Is Germany turning Green?

Is Germany turning Green?

A Green Party-led government for the world's fourth largest economy? That's no longer far-fetched. As Signal's Gabrielle Debinski wrote last month, most current polls now show Germany's Greens in first place in federal elections set for September 26. And for the first time, the Greens have a candidate for chancellor. Annalena Baerbock is vying to replace Angela Merkel, who has led Germany for the past 16 years.


How have the Greens reached this point? A frustratingly ineffective COVID response, with on-again-off-again lockdowns, has undermined the governing center-right coalition's chief political selling point: a reputation for competent leadership. The ascendancy of climate change as a central issue across Europe, particularly for young voters, has helped too. Ironically, Merkel herself has helped mainstream the Greens with her own push in recent years against nuclear power and coal. A recent ruling on climate policy from Germany's Supreme Court has pushed the country even further toward emissions reduction commitments.

Thanks to Baerbock, the Greens may have real staying power. The party has a history of strong polling and weak election day performance. But this time, a decided lack of enthusiasm for center-right candidate Armin Laschet, who had to survive a strong leadership challenge from a more popular rival, is boosting the Greens' chances. This will be the first German election since 1949 in which the incumbent chancellor is not on the ballot, and Baerbock may appeal to voters who have supported Merkel more than they support her party.

More importantly, it would be a mistake to underestimate the Greens' 40-year-old standard bearer. The charismatic Baerbock isn't simply a made-for-television candidate. She's a detail-orientated expert on climate change and knowledgeable on foreign policy. A graduate of the London School of Economics, Baerbock speaks fluent English. She's already proven herself a gifted political strategist and bested Laschet in all recent head-to-head polls. But Baerbock is also the change candidate in a year that Germans may well want to turn the page on 16 years of center-right leadership.

A real shot at power has changed the Greens. Beyond their ambitious approach to climate policy, they've adopted a much more pragmatic foreign policy than in the past. A willingness to reach for votes from Germans who prioritize economic growth has moderated criticisms of China and Russia, for example. A respect for fiscal discipline led the Greens toward a restrained approach to financial aid for Greece during the Eurozone crisis.

Even if the Greens don't finish first in September, they're almost certain to be part of the next coalition government. Conservatives will have to offer substantive climate concessions to bring Greens into a partnership. In particular, the Greens want Germany to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by making all cars emission-free by 2030 and by raising carbon taxes. They also want to scrap a constitutional amendment that limits the government's ability to borrow to finance spending – a measure already temporarily suspended during the pandemic – in part to boost spending on green tech.

Do Germans really want change? It might depend on COVID's course. Laschet will offer himself and his party as steady hands. He will argue that Baerbock and the Greens have no idea how to run a government. But that case will be harder to make if the current government can't get Germans vaccinated and its economy on the road to recovery over the next 20 weeks.

Okuafo Pa means good farmer in the Twi language of West Africa. Hence, the naming of the project reflects the value of good farming and the rewards it brings to the people of Ghana. The Okuafo Pa Project will support Ghana's sustainable development by promoting socio-economic growth and sustainable business models.

Watch to learn how Eni is helping youth to develop agricultural knowledge and skills.

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to vote for president, and it appears a foregone conclusion that hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nation's top judge, will win.

Outsiders, and many Iranians, roll their eyes at the predictability of this vote. Iran's Guardian Council, a dozen clerics and judges who answer only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has cleared the field for Raisi by ruling all of his credible challengers ineligible. The fix is in, and Iranians are now preparing for a moment when anti-reform conservatives, those who oppose social change inside Iran and deeper engagement with the West, will for the first time ever control the country's presidency, parliament, courts, and much of the media.

But simmering beneath the cynicism and predictability of this event is a deepening anxiety over Iran's future as it enters a potentially momentous period in the Islamic Republic's 42-year history. The Supreme Leader, in power for 32 years, is now 82 years old. Very few people know the true state of his health. Even if he outlives Raisi's presidency, which could last four or eight years, preparations for a historic, uncertain, and potentially dangerous leadership transition will intensify soon.

