Big things are about to happen in Germany. The parties are striving for nothing less than a reinvention of the republic, and they are now coming together to form a governing majority through something like speed-dating. Whether it’s the new traffic light (red-yellow-green) or a rather unlikely Jamaican alliance (black-green-yellow), they all want to dynamically modernize the country. And they want to do it subito! In this respect, the Social Democrats (SPD), the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU), the Greens, and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) all declare themselves blameless for the political rigidities they now deplore in unison. It is almost as if these parties had not governed the country in alternating coalitions.
The Gap between Aspiration and Reality
The Greens are at their best when absolving themselves of any responsibility. Supported by large swaths of the media—which mourn the failure of their preferred “G2R” project, that is, forming a majority coalition with a Green chancellor and support from the SPD and the Left Party—the Greens are most loudly proclaimed to be the driving force of the new republic of reform. Yet the former opposing party (Petra Kelly) has long been part of the establishment. It cogoverns ten of the sixteen German states and has a great deal of power to shape policy through the Bundesrat, the upper house of the German parliament. But this leverage is used by the Greens primarily for obstruction. In everyday government practice, there is little sign of this dynamic awakening that the party claims to be the driving force behind a three-party coalition.
But the Greens are masters of smooth political manipulation. Governing is their name, opposing is their game. They always remain the righteous party.`}`
Aspiration and reality are particularly far apart in Bremen and Berlin, where the Greens have governed for what feels like an eternity along with the SPD and the post-communist Left Party. These city-states are at the bottom of almost all comparative rankings. And although the organic party leads the agricultural ministry in eight of the sixteen states, 90 percent of farmers still farm conventionally. The same as it ever was—big words, little action.
But the Greens are masters of smooth political manipulation. Governing is their name, opposing is their game. They always remain the righteous party. They are not held responsible for poor educational offerings or for a less than citizen-friendly administration. In the metropolis of Berlin, which once again shamefully defended its reputation as a “city in the grip of chaos” in the current elections, the Greens even increased their vote from 15.3 to 18.6 percent. With Bettina Jarasch they could almost have provided a governing mayor who openly sympathizes with the expropriation of property-owning companies and whose representatives in the districts more-or-less openly sympathize with left-wing extremists.
Government Jobs, Mountains of Debt and Wind Turbines Instead of Economic Dynamism
There is little sign of dynamism even in places where the Greens can’t excuse themselves by saying that they are only the second or third strongest force and therefore must make compromises. In Baden-Württemberg, Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann, a Green, has been setting the tone for the past ten years with an almost servile Christian Democratic Union at his side as a coalition partner. The few things that are growing in the southwest are high-paying government jobs, mountains of debt, and wind turbines. Along with bicycles, wind turbines are praised as technological progress even though they date back to the late Middle Ages. In the area of education, the state has fallen from the top to the middle of the pack.
The energy transition primarily benefits those who have land for wind turbines, roofs for solar plants, and money for “sustainable investments.
The only thing that prevents the people of Baden and Swabia from sinking economically is the structure that has evolved from rooted family businesses and (still) profitable large corporations. Stuttgart has long since given up competing with Bavaria, Austria or Switzerland. In fact, they no longer want to grow but rather to save the world’s climate in a politically correct manner. The fact that the green fight against the combustion engine is one of the most damaging to the country that hosts Daimler, Porsche, and suppliers such as Bosch and Mahle, and this is accepted with sour-faced composure. And so are drastically rising energy costs and inflation, which now amounts to a cold-hearted expropriation of small savers. According to the new Allianz Global Wealth Report, they are currently losing seven billion euros—per month—due to currency devaluation.
Redistribution from the Bottom Up
But the green clientele is only moderately affected by this. This, too, is one of the delusions often propagated by the eco-party: in programmatic terms, it claims to be socially minded and to help the needy, but in practice it redistributes wealth from the bottom up. The energy transition primarily benefits those who have land for wind turbines, roofs for solar plants, and money for “sustainable investments.” It is into their pockets that the bulk of the roughly 26 billion euros with which “renewable energies” are subsidized each year flows. With the result that German private customers now must pay the highest electricity price at 32 cents per kilowatt, and this is becoming a special burden for the lower income groups. Already today, about one million households in Germany have their electricity cut off each year because they can no longer afford the rising energy costs or because they lack the money to heat their homes. Social associations are already warning of social upheavals.
