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German Green Party

Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, the Green Party is a political party in Germany.

Party symbol of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen

Table of contents

History

In the late 1970s, environmentalists and peace activists organized politically as the Greens (Die Grünen). Opposition to expanded use of nuclear power, to NATO strategy, and to certain aspects of highly industrialized society were principal campaign issues. Important figures in the first party years were amongst others Petra Kelly and Joseph Beuys.

The party first won seats in the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, in 1983; after some success in state level and European parliament elections. The Greens received 8.3% of the vote in the January 1987 West German national election. However, in the December 1990 all-German elections, the Greens in western Germany were not able to clear the 5% hurdle required to win seats in the Bundestag. It was only in the territory of the former GDR that the Greens, in a merger with Bündnis 90 (Alliance 90) (a loose grouping of civil rights activists with diverse political views), were able to clear the 5% hurdle and win Bundestag seats. In 1994, Greens from East and West returned to the Bundestag with 7.3% and 49 seats.

In 1998, despite a slight fall in their percentage of the vote (6.7%), the Greens retained 47 seats and joined the federal government for the first time in coalition with the Social Democrats. Joschka Fischer became vice chancellor and foreign minister in the new government, which had two other Green ministers (Andrea Fischer[?], later Renate Künast, and Jürgen Trittin).

Especially since the party has become part of the governing coalition, there have been many internal struggles between the realpolitik faction within the party and the fundamentalist faction: for example, over allowing the transport of nuclear waste, but also over the internal organization of the party.

 

Photo taken at 2001 party convention
In 2001, the party experienced a crisis as some Green Members of Parliament refused to back the government's plan of sending soldiers to help with the 2001 U.S. Attack on Afghanistan. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called a vote of confidence, tying it to his strategy on the war. A few Green MPs voted against the government, but not enough to bring the government down.

Current Events

 

Photo taken at 2001 party convention
In 2002, the Greens increased their total to 55 seats (in a smaller parliament) and 8.6%. Many of the MPs who had voted no confidence had been removed from the party lists. However one such member, Hans-Christian Ströbele[?], was directly elected to the Bundestag as a constituency representative for the Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain constituency in Berlin, becoming the first-ever Green to achieve this in Germany. The coalition government with the Social Democrats was renewed, with Joschka Fischer as foreign minister, Renate Künast as minister for food and consumer security, and Jürgen Trittin as minister for the environment.

One internal issue in 2002 was a long and old discussion about the question, if members of parliament should be allowed to become members of the party executive. Two party conventions didn't change the party statute. The necessary majority of two thirds wasn't reached by a very small margin. In reaction, former party chairpersons Fritz Kuhn and Claudia Roth who where elected into parliament resigned their executive function. The new chairpersons are former party secretary general Reinhard Bütikofer[?] and former MP Angelika Beer[?]. The party decided to solve this organisational issue by a member referendum which was held in May 2003.

As the result, the member referendum changed the party statute. Now it is allowed to elect members of parliament into two of the six seats of the party executive. Ministers or parliament party still aren't allowed to become members of the party executive. 57 % of all party members voted in the member referendum, with 67 % voting with yes to the change. The referendum was the second member referendum in the history of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen only, the first hold about the question if Greens and former GDR Bündnis 90 should be merged.

The only party convention in 2003 was planned for November 2003 as start signal for the upcoming European Parliament elections in 2004, but ca. 20% of the local organisations forced the federal party to held a special party convention early to discuss the party position in regard to the Agenda 2010[?], a major reform of the German social security systems planned by chancellor Schröder.

Related articles

Literature about the German Green Party

  • Frankland, E. Gene / Schoonmaker, Donald (1992): Between Protest & Power: The Green Party in Germany. Boulder, San Francisco, Oxford: Westview Press.
  • Raschke, Joachim (1993): Die Grünen: Wie sie wurden, was sie sind. Köln: Bund-Verlag.
  • Raschke, Joachim (2001): Die Zukunft der Grünen. Frankfurt am Main / New York: Campus.
  • Veen, Hans-Joachim / Hoffmann, Jürgen (1992): Die Grünen zu Beginn der neunziger Jahre. Profil und Defizite einer fast etablierten Partei. Bonn / Berlin: Bouvier.
  • Wiesenthal, Helmut (2000): "Profilkrise und Funktionswandel. Bündnis 90/Die Grünen auf dem Weg zu einem neuen Selbstverständnis", in Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, B5 2000, S. 22-29.

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