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The Rise of Olaf Scholz and the Social Democrats

September 24, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

Since the beginning of August, the Social Democrats have seen a jump from 16 to 26 percent in opinion polls in the final weeks of Germany’s federal election campaign. The SPD’s Kanzlerkandidat Olaf Scholz is largely credited with this turnaround. In snap polls following each of the three television debates between the three candidates for chancellor, Scholz was dubbed the winner for projecting continuity after Angela Merkel leaves office. After the most recent debate this past Sunday, 42 percent of viewers found him to be the most convincing. The CDU’s Armin Laschet ranked second with 27 percent, followed by the Green’s Annalena Baerbock at 25 percent.

Olaf Scholz has several key advisors yet few of them are as close to him as Wolfgang Schmidt, who currently serves as State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance. Their political careers have been intertwined for 20 years, and since early this year Schmidt has been an outspoken advocate for his boss. He believes Olaf Scholz is the best person to succeed Angela Merkel. Join us for a discussion about the turnaround of the SPD and the career of Olaf Scholz.

Wolfgang Schmidt has served as State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Finance since March of 2018. In this capacity, he is responsible for economic and fiscal policy strategy, international economy, and finance. Previously, he worked directly with Olaf Scholz and served as State Secretary of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Commissioner of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg to the Federation, to the European Union, and for foreign affairs. From 2014 to 2015, he chaired the Conference of the Länder Ministers for European Affairs and from 2015 to 2018 he was a member of the European Committee of the Regions.

Trained as a lawyer and active as a Juso (Young Social Democrat), earlier in his career Mr. Schmidt served as Chief-of-Staff to the SPD Secretary-General, Chief-of-Staff to the First Parliamentary Secretary of the SPD parliamentary group, and Chief-of-Staff and Head of the Policy and Planning unit at the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.


September 24, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm