Olaf Scholz realises 51 year-old childhood ambition

Father recalls 12-year-old child declaring he wanted to be German chancellor

Two Gerhards watched closely from the Bundestag’s VIP balcony as Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor – a day 51 years in the making.

The first Gerhard – former chancellor Gerhard Schröder – was Scholz’s boss for seven years until he was unseated in 2005 by Angela Merkel. As the Merkel era ended on Wednesday, though, Schröder was upstaged by Gerhard Scholz, father of post-war Germany’s ninth chancellor.

With the same domed head and watchful eyes, the elder Scholz recalled his son as an ambitious “smart alec” who annoyed his brothers – and talked up to his Latin teacher.

“He told me aged 12 that he wanted to be chancellor,” revealed Scholz, sitting alongside his wife Christel. Watching his son finally take charge in Berlin, he said, gave him “an uplifting feeling of happiness”.

Among others watching Scholz take his oath of office – without the usual “so help me God” conclusion – was his wife Britta Ernst, also a politician, and his two younger brothers, an IT consultant and doctor.

“I have three sons, all three are successful,” said Scholz the elder. “But of the three, the chancellor earns the least.”

On €255,150 annually, departing chancellor Angela Merkel took a stiff bow from the VIP balcony as MPs below gave her a standing ovation on her final day in the Bundestag chamber after 31 years or 5,860 days.

Just 11 more days and the 67-year-old would have overtaken her mentor Helmut Kohl as postwar Germany’s longest-serving chancellor. Instead she begins her new life with an office staff of nine but no firm plans, at least for now.

“I’ll try to read, then my eyes will fall closed because I’m tired,” she said when asked in July, “then I’ll sleep a bit and then we’ll see.”

No naps are on the cards for her crime-solving alter-ego Miss Marple in a new novel by German author David Safier. In his second mystery, amateur sleuth Miss Merkel and her loyal pug Putin have to solve the murder of a graveyard gardener in rural Germany.

With a cast of characters to rival any EU summit, the suspects include two rival undertaker families, a stonemason and a satanist.

After 16 years of saving the world at regular intervals, solving local crime sounds like a welcome change of pace for Germany’s first – retired – female chancellor.