Is the Green Party good

Strong polls : Five reasons for the soaring of the Greens

The Greens are flying high: the eco-party, which was the smallest parliamentary force with 8.9 percent in the Bundestag election in 2017, sets new polling records almost every week. Two weeks before the state elections, the Bavarian Greens have worked out the role of the CSU challenger with values ​​around 18 percent. In Hesse, where there will be elections at the end of October, the numbers look similar - and the Deputy Prime Minister Tarek Al-Wazir has just become the most popular state politician in a survey. In the federal government, too, the Greens are now overtaking the SPD. How come

1. The Greens are the opposite pole to the AfD

The Greens benefit from the fact that they are clearly positioned in the current social debate. If you sort parties along the axis liberal versus authoritarian, the Greens clearly stand for the liberal. The party advocates an open and free society, a humane refugee policy and a clear commitment to Europe. The popular parties SPD and Union are much more divided on these issues, especially in refugee policy. This also applies to the FDP and the Left Party. Only the right-wing populist AfD has a similarly clear profile as the Greens - the two parties are opposing poles.

From the point of view of the legal scholar Christoph Möllers, it is both a “curse and a blessing” for the Greens that no other party is as far removed from the AfD as they are in the electoral perspective. Möllers is Professor of Public Law at Humboldt University, he has been observing the Greens for a long time. Thanks to the right-wing authoritarianism of the AfD, a (left-) liberal milieu can assure itself of its own set of values, said Möllers recently at a meeting of the Heinrich Böll Foundation ("We are not, these are the others").

For the CDU, but also for the SPD in the Ruhr area, it is not so easy. But the more successful the Greens are in postulating a consensus in the struggle between “democrats” and “non-democrats” and between “liberals” and “non-liberals” that sets themselves apart from “the others”, the stronger these others will become . “There is a strange dialectic at work here,” analyzes the legal scholar.

2. The Greens are open on all sides

When they first participated in government in 1998, the Greens celebrated the “red-green project”. In the meantime the party has opened up on all sides. After the 2017 federal election, the Greens negotiated with the CDU, CSU and FDP about a Jamaica coalition - across the old camp boundaries. The willingness to explore such an alliance has earned the Greens respect. It is now paying off for them that they were ready to take on responsibility and adapt to the changes in the party landscape, in which classic two-party alliances have become less common.

The Greens have internalized this openness in the federal states for a long time; they co-rule here in a wide variety of constellations. The spectrum ranges from black-green or green-black to red-green, from the traffic lights (SPD, FDP, Greens) to Jamaica (CDU, FDP, Greens) to Kenya (CDU, SPD, Greens), not to forget the ones two red-red-green alliances in Berlin and Thuringia.

In the federal government, it took a little longer for the Greens to adopt what they call what they call a “course of independence”. But after three consecutive red-green reprints at the federal level did not work out, it finally happened in the 2017 federal election - even if there were votes within the party at the time that would have preferred to exclude Jamaica.

The Greens could soon be put to the test again with their openness - namely after the state elections in Bavaria in just over a week. For a while now, the Greens have been emphasizing that they have big problems with “this CSU” and “this Mr. Söder”. They regularly assert that they are not available for anti-European or authoritarian politics. But depending on the outcome of the election, the Bavarian Greens could foreseeably be faced with the question of whether they want to enter into negotiations with the CSU on a completely new variant of black and green.

3. The Greens are backing more eco-friendly

For a long time the thesis was popular that all parties are now eco-friendly. “What else do we need the Greens for?” Was a question that Greens top politicians were asked again and again at the beginning of 2017. In the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, the Greens even feared re-entry into parliament. But with the Jamaica soundings in autumn at the latest, the eco-party succeeded in making its core profile more visible again. For weeks, the negotiators of the Greens with the Union and FDP struggled for every gigawatt of the coal phase-out and fought for Germany to meet its climate targets for 2020. A goal that the Union and the SPD abandoned only a little later in their negotiations to form a grand coalition.

It is also quite possible that the hot summer and the increase in extreme weather conditions have changed the awareness of the ecological issue, at least in part of the population. “Many people have noticed that climate change is not something abstract. We are right in the middle of it, ”says Greens federal manager Michael Kellner.

4. The top staff of the Greens looks comparatively unused

The new party leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck have not yet reached the level of awareness of Cem Özdemir. But at least the election of the new dual leadership at the beginning of this year should have contributed to the fact that the Greens were able to send out the signal of a new departure. New faces at the top, the impression that something was moving among the Greens - all of this gave the party a fresher image.

In addition, the two new chairmen - unlike previous double leaders - did not get involved in wing battles. There is a very banal reason for this: both Baerbock and Habeck are part of the Realo wing. But anyway, the two do not see each other more than former party leaders as representatives of a wing. And even if some left-wing party groans in annoyance when Habeck wants to occupy not only the term “home” but also that of the “nation”, the Greens are astonishingly closed at the moment. The satisfaction in the left wing also has something to do with the fact that the new party leaders are again focusing more on social and justice issues. They are also using the work on a new basic program to position the party more strongly as a place of politically exciting debates.

The two Green bosses have decided to lead the party out of the green milieu. Habeck wants to position the Greens as a “left-liberal” party and as a “leading force in the center-left”. It was not enough to be a 17 percent party, he said recently. The Greens would have to be ready to forge new social alliances.

5. The weakness of others

The green high is not just self-made, however. The fact that the party is so strong has something to do with the weakness of its political competitors. In the final phase of the election campaign, the Greens had already succeeded in attracting red-green swing voters to their side in the Bundestag election. This effect is likely to have become stronger at the moment in view of the continued weakness of the SPD.

The upcoming state elections show, however, that the Greens can also reach out to other milieus. In Bavaria, approval extends to Christian conservative groups. The state greens have apparently succeeded in addressing some of the people who no longer agreed with the aggressive tones in refugee policy and perhaps also the political style of a CSU sole government. Meanwhile, Green Party campaigners fill entire beer tents with their appearances. While they achieved 8.6 percent in the election five years ago, they are now at 18 percent in the polls.

In Hesse, too, opinion polls predict the Greens up to 18 percent, a significant increase compared to the 11.1 percent from 2013. The coalition partner CDU, on the other hand, is weak compared to the last election, as are the opposing Social Democrats.

However, it is uncertain whether the Greens will be able to maintain their high polls. They know from the past that the crash after a flight high can be tough. After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in spring 2011, the Greens succeeded in appointing Winfried Kretschmann as prime minister in Baden-Württemberg for the first time. In the weeks that followed, the Greens also approached the 30 percent mark nationwide in surveys. At that time they not only left the SPD behind, but also came very close to the Union; political scientists spoke of the Greens as the new “people's party”. But when Renate Künast took office as Governing Mayor of Berlin in September 2011, she was defeated. And only two years later, in the federal elections in autumn 2013, the Greens suffered a severe defeat with a result of 8.4 percent.

In the upcoming state elections in Bavaria and Hesse, the Greens will probably no longer have to reckon with an unexpected turnaround. And in the European elections next May they could also benefit from a polarized debate about the future of Europe. But state elections in Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia are due to take place in autumn 2019. And there is still a lot of work ahead of the Greens, as the current survey results also show: the East German Greens have not really benefited from the soaring of the federal party.

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