Green Politics, Expertise, and Democratic Discourse in the Two Germanies, 1989–2019

in German Politics and Society
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  • 1 Environmental Studies, Bryn Mawr College, USA
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Environmental movements became a major vehicle for promoting citizen participation in both East and West Germany during the 1980s. Their critiques of industrial society, however, reflected the different constellations of power in their respective countries. Movements in both East and West formed green parties, but their disparate understandings of power, expertise, and democracy complicated the parties’ efforts to coalesce during the unification process and to play a major role in German politics after unification. I propose that the persistence of this East-West divide helps explain the continuing discrepancy in the appeal of Alliance 90/The Greens in the old and new German federal states. Nevertheless, I also suggest that the Greens have accomplished their goal of opening technical issue areas—particularly energy—to political debate. This is currently working to enhance their image throughout Germany as champions of technological innovation and democratic openness in the face of climate inaction and right-wing populism.

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