Lovisa Herold: The German Green Party has a long way to go to become chancellor

Perhaps German politics isn’t quite that exciting after all. This might not seem the best way to start a text on German politics, but the day after the Saxony-Anhalt state elections, I couldn’t get that conclusion out of my head.

Admittedly, the outcome of the elections in the small state west of Berlin has been described as a bang. Just a few weeks ago, an opinion poll by INSA showed that the right-wing nationalist AFD had ousted the CDU as the largest party in Saxony-Anhalt. Now that the first counting of votes has been completed, it is clear that the CDU has received twice as much support as the AFD – 37.1 percent, compared to 20.8.

But anyone who wondered with curiosity who, and what, would fill the void left by Angela Merkel when she leaves the elections this fall, has been reminded that he can hardly wait for an unwritten piece of paper. At least not in German domestic politics.

Christian Democratic Party الحزب Saxony has ruled Anhalt since German reunification, with the exception of two terms when the SPD took the lead. The same applies at the federal level. The importance of Angela Merkel to German politics cannot be overestimated, but the Christian Democratic Party existed before her era. And then it will remain.

So what does the dominance of the CDU in Saxony say about the Greens – those who, according to opinion polls, have almost tripled their support at the federal level since the 2017 elections? The party whose candidate for chancellor is compared in the international media to popular leaders such as Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern?

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Torsten Crawell, political commentator at conservative newspaper Die Welt, He writes that the Greens confuse attention with confidence. According to many observers, the party tends to get more support in opinion polls than it receives in the elections themselves. In other words, voters like to say they vote green, but when it comes down to it, they vote for more established parties. Like CDU, for example.

The Green Chancellor’s candidate, Annalena Barbock herself, says that for historical reasons the party is weaker in the states that, like Saxony-Anhalt, belong to the former East Germany.

– We lack ten years of history here, compared to the forty years we spent in West Germany, says Annalena Barbock, According to the German newspaper Tagesspiegel.

That’s right The greens are stronger in the former West Germany. The right-wing nationalist AFD party is stronger in the former East. The election result in Saxony-Anhalt, a state famous for forming ruling coalitions very different from the one led by Angela Merkel in Berlin, cannot be translated to the federal level.

But the state election, after all, is the first thing that has happened since Annalena Barbock was proposed as a candidate for chancellor, and the party’s winning no more than one percentage point since 2016 appears to be a disappointment for the Greens. Before the federal election, they will have to answer questions about what to offer rural voters, who question demands for high gasoline prices and the Greens’ vision of a progressive Germany taking the lead on climate change.

“Not everyone can ride bicycles everywhere,” voter Steffi Beyer told DN, a few days before the election in Saxony-Anhalt.

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She’s one of those who think the Greens are pushing too hard on the climate issue, and who think change must take time.

Brigitte Reisman and Steffi Beyer take a coffee break from the square in Quedlinburg in Saxony-Anhalt, just days before the election. They are skeptical of the Greens, who think they have too much of an emphasis on the climate issue.

Photo: Greta Maria Ásgeirsdóttir

If the election result in Saxony is food for thought for the Greens, it is a nightmare for the SPD. Federal Chancellor’s candidate Olaf Schulz, who has seen the party’s popularity plummet in opinion polls since the 2017 election, remained in the background when the election results were presented Monday night. Instead, the party’s general secretary, Lars Klingbeil, said the CDU had won because they were able to portray themselves as the opposite pole of the Agence Française de Développement.

– This is not a good result, said the SPD politician RND Media Company.

As campaigning for the September Bundestag elections began in earnest, politicians in Berlin began to look curiously at the formation of a government in Saxony-Anhalt. CDU with satisfied interest, and The Greens and SPD with a nervous look. Will CDU’s Rainer Haselov leave the Greens in government, or will the liberal FDP replace them? How does the SPD work? And what role will the right-wing nationalist AFD party, which has become after all the second largest party in the country, play in the coming months?

Perhaps Angela Merkel’s latest election campaign is extraordinarily exciting, after all.

Read more: In Saxony-Anhalt, women are fighting for their place in politics

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