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Greens Choose Baerbock as Candidate for Germany’s Next Leader

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BERLIN — Germany’s Greens announced Monday that Annalena Baerbock would be the party’s candidate for chancellor, betting that the 40-year-old was their best choice to replace Angela Merkel as leader of the country.

By selecting Ms. Baerbock over her co-leader of the Greens, Robert Habeck, 51, the party is positioning itself to appeal not only to Germans drawn to its traditional stance on environmental protection, but as a more dynamic, youthful presence in a country that has been under the leadership of the same conservative chancellor for the past 16 years.

“I want to make an offer with my candidacy for the whole of society,” Ms. Baerbock said in her acceptance speech, in which she called for improving the situation for Germans in rural regions and for low-wage workers. She also stressed the importance of ensuring that Germany meets its goals for reducing its climate-change emissions, while remaining an industrial power.

“I was never a chancellor and never a minister,” Ms. Baerbock said. “I am running for renewal,” adding, “I believe this country needs a new start.”

Ms. Merkel will leave politics once a new government is formed after the Sept. 26 election, bringing an end to four terms in power and leaving her conservative bloc struggling to define itself without her. The conservatives, made up of Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and the much smaller Christian Social Union in Bavaria, are deadlocked in a battle to choose a candidate for chancellor that has gripped German politics for the past week.

Traditionally, the leader of the larger Christian Democrats is automatically considered the default conservative candidate for chancellor. But the Bavarian leader, Markus Söder, 54, has proved to be more popular among voters than Armin Laschet, 60, the Christian Democrat leader, and has demanded that he have the chance to run for the chancellery.

The conservatives have dominated modern Germany’s political landscape and have held the chancellery for all but seven of the past 30 years, when the Social Democrats led the country.

The Social Democrats have already selected Olaf Scholz, Germany’s finance minister, as their candidate, so Ms. Baerbock will probably be the only woman in the running for the chancellery.

The Greens served as a junior coalition partner from 1998 to 2005. But with polls showing them in second place behind the conservatives, with support of around 22 percent, they have a serious crack at the chancellery for the first time since the party was formed in 1993.

“Annelena Baerbock is a fighting, focused woman who knows exactly what we want,” Mr. Haebeck said, announcing that she would be the party’s candidate.

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.


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