Germany’s Greens name co-leader Annalena Baerbock as candidate to succeed Merkel

Germany's Greens name co-leader Annalena Baerbock as candidate to succeed Merkel
Annalena Baerbock of the Greens on April 19th. Photo: DPA
Germany's Green party on Monday named its co-chair Annalena Baerbock as their candidate to succeed Angela Merkel, throwing down the gauntlet to the chancellor's conservatives who were locked in increasingly vicious infighting for her crown.

“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,” said the party’s joint co-chairman Robert Habeck.

Baerbock, 40, is the first chancellor candidate ever nominated by the Greens.

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Yet with the party polling in second place behind Merkel’s divided conservatives, the Greens now have a genuine chance of becoming the biggest party and taking the chancellery.

“Today, we begin a new chapter for our party and – if we do well – for our country,” said Baerbock.

“I am standing for renewal, others will stand for the status quo,” she said, adding that “climate change is the biggest task of my generation”.

Baerbock posted on Twitter about how pleased she was to be named as candidate for chancellor by her colleague Habeck.

“A policy that foresees what’s new, that listens to people and that trusts them – that is what I stand for,” she said in the tweet photo.

A former trampolining ace who studied international law at the London School of Economics, Baerbock has never held a government role.

As a teenager, she took part in trampoline competitions, winning three bronze medals in German championships. The sport taught her to “be brave”, she has said.

But the mother-of-two and trained lawyer has surged in popularity in recent months, using the media spotlight on the pandemic to criticise the government for not prioritising children during the crisis, while laying out her own proposals.

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‘Won’t be fobbed off’

With a reputation as someone who knows her brief inside out and with strong ties to the grassroots, Baerbock has stepped out of the shadows to run neck-and-neck with Habeck in popularity rankings.

Observers have described her as someone “who won’t be fobbed off” when drilling into complex issues, in an echo of Merkel’s methodical and science-based approach to policy.

Critics charge that the young mother might not be ready for the election battle and the likely coalition haggling afterwards.

The sharp-witted former journalist has countered that “three years as party leader, being a lawmaker and mother of young children tend to toughen you up”.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Greens to put forward first chancellor candidate

The Greens’ focus on gender equality also played in her favour as barring her nomination, the field of chancellor hopefuls would be crowded with mainly older men.

“It would also be an indictment of the Greens if a woman were to give way to a man just as the chancellery is within reach,” noted news weekly Der Spiegel before the decision was announced.

Meanwhile, Habeck was praised for his ability to chart out an overarching vision while also connecting with voters.

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