How is life after BAMS
"I stand for renewal, others stand for the status quo."
Annalena Baerbock spoke to BILD am Sonntag about sexist comments on the Internet, energy money, the Middle East conflict and the first law that she would bring as Chancellor in motion.
First published in BILD AM SONNTAG (BAMS) on May 16, 2021
By Angelika Hellemann and Roman Eichinger
BAMS: Ms. Baerbock, what would be the first thing that would change for people with you as Chancellor?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: That the different realities of life of the people are at the center. Someone who lives in the village has different needs than families in city centers: some lack a doctor's office nearby, others cannot find affordable housing. Or children - they are not little adults. Your needs, needs and rights must be taken into account.
BAMS: You and your husband are parents to two daughters (5 and 9). How do you organize your life during the Chancellor election campaign and afterwards?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: My children know where my heart and home are. But of course it doesn't work without a division of tasks: My husband takes full responsibility and work at home. He has already reduced his hours at work in recent years because I often leave the house early in the morning and come home at night. It is my husband who mainly takes care of daycare, school, homework and lunch. From August he will take a break and will then be completely at home, also to be there as a father when our younger daughter starts school.
BAMS: Did your husband have a veto right when you ran for chancellor?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: Of course, because it all also changes our entire family life. The responsibility of the Chancellor's office means being available day and night. I can also do that because my husband would then take full parental leave.
BAMS: Her husband works as a lobbyist for the Post. Would that even be possible if the wife was Chancellor or Minister or wouldn't you get into a conflict of interest?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: If I accept a government position, it is very clear that my husband will not continue his work there.
BAMS: Are women attacked harder than men in politics?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: Yes.
BAMS: What are you up to?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: Hard argument on the matter is part of politics. But especially in the social networks women are sexist insulted and attacked in order to wear them down. I know some people who are involved in local politics on a voluntary basis, for example, and say I can no longer. That is why it is so important to make these hate campaigns public.
BAMS: Friedrich Merz doubts your suitability as Chancellor because you made the SPD the inventor of the social market economy.
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: Well, I have shown that in a shortened version. In a passionate debate in the Bundestag, I unfortunately put the social market economy, which Ludwig Erhard undoubtedly brought in, as well as the decades-long struggle of the SPD for social justice into one sentence.
BAMS:In contrast to you, your rivals for the Chancellery, NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), have government experience. What else makes you different?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: I stand for renewal. Others stand for the status quo.
BAMS: Let's get into concrete terms: What would be the first law that you as Chancellor would introduce?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: An immediate climate protection program.
BAMS: The Greens want a higher CO2 price. How expensive is a Chancellor Baerbock for a nurse who commutes to the clinic with her combustion engine?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: I come from the village myself. My parents' old, rickety polo that I got for my 18th birthday was a piece of freedom back then - because otherwise I wouldn't have come back from town at night. So I know that a lot of people in the country are stuck without a car, just when they want to go to work. Therefore: Sure, driving has to remain affordable. This means that we will support people who now have no money for a new electric car. I want the income from the CO2 price to flow back to every citizen as energy money. The nurse also receives financial help so that she can afford an e-car. And we want to lower electricity prices.
BAMS: Your plan costs more than 8 billion euros a year. How are you going to finance that?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: The energy money is fed from the additional income from the CO2 price; the higher the C02 price, the more it goes back to the citizens. Anyone who heats huge houses and drives gasoline-guzzling SUVs pays with the CO2 price on top. Low- and middle-income families, on the other hand, would be more likely to benefit from our proposal.
BAMS: But air travel is getting more expensive?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: Yes, I don't think it's fair that all of our tax money is used to subsidize kerosene, while long-distance rail journeys are expensive, especially at peak times. If you travel as a family by train, you should pay less than for the short distance by plane. And yes, short-haul flights should no longer exist in the future.
BAMS: For 29 euros to Mallorca there is no longer allowed?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: Everyone can go on vacation wherever they want. But climate-friendly taxation of flights would stop such dumping prices. Incidentally, hardly any family flies to Mallorca for 29 euros. In the holiday season, the ticket prices are significantly higher. The bargains are available for weekend short trips, as the family with two school-age children is hardly sitting on the plane.
