Petra Kelly, International Green Leader: On Biography and the Peace Movement as Resources of Power in West German Politics, 1979-1983

in German Politics and Society
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This article uses the biography of the activist and Green Party co-founder Petra Kelly in order to rethink the Greens' founding process and to articulate a new conception of charismatic political leadership. It shows how Kelly used her activism in the new social movements as the basis for her leadership role in the Greens, and how her ongoing work in the peace movement provided her a means of maintaining power within the nascent party during the early 1980s. By examining Kelly's contributions to the Greens' approach to politics, the article shows that she was more than just a figurehead for the new party. Most importantly, the article shows that throughout her career as an activist and politician, Kelly used her biography to establish credibility and to support her unique style of charismatic leadership. The German public's response to Kelly reveals the influence of this charismatic leadership and shows how her movement-driven and biographically informed approach, which brought personal experiences and emotions into politics, was part of a larger transformation of the political in West Germany during the 1970s and 1980s.