Friday, October 22, 2010

Germany's Green Party Eyes Two State Premierships

Never in its history has Germany's Green Party led one of the country's 16 states. Now, the party could come out on top in two state elections next year. Renate Künast's apparent intention to run in Berlin increases the Greens' chances in the capital.

Germany's Green Party has had a number of highs in its three-decade history. The party has long had a sizable contingent in the national parliament in Berlin. It has won mayoral battles in significant German cities. And it was even the junior coalition partner to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government, with then-Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer serving as the party's public face for years.

But the Greens have never managed to win a state election outright, nor have they ever posted a state governor in Germany. That, though, looks like it may soon change.

On Thursday, several German dailies are reporting that the Green Party's co-floor leader Renate Künast intends to challenge Berlin's Social Democratic Mayor Klaus Wowereit in city-state elections next September. The party has so far refused to confirm the reports, but speculation that Künast, a well-known political figure in Germany, would challenge Wowereit for the position of Berlin mayor had been rife for months. In the city-state of Berlin, the post of mayor is equivalent to governor in other states.

Because of Künast's national political significance, many feel that she will be able to capitalize on the Green Party's strong position in current public opinion polls. Currently, some 30 percent of Berlin voters say they would vote for the Green Party were elections held on Sunday, against 26 percent for the SPD.

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