Greens don't regret saying no to Jamaica

17th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

17 October 2005, OLDENBURG, GERMANY - Germany's Greens Party, which snubbed a chance to govern in coalition with chancellor designate Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, showed no regrets Saturday at a national congress that ushers in four or more years of opposition.

17 October 2005

OLDENBURG, GERMANY - Germany's Greens Party, which snubbed a chance to govern in coalition with chancellor designate Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, showed no regrets Saturday at a national congress that ushers in four or more years of opposition.

"For us, issues of political substance come ahead of issues of power," party co-chairman Reinhard Buetikofer told delegates at the conference in the northern German city of Oldenburg.

Formerly a party of militant ecologists and pacifists, the Greens became pragmatic during seven years as federal coalition partners of outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD).

Renate Kuenast, the retiring farm and food minister, who is to become parliamentary group leader in Berlin, told 750 delegates, "The Greens are not placing lonely-heart advertisements for a partner."

Instead the party was committed to being a resolute opposition pushing radical alternatives, she said.

Last month's German election left the Greens and SPD short of a majority. Merkel, as leader of the largest bloc, had the options of a 'grand coalition' with the SPD, which is now at the negotiation stage, or a tie-up with the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP).

The Greens scuppered the latter option in talks with Merkel on September 23.

Kuenast said the Greens remained closest to the Social Democrats, but like other leading Greens did not rule out a future coalition with Merkel's party. She said it had not worked out this time because of that party's pronounced pro-business stance.

The federal election marked the end of an era for the Greens, who had earlier gradually lost all their seats in Germany's state governments although their voter support has remained stable at 8 per cent nationally.

With the SPD eclipsed, the party must either hope for an SPD rebirth at the 2009 election, or contemplate a link with conservative parties. A paper on Green philosophy said the party stood for emancipation, the left, liberty and the preservation of values.

There was effusive praise Saturday for outgoing German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, the party strongman, who did not attend the congress. He says he will seek no new party office and will be retiring to the parliamentary back benches.

"Thank you Joschka for the last seven years," said Buetikofer to the absent Fischer. "We'll be staying together."

DPA

Subject: German news

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