Berlin - Germany's environmental Die Grüne party on Monday announced they had selected party co-chair Annalena Baerbock as their candidate for the chancellory in September's election as the party looks set to enter the country's governing coalition for the first time since the red-green coalition under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD).
"Annalena is a tough, focused and confident woman who knows exactly what she wants," Die Grüne co-chair Robert Habeck, long touted as the party's favourite chancellor candidate, said on Twitter. "She will lead us into this election campaign."
Baerbock, 40, has been co-chair of Die Grüne since 2018 alongside Habeck and has been a member of the Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, since 2015. She is her party's first ever chancellor candidate, as previously the party never had enough support to even think about winning an election outright and therefore filling the country's top post.
The appointment stands in stark contrast to a leadership battle that now includes private jet trips to late-night meetings among the conservative CDU and CSU. After the party had all but selected Armin Laschet, the head of North Rhine-Westphalia, as its chancellor candidate, Markus Söder, Laschet's counterpart in Bavaria, said he wanted the spot, sparking a tussle over the spot.
Laschet is popular among CDU party brass but Söder is a poll favourite and says only he can save the CDU/CSU from embarrassment in September. In a weird twist only Bavarians understand, the CSU is effectively the CDU in that southern state though they're separate parties.
The pair were supposed to work out their differences and decide who would run for the position over the past week but they have yet to agree - Söder has announced a press conference for 2pm Monday. Conservative politicians may be forced to vote to pick a candidate but the optics remain awful compared to Die Grüne's amiable announcement.
Oddly, both parties are likely to lead the country in the fall since the CDU/CSU would currently get about 29 per cent of the vote and Die Grüne 22 per cent, giving the pair a clear majority. The CDU/CSU would propose the chancellor in that coalition because they would be the larger partner.
However, the CDU/CSU has been rocked by not only the schoolyard beef between Söder and Laschet but also a corruption scandal where CDU/CSU parliamentarians used their government positions to win government mask contracts for their own financial gain. It's unclear if the CDU/CSU will slide further in the polls - they garnered 32.9 per cent in the last federal election.
Depending on how opinions develop by September, Die Grüne could also possibly rule with the centre-left SPD and leftwing Die Linke. Currently that constellation would have 48 per cent of the vote and Die Grüne could propose the chancellor candidate as the senior partner.