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Iranians head to the polls on June 18, in what's widely perceived to be a foregone outcome. Analysts predict that popular disillusionment with Iran's political class will make this one of the lowest turnout elections in Iran's post-revolution history. According to one poll taken by the Iranian Students Polling Agency, as few as 42 percent of the eligible voting population is expected to show up. We take a look at contemporary Iran's demographics, and how this year's vote turnout might compare to previous elections.

In 2019, Ethiopia's fresh Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepted a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in brokering a peace treaty with neighbor and longtime foe Eritrea. At the time, Abiy was hailed by the Western media as a reformist who was steering Ethiopia, long dominated by ethnic strife and dictatorial rule, into a new democratic era.

But barely two years later, Abiy stands accused of overseeing a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the northern Tigray region, putting the country on the brink of civil war.

It's against this backdrop that Ethiopians will head to the polls on June 21 for a parliamentary election now regarded as a referendum on Abiy's leadership. But will the vote be free and fair, and will the outcome actually reflect the will of the people? Most analysts say the answer is a resounding "no" on both fronts.

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Latin America needs vaccines: The World Health Organization has called on the G7 countries that pledged to donate a billion COVID vaccine doses to the developing world to prioritize Latin America, with WHO officials pointing to the fact that out of the top 10 countries with the highest COVID death tolls per capita over the past week, nine are in Latin America, where many health systems are overstretched and vaccines are scarce. This call comes as Latin America's COVID death toll has surpassed 1 million. Cases and deaths are soaring in Argentina and Colombia, for instance, while Brazil has fully vaccinated just 11 percent of its population despite recording the world's second highest death toll. Even Chile, which has carried out Latin America's most successful vaccination campaign to date, has been forced to delay reopening due to a recent surge in infections among unvaccinated younger people. The WHO says prioritizing the region for vaccine donations makes sense in order to stop large sustained outbreaks that may spur potentially more infectious COVID variants that'll cross borders and wreak havoc in populous states. Most of the donated shots will be distributed through the COVAX facility, which is a problem for countries like Venezuela, for instance, which is shut out from COVAX due to US sanctions imposed on the Maduro regime.

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3: China has launched three astronauts into orbit in its first space mission since 2016. The astronauts will spend three months aboard the country's new space station, demonstrating China's resolve to become a space power — following successful earlier missions to collect soil samples on the Moon and land a wheeled robot on Mars — in a bid to exert its superpower bonafides.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Cyber issues took center stage at the G7 summit. Is there a consensus among world leaders on how to handle cyberweapons?

Well, depending on who is included, there is a growing consensus that the escalations of conflict in cyberspace must stop. And G7 leaders that are now all representing democracies did call on Russia to hold perpetrators of cybercrime that operate from within its borders to account. So, I guess hope dies last because laws in Russia prevents the extradition of suspects to the US, even if Vladimir Putin answered positively when Joe Biden asked for cooperation on that front. And when it comes to limiting the spread of tools that are used for hacking, surveillance and infiltration, the EU has just moved ahead and adopted new dual use regulations which reflect the concerns for human rights violations when journalists are targeted the way that Jamal Khashoggi was. So ending the proliferation of systems that are used to attack would be an urgent but also obvious step for democratic nations to agree on.

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Frequently called Europe's last dictator, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko Lukashenko has sailed smoothly to victory in all six elections he's stood in, despite widespread corruption and fraud in each one. But in 2020 the biggest threat so far to Lukashenko's tight grip on government came in an unlikely package—a former schoolteacher and stay at home mom, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. After the election result was finalized, Lukashenko claimed victory, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets, and Tsikhanouskaya leads the opposition in exile. Lukashenko recently took his boldest move yet, diverting a plane en route from Greece to Lithuania to arrest another Belarusian dissident. Ian Bremmer discusses whether a democratic transition is remotely possible in Belarus on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: The fight for democracy in Europe's last dictatorship

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