Forty years after its foundation, new challenges are shaping the evolution of Germany’s Green Party, says Brunswick’s Michael Wedell.
“What I really want is to take charge.”
This was the blunt take of Germany’s Green Party leader Robert Habeck, (“Das, was ich eigentlich will, ist die Verantwortung übernehmen”), whose party was often forced simply to watch from opposition sidelines during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such grand ambitions make the coming months even more important for the party, if it is to build on the surge in popularity that has positioned it as a force to be reckoned with in the Bundestag.
Four decades after its foundation, the former “anti-party party” Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, or Green Party, has become an integral part of the German political system. It is now part of coalitions in no less than 11 of the 16 state governments, and it currently seems unrealistic that a national government can be formed after the next federal elections in September 2021 without its participation.
The participation of Green parties in high-level politics has also been growing beyond Germany’s borders in recent years: At the 2019 European Parliament elections, the number of Green MPs increased from 40 to 56, while in Austria, the Greens have found themselves in government for the first time ever, having entered into a coalition with the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) in January of this year.
In view of the corona pandemic, the European Greens are demanding that politics not return to business as usual. “The economic stimulus programs must therefore be thought of in European terms or coordinated across European countries—and linked via the Green Deal, for example—so that all countries in the European internal market can develop,” says a Green policy paper on combatting the consequences of the pandemic. The idea is to take greater account of the needs of small and medium-sized economies and thereby realign the economy for the whole EU. In the view of the Greens, strengthening multilateral alliances such as the WTO would provide an opportunity to use the crisis for economic and social change.