Greens to play “Kingmaker” in Germany?

In an article at Spiegel Online, the Greens in Saarland will play a pivotal role after recent “Super Sunday” elections.

The Left Party came in first, winning 21.3% of the vote. Their preferred coalition partner is the Social Democrats. Apparently these two parties do not have enough in the legislature to form a government without bringing in another smaller party.

The same seems to be true of the parties on the conservative side of the aisle. Even if they all come together to try to form a coalition, they will need more to succeed.

That “more” is the Green Party. The article, if I understand it correctly, says that whichever government is formed will owe it’s existence to the Greens joining the coalition.

Please read the article yourself, and if I have gotten it wrong, let me know. It does sound like an exciting turn of events in the Green’s favor.

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  1. Lets hope if they form a government that German Greens holding Office in the Government stay true to their values. I remember reading that there were problems in the past.

  2. According to this Spiegel article:
    the Greens are in a good position to negotiate a place in government in both state elections that were just held, Saarland and Thuringia.

    “Sunday’s results also create previously unimagined opportunities for the Greens. In Saarland, there are strong signs that an SPD-Left Party-Greens coalition will take power. However, the Greens have not ruled out a coalition with the CDU and the FDP, which would however only have a slim majority in the Saarland state assembly. The hand of the green bride in Saarland will be won by whoever can come up with the largest dowry. To stay in the game, the current Saarland governor, the CDU’s Peter Müller, needs to make the Green Party an offer they cannot refuse.

    The Green Party’s Berlin strategists would prefer to have a coalition with the CDU in one state and with the SPD and the Left Party in another, in order to maintain balance. The party’s leadership fears nothing — not even another term in opposition — more than a debate about which political camp the Greens belong to. Firstly, because it would tear apart the party, which brings together such disparate elements as far-left environmental activists and centrist eco-yuppies. And secondly, because it would discourage both left-wing and conservative Green voters from going to the polls [for upcoming national elections].”

  3. In Saarland, the Christian Democrats came in first place with 34.5%, not the Left Party.

    What is very very very interesting is where the Greens are positioned in playing kingmaker role between the Social Democrats and Left Party OR the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats bloc. Neither bloc can get a majority without the Greens.

    One would think that the obvious choice would be to side with the more left leaning bloc because of they are closer to the Green ideology than the center-right bloc, but the article mentions that the Green voice might be lost in a red-red coalition whereas a Green voice might be more recognizable in the media in a center-right coalition (albeit the Greens would surely be outvoted on policy issues by the other two parties in such a coalition I would think).

    What I think local Saarland Green leaders are thinking are the implications of whether or not to join the Christian Democrats in government. After all their decision may affect potential federal coalition talks right after the Sept 27th federal elections. Joining the Christian Democrats (once hated foes) in another local government (there is currently a Green-CD gov’t in Hamburg) may signal a even more willingness of the Greens to join a Black-Green coalition on the federal level (which would, believe me, surprise ALOT of people).

    The Greens surely don’t want to languish in opposition on the federal level because they are pretty much voiceless and cannot get their major policies implemented. Commentators are saying Green support in Germany is stagnating because of the lack of media visibility. It’s been the Angela Merkel show ever since she gained office.

    I am REALLY interested in the results of the federal elections on the 27th. The major questions will be: Will the CDU and FDP gain 51% of the seats? If not, we might very well see the continuance of the Grand Coalition between the Social Dems and CDU. I just love how dynamic Germany politics can be because of the Mixed Member Proportional Representation voting system over there.

  4. Since both sides would need Green support for a coalition, they can weigh the programs offered by both sides and reward the one that best aligns with their values. Should be very good for sustainability – an issue that European Greens are very focused on, since (unlike the US) they already have social democratic parties. But whether they can keep government true to Green values with the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats – or with the Left Party, for that matter – is a cause for concern, and party members are right to be vigilant.

  5. “But whether they can keep government true to Green values with the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats – or with the Left Party, for that matter – is a cause for concern, and party members are right to be vigilant.”

    Precisely the kind of hand-wringing, meaningless, politics that have gotten Die Gruenen (and many Green parties worldwide) into the hole they have dug for themselves…

    There is absolutely no equals sign between the “challenge” of working with the CDU (a party which put Nazi party members in the presidency) and Die Linke (founded – like the Greens – by disillusioned SPD supporters, and by pro-democracy dissidents who helped bring an end to the Stalinist excesses of East Germany).

    The Greens lost most of their credibility (and much of their membership) during the nineties, while in coalition government with the centre-left SPD because they sold out their social justice values, pretending that they could achieve environmental gains through social and political compromise that led to worse workers rights, worse social justice, war and continually poor environmental indicators.

    Many of those same members are now in Die Linke – the only party in Germany which is *seriously* concerned about achieving a *just* transition to a sustainable economy, opposed to nuclear power, and genuinely anti-war – or they have stepped away from politics entirely, made cynical and bitter by the experience of being sold up the river by the likes of Fischer.

    The Hamburg example proves the point – the Greens in Germany have long ago become just another party hungry for power and the “relevance” it brings – at any cost. (Note: I do still distinguish between the party membership and leadership, but internal democracy in the German Greens is a joke at the moment).

    Worse yet, in Thueringen (for example) the Greens have joined with the SPD in refusing to countenance a coalition government with Die Linke – the 2nd largest party after the CDU – at its helm.

    All this makes clear is that the German Greens would prefer to wield power and govern with the christian Right than accept the mandate of the people in order to build a green, democratic and socially just society.

  6. How can you decry the CDU for its Nazi ties while saying the Left party is nothing more than a group of ‘pro-democracy dissidents’? They’re as tangled up with Stalin and the Soviet Union as anyone. Why the double standard?

    I’ve spent a good amount of time in Russia, so I’ve seen how Communists care for the environment. Just about their last priority. I’m open to the possibility that the Left is different, but your claim that they are better on sustainability than the Greens really sounds like a stretch.

    How can you say the Left is the only party seriously opposed to nuclear power, when the Greens have already achieved a phaseout of nuclear power – and the end of nuclear power in Germany depends on Green participation in government?

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