Germany’s presumptive new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, Monday named epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach, known for his support of strong COVID-19 precautions, as his nominee to be the next health minister.
Scholz introduced Lauterbach and other nominees for Cabinet posts at a news conference in Berlin.
Scholz, who led his Social Democratic Party (SPD) to victory in September’s parliamentary elections, is now assured of being Germany’s new chancellor this week as the Green Party Monday formally accepted the terms of the coalition formed with the SPD and the Free Democrats.
Scholz on Monday introduced Lauterbach, a health economics professor at Cologne University on leave to serve as a member of parliament, saying he believed most Germans wanted a health expert to lead the Health Ministry. Lauterbach has been a frequent guest on German radio and television shows discussing the pandemic.
Lauterbach thanked Scholz for showing confidence in him and said it will take longer to end the pandemic than most people think. But he said the country will manage. Lauterbach said vaccinations will play a central part but not the only one."
Together with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats, Scholz's SPD managed in a far shorter time than expected to forge a coalition that aspires to make Germany greener and fairer.
Scholz also named Nancy Faeser, SPD’s party chief in central Hesse State, to be the first woman in the role of interior minister. The post includes oversight of federal police forces and the domestic intelligence agency. Faeser said a major focus will be fighting far-right extremism, which she called "the biggest threat" to the country.
Scholz chose current Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht to serve as defense minister. Wolfgang Schmidt, a close confidant and deputy to Scholz, will become chief of staff and head the chancellery.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.