Annalena Baerbock is the leader of die Grüne, and a likely future Green Chancellor, come the elections in Germany in September.
And she’s a bit of a puzzle.
She’s a bronze medal-winning trampolinist who, as a member of the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders, has coached Emmanuel Macron, the Finnish PM Sanna Marin, and the New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern. (Where’s the video of the four of them on the trampoline? To your search engines, boys and girls.)
As her party’s parliamentary spokeswoman for climate policy, she was present at COP19 in Warsaw, COP20 in Lima, COP21 in Paris, and COP22 in Marrakesh.
As you might expect, the Guardian loves her. This article devotes 27 paragraphs to explaining how the Russian secret services, incensed by her opposition to the Nordstream oil pipeline, have published fake photos of her naked on the internet. The Greens’ foreign policy expert is quoted as saying:
“In order to prevent the Greens from entering the government, no means are beyond the Kremlin. I can only advise all democrats not to participate in Putin’s dirty campaign. The German parliament will be chosen in Germany, not in Moscow, Ankara or Beijing.”
How does he know the Russians did it? Easy. Her head has been photoshopped on to the body of a Russian model. (And how many hours of hard slog on the internet did that take to establish?) And if you look carefully she’s lying on a Turkish towel with a Chinese lantern in the background.
The several articles about Baerbock at the Guardian are surprisingly coy about her politics. Here we’re told that:
Baerbock, 40, viewed as a tenacious, down-to earth centrist with an eye for detail, and an expert on climate change and how to tackle it, told a small party gathering she aimed to “make politics for society at large”. She described her candidacy as “an offer, an invitation to lead our diverse, prosperous, strong country into a good future”.
“Our society is more progressive than its politics,” Baerbock said, adding that it was “time for politics to construct a future”. She pledged to focus her energies on childcare and schools, care workers and digital functionality. Baerbock said of the climate – the sixth item on her list – that it was important to include everyone when considering reforms, in a nod to those who have accused the Greens of pursuing an ecological agenda which excluded ordinary people and made unrealistic demands of them.
“A good future, not making unrealistic demands of people, and digital functionality.” I’ll go for that. Did she crib it from a speech by David Cameron? Or Tony Blair? Or Boris Johnson? There’s so many bodies you could photoshop that blur of green blobby glup on to.
A long fan-bio in the New Statesman is no clearer on her political stance, which she shares with her token male co-leader Robert Habeck, philosopher and translator of Yeats and Ted Hughes:
Habeck and Baerbock make a strong leadership team… They have unfurled an audaciously ambitious common project: to claim the centre of German politics and society for the Greens. “Habeck and Baerbock are aiming at society as a whole, all of us,” argues Schulte, “no longer just die-hard eco-voters. They don’t bother with lectures and the usual pile-on rituals of politics, but instead speak in an inclusive language.” Part of that language is the word heimat, an emotive term meaning “homeland” or “roots” traditionally associated with the German right, but which Habeck and Baerbock have consciously sought to appropriate for progressive politics.
In her acceptance speech, Baerbock framed her candidacy as “an offer, an invitation to German citizens to lead our diverse, rich, strong country into a good future”. She talked about the environment – “the task of our time, the task of our generation” – but also ranged across more everyday issues such as education, social care and digital public services. Her tone was optimistic and undogmatic. The country urgently needs renewal and a fresh start, she argued, but it should also be confident in itself: “Germany has so much potential. We invented the car and the bicycle.”
Really? One gold star and one black mark for Germany then. But what about the politics?
…at the party’s pre-election conference from 11 to 13 June… party members will also finalise a Green manifesto for the election… a quintessential Baerbock-Habeck fusion of party ideals and bold forays into the territory of other mainstream parties.
Major policy points include €500bn of new investments in green infrastructure and industry, accelerated climate targets, higher taxes on top incomes and digital firms, an easier naturalisation path for migrants and new fiscal reform and integration in the EU… the manifesto proposes a tough line on Russia and China, strong transatlantic ties and the option to use military force for humanitarian ends.
And if you think that doesn’t sound very treehuggerish, the New Statesman goes on to speak of:
…the divisions that linger below the harmonious unified surface, particularly on foreign policy. A glimpse of these came in January when a think tank close to the Greens caused uproar in the party by publishing a paper that supported the use of US nuclear weapons to shield Germany.
Oh, that kind of nuclear. The blowing-up-the-world, Dr Strangelove kind. Just as long as it’s not doing anything useful like producing cheap electricity…
But Baerbock has problems with what Lord Alan Clark used to call (in terrible French) the actualité. Pierre Gosselin at NoTricksZone
quotes Baerbock telling a radio audience that “the average German citizen emitted “9 billiontonnes of CO2 annually.” Only a billion times out.
Thanks also to Pierre Gosselin for pointing us to this tweet by Florian Warweg
in which Baerbock, in a speech to the Atlantic Council, “…first sells herself as an East German (huh?) only to tell how her grandpa fought on the Eastern Front against the Red Army in the winter of ’45 on the Oder. This is her inspiration for ‘fighting for the European Union’..”
The hyperactive German site kaltesonne.de has numerous articles on Baerbock (all in German, unfortunately.) For example here:
they quote her answers to journalists’ questions about flying: [my correction of GoogleTranslate’s Hundfrühstück:]
“Will people be allowed to fly as much as they like in the future?”
Annalena Baerbock could have answered this question with a yes or a no and perhaps explain why. Her answer is so confused it’s like trying to nail a pudding to the wall. She says:
“That means renouncing things that are not good for everyone’s wellbeing, but are actually harmful.”
After this meaningless response, the second interviewer tries again: “Does that mean that the rich will be allowed to fly, but that cheap holiday flights won’t be possible anymore?”
This evokes a no. “We don’t want to create a new social divide, but there’s more social justice in protecting the climate. Currently, the poorest suffer the most from climate damage. But to come back to flying again… “
Again another question from Peter Frey: “Will there be a restriction on the number of flights? One trip a year toMallorca is ok, but not 10 times?”
“No, I’m not laying down limits. Everyone can go on vacation where he wants. But still, what’s important, what needs to be restricted is the overall global air traffic… “
Kaltesonne quotes from an article in die Welt: “Baerbock sometimes uses Populist Tactics:”
In her choice of words, Greens boss Annalena Baerbock tends to a certain inaccuracy, as if she’s trying to see how far she can go. If she actually wants to become Chancellor, she should stick to the facts.
Last week Annalena Baerbock, chairman of the Greens, on the anniversary of the nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima, tweeted that her thoughts were with the “many people who lost their lives because of the accident.” In fact no-one was killed directly because of the accident at the nuclear plant, and studies come to different results as to the number of those who fell sick.
The official Green spokesperson issued an apology for an error in the reporting of the speech by the party leader… “A mistake we regret… Tens of thousands of people didn’t die as a result of the catastrophe of Fukushima… “
This is a typical inaccuracy for the leader of the Green Party. And since these inaccuracies occur regularly, and always in the sense of her argument, one can assume that they are intended…
German voters are apparently much taken with her, and several recent polls have her leading the CDU candidate for the post of Chancellor. Could it be that electors are so riveted to that photoshopped image that they haven’t noticed that she talks nonsense? And pro-NATO, Atlantic Council, somewhere-to-the-right-of-Joe-Biden nonsense at that.