Mr Scholz (right) has taken over from long-term chancellor Angela Merkel

Praise in German is “particularly delicious”: PM reacts to new Chancellor’s vote of confidence

PM António Costa has reacted with pleasure to the praise this morning by new German chancellor Olaf Scholz.

In Brussels for the first meeting of leaders with Mr Scholz at the helm, Mr Costa found himself praised for his work from a number of quarters. But Mr Scholz’s words were particularly complimentary. The new leader said he is “absolutely confident” that Mr Costa will be re-elected as the leader of Portugal’s Socialist government when the country goes to the polls on January 30, 2022.

Looking much happier than when he had to break the news to journalists that citizens can expect ‘reinforced restrictions’ in the New Year, and 4th jabs of vaccine in the spring, Mr Costa said that praise is always gratifying, “but when this praise comes in German it is particularly delicious”.

The PM was referring to Germany’s skepticism six years ago when the PS government seized power with the backing of the radical left.

“It’s very good to see that six years on, the doubts that existed have transformed into certainties, into confidence – and that the path we initiated in November 2015 was one of success, from the point of view of economic growth and the situation of public finances. 

“Happily everything has improved, and this is a direction that must not be interrupted”, he said.

Other European leaders expressed their faith too in Mr Costa’s leadership, which he admitted remains “in the hands of the Portuguese”.

By coincidence, a number of polls are being publicised today, suggesting the country as a whole is very supportive of the government and that “the majority of citizens are in favour of making Covid vaccines mandatory”. On closer inspection, this “majority of citizens” is in fact only 53%. But it is still a majority.

The polls, taken by Aximage, also show enormous support for the 3rd dose of vaccines (86%), plus overwhelming support (61%) for the vaccination of children under the age of 12.

Meantime, one aspect of Mr Scholz’s European approach not mentioned in reports outlining his praise of Mr Costa is that he wants to ensure that decisions taken by the majority of European leaders become adopted across the bloc.

“It should become normal that the European Council can decide on the basis of a qualified majority, even in areas where this today does not exist”, he told the Bundestag yesterday. “The success of the European Union is of major importance to Germany”.

Mr Scholz’s ambition means that should the Council decide by a majority that, for example, Covid vaccines should become obligatory, even nations that do not see the need for this (like Portugal) would be bound by the decision.