In Germany, Greens consolidate rising political trend

That is how winners look like: Chairman of the Greens Annalena Baerbock (middle) and party leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt (left). [EPA-EFE/OMER MESSINGER] [EPA-EFE/OMER MESSINGER]

The Greens from Bündnis90/Die Grünen are the big winners of the European elections in Germany. They nearly doubled their vote to finish second at 21%, ahead of the Social Democrats. Conservatives from the CDU/CSU also lost percentage points but managed to remain Germany’s strongest political force.

For the Social-Democrat party (SPD) top candidate Katarina Barley, the European elections ended in a fiasco – and in a way that is even worse than expected: the party reached just over 15%, down from 27.3% five years ago.

This means the SPD has now become Germany’s third political forces, way behind the Conservatives of CDU/CSU and the Greens.

The Greens could double their score: from 10.7% in 2014, the party now reached 21%. Top candidate Ska Keller spoke of a “sensational result” and a “terrific team performance”. “For us, it is an assignment and a responsibility to implement things, especially in climate protection,” she told German broadcaster ARD.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU lost seven percentage points from five years ago to reach 28%, while far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) gained four points to 11%.

Figures from German public broadcaster ARD and ZDF show that the CDU/CSU lost four times as many votes to the Greens as to the AfD. Turnout rose to 59%,  from 48% five years ago.

Sustainable trend for the Greens

For the German Greens, Sunday’s results show a consolidation of a trend that emerged six months ago: In September last year, they achieved an unexpected all-time high in the state of Bavaria (17.5%) and that of Hesse (19.8%).

In Germany, the question being now raised is: Are the Greens the new ‘Volkspartei’? (people’s party, a term they reject). The Greens see themselves as a party capable of building alliances with other democratic political forces, a strategy they have successfully pursued at many local and regional levels in Germany.

The party is also enjoying a record number of new members, reaching never-before-seen 80,000 members. This is still way behind the 400,000 or so for the SPD and CDU, but the Greens are growing even in regions where they have traditionally had a hard time, in East Germany for instance.

They also proved successful among voters the CDU/CSU and the SPD have desperately tried to reach: the young. This year’s European elections showed that 34% of the 18 to 24-year-olds cast their ballots for the Greens, a figure traditional parties in Germany can only dream of.

This sends the clear message that climate and environmental issues are now highly ranked in the German political agenda, and this, at a time when Germany is set to miss its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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