Handelsblatt reports that Joschka Fischer, one of the Greens’ two co-leaders and the Red-Green government’s foreign minister and deputy chancellor, has announced his resignation from both his party and state offices. He will, however, take up his seat in the Bundestag. Apparently he thinks the Greens need “a new formation” (eine Neuaufstellung) and that “clarity must reign”. Further, the party needs to be led by younger people.
Perhaps more importantly, he also said that it could be “realistically expected” that the Greens would not be represented in the next government. That can only realistically mean that he expects a grand coalition – an SPD/FDP/Left or CDU/SPD/Left coalition can be ruled out with some confidence, and a CDU/FDP/Left coalition with absolute certainty. The Greens will now have to elect two new parliamentary leaders.
Which brings me to another point..
I’ve been commenting all over the blogosphere that I consider the so-called “Jamaica coalition” absurd and deeply unlikely. Here’s why. To join such a coalition, the Greens would have to flip through 180 degrees on all the following issues:
1. Nuclear Power.
The absolute beginnings of the Green movement are in the linked anti-nuclear power and anti-Cruise/Pershing deployment campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s respectively. And the capital achievement for the Greens in government was to extract the commitment of the SPD not to replace Germany’s nuclear power stations at the imminent end of their design lives – the so-called Atomausstieg. Both the CDU and the FDP are strongly pro-nuclear. Not only are they in favour of engineering work on the existing stations to extend their operational life, they are open to building new ones, indeed to building more. The Greens are as likely to agree to life-extension of nuclear power stations as they are to the invasion of Denmark.
2. Renewable Power.
This is the Greens’ replacement for the nuclear stations. One of their campaign slogans is Weg vom Öl – Away from Oil! – and they pushed forward with a huge windfarm construction programme. Immediately before the elections, statistics were released showing that renewables had overtaken nuclear as a percentage of Germany’s energy needs. The CDU want to cut funding for the wind programme.
The Greens are not strictly pacifist, but they are strongly anti-militarist, which again is part of their 1980s peace movement/antinuke source code. The party nearly exploded over sending a handful of soldiers to Afghanistan in 2001, and remains sceptical about NATO, viscerally opposed to the Iraq war, and keen on a European defence identity, although equally paranoid about the “militarisation of the EU”. The CDU/CSU and FDP are stalwart Atlanticists and grew up politically in the days when the Bundeswehr‘s main mission was to put 500,000 men on the Intra-German Border FEBA within 12 hours of a mobilisation order and hold on for the NATO REFORGER reinforcement convoys to arrive.
4. EU Enlargement.
The enlargement of the EU was a priority for Fischer as foreign minister, and the party is Turko-enthusiast where the CDU are Turkosceptic and the CSU are frankly Turko-hostile. This is yet another point of substance that the Jamaica parties hold mutually exclusive positions on.
This was just as important to the Green founders’ generation as environmentalism or pacifism and is still at the core of Green identity, not to mention the party’s constitution. That’s why they will elect two parliamentary leaders – top Green posts are duplicated between a man and a woman. The CSU, especially, is barely capable of accepting that Angela Merkel is the party leader and not in charge of cakes, so pretty much the entire Green social/family agenda is on the CDU/CSU’s list of things the Greens would have to drop. And the other way around.
This report from the FAZ quotes Claudia Roth, Jürgen Trittin, Krista Sager, Renate Künast, and Katrin Göring-Eckhardt – in other words, the entire Green front bench less Fischer – as saying what I’ve just said above. Interestingly, the FAZ takes a different reading of Joschka’s remark when asked if he would be available for a ministerial portfolio, “Bleiben Sie Realist!” (Stay realistic!) , to that of the Handelsblatt. The HB interpreted it as a suggestion that none would be offered, the FAZ (at least in the slug for the article) as a signal that he would accept if one was.
There is, though, an even bigger obstacle to the Jamaican solution – identity. The Greens exist in opposition to the CDU/CSU and everything it stands for. They were created by the post-68 generation positively dripping with Theodor Adorno and positively drunk on Herbert Marcuse, seeking a Critical Politics and a Critical Gender Politics to go with the Critical Theory they imbibed. To your average CDU MP, and ten times more for the CSU, your daughter being a Green was until very recently barely distinguishable from her dating Ulrike Meinhof’s ghost. Ashen-faced commiserations…and chilly silences in the Fraktionsklub.
And finally, a question. Yes, Guido Westerwelle of the Homeopathic Parachuting Club was terribly rude to Gerhard Schröder. Yes, the FDP publicly ruled out the “traffic light coalition”. But Schröder and Merkel both rejected the grand coalition, and the Greens have as good as rejected the Jamaican solution. Those options are no more ruled out than the traffic light. The FDP has 36 years’ form for sudden coalition betrayals, and the Greens precisely none. Why does everyone expect the Greens to behave like the FDP and the FDP to behave like the Greens?
Klaus Wowereit, the SPD Mayor of Berlin, told today’s Handelsblatt both that Schröder could be dumped and that the FDP had a “strange understanding of democracy” if they didn’t want to talk. In the FAZ article above, the Green Customer Minister Matthias Berninger practically invited the FDP in, as did SPD Rheinland Pfalz Minister-President Kurt Beck (again).