BERLIN, GERMANY – MARCH 15: Annalena Baerbock, co-leader of the German Greens Party.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty images
Annalena Baerbock has been selected as the Green Party’s candidate to become Germany’s next Chancellor as the country gears up for elections this year where Angela Merkel will leave the political scene.
The popularity of the Greens has soared in recent years, and polls now have them only a few percentage points behind Merkel’s CDU party as more voters turn to climate-related topics.
Baerbock and Robert Habeck, co-leaders of the party, appear to have united and disciplined members like no other leadership team has done before. And the new goal is to not just be part of the government, but maybe even enter the chancellery later this year.
The arrival of the Green Party coincided with its professionalisation. It started as a protest movement and an opposition party. For years it was divided into a left wing and a more conservative wing. While that hasn’t completely changed, the party is now a truly middle-class platform.
Who is Annalena Baerbock?
Baerbock was born in 1980 near Hanover. She graduated from the London School of Economics in 2005 with a Masters in Public International Law. She has been a member of the party since 2005 and a member of the Bundestag since 2013.
During her political career, she has held various positions: she was a climate change spokesperson for the Green Parliamentary Group between 2013 and 2017 and an alternate member of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy. Some commentators compare her style and analytical approach to that of the current German leader Merkel.
What is the program of the Green Party?
The Greens want to restructure Germany’s economic model into a socio-ecological system. What does that mean? Clearly, the focus is on driving green technologies, leaving coal energy by 2030 and banning combustion engine cars from German roads by 2030. That’s ambitious given that it’s only nine years old.
German industry is already ringing the alarm bells: “The Greens want a different society,” the FDI said in a statement on March 19. “The restructuring of society will be very costly for the economy and society itself, we would adopt a much more growth-friendly post-pandemic policy approach for Germany.”
But the Greens are no longer a party full of radicals, they have a plan in mind to fund their program. While the party program calls for a relaxation of the so-called debt brake, which would allow Germany to raise more money in public markets, they are also calling for higher taxes on the wealthy.
In addition, they are pushing for a fund of 500 billion euros over 10 years to finance this climate transition.
“This is clever political marketing targeting middle-class liberal voters,” Teneo’s Carsten Nickel said in a note last month.
The key question is what role the Greens will play in the next government, with elections in September. It just has an outside chance of entering the Chancellery, but it’s not entirely impossible.
If the CDU fails to gain a majority alongside another party, including the Greens, a possible coalition of SPD, Left and Green could be formed in Berlin. And in that case, the next chancellor may well be Baerbock.