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

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.

Germany's Greens name co-leader Annalena Baerbock as candidate to succeed Merkel
Annalena Baerbock of the Greens on April 19th. Photo: DPA

“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.

‘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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TRAVEL NEWS

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

It's official - people in Germany will get cheap public transport for three months this summer after the €9 ticket was approved.

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

As part of a host of energy relief measures to cushion the cost of living crisis, the German government is offering cheap public transport for the months of June, July and August. 

Monthly tickets will be available at a price of €9 (or €27 for all three months) and they will allow people to use all buses, trains and trams in local and regional transport throughout the country.

So even if people buy the ticket in Munich, they will also be able to use local and regional buses, trains and trams elsewhere in Germany, whether it’s Hamburg or Cologne. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

The ticket will not be valid, however, on long-distance transport such as ICE trains or Flixbus.

The offer was put together by the coalition government – made of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP.

The Bundestag voted for the initiative on Thursday, agreeing to give federal states a subsidy of €2.5 billion to fund the project. 

And on Friday, the Bundesrat – the upper house of parliament that represents the states – gave the green light to the ticket, paving the way for it to begin on June 1st. 

States had wanted an extra €1.5 billion funding boost to deal with lost revenue, however it would have been hugely controversial if they had blocked it.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

During a debate on Thursday, federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said the €9 project was “already a success”.

“All of Germany is talking about local public transport,” he said, adding that it is also being viewed with interest abroad. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 ticket

The Left party (Die Linke) voted in favour of the €9 ticket, but leader Bernd Riexinger said he thought the plan didn’t go far enough. “Three months is simply too little,” he said.

The opposition, however, slammed the move. Christian Democrat Michael Donth called it an “expensive experiment”.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn will offer the ticket for sale as early as Monday. Local public transport providers across the country are also preparing their ticket machines for the initiative. It will also be available in travel centres.

People with subscriptions to local transport will automatically benefit from the offer. 

In some regions, such as Stuttgart and Freiburg, the ticket is already available for purchase.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

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