After several hours of intense debate over a nuclear power plant, the Green Party rank and file voted to support the coalition agreement with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s ruling Social Democrats.
Joschka Fischer is all smiles after his party endorsed the coalition agreement
Despite heated discussion over a decision to prolong the life of an aging nuclear power plant, a large majority of Germany’s Green Party voted to back the coalition agreement, which sets out the government’s plans for the next four years.
A number of the 700 delegates gathered for the two-day party congress in Bremen voiced their criticism over a deal with the Social Democrats to extend the life of Germany’s oldest nuclear power station in Obrigheim for another two years. In the last legislative period, the Greens had been successful in pushing through a moratorium on atomic energy plants, and the announcement that one of the oldest plants would continue running frustrated many hard-liners in the environmental party. But their opposition was not strong enough to override the general consensus that a continuation of the red-green coalition government was worth supporting.
Party co-leader Fritz Kuh, admitted that Obrigheim had cast a dark shadow over the congress and that debate on the issue had been one of the "toughest moments" of the coalition talks. However, he said it should not jeopardize the future cooperation with the new government.
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer also spoke to the delegates and urged them to fully embrace a second term for the red-green coalition. He stressed that it was the only way to keep Germany on a Green agenda:
"This is not about fulfilling all the wishes of the Green Party," he said on Friday. "I share many of those same wishes. We have pushed through many of these wishes in the coalition agreement. But the biggest challenge for us now is rising unemployment. Do we have the strength to help Germany regenerate? Can we give Germany a future."
The resounding answer from the grassroots was yes. The Greens would endorse the coalition and help revive Germany’s struggling economy, reduce the level of unemployment, and continue to work for more environmentally-friendly laws.
The Social Democrats meet on Sunday for their own party congress, where they too are expected to vote on the coalition agreement. Once this happens, it will pave the way for Gerhard Schröder to be re-elected chancellor in parliament on Tuesday.