Greens freshen the air of flawed German politics

The nomination of Annalena Baerbock as the first candidate for chancellor of the Greens of Germany shows the party’s ambitions to shake up a frozen political scene in the general elections in September. The political ascendancy of the Greens seems unstoppable. No government coalition now seems plausible without them, while Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, long the government’s natural party, could be relegated to the opposition. After years of a mind-numbing grand coalition, the political flow can only be a good thing. It gives voters more choice and a welcome chance to challenge the outdated political orthodoxies of the Merkel era when she steps down later this year.

Baerbock’s choice shows moderates firmly in control of his party, a once noisy environmental protest movement split between radicals and pragmatists. His meeting was harmonious and consensual. The Greens have shown a discipline that was once the hallmark of German conservatives. At the same time, the CDU and its sister Bavarian party were arguing over who should lead them in the elections. On Tuesday, the Bavarian leader Markus Söder abandoned his attempt to oust Armin Laschet, the boss of the uninspiring CDU party, as a center-right standard-bearer. But with just five months before election day, the party seems increasingly torn by Merkel’s succession. A week of infighting revealed deep apprehensions among MPs and the conservative base over Laschet’s candidacy.

The Greens, whose poll on Tuesday put seven points ahead of the center-right, can take votes from both the CDU and the Social Democrats, stuck in a distant third place. The Greens’ rhetoric as a party of renewal against the CDU status quo is likely to resonate with voters: Laschet, a supporter of Merkel’s cautious downtown policy, lacks the wide public appeal of the outgoing Chancellor . 40-year-old Baerbock stands out from her older male rivals.

She is a skillful parliamentarian who understands political details, but has never held an executive position. When the initial enthusiasm for his candidacy wears off, his lack of government experience could become a campaign handicap. A path to the Chancellery is perhaps less likely than a solid second place, and therefore a coalition with the CDU. But a coalition of Greens with the SPD and pro-business Free Democrats as an alternative to one of the center-left and far-left will blunt one of Laschet’s strongest arguments: that voting for the Greens would allow the former Communists. to gain power from behind. door.

For the moment, the Greens have the political momentum. And they are likely to reshape German public policy in a profound way, at least compared to the cautious incrementalism of the Merkel era. The CDU with the SPD in tow provided the stability and prosperity that many Germans seem to aspire to. But the last grand coalition, in particular, has done too little to prepare the country for the technological, economic and geopolitical upheavals it faces. The Greens can now challenge the orthodoxies which have been protected, to varying degrees, by the center-right and the center-left: a lack of ambition on the energy transition; mercantilist gentleness in the face of authoritarian China and Russia; fiscal rules which deprived Germany of public investment and weakened domestic demand; and lack of confidence in European integration and risk sharing in the euro area.

Some green doctrines are of concern, particularly tax policies punishing wealth and a reluctance to spend on defense. But the party brings fresh air to German politics. More of the same is the last thing Germany needs.

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