Image copyright EPA Image caption Mrs Merkel is widely expected to serve a third term in office, but will lose her office at elections
Elected leader of Germany’s Social Democrats after being endorsed by colleagues in May, Olaf Scholz is one of Europe’s most influential policymakers.
A long-serving minister, he is said to be passionate about policy and the individual, and has enjoyed a good relationship with Angela Merkel.
He has strongly backed her decision to welcome a million Syrian refugees.
But he is expected to keep Ms Merkel in power, one way or another.
During his latest career stage, he oversaw a major overhaul of employment benefits for about three million people, changing eligibility for state benefits to include staying in education and training, learning a second language and job transfers.
He first entered German politics in 1989 as deputy leader of the Free Democrats. He later served as President of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
His new role in Germany’s ruling coalition took effect when Ms Merkel held a snap election on 24 September.
He emerged from that contest with the strongest party, the SPD, on 36.9% of the vote, just 1.5% short of a parliamentary majority. The eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party secured 12.6% of the vote.
Since forming an alliance with the SPD, the ruling conservative CDU/CSU coalition has demanded that it win the 2021 election – at which point it hopes to be back in sole power.
Merkel leads the conservative bloc, but has lost momentum at home after two years of personal scandals.
Mrs Merkel won the last election in 2013 by just a single seat after seven years in power, but since then the environment, migration and economy have dominated.
Here are some things to know about Mr Scholz:
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Olaf Scholz has been credited with overseeing a major overhaul of benefits
His wealth at 41 was reported to be about €1.3m (£1.1m) – about £1.16m, according to his tax filings from 2013.
He earns €50,000 a month in his current role, supplemented by a personal fee of €5,000 per day.
Image copyright The Local Image caption But is he good at maths and science, common requirements in Germany
Mr Scholz has studied in Italy and France as well as in Germany.
He has also held a post as a commissioner for urban affairs and planning in Dresden.
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