By Tunç Akkoç
The parliamentary elections in Germany are now less than five months away. The political climate is heating up more and more. And recently, there is almost only a single person who draws all the attention: Annalena Baerbock. Baerbock, who was announced as The Greens’ candidate for Chancellery on April 19th, has started appearing on the covers of the newspapers and on the TV debates ever since. As Germany’s top-notch magazines have printed The Greens’ candidate to the cover, there were many supportive statements from many different political cliques. The political history of Germany has not seen such a publicity campaign, in a very long time. So, does Annalena Baerbock (40), who is the youngest Candidate for German Chancellery in history, owes this popularity solely to her own charisma?
The mainstream media leads this publicity campaign
As the election process slowly seeps into Germany, we can clearly see The Greens’ candidate Annalena Baerbock, being publicized by the mainstream media outlets. Der Spiegel, who put Baerbock on the cover of the latest issue with the headline, ‘The woman against all odds! Who is Annalena Baerbock and why nobody can get past her!’, appears to have led the publicity campaign. And they did it well… Der Spiegel has also made a public survey through the Civey polling company, then published the results in the cover article as well. To the question of ‘Who would you choose as the Chancellor if you had the option to appoint directly’, Baerbock has taken a 30.2% supports, while her opponents such as Armin Laschet from the CDU stood at 12.6%, and Olaf Scholz from the SPD stood at 16.1%. While mentioning the possibility of Annalena Baerbock becoming the Chancellor several times, the article also adds: ‘It seems unlikely that there will be a coalition without The Greens. So the question is, will Baerbock become the Chancellor, or the vice-Chancellor?’. It must have been a way too optimistic prediction for The Greens, which stood below 9% of the popular vote and became the sixth party during the previous election.
Annalena Baerbock has no experience in state administration. And this is one of the biggest criticisms against her. Der Spiegel has probably come up with more satisfying responses to these criticisms, than The Greens’ Public Relations team could have ever prepared. The article explains that the post-pandemic world will look nothing like what it was in the past, and that completely innovative and game-changing policies are needed especially on one of the most critical issues, the climate change, then the article concludes: “Previous experiences can turn into chains that hold people to the past. The new and the visionary, generally comes from the younger minds.”. And the final touch is made to the cover article, with a part from a journalist who was a college friend with Annalena Baerbock, and is now a redactor in Der Spiegel, telling some of their nice stories from those years. And in the end, Der Spiegel explains the coalition plan: “Baerbock has a strong and a direct voice, and Laschet is more profound and wise. Instead of trying to win over each other, they can simply complement each other.”. And voila, welcome the new CDU-The Greens Coalition!
The Germany’s best-selling newspaper, Bild am Sonntag, has also given two full pages to The Greens’ candidate with the headline of ‘Baerbock Shock’. Bild am Sonntag, which stated that Baerbock’s candidacy gave a shocking effect, also featured the latest survey by Kantar Emnid polling company. According to that poll, The Greens have surpassed the CDU (which got 27%) with 28%. And the SPD stands at 13%. The article gives a clear message, while giving a full page to the topic: ” Baerbock from The Greens, is stronger than the Laschet from the CDU” the article stated.
The crown jewel of the great capital
The Greens has been in a position that does not contradict or oppose the system in Germany. It has long been an important component of The Establishment. It is possible to see that, even when taking a brief look at the financial structure of the party. The Greens is currently the third wealthiest party in the country (after the SPD and CDU), with a wealth of 60.6 million Euros as of 2019. Some of the party’s largest donators are the country’s leading corporations. These include Verband der Bayerischen Metall-und Elektroindustrie, Verband der Chemischen Industrie, and Industrieverband Südwestmetall (Defense Industry corporation).
The weekly economics magazine Wirtschafts Woche has announced the results of a stunning opinion poll last week. The survey, which was conducted among the Germany’s leading industrialists, business owners and government employees, sought answers to the question ‘Who would you choose as the Chancellor if you had the opportunity to choose directly?’. Annalena Baerbock ranked first with 26.5% of the votes.
