Greens incur wrath of Joschka Fischer

Former German foreign minister attacks party for ‘disastrous’ election that led to mass resignations at top

Former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer has attacked his Green Party for a "disastrous" election campaign that has prompted mass resignations at the top.

Mr Fischer, who declined to campaign for the party ahead of Sunday’s poll, accused the departing generation of leaders of being “older but not grown up” and making the “fatal error” of “reducing the party to a leftist path”.

“Instead of talking about the environment, Europe, education and families we just talked about taxes and levies,” he said, claiming the strategy “not only won no new voters but put off many old ones”.

After reaching opinion poll highs above 20 per cent in recent years, the Greens finished Sunday’s election on 8.4 per cent, down from 10.7 per cent in 2009.


Germany’s 2011 decision to exit nuclear power, Green demand for three decades, left the party searching for new policies. It focused on a social justice platform, demanding a minimum wage and higher taxes for top earners.

However the party spent most of the campaign on the defensive, insisting that 90 per cent of Germans would not be affected by their tax plans.

Another suggestion, for a weekly “Veggie Day” in work canteens, left leaders accused of prescriptive politics.

A final blow came with revelations that Green campaign leader Jurgen Trittin, as a young party campaigner in 1981, had signed off on a pamphlet backing the decriminalisation of non-violent sexual activity between adults and children. Mr Trittin has expressed regret for his move and, yesterday, announced he would stand down as Bundestag floor co-leader.

Following him out the door: Renate Kunast, who served alongside Mr Trittin in the Bundestag, and Green Party co-leader Claudia Roth. The clearout of an entire generation of Green Party leaders after the election debacle has sparked a new round of inner-party wrangling between the party's left-wing "fundi" wing and the more centrist, pragmatic "realos".

MEP and Green "realo" Rainer Butikofer accused Mr Trittin, considered a "fundi", of running an egotistical election campaign. "The failure of (SPD) and Green to challenge Chancellor Merkel for authority in European politics allowed her a political hegemony that later was unshakeable," said Mr Butikofer told Der Spiegel.

The outgoing Green Party leaders have suggested the party still needs to consider its political options. Ms Roth suggested the party should listen carefully should an approach for coalition talks come from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin