This article narrates the development of the antinuclear movement from the bottom up, showing how local protests initiated changes in Germans' ideas about democracy and public participation, precipitating the Green Party's emergence. The narrative begins with the pre-history of the 1975 occupation of the Wyhl reactor site in Southern Baden. It shows that vintners' concerns about the future of their livelihoods underpinned protests at Wyhl, but argues that the anti-reactor coalition grew in breadth after government officials' perceived misconduct caused local people to connect their agricultural concerns with democracy matters. It then explains how local protests like the Wyhl occupation influenced the formation of the German Green Party in the late 1970s, showing how the sorts of convergences that occurred amidst “single issue” protests like the anti-Wyhl struggle enabled a wide variety of activists to come together in the new party. Thus, the article argues that particular, local concerns initiated a rethinking of participation in electoral politics. Far from fracturing society, these local concerns promoted diverse new coalitions and shaped an inclusive approach to electoral politics.
The Energiewende, a German Success Story?
Wolfgang Gründinger, Drivers of Energy Transition: How Interest Groups Influenced Energy Politics in Germany (Wiesbaden: Springer vs, 2017).
Thomas Unnerstall, The German Energy Transition: Design, Implementation, Cost and Lessons (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2017).
Stephen Milder and Konrad H. Jarausch
The September 2013 Bundestag election, which reelected Angela Merkel
as chancellor, was a clear defeat for the Green Party. Alliance 90/The
Greens (henceforth the Greens) fared far better than the Free Democratic
Party (FDP), which failed even to score the five percent of the vote required
for representation in parliament, but still fell from 10.7 percent to 8.4 percent,
losing five of their sixty-eight seats in parliament. Since in March of
that same year, surveys had shown their support at 17 percent, this disappointing
result forced Jürgen Trittin, the leader of the parliamentary delegation
to step down.1 In many ways, this perceived electoral debacle marked
the end of an era. The former Federal Minister of the Envi ron ment, who
had originally joined the party in 1980, told reporters that “a new generation” would have to step forward and lead the party into the 2017
campaign. This statement suggested not only that the Greens’ rebellious
founding impulse was spent, but also that they had become part of the
establishment in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), now requiring a
reinvigoration of their own. Since the Greens were once expected to be little
more than a short-lived byproduct of the social conflicts of the 1970s, a
closer look at the party’s founding moment at the beginning of the 1980s
might shed new light on its current predicament.