Germany's Green Party has achieved a string of record results in recent state elections. For the first time ever, the Greens are set to lead a state parliament - in the conservative stronghold of Baden-Württemberg.
Since it was established over three decades ago, the party has shaken off its flower child image and grown into a serious political force. For years it has been successfully working in coalitions on the state and national levels.
The ascent of the Greens is turning Germany's political landscape on its head. The Social Democrats are having to get used to being the junior partner in a red-green coalition. The conservative Christian Democrats have experienced a serious setback in their historical heartland - a blow that is leading them to reappraise policies once set in stone, such as their support of nuclear energy.
The success of the Greens can be partly attributed to Japan's nuclear emergency and the renewed debate this has sparked on the use of nuclear power in Germany. But many voters, even conservative ones, believe the Greens are the most trustworthy party when it comes to issues such as climate change, conservation and renewable energy.
Both old and young people joined protests against nuclear power, a costly railway development in Stuttgart, and for the development of renewable sources of energy. This has forced mainstream parties to rethink their positions. In the wake of Japan, Bavaria's state premier has promised to speed up the phase-out of nuclear power. Chancellor Angela Merkel says Fukushima has compelled her to reconsider her approach. Her party has also been looking at ways to address the concerns of Green voters. It is a time of upheaval.
Historic Election Gain - How Green is Germany?
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Friedrich Thelen - After earning his doctorate in law, in 1975 he took on the post of director at the German Development Service. Friedrich Thelen then worked as a journalist for the leading weekly newspaper "Die Zeit". In 1978 he switched to the business weekly "Wirtschaftswoche", where he began his career as the magazine's Bonn correspondent and bureau chief. Later he became the bureau chief of Wirtschaftswoche's Berlin office.
Paul Hockenos - The American author has lived in Europe since the mid-1980s and has observed the situation in the Balkans for the past twenty years. He writes for several American publications, including "The Christian Science Monitor", as well as for German newspapers. His two most important books are "The Rise of the Right in Post-Communist Eastern Europe" (1993) and "Homeland Calling: Exile Patriotism and the Balkan Wars" (2003).
Moritz Schuller - The German journalist grew up in Berlin. After studying classical philology in Oxford and comparative literature in Yale, he then started to work as a freelance journalist for the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" and “Die Welt”. In 2002 he joined Berlin’s daily “Tagesspiegel” as an editor. These days he is the responsible editor for the op-ed page and comments on current political developments.