BERLIN (AP) — The leaders of Germany’s environmentalist Green party urged their members Saturday to seize the chance to join the country’s next government so they can help tackle the challenge of climate change.
The Greens placed third in Germany’s national election last week with 14.8% of the vote. They are in a strong position to form a governing coalition under the first-placed Social Democrats and the pro-business Free Democratic Party, which came in fourth.
A coalition between the Greens, the Free Democrats and outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc is also possible, but currently regarded as less likely. Merkel’s party placed second in the parliamentary election with 24.1% of the vote, its worst-ever result.
One hitch for either coalition is the left-leaning Greens’ long-standing animosity toward the Free Democrats’ free-market ideology. Some commentators have described an alliance of the two parties as one between hippies and yuppies.
Robert Habeck, co-leader of the Greens, sought to sweep away delegates’ concerns Saturday at a post-election congress in Berlin. Habeck told them that alliances should be possible even between parties that don’t “think the same, feel the same, eat the same and sing the same songs.”
He acknowledged that debates in the coming months would strain the Greens but insisted it was worth the effort if the party ends up with a share of power.
“If we don’t act in a really dumb way, then we won’t just help carry the government in the next four years but have a decisive say in it,” said Habeck.
Annalena Baerbock, who ran as the Greens’ first candidate for chancellor in the Sept. 26 election, urged the party to be disciplined if its wants to join a government for the second time after its first stint with the Social Democrats from 1998 to 2005.
Back in 1998, the party was a “small partner” with a share of just 6.7% of the vote, she said. This time, Baerbock continued, the Greens are in a better position and will aim to “renew society” and help put Europe on course to become the first climate-neutral continent.
Germany’s four leading parties plan to hold a flurry of bilateral meetings over the weekend to sound out their respective positions before deciding which potential partners they want to begin formal coalition talks with.
Senior members have spoken of trying to form a new government before Christmas.