VIENNA (AP) — Germany’s Greens party elected a new leadership team Saturday that vowed to continue fighting for the party’s core issues, especially combating climate change, as it adjusts to its role in Germany’s new governing coalition.
Omid Nouripour, 46, and Ricarda Lang, 28, will serve as the party’s co-leaders. They are replacing Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, who had led the party since 2018 but have both taken ministerial posts in Germany’s new government. Baerbock is the country’s new foreign minister while Habeck is a vice chancellor and minister for economics and climate.
In December, the three-party coalition between the center-left Social Democrats, the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats took office under Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The government marks a new era after 16 years of Angela Merkel’s leadership, and the Greens’ first time in government since 2005.
The Greens traditionally have two leaders on the national level, one woman and one man. Lang ran unopposed while Nouripour had two challengers but won easily.
Nouripour, who was born in Iran and immigrated to Germany at 13, is a veteran Greens politician who has served in the Bundestag since 2006. He was previously a member of the party’s national board and also served as its foreign policy spokesman.
Lang, at 28, is the youngest-ever Greens leader. Elected to the Bundestag in September, Lang got her start in the party’s youth wing and served as its spokeswoman on women’s issues. She is seen as a representative of the left wing of the party.
The two politicians face the challenge of following in the footsteps of Baerbock and Habeck, who are popular in the party and widely credited with broadening the Greens’ voter base in recent years. They also need to shape the Greens to operate as part of the ruling coalition, instead of in opposition.
Both nodded to those challenges in their speeches.
Baerbock, Habeck and other Greens leaders “need our solidarity,” Nouripour said, “but they also need a smart and self-confident party” to help them develop their plans even further.
Lang encouraged party members to see the compromises of governing as an opportunity: “Governing isn’t a punishment, it’s a huge chance,” she said.
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