Succession to the throne in the southwest: who will inherit Kretschmann?

75th birthday

Succession to the throne in the southwest: who will inherit Kretschmann?

Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann turns 75.

Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann turns 75.

Photo: Bernd Weißbrod/dpa

Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann shows no signs of resigning from office prematurely. Nevertheless, the question of succession is being discussed more and more intensively among the Greens.

Stuttgart. There are sentences that you hear from Winfried Kretschmann again and again, they are a kind of signature. “It’s every cow’s birthday” – that’s a sentence, for example. You hear that from him every year. If you want to insinuate a message, that would probably be lack of vanity.

But now a special day awaits the Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg. He turns 75 on Wednesday (May 17). “Cows don’t get that old,” Green admitted. That’s why he wants to celebrate “properly”, with an official reception in the New Palace in Stuttgart, then at the weekend with the family. “That’s it then.”

The head of government of the auto country still has almost three years in office ahead of him. Even if you occasionally notice his age, and even if governing is “no pony farm”, as he likes to emphasize, Kretschmann does not look as if he wants to resign prematurely.

One of the greatest days of his life

With reducing bureaucracy and the energy transition, he has once again taken on a really big task in the state, even if the drilling depth sometimes remains modest even after twelve years in office. He wants to prove it to himself again, it is said in his environment. And sometimes, with certain topics, the gnarly Kretschmann really blossoms. When a newly discovered wasp species was named after him in the Stuttgart Natural History Museum a few days ago, he, a qualified biologist, spoke of “one of the greatest days” of his life.

Nowhere else do the Greens lead a government. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: in the spring of 2026 it should be over. He will no longer stand in the state elections, by which time Kretschmann will be 77 and take care of the garden, tinkering with wood and his wife. The closer the date gets, the more attention turns to who could inherit the king.

In any case, it will not be a “gmhds Wiesle” for the Greens, as the Swabian often emphasized before elections. In the 2021 state election, the Greens achieved almost 33 percent – but a large portion was attributed to the Kretschmann factor. “We stay on the carpet, even if the carpet flies” – the sentence was heard almost every day from the Prime Minister.

So that the green carpet does not crash, the party is looking for a procedure to determine a successor. He himself, also a frequently repeated saying by Kretschmann, does not interfere under any circumstances, after all he is not a monarch. One thing is clear: many mandates depend on the man. Public criticism is therefore non-existent – apart from occasional comments from the Green Youth. “The Kretschmann effect is disappearing,” says state spokeswoman Aya Krkoutli. “The party needs its own profile so that we have a chance to vote.”

Internal talks about the successor

The party is keeping a low profile, the chairwoman doesn’t even want to answer the phone to ask about the successor. “This is not an issue we discuss outside of the party,” she writes. But internally there is talk. And there are weighty voices in the Southwest Greens who believe that Kretschmann must resign early so that a potential successor can make a name for himself and go into the election with an office bonus. But who can follow in his footsteps, who can appeal to conservative voters like he can?

One hears the name of a man more and more often, of whom it is said that no one would stand in his way if he wanted to: Cem Özdemir. The Federal Minister of Agriculture is appearing more and more frequently in the Ländle, always in a demonstratively Swabian manner, of course.

Now there are those who attribute this to the fact that there are many agricultural issues to be worked on in Baden-Württemberg. Or that Özdemir has to take care of his Stuttgart constituency. But there are also those who say that Özdemir is positioning himself as a Kretschmann heir. A lot of wind is currently blowing against the Greens in the federal government. Next stop: “The Länd”?

In any case, Özdemir is credited with the best cards in the field of applicants. He is just as Realo as Kretschmann, he is eloquent – and above all, unlike the other aspirants, Özdemir is known to the people.

Together in a meadow

A good week ago, Özdemir was standing with Kretschmann on a lush meadow in Kupferzell in the north of the country, they were talking about agriculture and biodiversity. Site visit, press statements. Özdemir praises the father of the country over the clover, his heart is in the right place, he is incredibly well read. “You learn a lot from him.” And, yes, Özdemir repeats: Kretschmann is his role model. Later, at a conference, he will talk about “measure and middle” – also a Kretschmann wording. Distance looks different.

Nevertheless: The successor debate is still too early for the Greens. Movement is not expected until next year, sometime after the European elections in spring and before the lists for the federal elections in autumn are drawn up. Kretschmann also believes that a debate is far too early. After two-thirds of a legislature is a reasonable time, he said recently. Or, to quote another of his sayings: “The grass doesn’t grow faster when you pull it.”

© dpa-infocom, dpa:230516-99-708465/5 (dpa)

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