Elections: Habeck, Baerbock or none?

Elections: Habeck, Baerbock or none?

The debate about the top position among the Greens has broken out. But so far it is not even clear whether the party will even send a candidate for chancellor into the race.

A year and a half before the next federal election, speculation is rife: Who will the Greens go into the election campaign with? Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck, who was considered the favorite by many, weighed things down at the weekend.

“Annalena Baerbock and I are doing everything in the federal government to work for the security and freedom of our republic,” he told the newspapers of the Funke media group. “Our concrete actions, our daily work, are derived from this. What is certainly not part of it is circling around ourselves.”

When asked whether the Greens would even send a candidate for chancellor into the race next year, he said: “We will decide everything at the right time, this debate is not up for now.”

Habeck becomes chancellor, Baerbock travels

It was a possibly urgently needed clarification, because Habeck’s desire for (more?) responsibility has been on the tip of his nose for a few months. One state-supporting video message follows another. Habeck explains, pleads and – as he likes to call it himself – unravels and sorts out the public debate, whether in his video about the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, his thoughts on the end of the year or his Easter message. In short: Habeck is chancellor.

The dip in form with the months-long struggle over the unpopular heating law and the extremely difficult farewell to his top employee Patrick Graichen, who was no longer bearable, last year are behind Habeck. The expansion of renewable energies is ongoing, but things are looking better when it comes to climate protection. However, the poor economic situation could be dangerous for the minister.

Annalena Baerbock, as the second serious contender for the pole position in the coming election campaign, is doing what she always does: the Foreign Minister is traveling around the world at crazy speed, including to Israel again and again. Since the outbreak of the Gaza war, it has become even more present, including with its efforts on behalf of the Arab states. Like Habeck, she does her job as a minister. Unlike him, she refrains from appearing as a part-time world explainer.

Baerbock’s environment: There are procedures for choosing candidates

There are Greens who consider the matter to have long been decided because of Habeck’s access to the vice-chancellor post after the 2021 election – although not in the formal sense, as everything is still open. And in fact, the actually unofficial role gives him a weight that he could not claim as a simple minister: he coordinates the work of the Green ministries and negotiates on internal conflict issues such as asylum law and the payment card for refugees.

Quite a few have the impression that there is greater internal support for Habeck. But that could also be because Team Habeck is currently more vocal with the Greens than Team Baerbock. However, even a Green Party who views both from a political distance senses a quiet agreement: the two competitors are getting along remarkably well, she points out. Which could only mean that the question had long since been clarified in Habeck’s opinion.

However, that sounds completely different in Baerbock’s environment. Rather, it says that they want to stick to the procedure for nominating candidates that was agreed upon two and a half years ago. In September 2022, the board decided that the party base should decide in a primary election if there were several promising candidates.

However, the party leadership wants to avoid such a public power struggle at all costs, fearing damage to the losing candidate. Someone who was already involved with the party leadership in the last federal election campaign says: “No matter which candidate you choose in the end: both will have to play an outstanding role as a team in the election campaign.”

The fundamental question of the candidate for chancellor will be decided after the European elections

Whether the whole discussion has any meaning is another question. In the polls, the Greens fluctuate between 13 and 15 percent, pretty much at the level of the last federal election results. The question of whether the Greens will even send a candidate for chancellor into the election campaign will be decided after the European elections in June – and the polls do not suggest much good here.

After more than two years in government in the unpleasant traffic light corset with the SPD and FDP, the Greens have lost much of their luster. The historic opportunity of the 2021 federal election, when the Greens went into the election campaign unspent after sixteen years of opposition and with the tailwind of large climate demos, will not come again any time soon.

Because most citizens do not perceive the Greens as the pragmatic, compromise-ready force of the middle that they like to see themselves as. According to a survey conducted by the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (FAZ), the party comes across as being crazy about regulation, aloof, and in parts “extremely unsympathetic.” “The commitment to classic green goals stabilizes the core of the supporters, but leads to alienation from the vast majority,” wrote Allensbach managing director Renate Töpfer. In contrast to the SPD and FDP, the Greens have a stable base of loyal regular voters. But if things are to work out with the Chancellery, that won’t be enough.

FAZ article on the Allensbach survey on the Greens (paywall) Habeck interview with the Funke media group (paywall)

Source: Stern

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