A new federal board. A new party council. Today and tomorrow the German Green Party elects a new party leadership at the convention in my hometown Hanover.
While Berlin prepares for another Grand Coalition of Angela Merkel’s Conservatives and the Social Democrats, the Greens are setting course for a personal and programmatic renewal. The congress – technically called Federal Delegate Conference (BDK) – begins today with the political speech of the outgoing party leader Simone Peter, who, like her counterpart Cem Özdemir, is not running again. Expect a warm goodbye tonight and standing ovations after the speech from the delegates. For those who want to watch: The entire party congress will be broadcast live on www.gruene.de.
Later on tonight, the convention will decide on an important statute question: an update to the long-term hailed principle of the separation between office and mandate. So far, only one third of the Federal Executive Board may be a member of the Bundestag, state parliaments or the European Parliament. State or Federal Ministers as well as EU Commissioners are currently excluded from chairing the party. The debate does not put the separation of office and mandate in question, but whether there should be a transitional period in which newly elected officials on the federal board have to resign from their government mandate. This decision is highly acute given the candidacy of Robert Habeck for the party chair. Robert is currently Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in Schleswig-Holstein and could – under the current status – not run for chair. Delegates tonight will vote not only about the if, but also about the length of such a transitional period. The current state of the application and negotiation situation offers the options of three, eight or twelve months. An
Tomorrow, the convention will elect a new federal executive, including its two Federal Chairs. Three candidates are applying so far: Annalena Baerbock, Anja Piel, and Robert Habeck. Annalena and Robert are considered to represent the realo wing of the party, Anja the left wing. Further candidatures are still possible.
As the smallest opposition party in the Bundestag, the Greens are facing difficult times ahead and making sure their green voice is not shut out between the overruling Grand Coalition and the right-wing populists which have entered national parliament for the first time ever. In contrast, the Greens are currently in 9 coalition governments at the state level and are thus a powerful broker for federal legislation. It will be interesting to see how the candidates will address these issues and trying to pull delegates to their sides.
I am on my way to the convention. It’s a homecoming match for me, I grew up in Hanover. Over at @GermanGreens I will be tweeting from and about the convention. Check it out.