German Greens pick Annalena to run for chancellor

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Berlin

Germany’s Greens drew a sharp contrast to their bickering conservative rivals in the contest to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor, proposing Annalena Baerbock as their lead candidate for September’s national election.

The party, which is nipping at the heels of Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led bloc, picked the 40-year-old political scientist and foreign-policy expert to run their campaign.

It was a smooth, well-orchestrated process, compared with the messy spectacle that has split the conservative alliance.

“Today, we start a new chapter for our party, and if we do this well, also for our country,” said Baerbock, who is bidding to become Germany’s youngest-ever chancellor. “I stand for renewal. Others represent the status quo.”

The nomination makes Baerbock, who like Merkel represents a constituency in the former communist East, the top rival for the Christian Democrat-led group, which has yet to choose its own candidate amid a tense power struggle between the two parties in their alliance.

In contrast to the drawn-out, acrimonious battle for the conservative chancellor candidacy, the process for the Greens was orderly.

The timing of the announcement, which was made internally before Easter and kept under wraps until Monday, was flagged well in advance and agreed without public tension.

She was warmly presented as the Greens’ first official chancellor candidate by co-leader Robert Habeck, who came up short.

“Annalena Baerbock is a focused and strong-willed woman who knows what she wants,” he said.

She made reference both to the “mudslinging” that has plagued the conservative chancellor nomination and to allegations that some lawmakers from Merkel’s bloc took advantage of the pandemic to enrich themselves via lucrative contracts for medical equipment.

“Trust in democracy, in politics as a whole is threatened,” she told reporters. “That is a great cause of concern to me.”

Germany’s transition to the post-Merkel era, which will officially be ushered by the September election, has already been fraught.—Agencies