Berlin One brought the webcam into position with an ironing board, the other made do with a stepladder: Improvisation was in demand at the digital federal party conference of the Greens. For three days, the delegates discussed genetic engineering, the market economy and direct democracy in front of bookshelves and houseplants. The board of directors can be satisfied with the involuntary comedy of some video links, one or the other technical glitch and a massive delay. Largely at least.
Only when it was almost over did the top duo Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck pick up a setback: the party congress voted on Sunday afternoon to include a reference to the unconditional basic income in the party’s new guidelines. The federal board actually wanted to prevent that, it had spoken out in favor of a guarantee, which is tied to conditions. However, this concept also remained part of the program, so the two chairmen had to cope with the loss of the vote.
Especially in comparison to earlier party conventions, at which there were often violent arguments, it becomes clear that among today’s Greens, discipline and the will to power are greater than the desire for rebellion. In their new basic program, the Greens underline their government ambitions. Radical positions have been abolished. Pragmatism is the key ahead of the super election year 2021.
Transformation of the economy
The Greens are currently the smallest opposition faction in the Bundestag, but they have big plans. For the first time, said Habeck, a third party is seriously fighting for the leadership of this country. “I know it’s a high standard. A bold one, maybe a cheeky one. “
At the center of their ambitions: to reorganize the economic system, which “does not mean an overthrow”, but “pure self-protection” in view of the climate crisis, according to Baerbock. The Greens’ once cramped relationship with the economy has eased in recent years. The party offers itself to companies as a partner in the reconciliation of economy and ecology.
The attempt of some delegates to replace the term “socio-ecological market economy” in the basic program with “socio-ecological economy” failed. Nor was it questioned that economic growth is necessary and desirable – also in order to achieve the climate goals.
“Shrinking is not a solution,” said the economic policy spokeswoman, Katharina Dröge. Rather, it is about a fundamental economic change. “Production must become climate-neutral.” And of course growth is allowed, even urgently required, for example in the case of renewable energies.
The party also spoke out in favor of an active industrial policy. The economy, so Baerbock, needs clear conditions. “If the steel industry in Europe is to have a future, then it needs funding instruments for climate-neutral steel, a functioning CO2 price and prospects for which products this green steel will be used in the future.”
Of course, some rhetorical pats for the left wing were not missing: “We must finally put the well-being of the people at the center of our economic system instead of the profit maximization of individuals,” said Baerbock.
Kretschmann: “We need allies in business”
But the effort not to be perceived as an economic horror is now clearly visible in the Greens: The companies take away the people anyway, including coal miners and employees in the auto industry, that’s what they’re after. “Yes, we are fighting for more bicycles, but we are not demonizing the car, we are modernizing it and making it CO2-free,” said parliamentary group leader Anton Hofreiter.
Winfried Kretschmann, the only Prime Minister of the Greens, promised to be ready to talk. “We need allies in business,” emphasized Kretschmann. “For this we have to make compromises,” declared the head of government of Baden-Württemberg. “In the end, it’s about what we can do, not what we’d like to do.”
For a long time the Greens had a reputation for being anti-technology. But the party is trying to cast off the old image. A compromise was even found on the irritating topic of genetic engineering: the Greens agreed that “freedom of research” must also apply in agriculture.
The skepticism about the use of genetic engineering remains, of course. The aim must be, on the one hand, to guarantee freedom of research and, on the other hand, to exclude dangers to humans and the environment during use, says the future basic program.
The motion to ban returns in the real estate industry has also been ironed out. Here, too, the call for change is loud, but not in the brutal way: “We want to regulate and set guard rails, but not choke anything,” said the housing policy spokesman for the Green parliamentary group Chris Kühn.
Party leader Habeck said that “companies like Amazon and Facebook are still evading taxes, even though they benefit from our public infrastructure,” is no longer acceptable. “And yes, those who have very high assets and incomes will participate a little more than before in investing in our future.”
Criticism from the CDU
The transformation of the economy will cost a lot of money, the Greens know that. And that also explains why the party has its eye on the Treasury. From there, the party could implement the 500 billion euro investment program that it intends to launch for the next ten years.
Concepts like these call political opponents into action. Thomas Bareiß, Federal Government Commissioner for SMEs, considers many points in the Green program to be priceless. That puts a strain on the economy and endangers jobs, the CDU politician told the Handelsblatt. Nowadays in particular, the program ignores reality: “In the next few years, more than ever before, we need a policy that does not put additional strain on our economy and industry, but rather makes it strong and competitive.”
Bareiß also sees the Greens as far removed from the status of a people’s party. A people’s party must “take up the whole breadth of our lives,” said the parliamentary state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics. “The Greens are far from that.”
More: The Greens still have to work on these problems before the general election.