The frustration at the weak Bundestag election result only lasts for a short time. Six days after the election, the Greens agree to take power – and put their candidate for chancellor back on their feet.
It would be best if the Greens did the same as their chairman Robert Habeck and closed Twitter. At least they should delete the app from their mobile phones as long as the first government participation in the federal government since 2005 has not yet been sacked. The collapse of the coalition negotiations in 2017 also failed due to indiscretions in the social network, said Greens managing director Michael Kellner at the beginning of his party’s regional council. “Not to repeat 2017 also means that you talk inside and not talk on Twitter”, seconded the chairwoman Annalena Baerbock shortly afterwards. Nothing can go wrong now, is the message. Or in Habeck’s words: “If we don’t act completely stupid, we will not only be in charge of the government for the next four years, but also have a say in it.” Completely stupid? No, nobody in the party can want that.
The Greens actually wanted to lead the next federal government with Baerbock as Chancellor. But as disappointing as the result may have been in the end, there is so little time left to lick the wound. Six days after the federal election, the regional parties’ delegates are to meet in a congress center at Berlin’s Westhafen to tie down the timetable for the next government participation. Essentially, there are three points to nod off: Firstly, the ten-person exploratory team and 14 other exploratory advisers; thirdly, that a possible coalition agreement will be presented to all party members for a vote.
The party leadership’s proposal is a matter of form: There are no amendments, in spite of the debate, which was mainly negotiated in the media, about the fact that the exploratory team does not include a Greens with a migration background. After just two hours, the state council, which was set to last four hours, is history again: the proposal is accepted unanimously. The speeches by Managing Director Kellner, the two chairmen and the 20 speakers drawn from among the delegates are nevertheless revealing: The party not only demonstrates its unbroken desire to rule, it is also preparing for the inevitable hardships of power.
Praise and thanks for Baerbock
The state council cannot do without looking back: This is also due to the fact that shortly after the election it became known that Habeck would become vice-chancellor in the next government. This led to concern, especially among the left of the party, that the Chancellor candidate could become the scapegoat for the election result in the public perception and that Habeck could become the new strong man. The party has been counteracting this with power since Thursday: Baerbock presented the results of the first meeting of the party leaders with the FDP. Both march side by side into the hall of the state council. Baerbock makes the serve of the state council speech, only after her does Habeck speak.
Hardly any speaker can do without exuberant thanks to the candidate for chancellor. Waiter, who asserts that the 40-year-old’s candidacy for chancellor was “correct” and “historic”, does the most detailed. Baerbock radiates the one and a half minutes of standing ovation. Baerbock also suffered for the Greens, emphasizes party leftist Jürgen Trittin in his speech: “You have our claim to change this society, even at the cost of defaming yourself.”
Baerbock admits that the election campaign was not only “intense” but also “painful in between”. The Bavarian MP Manuela Rottmann points out that the election campaign not only inflicted wounds on the exposed candidate for chancellor: “The election campaigners in the country: They also had to endure a lot,” says Rottmann. “It will also be personal in the village.”
The fact that the settlement of the election result does not become personal is also due to the comprehensive processing of possible errors promised by the party leadership. An internal party survey has started and external analyzes are to be obtained. Nevertheless, Kellner anticipates parts of the error analysis in his speech. After a “brilliant start, it was not possible to maintain the momentum”. The election was lost in early summer. In the debate on the federal election program, 3,000 amendments “marginalized” the party leadership, says Kellner. “Ready because you are” was the campaign slogan. For the party organization, at least, that was probably not the case. She repeatedly showed herself to be overwhelmed.
The traffic light as an opportunity
But now it’s about, says Baerbock, “that the standstill has been deselected”. Instead of talking about how difficult negotiations with the FDP alone will be, the chairman emphasizes the opportunities. The parties could work “for an open, for a liberal society”; there would be the “chance to bring this country socio-politically up to date”.
In questions of civil rights, equality or internal security, for example, liberals and greens are actually close. In order to get a government alliance, trust and reliability are needed, Baerbock demands of her party. You have to enter into discussions “openly” and be prepared for “that things can get complicated sometimes”.
A party should not “remain in ideological hostility,” says Habeck. If things work out with the government, things won’t be easier afterwards, he warns. “From Christmas on, maybe every crisis is our crisis,” says Habeck. The Green parliamentary group is twice as strong this time as it was when it first took part in government from 1998 to 2005. “But also think about the unreasonable demands of the party.”
The hearing drum damage at Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer’s after a paint bag was thrown in the course of the Kosovo debate was just one of many internal party arguments during the reign. The Greens would not only change the country, warns Habeck. Participation in the government will also change the Greens.
The base has expectations
This concern has long since reached the grassroots level: The delegate Timon Dzinus from Hanover is calling for the next federal government to deal radically differently with the refugees at Europe’s external borders. The camps on the Greek islands would have to be disbanded and the people brought to the many open communities in Germany. The spokeswoman for the Green Youth, Ricarda Lang, urged the party to adhere to the 1.5-degree path, which neither Habeck nor Baerbock mentioned in their speeches. Another speaker warns of the “arrogance of power”: The coming federal government will have to deal with the Bundestag differently than the outgoing government.
Former Verdi chairman and new member of the Green Party, Frank Bsirske, appeals urgently not to leave the issue of social justice to the SPD. Further demands of the state delegates: committed fight against racism, more focus on rural living space, an everyday language of the party. After the exploratory and coalition talks are over, the Greens will face tough internal party debates, that much is certain.
At least the party is well prepared for this moment after the election, emphasized Habeck in his speech. He had already announced in the spring, when he gave Baerbock the candidacy for chancellor, that he would plan the coalition talks in return. In the country there is a “great desire” for the traffic light, says Habeck, without using the word traffic light. “With all modesty: This is also due to the fact that we are prepared to make something good out of it.” But that doesn’t sound very modest, and it probably isn’t supposed to.