It is not a classic party conference appearance, but rather a televised address to the nation: “Dear people on the screens,” Annalena Baerbock begins her speech on Friday evening. The Green leader is on a stage in the Berlin Tempodrom, the “broadcasting center” for the party conference. And of course it has to do with the digital format that Baerbock sounds more worn than usual.
But it is also because it strikes a different note. Baerbock, like her co-chairman Robert Habeck the day after, is also aimed at an audience beyond the green milieu. “With our new basic program we are making an offer for you, for you, for all of us,” she says.
Habeck also raises questions beyond party politics, warns of a division in society in the Corona crisis. The pandemic increases centrifugal forces, increases social gaps and increases irritability. The common ground of society was “dried up” and had “cracked”.
Unlike in the USA, a ditch “dividing the country in half” should not form. It is the task of the Greens to form a policy “that recalibrates the systems of our social coexistence”.
Greens decide on new basic program
The Greens actually wanted to meet this weekend in Karlsruhe to decide on the new basic program – in the city where the party was founded 40 years ago. But the corona pandemic did not allow the meeting in a city hall.
Instead, the digital party congress, at which around 800 delegates can join in via video. It becomes a mixture of a professionally staged television show and a completely normal party congress with speeches, counter-speeches and agenda debates.
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The Greens go to the party congress a year before the general election with a good dose of self-confidence. “We are fighting for the majority in this country,” says federal manager Michael Kellner. In the green cosmos, power was often a “yuck term”, says Habeck. But now the party is fighting for its solutions for power.
“Every time has its color” is written on the wall behind the stage in the Tempodrom. The bright green letters make it clear which color this is from the perspective of the Greens.
“With our high standards, we also expect others to do something”
Baerbock and Habeck not only clearly formulate their claim to power. At the same time, they demand more understanding for those who are afraid of socio-ecological change. “Change, innovation and movement are not a promise for everyone, but also an imposition for many,” says Baerbock.
The more “fragile” and “injured” life is, the more changes would be perceived as a “threat”, says Habeck. “With our high standards, we also expect others to do something.”
It is a message that is also addressed to critics of the Greens from the “Fridays for Future” climate movement, for whom the party is no longer radical enough. Even if the Greens should achieve 20 or 30 percent in the federal election, they could not build a socio-ecological market economy alone, says Baerbock.
In a democracy, you need majorities, basic acceptance and the willingness of people to participate. “If we want to curb global warming, if we want to leave senseless new autobahn construction behind us,” says Habeck, “then we will not put ourselves above the law, we will create the majority to change laws.”
Nocturnal compromise on climate protection
How radical the Greens should be when it comes to climate protection – this question was controversial in the run-up to the party. This was tied to the handling of the Paris Climate Agreement, in which 195 states committed to limit global heating to well below two degrees, if possible to 1.5 degrees.
For some Greens, the party leadership’s commitment to the Paris Agreement did not go far enough; they wanted to make the 1.5 degree mark the “benchmark of politics”. But Baerbock contradicts right at the beginning of the party congress: “Shaking the Paris Treaty – no matter how well it is meant, prevents us from finally filling it with life together.”
It could have been a delicate vote for the Greens, but in nightly negotiations a compromise can be negotiated. It is “necessary to get on the 1.5 degree path”, is the formulation with which “Fridays for Future” activist Luisa Neubauer, who otherwise does not spare her party with criticism, can live well.
The fact that the party leadership could instead face defeat on the question of whether the Greens would vote in favor of referendums at the federal level is seen with a certain serenity. After all, a digital party congress also needs some kind of outlet for the delegates.