Like their Irish counterparts, who are junior partners in a conservative coalition government led by the right of centre Fianna Fáil Party, the German Green Party in the Hamburg region has signed a deal with the conservative Christian Democratic Union, (CDU) which will take them into the regional government led by Hamburg’s CDU Mayor Ole von Beust. (The CDU is the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel)
The landmark coalition agreement signed on Thursday, April 17, in Hamburg’s City Hall, follows five weeks of intensive political negotiations that centered on energy and environmental issues, or so we are told. It is expected to be formally approved by party executives at the end of the month.
“In politics as in normal life, it is important to have the strength and the courage to walk new paths,” said Hamburg’s CDU Mayor Ole von Beust. “It’s not an experiment but a chance … Even if it may seem unusual to many, I’m convinced it’ll be a success for Hamburg.”
The Hamburg CDU leader Von Beust lost his absolute majority in the Feb. 24 State elections and his party has since then been on the search for a suitable coalition partner.
The Greens have typically partnered with the SPD and the CDU has traditionally found an ally in the free-market liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), but the addition of fifth party, the Left Party, has forced political camps to rethink their well practiced two-party alliances.
For both the CDU and the Greens in Hamburg, “it’s just about opening up new options in the new five-party system,” wrote the Financial Times Deutschland on Friday. “For chancellor and CDU chairwoman Angela Merkel, nothing less than securing her chancellorship beyond the election year 2009 and the likely end of the grand coalition [of the CDU and SPD] are at stake. For this goal, serious conflicts are simply papered over, particularly in the areas of economic and energy policy.”
“Now older and wiser, the children who had once run away from the middle-class are coming back,” opined the Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday from Munich. “The Greens are becoming the junior partner of the party that they once considered to represent the bleak, stale, unenlightened middle-class.
Berlin’s Tagesspiegel considers the milestone coalition “a break in Germany’s party history.”
“If it’s successful, the Hamburg coalition will contribute to the de-ideologization of German politics, so that it’s no longer membership in a political camp but agreement on individual issues that will determine how governments are built,” wrote the paper on Friday.
“For the voters, that means that politics is becoming less predictable and more complicated.”
Many of us on the left, especially those of us who come from the working classes have always had our doubts about the Greens, not least because they have always refused to stand down for a left candidate who had a better chance of being elected. It seems once the Greens had a taste of political power that aphrodisiac replaced political principles and loyalty to a broad progressive coalition.