since 7 March 2011 and as Acting Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) since 13 February 2018.

A member of the Bundestag from 1998 to 2001 and again from 2002 to 2011, Scholz was Minister of the Interior of Hamburg under First Mayor Ortwin Runde from May to October 2001. He served as Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs from 2007 to 2009 and Leader of the Social Democratic Party in Hamburg from 2000 to 2004 and again since 2009.

Early life and education

Born in the northwestern city of Osnabrück, Scholz grew up in Hamburg’s Rahlstedt district and studied at the University of Hamburg to become a lawyer specializing in labour law.[1]

Political career

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.[2]

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. In this capacity, he worked closely with the CDU parliamentary floor manager Norbert Röttgen to manage and defend the grand coalition led by Chancellor Angela Merkel in parliament.[3] He also served as member of the Parliamentary Control Panel, which provides parliamentary oversight of Germany’s intelligence services BND, MAD and BfV. 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.[4][5]

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.[6] In 2010 he also participated in the annual Bilderberg Meeting in Sitges, Spain.[7]

First Mayor of Hamburg, 2011–present

Olaf Scholz in March 2011
Scholz at the 2015 SPD Congress
Scholz speaking at the Global Citizen Festival 2017 in Hamburg

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.[8] 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.[9] As host of Hamburg’s annual St. Matthias' Day banquet for the city’s civic and business leaders, he has invited several high-ranking guests of honour to the city, including Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault of France (2013), Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom (2016), and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada (2017).[10]

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.[11]

Scholz participated in the exploratory talks between the CDU, CSU and SPD parties to form a coalition government following the 2013 federal elections.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] Since January 2015, he has been serving as Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Germany for Cultural Affairs under the Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation.[16]

Under Scholz’ leadership, the Social Democrats handily won the 2015 state elections in Hamburg, receiving around 47 percent of the vote.[17] 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;[18] the citizens of Hamburg, however, later rejected the candidacy in a referendum, with more than half voting against the project.[19]

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.[20]

Political positions

Within his party, Scholz is widely regarded as part of the conservative wing.[21]

After the 2017 national elections, Scholz was publicly critical of party leader Martin Schulz’s strategy and messaging, releasing a paper titled “No excuses! Answer new questions for the future! Clear principles!” With his proposals for reforming the party, he was widely interpreted to position himself as a potential challenger (or successor) to Schulz within the SPD. In the weeks since his party first started weighing a return to government, Scholz urged compromise and is one of the SPD members more inclined toward another grand coalition.[22]

Other activities

Corporate boards

  • 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)
  • Deutsche Nationalstiftung, Member of the Senate[23]
  • Deutsches Museum, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Hamburg Leuchtfeuer, Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Herbert and Elsbeth Weichmann Foundation, 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[24]
  • Food, Beverages and Catering Union (NGG), Member
  • ZDF, Member of the Television Board (2002-2010)
  • Policy Network, Member of the Board (2002-2007)


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.[25] 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."[26]

Scholz came under fire during the riots that took place during 2017 G20 summit in Hamburg; he Scholz apologized to residents, but refused to resign.[27]

Personal life

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


  1. ^ Guy Chazan (February 9, 2018), Olaf Scholz, a sound guardian for Germany’s finances Financial Times.
  2. ^ Richard Bernstein (February 7, 2004), [1] New York Times.
  3. ^ Sebastian Fischer (November 13, 2007), Müntefering Resignation: Merkel Loses 'Mr. Grand Coalition' Spiegel Online.
  4. ^ Andreas Cremer and Brian Parkin, "Muentefering, Vice-Chancellor Under Merkel, Quits", Bloomberg.com, November 13, 2007.
  5. ^ "Merkel defends record as Germany's tense governing coalition hits 2-year mark", Associated Press, 21 November 2007.
  6. ^ Olaf Scholz SPD Parliamentary Group.
  7. ^ Official Bilderberg Meeting Website Archived 2010-06-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ AICGS Coverage of the 2011 Land Elections
  9. ^ Expected Attendees at Tonight's State Dinner Office of the First Lady of the United States, press release of June 7, 2011.
  10. ^ Josh Wingrove (February 17, 2017), Trudeau Stresses Fair Wages, Tax Compliance in Warning to Europe Bloomberg News.
  11. ^ Nicholas Brautlecht (September 23, 2013), Hamburg Backs EU2 Billion Buyback of Power Grids in Plebiscite Bloomberg News.
  12. ^ Arne Delfs and Patrick Donahue (September 30, 2013), Germany Sets Coalition Talks Date as Weeks of Bartering Loom Bloomberg News.
  13. ^ Patrick Donahue (October 28, 2013), Merkel Enters Concrete SPD Talks as Finance Post Looms Bloomberg News.
  14. ^ Rainer Buergin and Birgit Jennen (September 20, 2013), Schaeuble Seen Keeping Finance Post Even in SPD Coalition Bloomberg News.
  15. ^ Rainer Buergin (March 4, 2015), Merkel Weighs End of Reunification Tax for East Germany Bloomberg Business.
  16. ^ Scholz Bevollmächtigter für deutsch-französische Kulturzusammenarbeit Die Welt, January 21, 2015.
  17. ^ Caroline Copley (February 15, 2015), Merkel's Conservatives Suffer Blow in State Vote, Eurosceptics Gain New York Times.
  18. ^ Hamburg mayor: our Olympics will cost $12.6bn, less than London 2012 The Guardian, October 8, 2015.
  19. ^ Karolos Grohmann (November 29, 2015), Hamburg drops 2024 Games bid after referendum defeat Reuters.
  20. ^ Arno Schuetze and Foo Yun Chee (May 27, 2015), HSH Nordbank strikes rescue deal with EU Reuters.
  21. ^ Guy Chazan (February 9, 2018), Olaf Scholz, a sound guardian for Germany’s finances Financial Times.
  22. ^ Emily Schultheis (January 5, 2018), 8 key players in Germany’s coalition talks Politico Europe.
  23. ^ Senate, Deutsche Nationalstiftung.
  24. ^ Study Groups, Discussion Groups and Task Forces German Council on Foreign Relations.
  25. ^ Moritz Schuller (September 7, 2003), The right to revise The Guardian
  26. ^ Ben Knight (January 19, 2016), Time to end interview authorization in Germany? Deutsche Welle
  27. ^ Guy Chazan (February 9, 2018), Olaf Scholz, a sound guardian for Germany’s finances Financial Times.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Franz Müntefering
Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Klaus Uwe Benneter
Preceded by
Martin Schulz
Leader of the Social Democratic Party

Political offices
Preceded by
Franz Müntefering
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
Succeeded by
Franz Josef Jung
Preceded by
Christoph Ahlhaus
First Mayor of Hamburg
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