Many Germans agree on one thing: they underestimated Annalena Baerbock.

In December, more than half of Germans still believed that the foreign minister would do her job rather poorly;

now she is the most popular member of the federal government.

Acknowledging their achievement seems like the order of the day, even to earlier critics.

The chairman of the Junge Union, Tilman Kuban, announced that one must ungrudgingly acknowledge that Baerbock was shaping a new style in the Foreign Office: "Really good!" A year earlier, he had questioned her leadership skills.

The base is not behind her: "The Greens are and will remain a security risk."

The philosopher Peter Sloterdijk recently judged that Baerbock made a much better figure "than was expected", which is why he himself had previously spoken about her "a little more disrespectfully".

But now she is moving “under the stress of reality into other force fields”.

Finished like an unripe fruit

A bewitchingly murky analysis for a man of Sloterdijk's rank.

Of course, an office challenges the person who holds it, but it often overwhelms him.

If it only needed "reality stress" to get politicians to perform at their best, then these achievements would also be observed in all other office holders, such as the chancellor or the defense minister.

However, no one is positively surprised by this.

Sloterdijk explains that Baerbock "further ripened" in office, as if it were an unripe fruit that had to be left until it had the right sweetness.

But it seems much more likely that the philosopher took a banana for a cucumber and now explains this unperturbed by the fact that the banana was recently quite green.

Baerbock already underestimated in Triel

Many Germans already realized that they had underestimated Baerbock before she became a minister.

For example, after the television trill of the three chancellor candidates in September.

The Wahlen research group then asked viewers how they rated the performances of Scholz, Laschet and Baerbock.

With Scholz and Laschet, the majority was of the opinion that they performed as expected.

With Baerbock, on the other hand, more than half thought it was better than expected.

Expectations of politicians are derived from experience.

On the one hand, what is meant are the impressions that one was able to gather from the politician and, on the other hand, assessments of what has worked so far.

Deviations from the tried and tested are rewarded in rare cases - Karl Lauterbach became a minister - but usually punished.

Baerbock differed in many respects: first and foremost as a woman.

There are many of them, but only one who was chancellor.

Baerbock wanted to be the second, a claim to power that was not known from forty-year-olds with two daughters.

Huge issue of clothing style

In addition, Baerbock is neither smooth nor casual, neither quiet nor loud, neither conformist nor wild.

She sometimes stumbled when she spoke, but then she would talk about Habeck in a way that was condescending.

She wanted to do everything right, but made mistakes, had to report additional income, correct her CV and admit to plagiarism in her book.

Was she different then?


Baerbock is different from many other top politicians.

She's better at some things, worse at some things.

But because she wanted to aim so high, she was particularly blamed for the bad.

What seemed neither good nor bad, just unusual, many suspiciously interpreted to her disadvantage.

For example their clothing style.

There are MPs from the coalition who, in confidential talks, praise the fact that Baerbock is now dressing elegantly and not wearing brightly colored dresses with a leather jacket over them, as he used to.

Entertainment instead of politics

Lauterbach, on the other hand, is considered relaxed because he doesn't wear a tie and his shirt unbuttoned, and likes to wear candy-colored sweaters - the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" named him "style hero of the year" for this.

In the meantime, many citizens consider him, regardless of style, to be weak in asserting himself.

So Lauterbach has lost its shine in office, while Baerbock has won.

That says more about what is expected of politicians than about politicians themselves, and it says a lot about the desire – also on the part of many journalists – for stories of heroes and failures.

Just as it was a mistake to underestimate Baerbock, so would it be to glorify her now, as is already happening.

Even the "Bild" recently raised the question of whether she would be the better chancellor.

Even if: The question doesn't arise unless it's just entertainment.

But politics is more.

This is more evident in war than in election campaigns.

So Baerbock's strengths have become more visible.

But this means that more attention is now being paid to the essentials.