Angela Merkel’s speech interrupted at Bundestag
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And new leader Armin Laschet has been dealt a humiliating blow by the publication of a new poll suggesting the vast majority of party members believe rival Markus Soeder – leader of sister party the CSU – should be the CDU’s nomination for Chancellor, just months before September’s crunch federal elections. Annalena Baerbock will lead the Greens as their candidate, and is currently riding on a wave of optimism.
Greens Federal Managing Director Michael Kellner said: “The wave of new applicants in the last few days is an absolute record in party history.
“Things are going well for us and that puts me in a good mood.”
In a development that would have been considered unthinkable even five years ago, the Greens are regarded as having a realistic chance of taking the Chancellorship in the autumn, with Mrs Merkel stepping down after 16 years at the helm.
In the week which followed Ms Baerbock’s confirmation as the party’s candidate, the Greens received 2,159 membership applications, and now has 107,300 members.
Speaking to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung at the weekend, Ms Baerbock pledged to be tough on Russia and China if she became chancellor.
She is committed to pulling the plug on Germany’s controversial Nord Stream 2, unlike both Mr Laschet and Mrs Merkel.
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Furthermore she insisted “increasing the pressure on Russia” over its military build-up on the border with Ukraine should be a priority for Germany.
She also considers China “Belt and Road” projects to be a part of “hardcore power politics”.
She added: “If the Chinese government requires Chinese corporations such as Huawei, for example, to pass on European data and information, we cannot integrate products from such manufacturers into European infrastructure.”
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Two recent polls show the Greens overtaking the conservative CDU/CSU alliance.
In the most recent, a Kantar poll for Bild am Sonntag, support fell by two points to 27 percent, with the Greens surging six points to 28 percent.
Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats was third with 13 percent, followed by the far-right AfD with 10 percent, the business-friendly FDP with nine percent and leftist Die Linke with seven percent.
Mr Laschet was elected CDU leader in January, narrowly defeating Friedrich Merz to the top job vacated by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, widely regarded as having been Mrs Merkel’s preferred successor.
However, Mr Soeder is far more popular among CDU voters, with a poll published this week suggesting 77 percent of them believed he, not Mr Laschet, should be the party’s candidate.
Speaking to Express.co.uk last week, German former MEP Hans-Olaf Henkel said of Mr Laschet: “With Laschet, the CDU and now the CSU chose a candidate of the party establishment rather than one of the members, let alone the voters.
“This candidate may please the media but will find it difficult to attract any enthusiasm of the German voters. He is a Merkel 2.
“With Laschet the CDU/CSU will run a much higher risk of being replaced by a Red/Red/Green coalition in September consisting of Social Democrats, Communists and Greens.
He added: “As far as Nord Stream 2 is concerned, Laschet is a supporter of this project, less critical of Putin.
“Merkel and Laschet are criticising Russia over Putin’s aggressive policies only verbally.
“In fact, I can see one, and only one, advantage in the Greens‘ political program: they are much tougher vis-a-vis Russia.”
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