Determined on the way up

She’s here, she’s loud, because she doesn’t want to have her future stolen from her and others around the globe. With Ricarda Lang, the Greens have elected the youngest chairperson ever. This not only opens up new opportunities – even in his own party there are definitely reservations.

From Nurtingen via Schwabisch Gmund to Berlin: Ricarda Lang, the new leader of the Alliance Greens. Photo: Janine Schmitz / Photothek

From Nurtingen via Schwabisch Gmund to Berlin: Ricarda Lang, the new leader of the Bundnisgrunen party. Photo: Janine Schmitz / Photothek

No law degree, but catapulted into the leadership elite. No stable smell, but a rise according to the age-old motto "delivery room, lecture hall, plenary hall". But not only: 28-year-old Ricarda Lang has already experienced a lot politically and gained corresponding experience since joining the Green Youth nine years ago: as an associate member of its national executive committee, then as a spokeswoman in the management of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district association, as deputy federal chairwoman of the Greens since 2019, as an election campaigner and as a member of the Bundestag since October 2021.

Even in her first weeks as a representative of the people, she immediately wanted to join an illustrious circle: There are not many politicians who understand the art of free speech like she does. The new leader of the Green Party even enters sensitive debates in the Bundestag, such as the one on compulsory vaccination, without a crib sheet and certainly not with a manuscript. A politician would be attributed ambition and ambition, a young politician arrogance. But she is not that young. Just a reminder: Erwin Teufel became mayor at the age of 25 in the 13.000-inhabitant community of Spaichingen. Even today, a woman would have to dress very warmly if she were to aspire to the same thing.

Insults have the opposite effect

Lang’s forced appearance also earns her several thousand detractors on the web. "She could invent the perpetuum mobile", says one of her fans at the list party conference of the Southwest Greens last spring in Heilbronn "and yet would only be insulted." There the Nurtingerin with one of its flaming speeches applied for list place ten on the national list. Since 26. She now represents the constituency of Backnang/Schwabisch Gmund in Berlin on September 1.

She thinks she has long since learned how to deal with hate and agitation. Since she was elected spokeswoman for the Green Youth, "it doesn’t matter what I say, about Europe, education policy or the coal phase-out, I only get comments on my body on principle and on the Internet. Even traditional media’s post-event coverage of the weekend’s digital party conference gets this slap on the wrist. "In the past days" Lang is "insulted and defamed" on the net because of her weight, write the "Stuttgarter ZeitungsNachrichten" Allegedly concerned, as if this were news.

After about 30 hours of vomiting once again on the net, the Backnang political consultant Erik Flugge spoke up at the beginning of the week, completely unsuccessfully, like all the others who call for moderation: "What these people who pour buckets of hate on Ricarda Lang here to harm her don’t understand is that they achieve the exact opposite, because every one of the attacks below the belt motivates the center of society to get behind Ricarda Lang. Solidarity."

Ricarda Lang at a Fridays for Future demonstration in Berlin in December 2019. photo by Stefan Muller (climate stuff), <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

Ricarda Lang at a Fridays for Future demonstration in Berlin in December 2019. Photo: Stefan Muller (climate stuff), CC BY 2.0, link

She felt it already when she rocked full halls in pre-Corona times. Her 2019 candidacy speech for the position of deputy federal leader of the Green Party was met with a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. It culminated in this message: "Our appearance does not determine our value, we are all so much more than the sum of our body parts, we are climate protectors, democrats, feminists and fighters, and together we can change the world."

With Realo on the side for redistribution

She will need solidarity above all when, together with her co-chairman Omid Nouripour, she has to explain to the party in the near future, on this and that issue, why once again a coalition compromise is watering down her own goals and aspirations to such an extent. At the federal delegates’ conference with the not exactly exhilarating 76 percent result – not least because the acceptance of the 1.500-Euro-Corona-Bonus is resented – she tries out the self-confident tone: "Governing is not a punishment, but a huge opportunity." It’s probably easier to "stand on the sidelines with a clean slate, but that doesn’t help a single family that’s worried about rising energy prices."

The daughter of a single social worker in a women’s shelter and a sculptor wants "honest answers to questions of distribution" To make climate protection and justice a new cornerstone of the Green Party’s program. No, she reports, she didn’t have a difficult childhood, but a very beautiful one. Even when her mother lost her job because the women’s shelter was closed. Every single opportunity, she recalls, had to be fought for. "I went into politics", tells Lang "so that women like my mother have it easier in the future."

The CDU is copying the Green promise to reconcile ecology and economy about a quarter century after it was first formulated. Lang developed it further: "To make the connection of climate protection and justice the basis of our politics, exactly that is the task for the year 2022." This will be exciting, if only because the new leadership will have to deal with the election results of 26 September. September has written on the flags.

There is a dispute with Kretschmann in the house

In this connection one comes on a stage, which it enters only rarely still. That Winfried Kretschmann – another one who can inspire delegates with flaming speeches – does not feel a certain distance to his party for the first time is shown by the pre-recorded video message he sent to the corona-conditioned digital Green meeting in Berlin. With delegates and media people a passage did not miss its effect nevertheless. "We started the election campaign as an alliance party and ended up as a milieu party. Now we have to find our way back to the path of the alliance party", lamented the prime minister. Lang also wants this, but with a different approach. Kretschmann wants "the trust of the people" win back through an alliance with the business community. "Or in other words", he appeals "we have to be business friendly"." Its new federal chairwoman ticks there rather differently. "We urgently need to talk about how wealth is distributed differently."

As successor to Annalena Baerbock, Ricarda Lang will sit at the table for all decisions in the Berlin traffic light coalition. And remind oneself and others that a coalition agreement is not there to replace green programmatics. And even more so to their own perspectives. Lang is a Verdi member, has the closest contacts to Fridays-for-Future since the first demo in Berlin in 2019, tens of thousands of supporters follow her on the net, feminists, and many new members especially of the Southwest Greens rely on her. In 18 of the 22 years since the turn of the century, the most successful of the 16 Green state associations has provided one of the two federal chairs, all men and all from the realo wing. This tradition is now broken.

He has no reason to believe, says Minister President Kretschmann dryly about the new one, that she will not do the job well. And Lang builds bridges anyway. Converting a country like Germany into an exemplary climate-neutral country is a challenge that "we can’t afford to let ourselves be divided." Over many stages of Green history, realos have demanded exactly that from fundies. Let’s see if and how this will work the other way around.

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