Christian Lindner (Liberal Party – FDP) followed her with 16.2%, Armin Laschet with 14.3%, and Olaf Scholz with 10.5%. The magazine published the survey, with the headline ‘Germany’s decision makers favor Annalena Baerbock’. Praises also came from Joe Kaeser, the recently retired CEO of Siemens, which is one of the giants of the German economy: ‘Baerbock represents a brand new and exciting socio-ecological market economy thesis.’. Another strong support came from Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, which is a lead for the international capital groups. Lagarde, who has also served as the President of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a long time, has also publicly expressed her sympathies for Annalena Baerbock at her recent press conference, although she does not usually engage in domestic political affairs.
Another best-selling magazines that printed Annalena Baerbock on its cover last week, was Stern Magazine. ‘Finally someone else. Baerbock wants to change the rules of the game in politics’, the cover headed, and included an interview with a lead figure from the world of economics. Economist Michael Huether, who is also the head of the think tank Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft, which is known for its ties to the capital groups, gave supportive statements to The Greens’ candidate: ‘Baerbock can communicate easily with a majority of the society, even with the liberals, the middle-size business owners and with industrialist representatives.’
The journey from London to Davos
We see can see that Annalena Baerbock is climbing her steps up on her career ladder swiftly, and rising in fame quickly in the world of politics. Baerbock, who had been a member of the parliament for two-terms, was appointed as the Co-Chair of The Greens in 2018. She was almost never heard of back then. Baerbock is drawing the attention for her international ties and career. After completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Hamburg, she went to London in 2004 for a Master’s Degree program on international law, from the London School of Economics (LSE). In 2005, she worked as an intern at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, one of the largest and most prestigious ‘independent research centers’ in the area of international law in the UK and even the entire Western world. On the other hand, she is also a member of the German Marshall Fund, a major think tank based in the United States, which operates specifically for the purpose of ‘improving Transatlantic relations’ in Germany. Baerbock is also the vice president of the Berlin-Taipei Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group, which supports Taiwan against China.
And one of the most important steps along this journey, was through Davos. Annalena Baerbock is a member of the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum, which is considered to be one of the decision and ideology centers of the Atlantic system. This structure, in which leaders under 40 years old are selected, aims to create a special network between the ‘leaders of the future’. After the membership process, these young leaders participate in a 5-year program, during which they get into a close contact with the elites in the United States, and are made sure to attend a special program at Harvard University. The name list of this program include many interesting names, from government leaders and politicians, to businesspeople and from investors to athletes. Among the most famous names of this list, there are Emmanuel Macron, Marc Zuckerberg, David de Rothschild and Alexander Soros. And from Germany, there is the CDU’s Minister of Health and, as we said earlier The Greens’ fresh candidate Annalena Baerbock. For some reason, her resume ,which is published on her official website, does not include the information on her membership of Amnesty International!
An Anti-Russia and Anti-China war hawk
Annalena Baerbock has a very clear profile in terms of her attitude towards the international events, and her arguments on German foreign policy. She is accustomed to the political dictionary and literature of the Atlanticist centers, as she was raised in those institutions, on crisis regions. Baerbock, who advocates for the paradigms aimed at the global domination of the West, and especially of the United States, believes that she has the upper hand on foreign policy issues. For that reason, she limited the head topics of her first interview after her candidacy was announced, only to the issues over the foreign policy and national security. Almost as if she wanted to gain the trust of the powers and centers, to which she owes her rise…
During the interview to FAZ am Sonntag newspaper, she gave a very clear message about Russia and China: ‘A much different relations format with the authoritarian regimes, will be one of the key issues when forming a coalition government in Germany, for our security and our humanitarian values. If it were up to me, I would already have withdrawn my political support from NordStream 2 project. There is now a conflict between the political systems: the authoritarian powers against the liberal democracies. China’s New Silk Road initiative is not just out of goodwill and kindness. This project, is only a fierce policy of dominance.’. Baerbock, who has also been critical of the trade agreements between China and the EU, makes it clear that she does not agree with the current policies of Europe and Germany against China: ‘The principle of the sovereignty is the pillar of international law. However, Europe is independent as well. As a common market, Europe can decide which products they allow in their market. They can say, that they do not want products that were made by forced labor. And if the Chinese government is going to demand from Huawei, for example to transfer data and personal information from the European customers, we cannot allow parts from this manufacturer for our own infrastructure.’. Speaking very hopeful about the United States and its transatlantic alliance, Baerbock said: ‘We are currently at a moment, where we will vitalize the Transatlantic alliance, with a zero-emission target. This is necessary not only for the climate change, but also needed to be a modern country. In this conflict of systems, we can together create an economic zone, which would fuse the United States and Europe together.’
