Friday, April 21, 2017

The German Greens - same old same

Germany's Green Party is recording its lowest levels of support in public opinion polls in 15 years, and the first explanation you'll get is that the mainstream has adopted many of the positions the Greens once claimed as their own.

"Energy policy isn't a very controversial issue anymore, everyone is for climate protection, and no one has anything against electric automobiles," Hubert Kleinert, a former Green member of the Bundestag and now a professor, told German public radio. "The problem is one of intellectual freshness. The Greens need new issues, interesting issues, not just one that can be checked off (like items on a list). They've already gotten what they want on that front."

Image is an equally big problem. In the early years after the party was founded in 1980, the Greens caused waves not just with their environmental policies but by showing up with long hair and sneakers in the Bundestag. But it's been a long time since the Greens were considered young mavericks and iconoclasts. Nowadays the Green Party is part of the political establishment. Familiar and perhaps a bit boring.

"They're too nice, far too well-behaved," political scientist Ulrich Sarcinelli said. "The Greens have become a middle-of-the-road party of consensus for people who can get along with everyone. But today's political culture is different. Voters in the age of Trump and Brexit may be looking for politicians who are far more confrontational."

Some experts think that Merkel secretly hopes for a coalition with the Greens, and the current party heads are known more for political pragmatism than ideological rigor. But an alliance with the conservatives presents as much of a risk as it does an opportunity.
"With Göring-Eckardt and Özdemir they have two leaders who would certainly entertain the idea of a coalition with the CDU," Sarcinelli said. "The question is how well that would go down with the grassroots who usually vote for the party. The risk is that they would lose their motivation to turn out to polling stations if the Greens sent out too many signals of possible coalition with the conservatives." The Greens' traditional voters trend left, not right, and there is no doubt that an alliance with the CDU would turn many of them off. 

A lesson for British voters, we think

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