Opinion | Angela Merkel has been in power for 15 years. What happens after?

But she does not hesitate to participate in substantive debates – on climate change or foreign policy – or in difficult political negotiations. In 2017, for example, as the Greens were discussing a possible coalition deal with the Christian Democrats and the Free Democratic Party (which withdrew at the last moment, upsetting the plan), Ms Baerbock called on the country to end his use of coal and even negotiated a compromise, impressing his opponents and colleagues with his tenacity and mastery of detail.

These qualities were visible in her party leadership, a position she surprisingly won, along with a co-chair, in 2018. Famously afflicted by infighting between her left and right flanks, the Green Party under Ms Baerbock has been notably united . This has contributed to the party’s remarkable rise from a marginal environmental force to a serious contender for power. After consistently voting with 5 percent or 6 percent approval, the party now sits at around 20 percent – with room for improvement.

In its slow but steady rise, the party has moved into politics, in style and substance, and toned down some of its more radical ideas, like the dissolution of NATO. Even so, the party’s platform for national elections is particularly ambitious, calling for “socio-ecological transformation” and a zero-emission economy. (The Christian Democrats have yet to release their platform.) Many of the details of the document remain vague, but it is radical in its language and ideas.

If Ms Baerbock were to become the Greens’ very first chancellor – the party was the junior partner of a national coalition with the Social Democrats from 1998 to 2005, but never had the chance to reach the chancellery – it would certainly be the case. great political experience.

Inexperience, say political opponents, would be a major obstacle. While it is true that Ms Baerbock has no government experience, she is known for her persistence and willingness to fight. In the race to become the party’s candidate, she started out as the underdog – her co-chair Robert Habeck was expected to land it – but she systematically and strategically built support, both inside and outside. party.

It’s easy to see how she did it: in conversation she comes across as quick-witted, as well as tough and disciplined. And she clearly has a knack for motivating and inspiring others. Unlike Mr. Laschet, whose candidacy has been fiercely contested, she is loved by her party.

In recent months, the government’s failure to stem the tide of new coronavirus infections, strengthen the health service and roll out vaccinations has stung. The Germans seem ready for something new. The question is: what will be its novelty?

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