The Green Party in Germany’s state governments

Update: the report is now available here.

Over the last decade, the German Green Party continuously entered into coalition governments across Germany’s states. To date, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (Alliance 90/The Greens) govern in ten of the sixteen German states in a number of different coalitions with one or two other parties. In Baden-Württemberg, one of the bigger and traditionally more conservative states, the Green Party even managed to become the strongest power in the 2016 elections, thus appointing the first (and until now only) green minister-president, who is already in his second term.

The growing importance of the Green Party in the German states also increases the Greens’ relevance at the federal level – particularly through the second chamber (Bundesrat), in which state governments are represented. Many federal legislative proposals have to pass both the Bundestag (parliament) and the Bundesrat. Currently, Chancellor Merkel’s governing coalition (which has a majority in parliament) needs the votes of at least three ‘green’ state governments for a majority in the Bundesrat. In consequence, the German Greens can influence federal politics despite being a small parliamentary group in the opposition since 2005.

Inspired by my personal professional experience working for the Greens at the federal and state level as well as by the curiosity of a political scientist, I launched a research project to find out what the Green Party’s experience in government has been: Which ministries tend to be filled by Green politicians, and how do party leaders explain these outcomes? How do the Greens organize their governments in different coalitions? How do the Green members of the ten states with partly Green governments coordinate things with each other at the federal level, particularly concerning their potential influence in the Bundesrat? Which role do the federal parliamentary group and the federal party play vis-à-vis the state Greens?

Since early 2015, I have looked for answers to these questions. Between September 2015 and April 2016, I interviewed more than 40 Bündnis 90/Die Grünen politicians and their staff  – from parliamentary groups (EU, federal and state parliaments), the federal and state Green Party , and state governments.

Currently, I am in the last phase of analysis and writing. The project is supported by the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, which will soon publish a summary of the results. Stay tuned!


Update: The report (in German) is now available at We are working on an English version – stay tuned. 


Picture: © Harry Weber/ (CC BY 3.0)

So, what do you think ?