Fresh faces for German Greens in EU elections

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A mixture of new and established political figures will campaign for a ‘new Green deal’ in this summer’s European elections, the German Greens decided at their European convention last weekend.

Among the first five candidates on the national list, three are well-known but relative newcomers on the European political scene. 

The list drawn up for the European Parliament elections next June includes former chief of the German Greens Reinhard Bütikofer, a co-founder of the anti-globalisation network Attac, Sven Giegold, and a former secretary general of Amnesty International, Barbara Lochbihler. 

The top ticket once again features Rebecca Harms, vice-president of the European Green Group in the EU assembly. 

At the same time, other prominent politicians, including Angelika Beer, a former leader of the German Greens, either failed to secure a spot or were relegated to the bottom of the list, meaning that they are unlikely to keep their seats. Gisela Kallenbach and Hildtrud Beyer fall into this category. 

A MEP since 1989, Beyer was elected to position fifteen on the list, while Kallenbach, representing green interests in the foreign affairs and regional development committee, reached number seventeen. 

Both MEPs bids for re-election are thus now a long-shot, requiring the German Greens to perform better this summer than the respectable 11.9% of the vote gained in the 2004 elections. In the current European Parliament, thirteen Green MEPs from Germany make up the lion’s share of the 43-strong Green group.

A new ‘Green’ deal 

Opening the convention on Friday (23 January), the co-chair of the European Greens, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, called for a “European transformation of our societies” in the form of a “new Green deal” for tackling today’s crises with a more comprehensive approach. 

The deal would serve as a new societal model, which Bütikofer said can provide answers to the current economic crisis and help tackle the issues of climate change and global poverty. “We need Europe to implement our green visions,” he declared. 

Instead of merely reacting to global crises, the Greens rather seek to formulate pro-active solutions by means of “enforced co-ordination of financial, structural, environmental and development policies,” the party’s programme reads. 

A new Bretton Woods

The “threat of recession” shall be tackled by a socio-ecological investment programme aimed at realising a “sustainable Green shift” that would allow for a more stable and social world of finance, the programme continues. 

The Greens, known for their visionary thinking, also called for new Bretton Woods financial institutions, reform of the currency system and a “paradigm shift” in tax policy. 

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, speaking at a Green party convention for the first time, said "green ideas" would help Europe. 

German Green MEP Angelika Beer, who did not make it onto the list for the next elections, told EURACTIV that she was disappointed but nevertheless welcomed the new candidates, describing them as "an attractive alternative” to German voters. "Every end [of a political mandate] also offers a chance for renewal," Beer stated. She refused to comment as to whether this decision meant the end to her political career. 

The European Parliament elections on 4-7 June will be one of eight polls to bring Germans to the ballot box in 2009 (see our Links Dossier on the elections to the EU assembly). The first vote took place in the federal state of Hesse last week, where the Greens obtained 13.7% of the vote, a 6% gain from the 2008 election. 

Despite the good result, the Greens failed to form a government with their desired partner, the Social Democrats, who suffered a record-breaking losses in the former 'red' state. 

The European elections will be followed by three other state elections and the general elections on 27 September, when the Greens are hoping to return to government. However, that objective appears to be a long shot, with latest polls showing a majority for the ruling centre-right CDU and the Liberals. Each has already identified the other as preferred partners for a new government. 

  • 4-7 June 2009: Elections to the European Parliament.  

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