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Lang and Nouripour elected: Greens appoint the captains for the dinghy

The most successful party leadership in Green history is gone. Their successors face a difficult task: Lang, Nouripour and Büning should act as a hinge between the party and its federal ministers. But the green center of power is no longer at the top of the party.

If Ricarda Lang is actually disappointed with her result of 76 percent in the election for the Greens federal chairmanship, let me remind you of the right benchmark: This is not the historically good 97 percent that Lang’s predecessor Annalena Baerbock received in November 2019. Rather, Baerbocks offer 67 percent orientation when they were first chosen four years ago.

Every beginning is difficult, especially when a man and a woman are following in such big footsteps. Lang, her co-chairman Omid Nouripour, who did slightly better with around 83 percent of the votes, and the new political director Emily Büning, who was elected with 88 percent, are at the beginning of a very difficult mission. They are supposed to lead the party to the chancellor’s office, but others will decide whether this task will be successful – their predecessors Baerbock, Robert Habeck and the other Green federal ministers and state secretaries.

Habeck and Baerbock will continue to assume responsibility for the federal party through the 16-strong party council. The close interlocking makes sense. Lang and Büning in particular are already rich in experience in the political business for their young years and a managing director Michael Kellner also started young, but there is no time to familiarize yourself with the new responsibility. The Greens leadership must work right away because the chairmen represent the party in the coalition committee and, together with Büning, have to help get groundbreaking state elections in May. In the event of a conflict, especially with the federal ministers, Lang and Nouripour initially lack authority. They are also board members by the grace of their predecessors.

The opportunity for quick emancipation is provided by the processing of the ultimately disappointing federal election: After a committed counter-speech by Habeck, a party congress proposal that wanted to snatch the analysis of the race for the chancellorship from the executive board and put it in the hands of a separate working group failed on Friday. But the many Yes votes indicate a distrust in the party as to how pronounced the ability for self-criticism and self-reflection actually is in the Berlin party headquarters. Büning has already made it clear in her speech that she wants to eliminate structural problems in the federal office. It remains to be seen whether Büning will conduct a more public error analysis than her predecessor, Kellner.

A permanent balancing act

There is no rumbling of the base about their rulers, on the contrary. The advance of trust from the party is as great as the self-confidence of its federal ministers. The Greens are confident, even if the compromises made due to the pressure to form a coalition make the party feel insecure. When it comes to social issues, the traffic light contract has fallen well short of the Greens’ ambitions. In times of empty coffers and skyrocketing energy prices, mastering the energy transition is becoming even more of a tour de force than it already is. A small part of the party is appalled that the Greens want to buy armed drones as part of the traffic light and continue nuclear participation.

Allies from the climate and peace movement that are important for the identity of the party could quickly distance themselves from the ruling party. It will then be up to Lang and Nouripour to decide: when will they get federal ministers to agree with the party line, when will they promote the traffic light course within the party? It will be a permanent balancing act that can only succeed if the green cabinet members support their chairpersons in word and deed. Just as Foreign Minister Baerbock and Vice-Chancellor Habeck must give their successors in the media and public space so that they can shine on the outside and radiate into the party. Whether Lang and Nouripour will be able to act as a link between the party and the government is not up to them for the time being.

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