Germany’s Baerbock Says She Won’t Run as Greens Chancellor Candidate

(Bloomberg) -- German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock ruled out being the Greens’ pick for chancellor at the next election, paving the way for Robert Habeck to become the party’s candidate.

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It’s the latest sign that the main political parties in Europe’s biggest economy are increasingly turning their focus on the vote due in the fall of 2025. Habeck would be one of three men with a chance of leading the next government, along with incumbent Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats and the leader of the main opposition conservatives, Friedrich Merz, should they both secure their parties’ nominations as expected.

Baerbock said in an interview with CNN broadcast late Wednesday that in times of crisis marked by Russia’s war on Ukraine and the “dramatic situation” in the Middle East, it was important for her to focus on her ministerial brief and not be distracted by campaigning.

She told the US broadcaster that for her “political responsibility” means that she dedicate her energy fully to the “task of building trust, cooperation and reliable structures” through diplomacy.

“The world is a totally different one than at the last German national elections,” she said. “Obviously in election times I will do everything to support my own party like I did in the past.”

Habeck, the economy minister and vice chancellor, stood aside for Baerbock at the last election in September 2021. The Greens were expected to perform better than they did and were leading in the polls through May of that year on as high as around 28%.

They ultimately got just under 15% and Baerbock was blamed by some for the disappointing outcome.

Since then, support for the Greens has held up better than for Scholz’s SPD and the smallest party in the unpopular ruling coalition, Finance Minister Christian Lindner’s Free Democrats.

According to the latest polls, Merz’s CDU/CSU alliance leads on around 30%, with the far-right Alternative for Germany second on about 17%. The SPD is third on roughly 15% — about 10 percentage points below its share of the vote in 2021 — and the Greens fourth on around 13%.

Backing for the FDP has slumped by more than half to 5%, the threshold for getting into parliament.

Asked by reporters about Baerbock’s announcement, Habeck praised her record as foreign minister and said the party will make its decision on the candidacy and announce it at the appropriate time.

Baerbock informed him in advance of her plan to take herself out of the running, according to a person close to Habeck, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential information.

--With assistance from Michael Nienaber.

(Updates with additional Baerbock comments starting in third paragraph)

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