Victorious German Greens mix eco-aims with realism
BERLIN - Germany\'s Greens pledged this week to push ecological issues to the fore after a late surge in support gave them their best ever general election result and saved Germany\'s centre-left government.
However, Joschka Fischer, the foreign minister and architect of their electoral triumph, promised the Greens would not \"flex their muscles\", implying he would continue to shepherd the party along a path of compromise.
Greens leaders met this week after the party had increased its share of the vote by almost two points to 8.6 percent from 6.7 four years ago, to prepare for fresh coalition negotiations with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder\'s Social Democrats.
Fritz Kuhn, one of the party\'s two leaders, said the key words in a coalition agreement would be \"ecology and justice\" and suggested the Greens would be pushing green policy rather than claiming an increase in their three ministerial posts.
\"We were voted on content and we will make this the core of our coalition discussions,\" he said.
Analysts said this meant a sharper focus on environmentally friendly transport, sustainable farming and renewable energy as well as a possible rise of energy tax.
\"I\'m sure the Greens will be trying to push through more of their programme than before... There could be some more reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,\" said Richard Stoess, political expert at Berlin\'s Free University.
But there was no escaping the fact that much of Greens\' triumph was due to Fischer, the revolutionary-turned-realist whose personal charisma the party traded on ruthlessly.
The Infratest dimap polling agency said almost a third of Greens voters had been swayed by Fischer alone.
With Fischer at the helm, compromise rather than ideology is likely to hold sway, particularly considering Schroeder\'s need to focus on the struggling economy.
Under his guidance, Greens fired with ecological enthusiasm upon entering the federal government for the first time in 1998 accepted that a phase-out of nuclear power could only come gradually, and modified their ardent pacifism.
Four years on, the party\'s election manifesto was vaguer than in 1998, with no proposed new rate of energy tax or plans to cut motorway speed limits.
But they still surpassed their eight percent pre-election target to remain Germany\'s third political force, and in power.
They also won their first outright constituency seat through anti-war campaigner Christian Stroebele, who drove a small electric car throughout his campaign.
Companies with an environmental edge saw their stocks gain after the Greens\' success. The wind power specialist Plambeck shot up 15 percent in Frankfurt, while the green energy firm Umweltkontor rose 3.3 percent.
In Oslo, the Norwegian bottle and can recycling group Tomra opened 12 percent higher on hopes of wider recycling in Germany after the election, but later fell back.
Story by Philip Blenkinsop
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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