BAMS: It is clear that we need a lot more renewable energies for the energy transition. Are solar systems on the roof becoming compulsory for new buildings?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: Yes. In future, it must apply in Germany that, as a rule, new buildings will only be built with a solar roof. And tenants and home builders benefit from affordable electricity prices from their own roof.
BAMS: The election campaign will be about taxes and justice. Who has to pay more under a Chancellor Baerbock?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: I want good hospitals, good schools, and the money for it doesn't just fall from the sky, especially not after the corona hole in the household. That is why we want to reform the debt brake. As a contribution to more justice, people who earn very little should be relieved. To do this, we are increasing the top tax rate by three percentage points to 45 percent for everyone who earns more than 100,000 euros a year. For married couples, the limit is 200,000 euros. From an income of 250,000 or 500,000 euros, there is a further level with a top tax rate of 48 percent.
BAMS: Which coalition partner would you most like to rule with?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: That depends on the election result and thus on the decision of the voters.
BAMS: That's not correct. Currently it is enough in the surveys for one traffic light, for green-black and green-red-red. So you have a free choice.
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: Nevertheless - polls are not yet election results. If we were to become the strongest force, we would invite all democratic parties to talks with which a majority would be possible. Except, of course, the AfD. Then there could be different exploratory rounds. In Baden-Württemberg, a traffic light and green-black have just been explored.
BAMS: If the Left Party does not commit to NATO and the FDP rules out any tax increases, what toad are you swallowing?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: In a liberal democracy it is important that the parties' election programs are not all created equal. For me, in addition to climate protection, the social question and a common European foreign policy play a central role. In the end, it all comes down to where there is the most intersection.
BAMS: Do you really think the Left Party is capable of governing?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: I have a lot of dissent with parts of the Left Party, including on their attitude towards authoritarian regimes like Russia. But parts of the Union are not crystal clear either - see the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline.
BAMS: The Union is preparing for the federal election Friedrich Merz and ex-constitutional protection chief Hans-Georg Maaßen in order to strengthen its conservative wing. Is that green compatible?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: In general, the following applies: The Union must close its flank to the far right.
BAMS: Your biggest problem is the Lord Mayor of Tübingen, Boris Palmer. They want to throw him out of the party after several scandals. Is Palmer screwing up your way to the Chancellery?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: Nope.
BAMS: Do you think Palmer is a racist?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: His latest statement was racist and repugnant, and appealing to irony afterwards does not undo it. I urged him to apologize and clearly distance himself from it. He didn't do that. That's why I had to do that as a party leader for my party.
BAMS: Which dream do you want to fulfill in life?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: My childhood dream was to become a rock singer. But that won't work with a real singing voice. That's why I only sing at home and in the shower.
BAMS: Which singer was your idol?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: As a teenager, I liked Anouk.
BAMS: Speaking of rock careers - the Greens want to legalize cannabis: have you ever smoked a joint?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: I did, but it wasn't really mine.
BAMS: As Chancellor, what would you do in the face of Hamas' terror war against Israel?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: I stand by Israel's side. We cannot just watch the heinous attacks by Hamas. The federal government - regardless of who leads it - must act and influence the forces that have influence over Hamas. Intensive telephone diplomacy and the use of special emissaries are in demand. In addition, high-ranking representatives of the federal government should be sent to the region in order to work with close allies to mediate an immediate end to the violence. All of this must be coordinated quickly in the EU and, above all, in close coordination with the USA.
BAMS: The Greens reject arms deliveries to war and conflict areas. Does that also apply to Israel?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: Israel's security is part of Germany's reason of state. Should we belong to the next German federal government, we will discuss and continue security cooperation with the State of Israel in partnership.
BAMS: What do you think of the anti-Israeli demonstrations and riots in Germany?
ANNALENA BAERBOCK: You shake me deeply. Anti-constitutional symbols, seditious slogans, the burning of Israeli flags - this is an attack on neighbors, on friends, on the foundations of our democracy. Anti-Semitism does not only begin when stones are thrown at synagogues, but earlier - in supposedly casual remarks, conspiracy stories, devaluation and agitation in everyday life. Fighting back the beginnings is an ongoing process. Jews must be able to live safely and freely in Germany every day, every hour - that is the task of all of us.
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