: Annalena Baerbock Wants to Radically Change Germany. She’ll Have to Win Voters’ Trust First #WorldNEWS On an unusually chilly August evening, the party is in full swing at a Bavarian beer garden
Annalena Baerbock Wants to Radically Change Germany. She’ll Have to Win Voters’ Trust First #WorldNEWS
On an unusually chilly August evening, the party is in full swing at a Bavarian beer garden in Dachau, southern Germany. Waiters in lederhosen and waitresses in low-cut dirndl dresses weave between hundreds of long wooden tables, shouldering 3ft long trays of pretzels, meat and steins of beer. An oompah band swaggers through a rendition of “I’m too sexy (for my lederhosen)”. This is the cultural heartland of the German right. Bavaria is often dubbed—for its conservative values, religious traditions and a recent flirtation with a strain of populist nationalism—“the Texas of Germany. ” If that’s true, then this beer garden might be akin to the Texas state fair, or a rodeo.
It isn’t Annalena Baerbock’s natural habitat. The Chancellor candidate for Germanys Green party, born and raised in the north, Baerbock is here to tout the party’s progressive and environmentalist platform ahead of Sept. 26 elections. “It was hard for me to understand every word of that,” she jokes in the clipped consonants of northern German, as she thanks the drawling local emcee for introducing her.
It’s not just the accent that makes Baerbock feel out of place. A stickler for facts and a practiced debater of foreign affairs, she calls to mind a university professor more than the male retail politicians who have done well in Bavaria in recent years. She can come across as didactic, and perhaps a little stiff (“What an amazing atmosphere. I love the easy going temperament of the south,” she tells the crowd of 1,500 drinkers. )
But she doesn’t lack passion. As she energetically lays out the climate stakes at this election, she raises regular cheers from the garden. “We don’t want to wait until the crisis is already here,” she says. “We need the courage and the trust to renew this country and make it climate neutral. ”
As Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to step down after 16 years in power—marking the first election in 72 years without an incumbent—she leaves an unprecedented question mark over Germany’s future direction. Baerbock’s answer is a rapid overhaul of the German economy to cut carbon emissions and a much more active German foreign policy on climate action and human rights. Having an environmentalist leader at the helm of the world’s fourth largest economy, and the E. U. s center of gravity would have global implications, she says, speaking in fluent English at a small table on the lower deck of her campaign bus, as it zooms down highways flanked by green Bavarian forest.
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