The Greens long ago shed their outsider status in German politics. But by distancing itself from some anti-globalization activists, the party risks losing its left-wing adherents, some say.
Attac protesters are usually at hand where powerful agencies meet
When it comes to the G8 summit, to be held this summer in the German resort of Heiligendamm, the Green Party’s curse may be the far-left’s blessing.
The ecology-based Greens are not players in the negotiations, but with their increasingly mainstream status -- they were part of the ruling coalition in Germany between 1998 and 2005 -- they appear to be shying away from the noisy and disruptive anti-globalization movement.
The new party TheLeft (DieLinke.) aims to profit from the Greens' slide to center
According to an article in Germany’s Welt Online, some 300 groups have plans to stage opposition demonstrations to the June 5 summit under the motto “A Different World Is Possible.” These range from the APPD (Anarchic Pogo Party of Germany) to the better-known groups like Attac and Greenpeace.
An initiative called “Paula” has promised a “well aimed violent demonstration” in a town nearby Heiligendamm. For the Greens, however, the overtly anti-capitalist actions pose a problem, leaving them to walk a fine line between being part of the policymaking establishment and alienating their left-wing membership.
When the Greens were in a coalition government with Gerhard Schröder’s SPD, a lot of the party’s left-leaning adherents felt obligated to make uncomfortable compromises. Now, the party risks losing these voters – peace activists, anti-nuclear activists, members of the women’s movement, for example – to an increasingly active German far left.
Roth, right, with anti-globalism protester, refused to sign the document
Meanwhile, Greens Chairwoman Claudia Roth recently refused to sign a letter calling for demonstrations against the summit, written by opponents of the Group of Eight industrialized nations. She cited “a serious difference of opinion on key sections” of the letter, Welt Online said.
Roth said the letter’s call to demonstrate was not as harmless as depicted. She especially opposed the part where it said the G8 was a “precursor to a world-order based on war.”
Attac, possibly the best known of the opposition groups expected to demonstrate against the G8, said it had Roth’s stance was "disappointing."
'One leg in the government'
Frauke Distelrath, a speaker for the group, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the Greens apparently "still had one leg in the government," and said she could not otherwise think of a reason why they would refuse to sign the call-to-demonstrate.
Trittin claims there is no split between Greens and other protesters
"On the one hand the Greens are looking to get back in touch with the social movement. On the other hand, they are sticking to their identity as a ruling party. They won’t even sign on to our harmless letter,” she said.
She noted that the fact that the Green party's youth organization and Green parliamentarian Hans-Christian Ströbele had, indeed, signed the plea, made it clear that the Green party was internally at odds.
Trittin denies break
Roth’s party colleague Jürgen Trittin, Germany's former environment minister, told Welt Online that he saw no serious break between the Greens and other G8 opponents.
“There is 90 percent agreement between us and most other activists,” he said.
The Greens plan to use the G8 summit as a forum to demand action on climate protection, ending poverty, and dismantling trade barriers – just like other activists, Trittin said.
Security measures are being made for the G8 summit in Heiligendamm
He denied that the Greens are worried about advances from the far left, which he characterized as being "too internally at odds to pose a danger to us."
Meanwhile, the new far-left party, TheLeft, a grouping of the former communist party of East Germany and many disaffected left-wing Social Democrats, does appear eager to take advantage of the dispute between the Greens and the anti-globalization forces. Their parliamentary party chiefs, Gregor Gysi and Oskar Lafontaine, signed the document -- despite their own misgivings about certain passages.
Since getting seats in the German Parliament at the end of 2005, TheLeft has established a "contact point for extra-parliamentary movements," aimed at trying to create more dialog with groups like Attac.