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GERMANY ENTERS NEW ERA AS OLAF SCHOLZ IS SWORN IN AS CHANCELLOR

On Wednesday 8 December, the Bundestag (German parliament) formally elected Chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz to lead the first post-Merkel German government. The former vice-chancellor and finance minister is now the leader of the first three-party government, comprising the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), neoliberal, business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), and environmentalist Green Party (Greens). The final hurdle to the new federal government’s formation was overcome on Monday (6 Dec), when Green Party members voted in favour of the 177-page negotiated coalition deal, allowing all parties to sign the agreement on Tuesday. Many consider it remarkable that the three parties with such disparate political positions and visions for the country have managed to agree to form a government. On 24 November, the so-called “traffic light” coalition (referring to the parties’ colours) presented their plans to Berlin, under the title “Dare more progress”, after two months of intense negotiations following September’s election. Some key reforms include setting the target year of obtaining 80% of Germany’s electricity from renewable energies at 2030, improving the rights of asylum seekers, and making citizenship (including dual citizenship) easier to obtain for foreigners. Additionally, cannabis usage will be legalised, the minimum wage will be increased, housing will be made more affordable, and no tax hikes will be implemented. On Monday, the SPD announced its picks for its Cabinet ministers, with the most closely watched appointment of the health ministry going to Karl Lauterbach. Included in the FDP’s ministries in the Cabinet is the finance ministry, which will be led by party leader Christian Lindner. Robert Habeck, co-leader of the Greens, will be appointed as vice-chancellor and head of the so-called “super ministry” combining the economy and climate protection, while Annalena Baerbock, the other Greens co-leader, will be the next foreign minister.

FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

GERMANY
POPULATION: ±83.7 MILLION CHRISTIAN: 65.47%
EVANGELICAL:  2.01%
UNREACHED GROUPS: 26 (3.9% of pop.)

After operating under Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic government for 16 years, the German Church is unsure of its position under the new, more liberal, three-party government. Many of the new government’s planned reforms have been announced, but there is still uncertainty as to the full extent of how its policies may affect the Church. While there may be new challenges for the Church if some of its freedoms are infringed upon, there will also be new possibilities, such as those relating to immigrants, since the new government aims to make immigration easier. Some INcontext contacts in Germany shared that many Germans sense a leadership void, demonstrated by the need for a three-party ruling coalition. In the absence of a leader as strong as Angela Merkel, many Germans are searching for vision and direction, without which their questions cannot be answered. The Church is intended to meet this need with the guiding light of Jesus Christ. However, the German Church, like much of the Global Church and society at large, finds itself divided, largely due to COVID-19. If the Church is not unified, people will struggle to look to the Church for answers, since they will see that the Church cannot even agree with each other. Thus, the Church needs to overcome its divisions and look past the differences that are distracting the Church and destroying its witness and effectiveness, so that it can be Kingdom-focused and fulfil its calling to carry the Gospel to all people and provide godly answers to society’s questions that reflect our eternal hope. The Global Church can pray for the German Church to be reconciled and unified internally so that it can bring reconciliation to society and the guidance of Jesus Christ – the ultimate leader.

Please pray with us for the following:

  • For the new government to be guided by God’s values in its governance, remaining open to the Church’s input and not hindering the Church’s freedoms
  • For the German Church to overcome their differences and be a unified, Kingdom-focused Church, able to provide God’s guidance, vision, and direction to a searching society
  • For the German Church to continue encouraging each other and persevering in their work for Christ as they care for the fresh influx of foreigners and demonstrate their hope in Him

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Image: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

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