Berlin Greens success in state elections

Berlin Greens success in state elections

worldby Mike Feinstein, advisor, International Committee of the Green Party of the United States

Just two weeks after the German Green Partyís Zukunfts-Kongress, Berlin, the capital of Germany, held elections for both city and state parliament. Painting itself as ìconstructive, creative and critical,î the Greens were the biggest winners in the election. The party went from 9.1% to 13.4% and from 14 to 24 seats, led by top-of-the-ticket candidate Franziska Eichstaedt Bohlig.

While the majority of the Greens gains came in proportional representation seats, four victories came in winner-take-all districts including three in alternative, left-leaning Friedrichshain Kreuzberg. By contrast, the Left Party/PDS was the biggest loser, falling from 22.6% to 13.4%. As a result the Greens ó who were also the only party with overall increases in the number of votes in an election with declining voter turnout ó argued they have the stronger mandate to govern in coalition with the Social Democrats, who received the highest number of votes with 30.8%.

Social Democratic Mayor Klaus Wowereit ruled out the possibility of a three-way, red-red-green coalition of the Social Democrats, the Left Party/PDS and the Greens. ìOne should avoid such a constellation if possible. It would be too complicated,î said Wowereit. But he declined to say if he would continue governing with the Left Party/PDS in a redred coalition or seek a new partnership with the Greens. ìWe have common ground with both parties,î he said.

On September 28, the Greens issued a press release stating the strong internal divisions within the Left Party/PDS make it unstable and unfit to govern, and that the Greens strong profile on environmental policy, integration, family and education, make it the coalition partner of choice for a majority of Berliners. If the Red-Green coalition in Berlin occurs, it will be the second in a major European city this year. Earlier a Social Democrat/Green government was formed in Amsterdam in March.

For more information: Green Party in Berlin www.gruene-berlin.de , Green Party in Berlin 2006 election platform

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