Green candidate for Chancellor Annalena Baerbock (May 17, 2021)
Photo: Andreas Gora / Getty Images
The next German Chancellor will not be Annalena Baerbock.
After the last few days there is hardly any reasonable doubt about that.
The green top candidate only has the option of deciding on the time and form of her defeat - and thus on her political future - for herself.
Of course there are miracles.
Armin Laschet may join the Greens the day before the federal election, at the same time Markus Söder and Friedrich Merz can decide to emigrate to Fiji together.
Everything is imaginable.
But not every absurdity has to be taken into account in an analysis.
And if you don't want to do that, the only thing left is: Annalena Baerbock won't make it.
Is the decline the result of wicked reporting?
Or your own fault?
It's a mix of both.
It was predictable that some media outlets would do campaign journalism.
That they would blow up small mistakes made by the green candidate into a giant balloon and radicalize factual statements.
This is not nice, but it is to be expected.
And if you want to be at the forefront of the political stage, even on the global stage, you have to be able to handle it.
Annalena Baerbock could do that.
She reacted calmly.
And there is a lot to suggest that not every discussion on a complicated topic can be squeezed into a provocative headline.
Example: The future gasoline price - at which the governing parties and the Greens are not that far apart.
However, it can be assumed that some could not believe their luck when they were allowed to find out how helpful Annalena Baerbock herself played into their hands.
How can you be so stupid or so vain or both as to leave a prettied résumé online that all opponents can easily use?
Take what you want.
There is enough there.
We are happy to correct several times.
There are certainly many people who are not interested in the topic at all or who consider the criticism of Baerbock to be exaggerated.
After all, even the CSU politician Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was defended at the time with the argument that we had all written off at school.
As if a plagiarized doctoral thesis was the same as an 8th grade cheat sheet.
She is not. And to be very clear: Inaccurate information about degrees and memberships cannot be compared with fraud in the case of a doctorate. One is embarrassing, the other is unforgivable. Aside, I don't understand how the SPD can hold on to Franziska Giffey as the top candidate for the election to the Berlin House of Representatives. The doctoral thesis is expected to be revoked, as a minister it is intolerable - but is it enough for Berlin? Strange.
Annalena Baerbock was much less guilty than other political leaders.
It is and would therefore be understandable if she and the Greens felt that they were treated unfairly as a whole.
But their popularity wasn't solid enough to sit out this affair.
If even a few percent of those who had considered choosing green for the first time in their lives jump off, then the possible victory is foregone.
It is bold to want to move into the Chancellery without any government experience.
But that can - perhaps - succeed if a sufficiently large part of the population longs for a change of course and a new political start.
That was the great opportunity for Annalena Baerbock.
You just had to protect something, a single treasure: namely your own credibility.
This gem has been lost.
Others, who have to be more accused, had and still have more to throw at the scales than the Greens' candidate.
Armin Laschet's curriculum vitae also contains - let's put it kindly: gaps.
But he was prime minister for years.
That reassures unsettled voters.
For days now Robert Habeck had to explain the poor election result in Saxony-Anhalt and the inconsistencies in the top candidate's résumé on television and everywhere else.
He also made good, sometimes more, sometimes less tight-lipped.
Annalena Baerbock had largely disappeared.
That didn't seem sovereign.
Today she expresses herself in the ARD, on Friday the party congress begins.
Then there is no more escape.
She will have to show her true colors.
If Annalena Baerbock is as smart as many believe, then she withdraws and says in a general sense: Stupid, small mistakes by me currently endanger the fact that we can achieve what is most important to us all. Namely our politics, especially the fight against climate change. To maximize our chances, I'm handing over the baton to Robert. And wish him all, all the best.
Annalena Baerbock would have put her self-interest behind the interests of the party, the country and the world.
From then on she would be an icon.
And everything could become, maybe even Chancellor at some point, if Robert Habeck doesn't make it.
The grand gesture would outshine what was up to now.
But to do this, the candidate would have to dare to step back into the limb first.
I don't think she will.
And that's why the next Chancellor is Armin Laschet.
By the way, none of this has anything to do with misogyny.
If Robert Habeck had embellished his résumé, he would also have to put up with questions.
The fight for equality cannot mean that women do not have to endure any criticism.