Annalena Baerbock at a party meeting in Hamburg, 20.01.2018 – photo by Scheint sinnig (Source)

Annalena Charlotte Alma Baerbock (German pronunciation: [anaːˌleːnaː ˈbɛːɐ̯ˌbɔk] (About this soundlisten); born 15 December 1980) is a German politician. She has served as co-leader of Alliance 90/The Greens since 2018 alongside Robert Habeck. She is also its candidate for Chancellor of Germany in the 2021 federal election, being considered the first such candidate for the Greens with a serious chance of winning this high office.[1]

Baerbock was elected to the Bundestag in 2013. From 2012 to 2015, she was a member of the party council of Alliance 90/The Greens and, from 2009 to 2013, the leader of her party’s state group in Brandenburg.


Early life and education

Baerbock is the daughter of a social worker and a mechanical engineer[2], Joerg Baerbock, a managing director of global automotive supplier WABCO. She grew up together with two sisters and two cousins in a former mill owned by her family[3] in Pattensen near Hanover in Lower Saxony.[4][5] As a child, she joined her parents at the same antiwar and anti-nuclear power protests supported — if not organized — by the Green Party.[6][7] She attended the Humboldt School in Hanover[8] and completed an exchange year at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Florida at the age of sixteen.[9]

As a teenager, Baerbock was a competitive trampoline gymnast, taking part in German championships and winning bronze three times.[10][11]

From 2000 to 2004, Baerbock studied political science and public law at the University of Hamburg. During her studies she worked as a journalist for the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung from 2000 to 2003.[12] She also completed internships at Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Deutsche Presseagentur and the Council of Europe.[13]

In 2005, Baerbock graduated with a master’s degree in Public International Law from the London School of Economics (LSE).[14] During her time at LSE, she stayed at Carr-Saunders Hall in Fitzrovia.[15] In 2005, she completed a traineeship at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL). She also started a dissertation on natural disasters and humanitarian aid at the Free University of Berlin but never finished her thesis.[16]


Early career

After her studies Baerbock worked from 2005 to 2008 in the office of MEP Elisabeth Schroedter and, in 2005, as a trainee at the British Institute of Comparative and Public International Law.[17] Between 2008 and 2009, she worked as an adviser on foreign and security policies for the parliamentary group of the Alliance 90/The Greens in the Bundestag.

Since 2020 Baerbock has participated in the World Economic Forum‘s Young Global Leaders program, an ongoing group that has coached political representatives such as Emmanuel Macron, Sanna Marin and Jacinda Ardern.[18]


Political career

Early beginnings

Baerbock became a member of Alliance 90/The Greens in 2005.[19] In October 2008, she was elected to the executive board of her party’s state group in Brandenburg. She succeeded Ska Keller as co-chair of the board (with Benjamin Raschke) the following year, an office she held until 2013.[20]

On the national level, Baerbock served as spokesperson of the Green Party’s working group on European affairs from 2008 to 2013. From 2009 to 2012, she was also part of the executive board of the European Green Party, under the leadership of co-chairs Philippe Lamberts and Monica Frassoni.[21]

Member of Parliament, 2013–present

In 2009, Baerbock unsuccessfully ran for a place on her party’s electoral list for the federal elections. In 2013, she was the Green Party candidate in the constituency of Potsdam – Potsdam-Mittelmark II – Teltow-Fläming II and also secured the leading spot on the party’s electoral list for the State of Brandenburg.[22] Through the electoral list, she became a member of the Bundestag.[21]

During her first term, Baerbock was a member of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy as well as of the Committee on European Affairs. In her parliamentary group, she served as speaker for climate policy.[5] In the latter capacity, she participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conferences in Warsaw (2013), Lima (2014), Paris (2015) and Marrakesh (2016).

In addition to her committee assignments, Baerbock served as deputy chairwoman of the Berlin-Taipei Parliamentary Circle of Friends and as a member of the German-Polish Parliamentary Friendship Group from 2014 until 2017.

For the 2017 election, Baerbock was again the leading candidate in the state of Brandenburg, retaining her seat in parliament. Following the election she was part of her party’s negotiating team, as the Green Party entered (unsuccessful) coalition talks with the CDU/CSU and FDP.[23][24] She has since been a member of the Committee on Families, Seniors, Women and Youth.

