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The Greens after the Change in Government (November 21, 2006)

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In Berlin, Mayor Klaus Wowereit preferred a truncated and acquiescent PDS to the Greens, who came with a lavish 13 percent dowry and acted like a dolled up bride in Berlin’s autumn sun. The Greens’ entire countenance, however, promised one thing: marital strife. Wowereit’s decision could have some long-term repercussions – at least it might put wind in the sails of those who are looking for Green prospects beyond the Social Democrats.

Political conditions suggest a three-way alliance as an alternative to the Grand Coalition on the federal level. In that respect, the parliamentary faction leaders’ coy winks at the FDP are a pure and simple necessity. The Greens’ relationship with the FDP was shaped for far too long by irrational animosities stemming from the personal aversion between Westerwelle and Fischer.

The Greens could be pioneers on the road to new majority constellations. Could be. At the moment, it doesn’t look that way. Within the party, events are dictated by mistrust. There is winking and blinking in a lot of directions. And some things suggest that overdue clarifications will lead to new-old party infighting. The question of strategic positioning has become one of internal power struggles. There are good people. But no one seems to be strong enough to assume leadership.

The party cannot afford such intrigues, and even the young people who turned out in droves for the recent “Congress on Future Perspectives”* have different expectations: about how the party wants to shape the future, for example. The agenda of past years – from gay marriage to citizenship rights – has largely been implemented. This urban middle-class party is not really well suited to being society’s “social conscience.” Its top leaders are not very sensitive to the plight of a nurse or a mechanic. So what lies ahead? When the weekly newspaper Die Zeit recently referred to the “return of ecology,” it was not talking about the Greens. Why should it? The issue of ecology is being lifted out of party politics. It has become too important. The world is waking up. Climate change is advancing and is becoming an existential as well as an economic challenge.

The [Greens’] virtual suppression of the generational shift after the Bundestag elections is slowly becoming a burden for the party. It is ironic that the very party that attaches such importance to having a youthful appearance should mistrust young people when it comes to power. The founding generation is stubbornly clinging to key leadership positions as though the idea were to protect private property from gold diggers. How long the interregnum will persist depends on the outcome of the next Bundestag elections. Then the Greens will have to put their cards on the table once and for all. By the way: the sculpture on the mantelpiece in Berlin’s Grunewald was a present from the Greens to their parliamentary faction leader on his fiftieth birthday. That person was Joschka Fischer.

* The “Congress on Future Perspectives: How Do We Reach Tomorrow?” [“Zukunftskongress: Wie geht’s nach Morgen?”] took place on September 1-3, 2006, in Berlin – eds.

Source: Dietmar Huber, “Kein Kapitän, kein Kurs, kein Ziel” [“No Captain, no Course, no Destination”], Süddeutsche Zeitung, November 21, 2006, p. 2.

Translation: Allison Brown

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