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Greens pick 2013 poll candidates in direct vote

In a vote among party members, Germany's Greens have picked their two top candidates for next year's parliamentary elections. The grassroots vote is a first in Germany's party landscape.

The Greens party announced the result of the vote on Saturday, saying that Bundestag vice-president and theologian Katrin Göring-Eckardt and the co-chairman of the party's parliamentary caucus Jürgen Trittin will be the party's top candidates in the 2013 elections expected next September or October.

The party traditionally nominates a leadership duo as top candidates in elections, and one of the two spots is reserved for a woman.

Göring-Eckardt and Trittin beat out 13 other candidates for the nomination, although only two others were really in the race: the other co-chair of the parliamentary group, Renate Kunast, and party co-chair, Claudia Roth.

Protestant church theologian

Göring-Eckardt is an active member of the Protestant Church in Germany. Trittin served as federal environment minister from 1998 until 2005 in a center-left coalition government headed by the Social Democrats, who are now in opposition.

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Greens pick duo

In a first for Germany, all of the party's roughly 60,000 members were eligible to vote for the top candidates. The party's voter turnout was just over 61.6 percent. Trittin won 71.9 percent of the party's vote, while Göring-Eckardt got 47.3. Each voter was able to vote for two candidates.

The party's chief secretary, Steffi Lemke, said that direct vote should be an example for other parties in the future.

"Back-room politics are always difficult," she said as the result of the vote was announced in Berlin. "The Greens are bringing democracy to life."

Greens polling 14 percent

The Greens currently hold 10.7 percent of the seats in the Bundestag. Leading Social Democrats have recently stated their preference for again forming a coalition government with the Greens in 2013, should the two parties pull together enough votes.

A recent survey by public broadcaster ARD put the Greens' share of the vote at 14 percent.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives scored 40 percent - their best showing since late 2007 - and the opposition Social Democrats 30 percent. Merkel's current coalition partner the pro-business liberal Free Democrats polled below the 5 percent threshold needed to enter parliament.

mz/ipj(dpa, AFP, dapd)

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