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Angela Merkel's deputy Olaf Scholz to run for chancellor in 2021 vote

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Olaf Scholz (right) has been serving as minister of finance and vice chancellor under Angela Merkel (left) since March 2018
Olaf Scholz (right) has been serving as minister of finance and vice chancellor under Angela Merkel (left) since March 2018   -   Copyright  Fabrizio Bensch/AP
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German finance minister Olaf Scholz said that he would be a candidate in the 2021 election to determine who will succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"I look forward to a fun, fair and successful election campaign," wrote Scholz after revealing that the Social Democrat Party (SPD) unanimously picked him as their candidate in 2021 chancellor election.

Scholz will run against a candidate that is yet to be designated by Chancellor Merkel's centre-right union bloc after she decided she wouldn't run for a fifth term herself.

Merkel's coalition partner and vice-chancellor, who previously served as the mayor of Hamburg, is considered to be on more conservative among the Social Democrats.

He largely continued the frugal policies of his conservative predecessors but has had to loosen up amid the coronavirus pandemic to keep Germany's economy afloat.

He made an unsuccessful bid to become SPD leader last year, with the party choosing Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans instead.

Esken wrote on Twitter that "this decision is an unexpected twist for some" and "ask[ed] for trust in our path".

The SPD is hoping for a rebound after falling in public opinion polls. Its support has dropped from 20.5% in the 2017 election to around 15% in recent opinion polls.

The party was overtaken on the left by the environmentalist Green Party, which is now the second most popular party in Germany behind the CDU/CSU.