Germany's incoming governing parties signed their agreement for what they portray as a progressive coalition on Tuesday, a day before Olaf Scholz is due to succeed longtime leader Angela Merkel as chancellor.
The agreement hammered out last month between Scholz's centre-left Social Democrats, the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats received strong backing over recent days from the three parties' members.
That has cleared the way for Scholz to be elected on Wednesday in parliament, where the coalition — which has never yet been tried in a national government — has a solid majority.
The 177-page coalition agreement is titled “Venture More Progress” — a theme that the incoming government's leaders hammered home at a signing ceremony at Berlin's Futurium museum.
Efforts to curb climate change are a top priority for the new government, particularly the Greens. Other priorities include modernizing Europe's biggest economy and introducing more liberal social policies. Above all, though, the government faces the immediate task of pushing down near-record coronavirus infection rates.
“We said that we want to venture more progress, and from this week on we want to work on progress,” said Christian Lindner, the incoming finance minister and the Free Democrats' leader. “We have no illusions — we face great challenges.”
The agreement between three parties that had significant differences before Germany's September election was reached relatively quickly and, at least in public, in unexpected harmony.
“If the good cooperation that worked while we were forming the government continues to work, it will be a very, very good time for the tasks that lie ahead of us,” Scholz said. He acknowledged that dealing with the pandemic “will demand all our strength and energy”.
Merkel, who has been chancellor for 16 years, did not seek a fifth term. Her centre-right Union bloc is going into opposition after its election defeat.