Kenneth Roth, the director of Human Rights Watch, one of the largest NGOs that lead the anti-China campaign, also shared Annalena Baerbock’s remarks about Xinjiang in a tweet. The fronts are very clear!
And when we think of The Greens, we think of anti-war and anti-militarism rhetoric. But that is not the case for her at all. On the contrary, Baerbock finds the current situation insufficient: ‘The European defense industry costs are 3-4 times that of Russia. However, our capacities and abilities are very limited. This is quite inefficient. We need to improve the European integrity in terms of security and defense industries… The void created by the federal government’s pacifism in foreign policy, are filled by the authoritarian powers such as Russia and Turkey. That is why I am arguing for a more effective foreign policy from Germany and Europe.’ At the end of last year, Baerbock said ‘we cannot keep our heads down and turn our faces’ on the issues of security and armament. In a statement to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, she said: ‘It is now time to respond to the French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestions on European security policy should be independent. We are going to have to talk about the overseas missions as well.
The project of a CDU-The Greens Coalition is marching forward
The Merkel government and the CDU-SPD coalition did not get too engaged in the US-led transatlantic alliance, especially in the recent years. They still persisted on the NordStream 2 project, despite all the sabotage attempts. They have improved Germany’s ties to China, especially in the field of economy. They have generally made efforts to keep Europe integrated and independent against the United States in general. As Merkel’s decision to step down, the balances within the CDU began to shift. Although the Party Leader and the candidate Armin Laschet is closer to Merkel’s profile on foreign policy, the Trans-Atlanticists within the CDU are also on the move. Names such as Friedrich Merz and Norbert Roettgen, who advocated for cessation from the NordStream 2 and had a major public impact, will also take part in Laschet’s electoral campaign team. They are both an active member of the Atlantic Bruecke, one of the most important institutions of the transatlantic alliance. The interesting thing is that there are lots of praises recently within the transatlantic figures of the CDU, about Annalena Baerbock. Who would praise one’s own political opponent?
Annalena Baerbock, is currently the most US-friendly political figure that is prominent in Germany. She speaks in sync with the American foreign policies, almost as much as the US government officials on foreign policies. In addition, she advocates these policies in a very clearly, sharply and aggressively. With the start of the election process, the representatives of the transatlantic alliance in Germany wish to turn the political balances in their own favor by bringing in Annalena Baerbock. And their goal is the CDU-The Greens coalition government! For this option to be realized, The Greens need to at least get the second largest voter base and leave the SPD behind. There is no other chance of changing the balance in German politics in the short term. In such coalition, Baerbock could at least be the Foreign Minister, if not the Chancellor.
Three days after the US President Joe Biden took office, Annalena Baerbock has published an article with Robert Habeck, the other Co-Chair of The Greens party. This article, which was published in FAZ, was kind of an open letter to Joe Biden. The article, titled ‘Europe’s offer for a new transatlantic agenda’, stated: ‘We face very similar challenges on both sides of the Atlantic. This decade will be decisive in transitioning to a low-carbon economy, in preparing our industry for the future and for making the globalization fair for every nation. Against the authoritarian China, which seeks for a global hegemony, Europe and the United States can create a democratic option globally, only together.’ Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe this article as an open letter of trust to Joe Biden!
This story sounds very familiar! The foreign minister of The Greens, Joschka Fischer, who rose to the political arena years ago with his ’68er and libertarian’ makeover, created such an enjoyment and excitement in a significant portion of the German people. Then contrary to the expectations, Fischer has taken part in the airstrikes over Belgrade and the disintegration of Yugoslavia, plunging Germany into war in 1999. For the first time since World War II, the German Army has engaged in an international military operation. And today, Joschka Fischer is a strategy adviser for a consulting firm that belongs to the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. And of course, he is getting paid for his previous services.