The EconomistThe Economist

A year on, Olaf Scholz’s promise of transformation is only partly kept

25 Feb 2023 · 4 min read

Germany's chancellor declared a historic "turning point" in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine. But one year later, it's not clear whether he'll keep his promises, reports The Economist.

Curated by informed

Just three days after Russia unleashed its “special military operation” to grab Ukraine, Olaf Scholz, Germany’s freshly elected chancellor, proclaimed a moment of epochal change. The term he used in a speech to parliament on February 27th last year was Zeitenwende, a “turning in time”. The last such shift, known to Germans simply as Die Wende, was the movement of 1989-90 that reunited communist East Germany with the capitalist West.

Listeners in Germany and abroad, notably those who have long pleaded for the EU’s biggest and richest state to take its security more seriously, cheered. Not only did the dour Social Democrat, whose party has since the 1970s preached pacifying Russia, condemn its aggression and lend full support to Ukraine. Mr Scholz pledged an extra €100bn ($107bn)—double the annual defence budget—to boost Germany’s defence, as well as to push future military spending above the goal of 2% of GDP that NATO members have promised since 2006, but mostly failed to sustain. He also vowed to end dependence on Russian energy.

The news, curated.

Subscribe in our mobile app to continue reading this The Economist article

Already subscribed? Sign in

Get world-class journalism from premium publishers, curated by editors and experts. All in one app.

Subscribe now and get 14 days free.