German Greens decide on the candidacy for chancellor

He or she? German Greens decide on the candidacy for chancellor

The K question with the Greens

Robert Habeck (r), federal chairman Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen, and Annalena Baerbock, federal chairwoman Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen, visiting the energy bunker in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg. Photo: Christian Charisius / dpa

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The German Greens have the Chancellery in their sights. They want to announce on Monday who will lead them to the federal election as the top candidate. The party is doing quite well in polls.

They are already a telegenic couple, the German Greens chairmen, and the eco party has done well with them.

Since Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock took over the party leadership in 2018, the Greens have been on the up. The smallest parliamentary group in the Bundestag, they are now solidly in second place with over 20 percent in national polls. They have significantly shortened the distance to the ailing Christian Democrats of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Now they want to set course for the Chancellery.

For the first time in their more than 40-year history of the party, the Greens want to nominate a candidate for chancellor for the federal election on September 26th. Who should be, whether top man Habeck (51) or top woman Baerbock (40), they want to announce next Monday. And they pretend to be victory-conscious. One is fighting for the leadership of the next federal government, according to a letter from Greens managing director Michael Kellner from last week.

In autumn Germany will be about to succeed Merkel, who will no longer run in the federal elections after four terms in office. But while a power struggle is raging in Christian Democracy between CDU leader Armin Laschet and the head of the Bavarian sister party CSU, Markus Söder, over the joint CDU / CSU top candidacy, the Greens are solving the "K question" according to the timetable. There is no competition to Habeck and Baerbock, and in their three years as party leaders both have radiated the greatest possible harmony.

Only Habeck can show government experience. He was Environment Minister in Schleswig-Holstein, where he comes from, for six years. The studied philosopher and Germanist has also succeeded as a writer and wrote novels and books for young people together with his wife Andrea Paluch. He also writes political books, such as the recently published “From Here On Different. A political sketch ». The man from the north was not so lucky with social media. After a failed tweet that brought him ridicule and criticism, he withdrew from Twitter and Facebook in 2019.

Baerbock comes from Lower Saxony. She grew up in a "hippie household" in a village south of Hanover and was often taken to anti-nuclear or peace demonstrations as a child. The year 1980 was the year the German Greens were founded. She studied politics and law in Hamburg and London. In the eastern German state of Brandenburg she later campaigned against open-cast lignite mining, and there she was elected to the Bundestag in 2013. The mother of two daughters lives with her family in Potsdam, and one of her hobbies is jumping on the trampoline.

Should the Greens rule Germany in the future, then they want to first introduce a general speed limit on German motorways (130 km / h). In economic and social policy, they typically represent left-wing positions with higher taxes for high earners, relief for welfare recipients and government spending programs worth billions. They want to soften the German debt brake, which sets narrow limits on national debt, and make it easier for tolerated migrants to stay in the country on a permanent basis. They reject NATO's goal of increasing defense spending to two percent of gross domestic product.

The election program as well as the candidacy for chancellor are to be finally decided at a party congress in June. What the Greens can achieve from their ideas in the end depends on who they would rule with.

For a while, the CDU / CSU seemed unbeatable, even for the post-Merkel era, with polls above 35 percent. But the voters' dissatisfaction with the corona crisis management gave her a rough landing. With around 27 percent, it was last four to five points ahead of the Greens. That could still amount to a black-green coalition under CDU leadership.

Alliances without the conservatives are conceivable, however, if voter preferences shift a little. A "traffic light" from the Greens, Social Democrats and Liberals would currently come to a maximum of 48 percent, a green-red-red alliance with the SPD and Left Party up to 46 percent. In both connections, the Greens would be the strongest force and would therefore be entitled to the Chancellery.

"The Greens appeal to young and female voters in particular and rely on two personable party leaders who also talk about personal issues," says communications expert Christian Hoffmann from the University of Leipzig. The party also benefits from the unity of its leadership. In addition, there is a “change in mood” in the country. “The Union and the SPD seem worn out. The Greens offer the prospect of change without an overly radical change, ”says Hoffmann.