Green Party co-chairwoman Annalena Baerbock introduces herself as a candidate for German chancellor Monday in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Andreas Gora/EPA-EFE/Pool
April 19 (UPI) -- Germany's Green Party on Monday nominated Annalena Baerbock as its first candidate for chancellor amid surging poll numbers as the country prepares to elect a successor to Angela Merkel later this year.
Baerbock, 40, has served as co-leader of the Green Party along with Robert Habeck since 2018. Habeck announced her nomination at a news conference in Berlin.
Lauding Baerbock's "new management style" in co-leading the party, Habeck called it "a style that is based on cooperation, that leaves room for one another, that puts cooperation in the fore." He also said she's a "combative, focused and strong-willed" choice who will "represent the Green agenda with passion."
"We have a clear idea of a chancellorship for Germany," Baerbock said in a statement. "I would like to make an offer for the whole of society here today with my candidacy as an invitation to lead our diverse, strong, rich country into a good future."
The Greens have never previously named a specific candidate for chancellor due to their lack of sufficient voter support in earlier elections for the German Parliament, or Bundestag.
But that has changed this year as Merkel prepares to step down after 16 years in office and the country's political parties jockey for position ahead of the Sept. 26 parliamentary elections.
The Greens are surging in the polls at around 20%, which could ultimately make them the second-largest party in the Bundestag behind Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union.
The CDU suffered its worst-ever election results in two key regional votes last month, in which the Greens partnered with the Social Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats to form a powerful opposition bloc. Analysts say that dynamic could be replicated on a national level in September to form a national government.
Baerbock, born in a small town in Lower Saxony, is a former elite German national trampolining competitor who lived in the United States for a year as a teenager and attended the London School of Economics, giving her a firm grasp of the English language.
Under her co-leadership, the Greens have formed a platform calling for Germany to phase out coal-powered energy much earlier than the current target date of 2038 and opposing increased defense spending.