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Germany's Greens name Annalena Baerbock as first chancellor candidate

Germany's Greens name Annalena Baerbock as first chancellor candidate

Germany's Greens name Annalena Baerbock as first chancellor candidate

Germany’s Green party has named co-chair Annalena Baebock as the party’s first-ever chancellor candidate. The move puts pressure on Angela Merkel’s CDU / CSU alliance, which is currently embroiled in a bitter row over who will lead the conservatives into the general election in September.

Green party nominates first chancellor candidate

“Both of us want the job, but in the end, only one can do it. So today is the moment to say that the Greens’ first chancellor candidate will be Annalena Baerbock,” Robert Habeck, the Green party’s joint co-chairperson, said on Monday. 

The announcement means that, for the first time in the party’s 41-year history, the Greens will field a candidate for the chancellorship in the 2021 elections. It’s a clear sign of the party’s growing ambitions, after a surge in support pushed it into second place in the polls, within reach of Angela Merkel’s ruling CDU / CSU conservatives. The nomination will be finalised at the Green Party Conference on June 11 - 13. 

Germany’s Greens reach new heights

Once notorious for chaotic conferences and ideological infighting, the Green party has shifted to the political centre in recent years, trying to become - in Baerbock’s words - “radical and statesmanlike” at the same time. The shift appears to have done the trick. Once almost exclusively the party of younger voters, the Greens are now commanding an increasingly cross-generational appeal. 

Currently polling at around 21 - 22 percent, the party could realistically hope to reach the Chancellery after September’s election. The numbers suggest the most likely outcome would be a federal government made up of the conservatives and the Greens - but analysts haven’t ruled out the possibility of a three-party alliance of the Greens, the SPD and the FDP, which would shut the conservatives out of power after 16 years at the helm.

Baerbock, aged 40, is a former tournament-level trampolinist with a background in international law. Over the past year she has gradually gained an edge over her co-leader, earning admiration for her tenacity, drive and thoroughness. She has been described as someone “who won’t be fobbed off” when pursuing complex issues.

Pressure mounts on CDU / CSU leadership spat

The Greens’ move throws down the gauntlet to Angela Merkel’s conservatives, who are currently deadlocked on the issue of who will lead their party into the election. The dispute is between the newly-elected chief of the CDU, Armin Laschet, and the more popular head of the CSU, Markus Sӧder, who as state premier of Bavaria has won plaudits for his measured handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Both are looking to lead the conservatives into September’s election. 

In January, Laschet was elected party chair of the CDU - a position that would normally qualify him for candidacy for the chancellorship. Last week, he received a boost in the form of support from the regional CDU, but just a few hours later the CSU declared unanimously that it would back its leader, Markus Sӧder, who had announced his own chancellorship bid

The rivals had said early last week that they would meet to decide on a best course, but on Monday media were reporting that one-to-one crisis talks had ended without an agreement. According to German newspaper Die Welt, both politicians are refusing to let go of their hopes to run as Angela Merkel’s successor. 

Abi

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Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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