Do the German Greens want to rule the world?

Party members want to scrub the word ‘Germany’ from their election manifesto.

Sabine Beppler-Spahl
Germany Correspondent

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Topics Politics World

‘Germany. Everything’s in it!’ That’s the title of the German Green Party’s manifesto for September’s federal election. Like everything else put forward by the Greens, we can assume that the title was carefully crafted by PR specialists. And yet there is a word in it that has caused a huge uproar ahead of the Green Party’s conference in June. That word is ‘Germany’. ‘Green politics should be based on human dignity and freedom in a globalised world. And not on Germany’, reads a motion supported by 300 delegates, demanding that the word Germany be deleted from the manifesto’s title.

With the Greens leading in the polls, this dispute has come in handy for the other parties. ‘You couldn’t make it up’, said Paul Ziemiak, secretary general of Angela Merkel’s CDU. Treating the motion as yet another example of a PC gone mad, Ziemiak listed some of the famous poems and songs which might have to be erased in future. CDU politician Gordon Hoffmann blamed the Green revolt on left-wing self-loathing: ‘If the Greens are so ashamed of Germany, why do they want to govern Germany?’, he tweeted.

These criticisms miss what is really behind the members’ revolt. The call to remove the word ‘Germany’ is more an illustration of the Greens’ missionary zeal rather than yet another example of cancel culture or political correctness. The Greens have always presented themselves more as a movement or a campaign than a political party. Traditional parties claim to represent the interests of a group of voters. The old Social Democrats, for instance, were formed to give working-class Germans a voice in parliament. The Greens, however, believe their mission is nothing less than saving the world.

Green supporters insist that their party stands above petty political squabbling. They see themselves as part of a movement for all that is right, good, and necessary. They don’t represent the narrow material interests of any one part of the population – they stand for ‘The Science’ and ‘The Planet’. Is it any wonder that, with such an inflated self-image, Green members claim they are doing politics for more than just the nation state? The issues that excite the Greens, such as climate change, do not respect national boundaries, and nor do they.

Of course, there is one small problem with this outlook. Although the German Greens present themselves as saviours of the whole world, they still have to be elected by the voters at home. Because of this minor inconvenience of national elections, the amendment was a bit of an embarrassment for the party’s leaders. They would have preferred the manifesto to have been nodded through with much less fuss. They know that to win the election they need to win over voters beyond their usual sympathisers. And these voters are unlikely to appreciate a manifesto that doesn’t even claim to have been written with them in mind. Most people still believe that political parties in a democratic state should represent the interests of them as individuals, of their group or the nation as a whole. Few want their political parties to represent the whole world.

While the Green leadership has spoken out against the motion, the party is clearly at home with the technocratic and globalist forms of government that have been emerging in recent decades. While it may sound ‘inclusive’ to speak for the world and not just Germany, what this really does is call democracy and citizenship into question. Greens and technocrats alike want to float above the nation state. They want to do politics free from the constraints of the demos. The voters should bear that in mind when casting their ballot.

Sabine Beppler-Spahl’s Brexit – Demokratischer Aufbruch in Großbritannien is out now.

Picture by: Getty.

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