The smiles were a bit forced and the atmosphere moderately happy in the Berlin concert hall where the German Greens had invited their supporters, Sunday, September 26, in the early evening. As the results came out of the polls became clearer, hopes of at least playing an equal role with the two main parties in the country – the social democrats of the SPD and the conservatives of the CDU-CSU – have vanished.
With 14.8% of the vote at the federal level, the score of environmentalists, led by the young candidate Annalena Baerbock, nevertheless reached a historic level. In 2017, in the previous election, the Greens won only 8.9% of the vote. Following Sunday’s performance, the number of green deputies entering the Bundestag could drop from 67 to 110, a record in its forty years of existence.
After the good score obtained in the 2019 European elections (20%), these results also indicate a widening of the electoral base of the Greens from the center-right to the center-left, the result of a strategy based on a “Realistic radicalism”, in the words of the co-chairman of the party, Robert Habeck, and the desire to diversify the themes beyond just environmental issues.
But, paradoxically, this victory of unprecedented magnitude does not live up to expectations. The two party leaders immediately recognized him in front of the activists. “We did not achieve our objectives”said Mme Baerbock, during a short intervention in the early evening, in which she also admitted to committing ” errors “, alluding to accusations of plagiarism and inaccuracies in his CV or his tax returns. She was also widely beaten in her constituency of Potsdam (Brandenburg) by the SPD candidate for chancellery, Olaf Scholz.
The feeling of a missed opportunity
Mr Habeck also admitted that environmentalists cannot “Not really rejoice” because they had “Other plans, other ideas, other chances too” before the ballot. A feeling summarized as follows by a young party executive: “Compared to 2017, it’s very good; compared to a year ago, it’s worse and compared to six months ago, it’s depressing. ” In January, the Greens were indeed credited with 18%; and in April, they were in the lead with 28% of the voting intentions. This “green wave” had given the candidate environmentalist a glimpse of the possibility of accessing the chancellery.
It is far from it today, hence this shared feeling of missed opportunity. However, by coming in third position behind the SPD and the CDU-CSU, the environmentalist party is essential as an interlocutor in the negotiations which are opening for the formation of the future government coalition. After sixteen years in opposition, the Greens not only have every chance of returning to business at the federal level, but they should also influence the constitution of the alliance to come, whether it is dominated by the SPD or by the Conservatives.
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