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Nine lessons from the Digi party conference: Fridays for Future help determine the Greens course

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Because of the pandemic situation, the Greens are relocating their groundbreaking policy party conference to the Internet. This succeeds, but at the expense of the culture of argument. This special party congress also contains a number of other insights.

An overview:

  1. Fridays for Future help determine the green course

  2. Greens focus on youth and diversity

  3. Digital party congress goes …

  4. … but not good in the long run

  5. Where has the Greens’ lust for conflict gone?

  6. The whole party wants power

  7. Alliance party without an ally

  8. Greens remain genetic engineering skeptics, but not opponents

  9. There is still space on the left

1. Fridays for Future help determine the Greens course
The biggest accident that can be assumed for this party congress did not materialize: The climate activists gathered behind Fridays for Future (FFF) on the street and the Greens almost fundamentally alienated each other. The stumbling block: the draft of the basic program wanted to strengthen the party’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement. This provides for global warming to be kept below 2 degrees and as close as possible to a warming of 1.5 degrees. Fridays for Future, on the other hand, argues that if the temperature rises to 1.5 degrees or more, every additional tenth of a degree means devastating damage. Overnight, the federal executive board, represented by Annalena Baerbock and others, managed to find a compromise formula with the FFF representatives in the party. Jakob Blasel, who wants to move into the Bundestag as an FFF member for the Greens, and the prominent FFF representative Luisa Neubauer celebrated the reformulation as their success.

2. Greens focus on youth and diversity
There were not many amendments that prevailed against the draft version or a compromise proposal by the federal executive committee at the federal delegates’ conference. One of them: the goal of reducing the voting age to 14 years. The applicants justified this with the fact that many of the activists behind Fridays for Future are younger than 16 years old. Much less controversial: the new diversity statute in the basic program. Diversity is to be strengthened in all committees, particularly with regard to migration backgrounds. There should be a separate spokesman for diversity policy on the federal executive board and a diversity congress every two years. There is no binding quota as for women.

3rd digital party congress goes …
With the Federal Delegates Conference Corona, the Greens were given the opportunity to demonstrate their own digital competence – with which the political competition also likes to boast. That succeeded. The complicated debate with more than 800 delegates at the screens worked technically well. The inevitably longer voting procedures and the technical problems of one or the other speaker on the home PC have resulted in significant delays. But they could be endured in front of the home PC. Well over 700 delegates were still active in the late evening hours. Tens of thousands followed the action passively in the live stream. The many clips and guest speeches guaranteed entertainment. In contrast to real party congresses, the participants could also chat loudly, watch TV, do laundry and so on.

4. … but not good in the long run
Because a lot of what defines a party congress – the spontaneous applause, the passions, actions of individual groups on the stage – is missing. The delegates were able to chat with each other and send sunflowers into the live stream with the applause button. But the rattling in the box, which is common at Green Party congresses, did not materialize. Annalena Baerbock also visibly alienated the staged situation on Friday evening when she spoke her political speech into the camera in the largely empty Tempodrom concert hall. The media experienced Habeck coped better with it on Saturday. But digital cheers neither make the heart of the applauded jump higher, nor do they caress the party soul.

5. Where has the Greens’ lust for conflict gone?
It is mainly due to the framework conditions that more violent disputes did not materialize this time. A basic program that will shape the party for many years to come is about the nitty-gritty. Now the party executive is used to defusing promising amendments through compromise formulas. But even with polarizing topics such as dealing with genetic engineering in agriculture or a basic income for everyone, the exchange remained very civilized. Nobody on the federal executive board had to listen to serious, even personal allegations. The lottery procedure for the speakers and the selection of guest contributions left plenty of room for this. But with the Greens of 2020 there is an unprecedented peace among previous party leaders, and there is almost no trace of wing fighting.

6. The whole party wants power
Critical words were also not heard about the party’s new claim to leadership, which Baerbock, Habeck and federal manager Michael Kellner emphasized at every opportunity at the weekend. This is linked to a visible middle course of the party, which is certainly questioned by the Green Youth. But never so loud that it cracks. There is also no sign of rejection from the ancestors of earlier generations. The party sees itself as the only chance to turn things around in the fight against climate change. That closes the ranks.

7. Alliance party without an ally
The Greens of 2020 no longer want to be the environmental corrective of a larger coalition partner. They want to govern and for this “make new alliances”, be an “alliance party”. The only question that arises is: with whom? A green-red coalition doesn’t give a big surge in the polls and is, by the way, anything but a dream scenario for the groco-traumatized SPD. An alliance of the two parties with the left is mathematically more realistic. The left itself, with its unresolved question of leadership and its very heterogeneous political goals, is all the more unpredictable. The Union remains: But with a view to the new basic program, such an alliance needs a lot of imagination. The ideas are not only different when it comes to climate policy. In terms of refugee, budgetary and economic policy, the rifts seem almost insurmountable, if only at the cost of enormous compromises. Will a party that was influenced by Fridays for Future be ready for this?

8. Greens remain genetic engineering skeptics, but not opponents
One of the most exciting debates at the party congress revolved around the question of how the Greens want to deal with genetically modified plants and foods that have been modified using the Crisp / Cas process. These are then indeed not natural, but nature-identical because they could also have arisen accidentally through mutation. Many greens also have great hopes for this, in order to strengthen plants against climate change and to feed the world population. Others reject any use of genetic engineering in the food chain of humans and nature. The agreed compromise now provides for research to be made possible, but for the time being to keep the products away from the fields and plates.

9. There is still space to the left
The Greens leadership makes no secret of striving to be in the middle of society. That leaves room on the politically left wing, for example for the SPD and the left. The Greens concept of an ecological-social market economy is a cooperative approach that wants to take companies and trade unionists with them on the way to complete decarbonisation. Even if this transformation to a resource-saving and nature-friendly economy should benefit all people, this means neither a rejection of capitalism nor placing the social problems of the poorest at the center of the upcoming election campaign. The argument put forward by Baerbock that the introduction of a basic income, demanded by many left-wing parties, would swallow up all the money that would be needed for the restructuring of the economic system, may have induced many delegates to vote against the rapid introduction of a basic income. The Greens still want to abolish all Hartz IV sanctions with their social guarantee protection – and keep the basic income as the “guiding principle”.

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