German Greens elect 28-year-old leader to build on youth vote

German Greens elect 28-year-old leader to build on youth vote

January 29, 2022

By Holger Hansen

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s Greens on Saturday elected their youngest ever leader, building on their success in a national election last year that revealed their popularity among young voters.

Ricarda Lang, a 28-year-old lawmaker, will co-lead the party with her parliamentary colleague and foreign affairs expert, Omid Nouripour. They replace Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck who have led the party since 2018 but have both taken ministerial posts in Germany’s new government.

The Greens came third in the election and are junior partners in a three-way coalition led by Social Democrat (SPD) Chancellor Olaf Scholz and which includes the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

The election in September produced the youngest and most diverse parliament ever. The share of women rose by 4 points to just under 35% and the Greens had the highest gender parity, with women accounting for almost 60% of their lawmakers.

Outgoing co-leader and Foreign Minister Baerbock, 41, was often questioned before the election about how she will juggle motherhood with work, prompting her campaign to complain about sexist scrutiny.

The Greens have delivered on a campaign pledge to secure billions of euros in funding for projects to transition Germany toward a carbon-neutral future and make its economy fit for the digital age. However, they have had to drop some election promises like introducing a speed limit on Germany’s extensive highway network.

Their youthful leaders and focus on climate issues make the Greens popular with women, young and educated urban voters.

Exit polls showed the Greens had won 23% among first-time voters aged 18 to 22.

“We must disprove the false contradiction between climate protection and social justice,” Lang said in her election speech. “Not only are we ready, we are really up for it.”

(Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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