Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

German Green Grassroots Defeat Hierarchy

In a historic move at the weekend the grassroots activists of the German Green Party defeated the majority of the party leadership over the question of continued German involvement in Afghanistan.

There was an interesting article by Victor Grossman on this today in the Morning Star newspaper in Britain.

Grossman set the scene by referring to current Afghan deployments (that were supported by the German Green Party, causing debate and dissension in the German Party and more widely):

"So far, this has been limited to alleged reconstruction efforts by German soldiers in more pacified areas in the North of the country."

However, the Christian Democrat/SPD coalition Government is now "pushing the envelope" in favour of a more explicitly military occupational role:

"When the German government decided to send Tornado fighter planes to Afghanistan for 'reconnaissance purposes' which would involve targetting Taliban forces - and nearby civilians - it set the scene for a political battle in the Bundestag"

The Left Party opposed the plan but the other parties backed the government, with the exception of some independent minded Green and SPD members. The military intervention is now due for another vote, but Grossman says that the government, mindful of growing public opposition to the deployment thought up a great trick - they tied the decision to send troops for reconnaissance purposes with the decision to send Tornado fighter planes. The Greens now were left unable to support just the "humanitarian" side of the deployment and must vote for, against or abstain to the whole thing.

A special congress was forced and the leaders were prepared to compromise by letting those deputies who wished to abstain to do so, but then what Grossman calls a "virtually unknown" Party member called Robert Zion got a motion through saying that Green deputies should oppose any motion agreeing to Tornados being sent - with abstention allowed. This won a solid majority and incensed the Green Right who have continually worked to drag the Greens into soggy centrist redundancy. The rightist media and other parties have now launched attacks on the Greens - clearly worried that this show of defiance will spread to dissident members of the ruling parties, and that it legitimises the "ostracised" Left Party.

The government still looks likely to pass its' vote, but the Green shift is one of the best signs in a long time that the grassroots and left of the Green movement will not lie down forever to be walked on and used by careerists and crypto-neo liberals.

It remains to be seen if the left of the Greens in Germany are recovered enough to take on the economic drift to the right of their party, cheered as it is by everyone from the US New Republic to the British New Labourites whom the German "New Greens" seek to emulate.

Here is the report in Deutsche Welle

Here is a report more widely circulated, in its' Lycos News appearance.

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