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Under pressure, German Greens leader hits 'restart' with new book

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By Reuters
Under pressure, German Greens leader hits 'restart' with new book
Under pressure, German Greens leader hits 'restart' with new book   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
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By Christian Kraemer

BERLIN – Germany’s Greens candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor sought to boost her flagging election campaign on Thursday with a book launch and a call for a politics rooted in teamwork and taking the long view.

Presenting the 240-page book “Jetzt: Wie wir unser Land erneuern” (“Now: How we renew our country”), Annalena Baerbock described how she wants to govern Germany.

“Politics is often made from the here and now … and not from the perspective of future generations. And that, yes, I would like to do differently,” she told reporters.

Stressing the importance of drawing on others’ experience in politics, she said: “Great successes can only be achieved together, as a team.”

The Greens surged ahead of Merkel’s conservatives in polls in late April after they picked Baerbock as their candidate to run for chancellor in September’s election, with her pitch for a “new start” capturing voters’ imagination.

But since then, a regional election setback, a scandal over a Christmas bonus payment that Baerbock failed to declare to parliament and a suggestion that Germany should arm Ukraine have all hurt the Greens, who now have the left-leaning Social Democrats closing in on them in polls.

ONLINEATTACKS

An alumna of the London School of Economics, Baerbock, 40, has faced repeated attacks online, including a picture purportedly depicting her naked. It was in fact that of a Russian glamour model.

A business lobby has also mocked her with a campaign in which it portrays Baerbock dressed as a biblical Moses, holding two tablets under the caption “Annalena and the 10 bans”.

The campaign, which lobby group INSM defended this week, takes aim at the Greens’ policies to steer Germans into electric cars and onto trains instead of domestic flights.

“The pressure on Annalena Baerbock is enormous,” a long-time companion told Reuters, before adding that she is well-received in the business world where she likes to discuss things “without plastic language and empty words”.

With Merkel set to bow out after the election, Germany’s policy path hinges on whether the Greens or conservatives win.

Two polls out on Wednesday showed the conservatives extending their lead over the ecologists to 7 and 8 points respectively.

If elected chancellor, Baerbock would be only the second woman and the first mother – she has two children – to hold Germany’s most powerful office.

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