Meanwhile, high earners afford the highly subsidized e-car as a second or third car. Those who
subsidized. The Greens would like to cancel the commuter benefits and ban entry to the cities for those who have to travel long distances to work every day with their old diesel.
Wherever the Greens are involved in decision-making, whether in municipalities or in the states, construction property is becoming scarce and its price is being driven up.
The same goes for the aging oil or gas heating system. Here, the “punitive taxes” cannot be high enough to reduce CO2 emissions, whose global share in Germany is just two percent. But the self-proclaimed “climate party” wants to save the world’s climate and, if necessary, single-handedly, and to do so with restrictive guidelines that have little to do with a liberal attitude.
The complaints about increasingly expensive housing are downright hypocritical. Wherever the Greens are involved in decision-making, whether in municipalities or in the states, construction property is becoming scarce, and its price is being driven up. It is also the Green party that is making construction more and more expensive with ever stricter energy-saving regulations. At the same time, the Greens hail a diverse immigrant society as the ideal, which further intensifies the competition for affordable housing. After 2015, when nearly two million refugees arrived, more than 100,000 new asylum seekers have come to Germany every year since. Again, the beneficiaries are property owners and landlords.
The Greens—the Party of the High Earners
This also explains why, in truth, it is not the Free Democratic Party but the Greens who are the party of the better-off. The analyses of the Bundestag election locate the party’s voters in the group on the far left of the spectrum: rich and urban. It won its direct mandates primarily in university towns. But this was not just because many students registered their primary residence there, and thus because the voting power of the under-25s is disproportionately high in these metropolises. Rather, cities such as Munich, Heidelberg, or Freiburg, with their universities, hospitals, and administrations, are also strongholds of public service.
Surveys on the occasion of the Bundestag elections revealed that civil servants, at 32 percent, are now among the Greens’ most loyal supporters. This is a professional group that does not stand for dynamism, change, or even de-bureaucratization. Incidentally, this also applies to student voters. According to recent surveys, they prefer to work for the state. They like to be secure and entitled to a pension in the upper echelons of civil service. The courage to be self-employed, on the other hand, has been declining in Germany and not only since the coronavirus pandemic. Accordingly, there are few people in this social stratum who are exposed to the harsh forces of the market economy. Nor are there many in places where hard physical work is also required, such as in the manufacturing industry, construction, and skilled trades.
The Green circle of friends, especially in the media (or on social media), has reacted with shock and even contempt to another surprising finding: Among first-time voters, it is no longer the Greens but, for the first time, the Liberals who are narrowly ahead with 23 to 22 percent of support. This shift corresponds with analyses that Fridays for Future is primarily a student movement but not a broad youth movement. This threatens to dissolve another label that the Greens like to peddle: They are no longer the youth party par excellence. Their plan to generally lower the voting age from 18 to 16, as now pushed through by Green diktat in Baden-Württemberg against the CDU, is likely to lose urgency as a result. “Trainees and young professionals have a great distance to the climate movement,” says Manfred Güllner.
The Greens are not a people’s party; despite winning votes, they remain a clientele party for the upper social and educational strata.
The head of the opinion research institute Forsa also contradicts another narrative that is spread in Germany, especially in the media: “The Greens are not a people’s party; despite winning votes, they remain a clientele party for the upper social and educational strata.” It is true that they appreciate sociopolitical modernization with its gender labels and diversity rules as well as the commitment to minorities—so long as this does not come at their own expense. At the same time, however, this does not narrow the gap between different social groups but widens it. Because, according to the experienced pollster, the one-sided (media) perception “intensifies the displeasure of the majority of citizens from the political and social center.” This is also confirmed by the current Sinus study for market and social research: over 90 percent of Germans fear dramatic changes and sense a growing aggressiveness in society. Only the environmentally-libertarian third in assured (state) positions is of positive mind. Here, too, the aspiration and reality of green politics are diametrically opposed. It is neither socially minded nor progressive.
Translated from German by Thomas and Kira Howes.