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Joschka Fischer becomes the First Green Minister of the Environment (November 4, 1985)

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Managers dismissed the designated minister as a horror for industry. They threaten to stop investments in Hesse and announced that businesses would flee to neighboring states. Hans Joachim Langmann, president of the Federal Association of German Industries and head of Merck Pharmaceuticals in Darmstadt, explains big business’s fear of the Greens: With Joschka Fischer, “someone who, up to now, has proven himself as anti-economy and anti-industry in all of his statements, holds the lever of political power.”

Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl did not even care to utter the name of the ministerial candidate. He was “anxious to see,” scoffed the government chief, “how this Bundestag genius, what’s his name again,” will turn out as a minister. If the Hessian model were applied to Bonn, prophesied CDU general secretary Heiner Geißler, it would lead to the “collapse of the German economy.”

“Hesse,” wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, is “not only in danger of gambling away the present, but even more so the future.” Bild Zeitung lamented: “We’re afraid for Hesse.”

Even the Reds* and the Greens themselves showed skepticism. Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia Johannes Rau, a declared adversary of the Alternatives**, complained that Börner ruined his campaign strategy. SPD trade union man Hermann Rappe warned that the new coalition partners are “harmful for employees in the long run.”

Green Party chair Rainer Trampert, a “fundamentalist” Green, predicted a “schism” in his party “along with parts of the social movement.” At the university in Frankfurt, leftist radicals threw eggs at old-leftists Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Joschka Fischer for being willing to form a coalition, and put them in the same boat with Hessian interior minister Horst Winterstein, whom they blame for the death of demonstrator Günter Sare: “Fischer, Bendit, Winterstein – one is like the other swine.”

From now on, Fischer’s political skills will also direct the path taken by the Greens. If the first alternative minister can show the republic that Green environmental policies can be implemented in the daily affairs of the government, then his party can reckon with new supporters. If Fischer fails, it could accelerate the decline of the Alternatives, who recently failed to clear the five percent hurdle in Saarland (2.5 percent) and North Rhine-Westphalia (4.6 percent).

A street-fighter who transformed himself into a real politician and first became a Bundestag representative and now a minister: After years of refusing to hold offices, this is an indication of the maturation process of the youngest West German party. Six years after its founding, the “anti-party party” (Petra Kelly) has made its way from a statistical “majority this side of the CDU” (Willy Brandt) to a political one.

* Reds: refers to the Social Democratic Party (SPD) – trans.
** A number of different local and state green and alternative candidate lists and parties make up the Green-Alternative List and are referred to generally as “Alternatives” – trans.

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