The German Greens have submitted for the first time in their history a candidacy for Chancellor: Annalena baerbock. It is not a mere gesture or political strategy. According the surveys, The Greens will go from 8.9% of the vote obtained in 2017 to 25% in the next September elections, which would make them the first force in the country and a key piece of a future coalition government either with the Social Democratic Party or with the Christian Democratic Union of the current Chancellor Angela Merkel, which they do not rule out.
“Since their entry into the Bundestag in the 1980s, the German Greens have historically been the most powerful party in the European green space and the one in which we have looked at the Greens in Spain,” he says Florent marcellesi, co-spokesperson of Verdes Equo and former deputy of the European Greens.
“The Germans play a driving role for the rest of the green space in other countries. If the polls are fulfilled, it would have a huge impact throughout Europe. For the first time a country would be led by the greens. And not just any country, but the locomotive political and economic situation of the EU. It would lead to a very strong upward price for the sister forces of the German Greens, starting with Spain “, he says.
Ernest Urtasun, vice president of the group The Greens / European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, agrees: “The German Greens are the most important party in the European green family. What happens in Germany always has an impact on the rest. of social democracy in much of Europe, although not so much in Spain, is largely due to the entry into crisis of the German SPD and, without a doubt, a rise like the one we are seeing in Germany can have a very important impact even on countries where the greens so far are not very developed. “
Baerbock, 40, has all the ballots to be part of the next German government. However, Germany will not be the only European country with the Greens in the Executive. They are currently ruling in coalition in six countries: Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden and Ireland.
The green wave hit hard in the last European Parliament elections in 2019, in which went from 50 to 74 MEPs
In last week’s UK elections, the Greens won the best results ever. “We are going from being the biggest of the small parties to being one of the great ones,” said Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the formation. “In the polls we have already surpassed the liberal democrats and in these elections we have seen that there are no areas where the Green Party cannot win.”
“There has been a political realignment in which new issues have emerged. The left-right axis is no longer the only one and there is a new, more post-materialist sociocultural axis. This axis makes a part of the electorate more likely to vote for issues such as gender equality, minorities, conciliation, the environment … They propose a change in the moderate economic model and combine it with a progressive agenda in social terms “, says Luis Cornago, political risk analyst at Teneo.
“The economic consensus in the West is shifting and many of the issues that could once be radical are now more mainstream: industrial policy, investment, digitization … the world changes and it does so in a sense favorable to greens, “says Cornago.” Many of the issues that, for example, the IMF and the OECD are putting on the table are being covered by the greens. “.
The emergence of this new post-materialist political axis is what also explains the rise of the extreme right in recent years, according to the analyst. “Both parties emerge and develop around cultural issues. Issues such as integration, the environment, migration … They are very important to both, although they have radically opposite views.”
According to Urtasun, “the green vote is largely a reaction vote to the rise of the extreme right.” “Many people have found in an open, cosmopolitan, feminist and rights defender ballot the best ballot to confront the extreme right. I do not think that they are two phenomena that work in parallel, but I do dare to say that the green vote it is largely nourished by an anti-fascist vote. “
“The first and most obvious reason for this rise is the growing concern of European citizens about climate issues. All the mobilization of young people in recent years has had an influence,” says Urtasun. “It is also helping them to be a strongly European voice and the entry into crisis of the social democracy in many countries, which has not been able to adapt to the challenges of the 21st century. In many cases that progressive vote is migrating towards the greens.”
Another great reason for the rise is that they are no longer “single issue” parties. “The growth of the greens is explained in large part because they have ceased to be the party of an issue. Their founding theme, ecology, makes them strong because it is on the agenda and worries, but that alone does not explain their growth. Green were conceived exclusively as a vote for the defense of the environment, they would not have the level of vote that they have now, “says Urtasun. Cornago agrees: “It has much more to do with structural changes in contemporary electoral systems that go beyond the environment.”
The green wave hits, above all, in central and northern Europe, while in the south it has not arrived with such force. “It is not so marked in these countries generally because it is a region where material issues continue to have much more weight. Social problems are bigger and the welfare state is smaller. There perhaps the greens have lacked to be more competitive. “says Urtasun. Cornago points in the same direction: “This second dimension of socio-cultural issues has been less relevant in southern countries, although now it is growing.”
“In the south, the green wave has taken longer to arrive for mainly historical reasons, due in Spain, for example, to the late arrival of democracy and the engulfment of green in the post-communist space,” says Marcellesi.
“The French left, for example, is much more productivist, more pronuclear, than the Spanish and that has made the environmental movements not feel represented by the traditional left. In Spain it is different because that traditional left and the unions have been more sensitive to the environmental issue, causing environmental energies to be channeled through these parties, “adds Urtasun.
But for Marcellesi, that is over: “With the Madrid elections, Spain has fully aligned itself with the rest of Europe. The 4M is a historic turning point: with 17% and 600,000 votes, a green candidacy, made up of More Madrid and Verdes Equo are the main opposition force. The green wave has also reached Spain. “
In Spain, the candidacy of Más País led by Íñigo Errejón is trying to position itself as a party comparable to the European Greens.
“They want to occupy that space, but at the moment they have not been very successful at the national level,” says Cornago. However, “the way in which Más Madrid is emerging fits in with the emergence of green forces in other countries starting at the local level,” he explains. “In the short term it is not clear if this space exists in Spain. Until now, the differences between Iglesias and Errejón were more on a strategic than ideological level. Over time, More Country can win that space, but they have to uncheck themselves and they are trying to do so. “.
The alternative option to the current political landscape could be a trump card.
“The greens are in an ideal situation to occupy a central role in European and Spanish politics. Faced with a social democracy in an identity and electoral crisis, they dispute the political hegemony of those who do not conform to injustice and unsustainability. They are the new hope. of the XXI century “, affirms Marcellesi.
Urtasun has the same vision: “We are working to become the great European force of the 21st century, that is our ambition. If the Europe of the 20th century was led by the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats, who were the two great European families, the great force destined to The Greens are the protagonists of European politics in the 21st century. We are knowing how to connect much more with the challenges of the 21st century than the traditional parties, “he concludes. “There is no limit to our growth and the possibility of governing in Germany would break another taboo, and that is that we are not a party of government culture.”