Co-chairwoman of the Green Party, 2018–present

On 27 January 2018 at the Green Party’s national convention in her hometown of Hanover, Baerbock was elected as one of two equal chairpersons of her party on the federal level, joined by Robert Habeck.[25][26] She won 64 percent of the vote, more than her challenger Anja Piel.[5] At a 2019 party convention, she was reelected with 97.1 percent, the highest-ever result for a chair of the party.[27]

In the negotiations to form a coalition government under the leadership of Minister-President of Brandenburg Dietmar Woidke following the 2019 state elections, Baerbock was a member of her party’s delegation.[28][29]

Candidate for chancellor, 2021

On 19 April 2021, Baerbock and Robert Habeck announced that the federal board of the Greens proposed Baerbock as candidate for Chancellor for the 2021 federal election – the first time the party nominated a single candidate instead of co-leaders.[30] This has to be formally confirmed at the party congress taking place between the 11 and 13 June. Historically, Baerbock is the second woman after Angela Merkel to seek the highest government office. On election day, she will be only a few days older than Guido Westerwelle in 2002, the youngest-ever chancellor candidate.[31][32]


Political positions

Foreign policy

Baerbock is regarded as taking a centrist line on defense and pushing for a stronger common EU foreign policy,[33] especially against Russia, Turkey and China.[34] She has proposed a post pacifism foreign policy.[35] calling for a European army under the supervision of the European Parliament and outlining steps towards a de-nuclearization of Germany in consultation with allies.[36]

Energy, climate, and environmental policy

Baerbock has called for coal to be phased out in Germany by 2030, the implementation of a speed limit of 130 kilometers per hour, and only allowing the registration of emission-free cars “by 2030 at the latest”. On agriculture, she has stated that “agricultural subsidies should be oriented towards the common good” and that animal populations and meat production should be “reduced very significantly.”[37] Baerbock has also stated that “climate policy is not in contradiction to the economy” and that she wishes to preserve Germany’s status an industrial location “into the 21st century – in light of the Paris climate agreement.” Baerbock advocates for the production of climate-neutral steel and has expressed support for climate tariffs – international taxes on goods that are carbon-intensive. Under her policies, domestic German flights are to be made “superfluous” by 2035, through strengthening the rail network.[38]

On the occasion of the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court on the Climate Protection Act (the court ruled that promised greenhouse gas reductions in the bill were not sufficient) on 29 April 2021, Baerbock held out the prospect of setting concrete greenhouse gas savings targets in the event that her party would participate in the future federal government. She additionally called for the annual expansion of renewable energy sources to be doubled compared to the previous quota by the mid-2020’s. She has also stated that environmental destruction caused by climate change is becoming increasingly expensive.[39]

Baerbock opposes the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Russia and Europe.

Immigration

Amid the European migrant crisis in 2015, Baerbock joined fellow Green parliamentarians Luise Amtsberg, Franziska Brantner, Manuel Sarrazin and Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn in calling for more responsibilities for the European Commission in managing the European Union’s intake of refugees, a clear mandate for Frontex and EU-managed facilities for asylum seekers in their countries of origin.[40]


Other activities

Controversy

In May 2021, The Guardian reported that a Russia-backed cyber campaign against Baerbock was launched across social media, including images purporting to show her naked in which the body depicted is actually a Russian model.[43]

Also in May 2021, various media outlets reported that Baerbock had been late to declare to the German Parliament’s administration a total of 25,500 euros in additional income she had received over the course of three years – 2018, 2019 and 2020 – in her capacity as leader of the Green Party. Baerbock also faced criticism to have accepted a so called „corona bonus“, a salary subsidy that was meant to support key workers and medical staff during the pandemic.[44][45][46][47]

In June 2021, it was revealed that Baerbock corrected a falsely claimed membership at the German Marshall Fund and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), among other lesser-known organizations, in the CV available on her official website. [48]

Personal life

Baerbock is married to Daniel Holefleisch, a political consultant and PR manager who has been working for Deutsche Post DHL Group since 2017.[49] The couple has two daughters, born in 2011 and 2015.[50] In 2013, the family moved from Berlin to the Nauener Vorstadt district[51][52] of Potsdam, Brandenburg.[33]

Baerbock is a member of the mainstream Protestant Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).[21] She describes herself as “not religious” but remains a church member because “the idea of togetherness is extremely important” to her. (Source)

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