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German Greens see 10-fold increase in membership applications as party threatens Merkel’s CDU


Annalena Baerbock in a pink t-shirt and leather jacket and her Green party co-leader Robert Habeck clap and celebrate during a national party convention – Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP

Germany’s Green party has seen a 10-fold increase in membership applications as it shapes up to be a serious rival to Angela Merkel‘s CDU in elections later this year.

The increase, which comes a week after it was announced that Annalena Baerbock will lead the party at the federal election in September, represented the most membership applications the party has ever received in a single week.

“The wave of new applicants in the last few days is an absolute record in party history,” Greens Federal Managing Director Michael Kellner told the German Press Agency on Sunday. “Things are going well for us and that puts me in a good mood.”

Second in the polls, the Greens are considered to have a significant chance of taking Germany’s top job for the first time when Merkel’s 16-year reign ends this Autumn.

The party showed a unified front after 40-year-old Baerbock’s surprise announcement over favourite Robert Habeck. The pair were selected as co-leaders three years ago, representing a victory for the party’s pragmatic bloc over its radical flank.

In the week after Baerbock’s announcement, the Greens received 2,159 membership applications – roughly 10 times the usual number. It now has 107,300 members.

Meanwhile, the rival CDU has been plagued by infighting in recent months. Once unassailable under Merkel’s leadership, the party has only just emerged from a bruising leadership battle which has seen their standing in the polls fall by 10 points since January. They now command just 27 per cent of popular support, slightly ahead of the Greens on 23 per cent.

If the poll were held today, Baerbock’s Greens would be able to bring together a coalition of centre-left and left-leaning parties to form a government.

The CDU’s new leader Armin Laschet will take them to the vote after he was selected by party leadership ahead of the more popular Markus Söder, who is the leader of the CDU’s sister party in Bavaria.

While Laschet has managed to coalesce the party’s powerful leadership in his favour, Söder is far more popular among party members and the general public, with 77 per cent of CDU supporters saying in a poll this week they felt the party had chosen the wrong candidate.

Despite the membership surge, the CDU for now maintains a much larger membership than the Greens, at just over 400,000.



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