On April 19th, the German Greens are expected to announce their candidate for the position of chancellor. Many have guessed that the green champion will be none other than Annalena Baerbock, co-Leader of the Green party.

The Green Party is currently led by two co-chairmen, Annalena Baerbock (40) and Robert Habeck (51). Under their leadership, the green party has become an important figure in the German political landscape. Originating in ecological radical ideology in the 80s, the party went from single-digit votes to becoming a prominent party with over 20% of the total votes. Whilst Angela Merkel’s liberal-conservative party coalition witnessed a steady decrease in support partly due to a slow rollout vaccine campaign, the Greens have experienced a welcomed increase in popularity.

Annalena Baerbock (R) and Robert Habeck (L), react during a party convention in Hanover, central Germany, on January 27, 2018.

Whilst it may surprise that the top pick is the younger co-chairman of the two, Baerbock and Habeck share similar amounts of experience as elected officials. Whilst Habeck is quite popular, his tendencies towards philosophical and ideological aspects may give Baerbock an edge. Baerbock is more experienced in key areas, such as European policies. For Europe’s strongest economy, a European vision is key in determining the candidacy. Additionally, her personality and work ethic are major factors in changing the “old radical Green” image the party suffered from. She enjoys the gritty political work. She volunteers for ecological charities on her free days. She has shown to be a politician that works for her ideals.

Power within Green grasp

The road to having a Green chancellor is not yet won, far from it. To become chancellor, the Bundestag will have to elect a candidate proposed by the federal president of Germany. The candidate picked by the president is usually a candidate upon which the parliamentary majority agrees beforehand. Therefore, the Greens will have to muster a bit more support than they have enjoyed so far.

One disadvantage the Greens will have to face is indeed the conservatives. Green parties worldwide always suffered the ‘bad for business’ labels. Statements such as “we need radicality here!” from Baerdbock are certainly not helping that image. It can be expected that Conservative Party members do not wish to see a Green politician as head of state. Just weeks ago, the liberal-conservative coalition criticized the Greens for being the US’s puppet, saying that the Green Party did look after Germany’s economic interests.

Whilst these attacks retain the old “bad for business” label, it does not feel exactly the same. Negative labels used against green parties have always been used to create fear of radical parties that are bad for society. These new attacks are different however because the conservatives are trying to mask the serious socio-ecological alternatives proposed by the Greens. Alternatives that have been very attractive to centrist German voters. A ban on business affiliated with the authoritarian Russian state is a tenet of the Green party, it has never been about gaining influence with the US.

Reaching the largest electorate possible

Political games are inevitable, and the leaders of the Green Party will not be naive. The party’s electoral strategy is quite clear. The Green Party has supported highway projects through forests and has not taken a strong stance on reaching Germany’s climate change targets. This has even caused green movements such as Fridays for Future to criticize the Greens for not doing enough.

Annalena Baerbock co-chairman German Green Party

Any elected party will have to deal with the Greens. This is something Baerbock knows and will be able to use for the Green Party. Coalition rumors about the Greens have flourished this past year: would they join the liberal-conservative coalition or form one with left parties?

With all things considered, Baerbock has remained imperturbable to questions regarding potential coalitions and has concentrated on appealing to the majority of Germans voters. Furthermore, the Green Party has well-managed criticism from more radical green movements in order to maintain positive communications with the German population. The goal today is to retain credibility as an environmental party while appealing to the large electorate. In this balancing game, the chancellor candidate will be an important step towards Germany’s first Green chancellor

Alexander Ramette

Alexander Ramette graduated from Concordia University with a BSc in Environmental Science in Montreal and would like to pursue a career in Environmental Engineering. Alexander grew up in Paris during his childhood and his adolescence in Iceland. His passion includes the natural sciences, the outdoors, and surfing.

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