The CDU in Baden-Wuerttemberg is conducting negotiations with the Greens in that state to decide if the two parties should form a coalition government. If they do, it will be the first “black-green” coalition at the state level, and another sign of fluidity in Germany’s post-reunification party politics.
Update: Maybe next time. The CDU and FDP will, according to reports today, continue the coalition that has run the southwest for the last 10 years. Germany changes slowly.
For much of the Federal Republic’s comparatively short history, the party landscape was dominated by the Social Democrats (SPD), a party nearly 75 years older than the state it was competing to rule in, the Christian Democrats (CDU-CSU) and the Free Democrats (FDP). The FDP generally held the balance of power and was regarded as the permanent party of government. The rise of the Greens in the early 1980s knocked this balance off-kilter; eventually, however, Germany settled into something of a two-part system, in which the FDP lined up with the CDU-CSU and the Greens with the SPD. Red-Green only took power at the national level in 1998, at which time reunification and the persistence of the post-communist PDS had already loosened the system. (Post-communist parties have, of course, persisted in practically every formerly communist country, but Germany was originally thought to be different.)
The Greens are no longer as ‘left’ as they once were, and the CDU-CSU has never been quite as ‘right’ as observers outside Germany tend to think. The first significant black-green coalition at the municipal level came in Muelheim/Ruhr and ruled from 1994 to 1999. Black-green coalitions have also governed in Saarbrucken and Cologne. Frankfurt is currently run by a four-party coalition; black-green may take charge there this month as well.
Black-green would be a milestone at the state level, particularly in the growing and prosperous state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
And at the national level? Governing with more than one of the major parties certainly increases the Greens’ options…