Germany may be hit by a green earthquake in the September elections. This could be the first major change of power in Europe after Covid – though less drastic than it appears, as the Green Party has long been a pillar of Germany’s political establishment and already ruling parts of the country with the Christian Democratic Union, Angela Merkel’s conservative party, which is their alliance. Most likely a partner in Berlin.
Part of the significance of a green victory is those who are not. They are no longer an extreme populist party, as was the case when Petra Kelly and her environmental anti-nuclear warriors erupted into German politics in the 1980s. Voting for the Greens is a rejection of not only the far-right AfD, but the extremism of the right and left.
But the SPD – the party of Willie Brandt, Gerhard Schroeder and the democratic resistance to Hitler, was not so rooted in the long struggle for German democracy and the emancipation of the working class. The Greens today are closer to the liberal centrist democrats, the coalition partners left and right in previous decades, but with a more environmental conscience than the free market. For this reason, there is continuous space in the German political market for a party with an informed view of political priorities and change, especially if the Greens go to government with the right. This could be an opportunity to recreate the Social Democrats as a party to change radical campaigns, and a moment to shake off their uncomfortable position in flabby grand coalitions.
CDU has been in power for a long time. He could still reach the top in September due to concerns that the Greens are a little inexperienced if the offensive 40-year-old leader of Analina Burbuk makes a leap too far – but the party is doing its best to avoid it. Candidate Christian Democratic Chancellor Armin Laschet, a traditional CDU regional head styled Helmut Kohl, is distantly outshined not only by Burbock but also by Marcus Söder, the leader of the CDU’s more conservative Bavarian sister party. However, even if Lachit became an advisor, there was likely to be a “black-green” alliance with the Greens. Rarely does a party better represent an idea whose time has come than the Greens. They are on the rise across Europe, including in Britain where they have advanced dramatically in local elections held this month. The reflection of climate change is the zeitgeist, although the German love for the car and the Kraftwerk Highway is far from over. “Everything electric and fresh” has become “eating and eating cake” in Germany, and the environment-led government in Berlin will serve as a primary test of whether this is a reliable diet for Western democracies.
The Green Party is also a new model for democratic mobilization. While the traditional left parties have been defeated by the likes of Farage, Orban and Salvini, the Green Party now rules 11 of Germany’s 16 federal states as a party of the competent and competent local government. Think Lib Dem Publications focusing on fractured paving stones and recycling – nationwide.
The poster boy for this new policy is Winfried Kretschmann, the green minister to the mayor of Baden-Württemberg for a decade, who has led the “green-black” coalition with the CDU for the past five years. Socially conservative about immigration and business, Kretschmann’s reputation is honesty, pragmatism, and conservatism – without an unacceptable price in taxes or personal restrictions. Nevertheless, the lingering fear that the Greens would have gone out to ban the good life could still do for the party nationwide. Burbock’s statement this week that it opposes cheap short-haul flights will not please Germans desperate to descend on the famous sun loungers in Mallorca and Italy.
Perhaps Burbock can master these issues of personal freedom. Its greatest danger is that it went the way of Nick Clegg in his alliance with David Cameron in 2010: bright, modern and liberal at first but quickly destroyed by a traditional right-wing party that she became its captive, intellectually and politically. The Greens in Ireland suffered exactly this fate when they were in alliance with center-right Viana Vail a decade ago. It seems clear to me that the natural partner in the coalition for the German Greens is the Social Democratic Party, not the Christian Democratic Union, if they are to be a party to economic change and not consensus. For this they should be located clearly to the left of center, not to the right of center.
Herein lies the specific political choice of Burbock. If co-opted by the conservative German elite, the gigantic sunroom next to Clegg in California might entice after only a few years.
This article is from Andrew Adonis’ weekly newsletter for Prospect – The Insider. Get The Insider straight to your inbox every week by registering here:
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