Global heating is now setting the parameters of political debate
These are heady days to be a German Green. Last month, Die Grünen chose 40-year-old Annalena Baerbock as their candidate for chancellor in September’s federal election. Since then there has been a huge influx of new members excited by the prospect of what is shaping up to be a generational shift in the country’s politics. According to the latest polls, the party is either fighting for first place with or is ahead of the Christian Democratic Union, which is mired in Covid-related difficulties, including a corruption scandal and dissatisfaction at the slow rollout of the vaccination programme.
There have been green awakenings in the past which proved ephemeral. In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster 10 years ago, the party enjoyed a historic surge in support, only to slump disappointingly at the 2013 election. This time feels significantly different. The Greens already form part of coalition governments in 11 of Germany’s 16 states. Their poll ratings have comfortably eclipsed those of the centre-left Social Democrats over the past 12 months, and a pragmatic leadership has been careful to court the political mainstream on foreign policy issues such as commitment to Nato. One striking survey for a German business magazine found that more company executives preferred the idea of Ms Baerbock as the next chancellor to the 60-year-old Armin Laschet, the somewhat lacklustre CDU candidate.