German election 2021: Who is Greens leader Annalena Baerbock?

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In sports as in politics, Annalena Baerbock has always been ambitious.

In her youth, she was a competitive trampolinist. Now 40, she is The Greens' candidate for chancellor and the youngest person ever to run for the position in Germany.

Baerbock began her political career in Brandenburg, where she still lives with her husband and two daughters. In 2018, she was elected co-leader of the Green Party with Robert Habeck and both are credited for uniting the party and setting it on course for success.

A positive start

Her election campaign started on a high. The Greens rose to 28% in opinion polls, almost a 20% increase from the 2017 election. However, this high was quick-lived and since mid-May, she has experienced many setbacks.

The scandals

It became public knowledge that she paid tax on sizeable Christmas bonuses years after receiving them. Something that she called an annoying oversight.

Details on her CV were proven to be inaccurate. Her CV on The Greens' website stated that she was a member of the think-tank, the German Marshall Fund. However, she has only ever been a supporter of it. The comments surrounding her CV have also played into the argument held by the opposition that she lacks experience.

Plagiarism allegations arose concerning her book entitled "Now: How We Renew Our Country". Some have argued that parts of the book closely resemble several newspaper articles.

Fake news on social networks also alleged there are nude photos of her circulating and there has even been a claim she called for a ban on dogs.

All these revelations and scandals have resulted in a swift decline in her popularity. There were even calls for her to give up the candidacy to her co-leader in the party, Robert Habeck.

The fighting spirit

Baerbock has not been deterred. In a recent interview, she said that coming from a sporting background has taught her that if you give up in the preliminaries, there's no point in competing. She expected to cause upstir as she says she stands for a new beginning.

The green agenda

Baerbock has tried to score points in the election campaign with the Greens' core agenda of climate protection. She was careful not to use the disastrous floods in West Germany as a photo opportunity and climate change warning. Instead, the Greens reacted politically and announced a programme proposing a ministry that would only deal with climate protection that would also have the power to veto climate-damaging laws.

In regards to climate change, Baerbock has described it as "not something abstract, it is happening right here among us".

"We must now do everything we can to get a grip on this climate crisis", she explains.

We are at the crossroads of a historic opportunity to use the next decade to build climate-smart prosperity for future generations

Annalena Baerbock
Co-leader of the green party, Germany

Europe is also a heartfelt issue for Baerbock. She came to The Greens party via European Union politics. The political scientist and international law expert advocates for a stronger European defence policy. She has never held a ministerial or government position.

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