Security through change: That is the message from the Greens at the digital party conference. Baerbock’s white dress causes a stir.
BERLIN taz | The man, black shirt, gray suit, strolls casually towards the TV camera, his gaze fixed on the audience, gesticulating with both hands. It is not Ingo Zamperoni from the daily topics, as one might briefly think, but Greens boss Robert Habeck, who speaks on the screen.
Nowadays, a modern politician needs the qualities of an anchoring, at least when a federal party congress is completely digitalized because of the corona pandemic. The Greens are facing this experiment this weekend: three days full of debates, a decision on the basic program – for this they have set up a television studio in Berlin’s Tempodrom.
Over 800 delegates follow the spectacle from home on Saturday, there is a live stream, a chat and an applause button with which they can let colorful sunflowers and hearts fly across the screen. There is also a 1970s corner with a brown velvet sofa and two professional moderators, and a corner in which Federal Managing Director Michael Kellner explains the formalities.
Quite a lot of new things, technically speaking, but the main content-related message has often been heard: The Greens finally, finally, want to rule. Habeck says: “Power – that was often a yuck term in our cosmos.” But power comes from doing. A society is formed, made. The Greens want to be the party that will take over after the 2021 federal election.
Habeck uses the trick of making his claim to power sound humble. Roughly: The Greens would take on the burden of leading because that’s how time is. That is nonsense, of course, but very modern at the same time. The whole green Twitter universe is full of self-praise, always presented in a tone of great modesty. Habeck speaks calmly, supporting the state, not passionately like on a stage with real people in front of it – that too is a concession to the strange format.
Habeck sends optimistic messages: “We can be a new us.” One thing that arguing, but based on a common reality. And he tries noticeably often to take up uncertainties in society. He speaks in detail about the effects of the corona pandemic on the individual – and finds a suitable picture for it.
“The common ground of our society has dried up, it has cracked, small clods have formed.” People lived in groups on these clods. When it rains heavily, such a soil can no longer absorb the water. “Then a ditch forms that divides the land in half.”
This is how the Greens see themselves in the meantime: No longer as an eco-avant-garde fighting for change from a niche. But as a force that holds the whole of society together. In the federal election campaign in 2021, the 20-percent-in-poll party also wants to fight explicitly for conservative voters – and challenge the Union in the competition for first place.
Respect for the coal worker
Accordingly, Habeck emphasizes that many people are afraid of loss. He lists examples: the car maker who fears she will be on the street in a few years, the coal worker whose open-cast mine is closing, the farming family who gives up the farm because they cannot keep up with the competition. “All of these people deserve answers and perspectives that guarantee them respect and dignity.”
It goes with Habeck’s tone of voice that the Greens are careful to stay connected to the mainstream. The best example is the climate protection policy: Annalena Baerbock defused a dispute in the climate protection policy in good time, so that a vote on Saturday afternoon, which was risky for the board of directors, was avoided. In the end, a compromise landed in the basic program.
The formulation behind which everyone gathered: The central basis of green policy is the Paris Climate Agreement and the IPCC report on the 1.5 degree limit. That makes it clear that every tenth of a degree counts in order to prevent tipping points in the climate system from being exceeded. “It is therefore necessary to get on the 1.5-degree path.”
Parts of the base had previously called for the climate targets to be formulated more sharply than the federal executive had proposed in its key proposal. In essence, it was about the question of whether the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era should become the “standard” of green policy. A corresponding amendment from the Mannheim district association should be voted on. The federal working group also argued in this direction.
Print from Fridays for Future
There is a bigger debate behind this: The climate activists of Fridays for Future have been accusing the Greens for a long time that their policies are not enough to meet the 1.5 degree target. You are not wrong with that. But the Greens are based on the Paris climate protection agreement. It provides for global heating to be limited to well below 2 degrees, if possible to 1.5 degrees. And so sets a corridor, not a fixed mark.
Luisa Neubauer from Fridays for Future welcomed the compromise on Twitter. “It’s never about bashing arbitrary parties. It’s about that all parties think about 1.5 degrees and the protection of our futures, ”she wrote. The Greens have taken an important step under pressure from social alliances. “Who’s next?”
Did Baerbock and Neubauer, the two women, bag the compromise? Neubauer could not be reached on Saturday. And Greens federal manager Michael Kellner neither wanted to confirm nor deny that when asked. There have been “diverse conversations with many people,” he said. How nice, it’s good to know.
Annalena Baerbock’s speech, which was scheduled for Friday evening, was more informative than Kellner’s press briefing. She too speaks more solemnly than usual – and stays close to her manuscript. She is preparing her party for difficult situations in the election year 2021. “We have to be honest,” she says, “we Greens cannot build a socio-ecological market economy on our own – not with 20 percent, not even with 30.”
Excitement about the white dress
In a democracy, you need majorities, basic acceptance and the willingness of people to participate. A central sentence of her speech is: “If we continue like this, we will lose our footing.” Only change creates security, this message comes from the Green leaders again and again – it should be decisive for the election year. It is not stupid because it brings together the Germans’ need for security and the will to reform.
The real excitement, however, is the white dress that Baerbock wears – at least on Twitter. Is it a conscious reference to Kamala Harris and the suffragette movement? The author Jana Hensel asks skepticallywhy Baerbock symbolically adorns herself with struggles for emancipation, “which as a white woman she never had to fight?”
Daniel Holefleisch, Baerbock’s husband, counters: The day before the party congress, Baerbock had taken a pink and a white dress out of the closet, “to have good contrasting colors to choose from against the very dark background this time.”
So coincidence? Or a perfidious trick by the Baerbock / Holefleisch team, a conscious but publicly denied allusion? We won’t find out. Unfortunately, you don’t meet people at a digital party conference that you could ask in confidence. And to call someone for that would be too stupid.