Wednesday, September 22, 2010

German Greens Still Rising

According to polls the German Greens, who already have the most MPs they've ever had, are seeing an unprecedented rise in the polls seeing them neck and neck for the first time with the SPD, the German version of the Labour Party.

The current ruling Tory/Liberal Coalition (CDU and FDP on the graph) is polling at 34% to the SPD/Green 48%, or 58% if you include the Left Party. So what's to account for the rise which, like in Sweden, does not seem to have effected other parties to the left of the centre?

One explanation is that the new right-wing coalition's decision to extend the life of existing nuclear power stations has hit a nerve in a nation that has had a vibrant anti-nuclear movement for many decades.

Fresh politics

Others point to a fresh way of doing politics - they have the first Turkish (joint) leader of a political party and they have refused to get bogged down as an alternative to the Left Party, having been willing to deal with the parties of the right when it suits them. That's certainly not to my taste, but it's quite possible that this has allowed them to eat into the CDU's vote as well as the SPD's.

Ironically the CDU's backing for nuclear power has put a stop the potential deals between the Greens and the right so they're getting the best of both worlds - looking open minded and willing to work with anyone, whilst the right has cut itself out of the picture.

In other good news the liberal FDP is languishing at 5% as all these right wing liberal parties should be. This is a third of where they were a year ago and rightly so. I mean really what's the point of them when you might as well vote for the CDU or Tories and get honest conservatives?

A movement in the streets

Another theory is that with hundreds of thousands out on the street mobilised for an issue that the Greens claimed as their own years ago that surge of anti-government protest has fortuitously fallen in the lap of the Greens. Certainly Speigel think this might cause as many problems for the Greens as it offers opportunities as the party is no longer simply a party of protest.

Their experience of the SPD in a previous coalition was not entirely happy and many of the their activists in the east of Germany cut their teeth fighting the regime supported by leading figures in the Left Party. Coupled with the Left's own (shock!) internal problems and inability to mobilise properly for the recent protests they are not looking like particularly appetising bedfellows right now.

Some in the Green Party would certainly like to keep their options open about deals with the partiesto their right. But, if those parties are in charge of the nuclear programme that becomes impossible.

Who knows whether this will last or becomes a deeper long-term trend but it is becoming clearer that across Europe the centre simply is not holding, but there are no guarantees that the ground shifts towards the traditional far-right or far-left parties.

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