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New program for big goals: who fears the Greens as a people’s party?

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After 18 years, the Greens are giving themselves a new basic program at their party congress: Driven by their historic mission to slow down climate change, the party is pushing into the federal government. For this, the party is positioning itself more broadly, which is not only met with enthusiasm.

The Greens were founded 40 years ago and it would be somewhat strange if the party had not fundamentally changed since then. A manifesto of this change is the new, fourth basic program that the Greens are giving themselves this weekend at their federal delegates’ conference – 18 years after the predecessor was adopted. Since Friday evening, more than 800 delegates have been debating at the first multi-day digital party conference of a party represented in the Bundestag. The planned meeting in Karlsruhe, the location of the founding party conference in 1980, was canceled due to the pandemic. For Federal Managing Director Michel Kellner an immense logistical challenge and at the same time a welcome opportunity to demonstrate his party’s digital competence.

The new basic program was discussed more widely than any Green before, said Kellner at the opening of the party congress. The program process, which has been running since 2018, is based on a series of forums and regional conferences, which included both grassroots and non-party organizations and experts. The decisive change made by the Greens, however, which is expressed in the new program, was described by the managing director, who has been in office since 2013, in his welcoming words: “We are no longer correcting others, but claiming leadership.” Green as an independent color in the party system, on par with the Union and SPD and with the same right to lead a federal government.

So said the waiter in his Interview with ntv.deThis is also what it says on the party’s website in the text accompanying the basic program. The Greens, who are stable in second place in all surveys, are striving for the government bank in the federal government, as in eleven federal states. The 54-page draft of the basic program is correspondingly broad. Although the party leaders consider the concept of the People’s Party to be outdated, the basic program is exactly that: The model of a party that wants to make an offer to as many people in the country as possible.

“No overthrow, but self-protection”

From the leitmotif “radical and state-supporting” proclaimed by co-party chairman Annalena Baerbock, the second aspect in particular shines through: The party once stood against the elites of the old Federal Republic, against their moral and economic premises. Since then she has turned into an advocate of this republic – despite all the longing for change, progress and saving the climate. The basic values ​​chapter preceding the seven content chapters is derived from Article 1 of the Basic Law, the inviolability of human dignity – radically supporting the state.

The chapter on the party’s market economy ideas, the second section after the topic of ecology, is not a challenge to capital. Rather, the party intends to harness the market economy through tight regulation and the setting of incentives for its goals of environmental and climate protection as well as social equal opportunities. In her political speech at the opening of the party congress, Baerbock said: “This climate revolution is about as crazy as a home loan and savings contract. Rebuilding the economic system does not mean overthrowing it, it is pure self-protection.”

The focus on the economic structures that drive climate change and environmental degradation is also a consequence of the fact that the Greens were not very successful in dictating behavioral changes to individual people. Even suggesting a vegetarian canteen day, the party would not think of today. To the people who have not yet voted green, Baerbock shouts: “Do not be afraid” and admonishes her party to take along the people in the country who fear change – for example because they could lose their jobs in heavy industry.

A new peacefulness

The basic program sounds anything but radical when it comes to questions of security policy – both internally and externally. There are clear commitments to the police and the armed forces, even if they are to be committed more consistently than before to the values ​​of the Basic Law and the goal of greater diversity. In his speech on the core values ​​chapter, Federal Managing Director Kellner even said the sentence: “We Greens are the constitutional protectors in our country.”

This enthusiasm for the basic laws is also an expression of a generation change at the top of the Greens: Baerbock, for example, who will be 40 years old in December and thus the same age as her party, makes no secret of the fact that her political socialization did not take place on the track blockades against Castor transports , but only in the 90s, when the Greens had already started to take on political responsibility.

You and Habeck are – so far successfully – striving for a new political style. Ironically, the Greens, who have been so belligerent for so many years, have been noticeable in the past two years for their particular peacefulness. Hardly any bitter quarrels that get out. No inner-party conflict, which is based on the long-seemingly cemented wing question “Fundi or Realo?” is reduced. How sustainable this peace is will only be seen when the elections and polls do not always go up. Even the corona survey, which benefited the governing parties in the spring, has been wiped out again. The fact that the party was able to increase significantly with 105,980 members last has a positive effect on self-confidence.

Pressure from the climate movement

In the debate on the basic program there is therefore by no means a consensus: More than 1,300 amendments had to be dealt with before the Federal Delegates’ Conference for the application commission. Some members demanded the first sentence of the chapter on basic values ​​- “The focus of our politics is on people in their dignity and freedom.” – to complement nature. Kellner refused on behalf of the federal executive committee. Among other things, with the reference to the fact that the dignity of individual individuals was repeatedly violated in the name of world views in the 20th century. The basic values ​​chapter was approved on Friday evening with 96 percent of the vote. All amendments put to the vote were rejected.

Other points of contention that were already addressed when the speakers were asked to speak on Friday evening are the question of a basic income and the introduction of referendums at the federal level. The federal executive committee rejects both. The future relationship of the Greens to genetic engineering also divides party values: while the proposal of the federal executive committee supports strictly controlled and limited research on agro-genetic engineering, an amendment rejects any genetic manipulation of plants.

The biggest rift is precisely the issue of climate change: the draft of the basic program aims, like the Paris climate protection agreement, to keep global warming within a corridor of 1.5 to 2 degrees. In an amendment, supported by Fridays for Future activist Luisa Neubauer, among others, however, it says: “For us (…) the 1.5 degree target is our policy.”

The Greens are viewed by a growing number of climate activists as not being consistent enough, not radical enough. In the groundbreaking state elections in Baden-Württemberg in the spring, in which the Green Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann is fighting for his re-election, a climate list comes up. In other countries, too, there is such competition with the Greens, which could cost crucial percentage points.

Other activists from the Fridays for Future movement, however, are striving for the Greens election lists. It will be exciting to see how these young politicians can come to terms with the Greens’ increased willingness to compromise if, for example, coalition negotiations with the CDU and CSU should go. At the opening of the party congress, Baerbock warned the critics from the climate movement: “The political task is to translate the factual necessity of 1.5 degrees into parliamentary majorities.”

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