Renewing Democracy: The Rise of Green Politics in West Germany

in German Politics and Society
Author:
Stephen Milder University of Groningensm1638@rci.rutgers.edu

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and
Konrad H. Jarausch University of North Carolina at Chapel Hilljarausch@email.unc.edu

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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.

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