Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck are not green with each other. In order to protect their party, however, they must cooperate.

There were times when the two were the most promising leadership duo in the republic. Until the summer of 2021 election campaign. But then Robert Habeck’s co-party leader, Annalena Baerbock, made such a blunder as chancellor candidate that the Greens only got just under 15 percent of the votes on election day. The target was 20 percent plus.

Inside is inside? Not at all. To this day, the Greens are paying the political price for this bankruptcy. If they had emerged stronger from the election, they could have chosen between Union and SPD as partners. The traffic light marriage of convenience might not have been needed at all. As it is, however, the nagging feeling of having fallen short of one’s own claims always comes with the challenges of day-to-day politics.

Robert Habeck has been on the hunt for energy for Germany for almost a year. Anything that doesn’t work out is always blamed on him. It is clear that this discrepancy between daily work stress and media attention does not exactly lift the spirits.

It is also important that Annalena Baerbock, the young German foreign minister, has successfully swept across the international stage. Ironically, the woman who had once given way to Habeck and who was then found by the electorate to be too easy.

The year that is just beginning presents Baerbock and Habeck with the challenge of clearly distinguishing themselves from one another. But without scratching the reputation of the Greens. Because only one can run for the chancellorship in 2025. An extremely difficult task that the two of them now have to grow into.

In political Berlin, the story goes that the two do not get on well with each other. As far as possible, they did not complete any joint appointments, eyed each other suspiciously and lined up staff against each other in their ministries as in correspondence chess.

Personally, they don’t show anything. Both are busy in their respective departments. And in the end, the Greens base votes on who should run for the chancellorship anyway. It is anything but agreed that in 2025 only Baerbock and Habeck will again dare to do this task. The Greens have many talents, such as the two parliamentary group leaders Katharina Dröge and Britta Haßelmann or the party leaders Ricarda Lang and Omid Nouripour.

They also provide ministers in twelve countries, and in Baden-Württemberg they have long been the head of government. Habeck and Baerbock are therefore well advised not only to keep an eye on each other, but also on the competition in their own ranks.