German Green Candidate Fires Back Over Plagiarism Accusation

The chancellor candidate for Germany’s Green party, Annalena Baerbock, pushed back on accusations that she plagiarized part of a book laying out her political views.

The Greens co-leader aims to succeed Angela Merkel after the Sept. 26 election but has seen support for her party slip in recent weeks amid a series of missteps. She portrayed the plagiarism claims as a personal attack and diversion from critical issues such as climate change.

German Green Candidate Fires Back Over Plagiarism Accusation

“For some people, it’s a difficult thing that a 40-year-old woman is running” for the chancellorship, Baerbock said late Thursday in an interview hosted by Brigitte magazine in Berlin.

The allegation this week was a blow to a party with ambitions to lead a German government for the first time. A media lawyer hired by Baerbock asserted that the cited passages don’t amount to copyright infringement, because they contain general facts and political views that fall under public-domain status.

“I didn’t write a textbook, but rather a book about what I want to do with this country,” Baerbock said. “I describe the world as it is, with facts and realities.”

Baerbock and her allies have spent much of the week fending off claims that she’d lifted passages without citation from other texts for her book, entitled “Now: How We Can Renew Our Country.” The incident followed other setbacks that have dogged the party since it briefly outpolled Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc after it chose Baerbock as its challenger.

The plagiarism accusation -- picked up widely across German media -- was made by an Austrian-based media website, plagiatsgutachten.com. Stefan Weber, the website’s organizer, said that while the Green candidate’s book doesn’t meet the standard of scrutiny of an academic work, the cases amount to an ethical lapse and could constitute copyright violations.

Support for the Greens slipped three percentage points to 19%, according to the latest monthly YouGov poll published Friday. It had risen as high as 25% in April, when they overtook Merkel’s bloc on 24%.

The CDU/CSU, led by their candidate Armin Laschet, rebounded by three points in the latest poll, reaching 30% for the first time since February. Compared with the most-recent election in 2017, the conservatives are still trailing their result of 33%, while the Greens’ support has more than doubled.

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