Germany's Green party has elected a 28-year-old feminist and an Iranian-born foreign policy expert to lead the party just a month after it joined the national government in a three-way coalition.
Ricarda Lang, 28, and Omid Nouripour, 46, were selected to take the reins of the party as it attempts to build on the success of its performance in the national election in September when it captured 14.8 percent of the vote.
Lang, who becomes the youngest co-leader of the party, and fellow member of the Bundestag Nouripour replace the Greens' chancellor candidate, Annalena Baerbock, and Robert Habeck, who now hold ministerial posts in Germany's new government.
Baerbock is foreign minister and Habeck is the new vice chancellor in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government. The Social Democrat became chancellor on December 8 after forming a center-left coalition with the Green party and the pro-business Free Democrats.
Lang and Nouripour were elected during a party conference held largely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their election must be confirmed by a postal ballot whose results are expected by mid-February.
Lang has become a rising star in German politics since being elected to the Bundestag last year. She joined the party at age 18 and became its deputy leader in November 2019 as well as its spokeswoman on women's affairs.
As an openly bisexual woman, Lang has faced a deluge of hate speech online, the most egregious of which she has fought with criminal complaints.
Omid Nouripour, who was born in Tehran in 1975, has made his name chiefly on foreign policy in debates in the Bundestag, where he has served as a member for more than 15 years.
He has said he wants to keep the Green party firmly in the mainstream while tending to its activist roots.
"We will become the leading force of the center-left in Germany," he has pledged. That includes keeping its eyes on the chancellery in the 2025 election, he said on January 29.
Nouripour has worked to sharpen the Green party’s profile on human rights, calling recently for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
He also criticized then-Chancellor Angela Merkel for speaking directly to Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka by telephone, calling it a "disastrous signal."