Cem Özdemir led the party as co-chair for more than nine years and was the top candidate in the 2017 election. Delegates at the party convention in Hanover are set to elect fresh faces on Saturday.
Delegates from Germany's Green Party bid farewell to outgoing co-chairs Cem Özdemir and Simone Peter with a rousing applause at a party convention in Hanover on Friday.
Özdemir, who was elected to the post in 2008 and was one of the Greens' top candidates in the 2017 parliamentary elections, called on the party to remain open to the political center.
"We are a center-left force, but our doors are wide open," he said. "The Greens are not a party that walks away. We take our responsibility seriously."
Özdemir was a lead negotiator in the failed three-way exploratory coalition talks with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Chancellor Angela Merkel's bloc of Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) after the 2017 election. The talks ended after FDP leader Christian Lindner walked out in November.
Read more: Germany's Green party: How it evolved
Against a 'conservative revolution'
Peter, a former environment minister in the German state of Saarland, said the Greens needed to position itself against a "conservative revolution" in upcoming regional elections.
The head of CSU parliamentary group, Alexander Dobrindt, wrote a controversial op-ed in German daily newspaper Die Welt at the beginning of January calling for a "conservative revolution" in German politics.
The 52-year-old Peter also criticized the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) for failing to get significant concessions in exploratory coalition talks with Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU alliance. The SPD voted to enter full coalition talks with the CDU/CSU on Sunday.
Simone Peter called on her party to resist a "conservative revolution" in upcoming regional elections
Party delegates are set to elect two new co-chairs on Saturday.
Robert Habeck, the environment minister in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein; Annalena Baerbock, a member of the Bundestag from the state of Brandenburg; and Anja Piel, the head of the Lower Saxony state parliamentary group are the three frontrunners.
Party members voted in favor of allowing Habeck, a popular figure in the party, to serve as part co-chair, if elected, and remain a state minister for a transition period of eight months. Party rules forbid chairs from holding government positions. Had he not received the two-thirds majority needed for the transition, Habeck said he would not run for the chair position.
amp/sms (dpa, AFP)