Free World - September 14, 2021

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to step down after 16 years in power…

As German 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. Annalena 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. “It’s a chance for us—not just in Germany but worldwide—to pull the lever that changes the train tracks and sets us on a different course.” Baerbock has set herself a major challenge by becoming the first ever Green candidate for Chancellor. The Greens are poised to make major gains in Germany’s parliament, likely leapfrogging from sixth to third largest party. That’s in part thanks to the pragmatic, centrist shift that Baerbock has overseen, writes Ciara Nugent. Having never served in a government office, the 40-year-old is, for some, a fresh face and, for others, a wildcard. A dynamic speaker with the relaxed demeanor of someone who hasn’t been in frontline politics for long, she stands in sharp contrast to her rivals, the Christian Democrats’ Armin Laschet, and the Social Democrats’ Olaf Scholz. Both are dry-tempered men over 60 who have spent decades in governing roles. Read more ahead of the Sept. 26 elections at the link in our bio. Photograph by @ingmarbnolting for TIME


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