Across most of Europe, Green parties are middling political forces, periodic junior partners in coalitions or the occasion to cast a protest vote for disgruntled left-wingers. And yet in prosperous Germany, Annalena Baerbock could well be Angela Merkel’s successor at the chancellorship. Formed at the dawn of the environmental and anti-nuclear geist of the 70s, the party was in principle opposed to capitalism, NATO and the very idea of having armed forces (Bundeswehr). Fast forward to today and the the Greens have become mainstream and established. In ten of the sixteen länders, they are junior coalition partners with the far-left, the S&D, the liberals or the Christian democrats. They even lead the regional government of the traditionally right-wing state of Baden-Württemberg, a proof that the once fringe party has the chops to seduce conservative voters. With the upcoming federal race in September, a return to the federal executive seems likely, perhaps even as a senior coalition partner. What’s behind the Greens’ surge, and what could it mean for the broader European landscape? Back with us to answer is Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer and Sudha David-Wilp, deputy director of the German Marshall Fund’s Berlin Office.
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