There’s no avoiding them now. It looks a lot like the Green Party will make up some part of the next German government. The election last month in Baden-Württemberg was one of six state polls before it all climaxes with the Merkel-era-ending federal election in September, and, for the Greens, they couldn’t have picked a better state to start in.
The Greens were already in charge down there, but they consolidated their power in the affluent state and increased their vote share even as almost all the other established parties dropped votes. Picture beautiful towns in forests, with cobbled squares surrounded by shops with wooden toys, and massive Porsches gently manoeuvring through narrow cobbled streets. Of course, they had to do it with a white-haired, avuncular 72-year-old man called Winfried – because they realised that no other Trojan horse will be wheeled through the gates in the Black Forest. He’s the German Joe Biden because no one can imagine voting for anything other than white-haired 70-year-olds these days: that’s what “pragmatic leaders” look like in the human mind.
But still, a win is a win. The momentum will probably slow down a little for the Greens in June when Saxony-Anhalt votes for its new parliament; eastern states don’t trust the Greens, but for now it looks almost certain that when all of Germany (except the foreigners) gets to vote in September, they’ll be part of the national government. Maybe even the biggest part, the chancellor-making part, but probably not.
It makes psychological sense. A CDU-Green coalition feels like what Germany wants right now: the CDU rules the countryside and the Greens rule the cities. A CDU-Green coalition is what you vote for when you feel worried about things and you want to feel safe. You realise the world is changing around you, and you want things to be how they were in the old days, when people talked to their neighbours and there were milkmen bringing milk in the morning. The Greens and the CDU have finally realised they want the same thing: preservation.
A CDU-Green coalition feels like what Germany wants right now: the CDU rules the countryside and the Greens rule the cities. A CDU-Green coalition is what you vote for when you feel worried about things and you want to feel safe.
The national Green Party leaders are Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock (the latter is the party’s newly picked candidate for chancellor). Both are ominously not over 70, and know that the only way to beat the CDU is to become the CDU, because the CDU is Germany. Don’t threaten the economic system with messy socialist schemes like expropriating property developers, but do get Audi to invest in electric cars. Germany wants to be green, but not radical, system-changing green. This is why the Green Party is now gouging more voters from the right than the left.
Of course, the problem is that this year instability and uncertainty are programmed in. Whatever happens in September, we know it’ll be messy. The current polling numbers suggest that, and for the first time since forever, no two parties will have a majority to form a government. So, there will be complicated three-way negotiations first. Plus, Germany will have to deal with having a new chancellor for the first time in 16 years, and only the fourth since 1982. Whoever it turns out to be, he or she will likely be way more vulnerable and have to deal with a lot more criticism than Merkel ever seems to get when things fuck up. It will be slightly less boring.