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Germany

Green party leaders reelected at party conference

Green party leaders Claudia Roth and Cem Oezdemir have been reelected as the party's joint leaders ahead of key regional elections in 2011.

Cem Oezdemir and Claudia Roth share podium after being reelected

The Green duo have set their sights on victory in 2011

The Green party celebrated its best poll ratings in years on Saturday by reelecting its two leaders Claudia Roth and Cem Oezdemir. Roth got 79.3 percent of the vote, compared to 82.7 percent two years ago, while Oezdemir saw his support surge nearly ten percent to 88.5 percent.

There were no other challengers for the joint party leadership, which is a two-year mandate and always held by a man and a woman.

The vote was a boost for 44-year-old Oezdemir, who represents the Green party's so-called 'realo' faction, made up of more pragmatic and less ideologically-driven members. It was the first time he has been reelected as joint party leader.

Roth, 55, who has led the party since 2001 and represents its leftist wing saw her support dip slightly. In a keynote speech to around 500 delegates in the southern German city of Freiburg, Roth slammed Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right government.

"Fairness, social cohesion and ecology are all foreign words to Merkel's coalition," she charged. "I am deeply convinced that we are experiencing the beginning of the end of Merkel's chancellorship."

Election year

Delegates at the Green party convention

The Greens do not want a coalition with Merkel's CDU.

The three-day conference was called to draft policies that go beyond the party's core issues - fighting global warming and ending nuclear power - to include healthcare reform, education and helping the poor.

On Saturday evening delegates voted that Germany should switch entirely to ecological power by 2030. They also called for more renewable energy and reaffirmed their commitment to shutting down Germany's nuclear power stations.

Flying high in the opinion polls, the Green party are expected to fair well in regional elections in six of Germany's 16 states next year.

"We are going for victory, nothing less," Roth said. For the first time, the party faces the prospect of winning enough votes in one state, Baden-Wuerttemberg, for a Green state premier to take office.

Popular support for the Greens has soared to 21 percent, double the vote they received at last year's general election.

The party convention was held in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where local popular support for the party is 26 per cent, according to pollsters Allensbach.

Translated into election results, this could enable the Greens to head a coalition with a smaller party and rule the state with a Green premier.

Green party opposition to Stuttgart's new railway station project known as Stuttgart 21 - which has mobilized thousands of local residents in protest - is expected to bolster the Greens' results in the March election.

Roth said the coming year could be the most successful in the party's history. According to polls, former Consumer Affairs and Agriculture Minister Renate Kuenast also has a realistic chances of becoming the first Green mayor of Berlin.

Author: Nigel Tandy (dpa, Reuters)

Editor: Ben Knight

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