Digital party congress: Against the will of Habeck and Baerbock: Greens want unconditional basic income
Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck have been trimming the Greens on government since they were party leaders. The party congress for the new basic program becomes the yardstick. Will it be possible to take a lot of people with you – and still stay green?
She stands there in brilliant white and says: “Do not be afraid.” She could also have said “Don’t be afraid”, but it is apparently supposed to be a quote from the Bible when Annalena Baerbock wants to lure conservative voters to the Greens, and reassures her: “This climate revolution is about as crazy as a building society loan agreement.” Robert Habeck solicits with a serious face for understanding for the car maker, the coal worker, the farming family.
The two Greens bosses set the tone in their speeches at the weekend – not only for the digital federal party conference and the new basic program, but for the coming year. In autumn 2021, the former protest party wants to return to government after 16 long years in the opposition in the federal government, preferably also to the Chancellery.
Delegates vote against the will of the federal executive committee for the unconditional basic income
If that is to work, CDU sympathizers must also be eligible for election in the federal government, not just in some countries. Even the left-green Anton Hofreiter assures by video message: “We don’t demonize the car, we modernize it.”
The party congress also shows that the balancing act between the vision of a “socio-ecological turnaround” and the embrace of bourgeois voters is not easy. Shortly before the end of the event, the delegates vote against the will of the board for the “orientation on the central idea of an unconditional basic income” – which sends shivers down the conservatives’ backs.
The concept of guarantee protection, which party leader Annalena Baerbock had again advertised at the party congress, remained part of the program.
The “guarantee protection” should replace Hartz IV from the perspective of the Greens. “It protects against poverty and guarantees the socio-cultural subsistence level without sanctions,” says the adopted text. The security should “apply without further conditions to every person whose own financial means are insufficient” – that is, it should not be paid unconditionally. The idea of the unconditional basic income, on the other hand, provides that everyone gets it.
Now party leader Robert Habeck is also talking about power
Brief reality check: 18 to 20 percent, 17 to 19 percentage points behind the Union – it’s not as if the Greens already have a foot in the door to the Chancellery. But they want to sound like that and next year they will attack the lead wolves of the CDU and CSU as an underdog.
You have been talking about leadership and design for a long time. Now party leader Robert Habeck also speaks of power. That is a “yuck term” in the party, but it comes from “doing”, he says. “We work optimistically on solutions. And for these solutions we fight for power.” Something would have happened a good 40 years ago when the Greens were founded in 1980. But Habeck and Baerbock gave the whole process the headline: “New times, new answers.”
When the technology fails, the chairmen tell jokes
Almost nothing is like anything else at this federal delegates’ conference, as it is called in the Green jargon. No applause, cheers or angry murmurs, no knitting delegates in long rows of tables, no family reunion atmosphere. Instead of on a party conference stage, Baerbock and Habeck move in a kind of television studio with a backdrop.
In a retro living room corner with a sofa, floor lamp, plant and photos on the wall, two moderators fill the breaks that arise during the online voting – and the chairmen tell jokes shortly before midnight when the technology goes on strike. If you want to applaud, send hearts and sunflowers in the live stream – there is no symbol of displeasure.
In the middle of his statement, Trittin has a mini outburst of anger
All others are only connected via videos. The party congress provides insights into living rooms, kitchens and desk niches; the picture shows rainbow flags, children’s drawings, books and woodchip wallpaper. Sometimes the sound is missing, sometimes the picture falters, Jürgen Trittin has a mini outburst of anger because he hears himself speaking with a delay.
But at least the principle works: speech, counter-speech, voting, for three days. Parties that still have this ahead of them in the corona pandemic will have taken a closer look this weekend. Although delegates do not have to travel, the party congress with its complex technology costs more than the usual 500,000 to 600,000 euros, reports Federal Managing Director Michael Kellner.
At least when it comes to climate protection, it is clear that the conflict will continue.
The intensive negotiation behind the scenes is also part of it, as at normal party congresses – on Saturday, Baerbock still manages to avert an open dispute and the threat of defeat on ambition for climate protection. The controversial issue of NATO is cleared away by compromise, as is an application by the Green Youth to the police. Otherwise, the party leadership can be satisfied overall. It wins most of the votes, including the triple-step farewell to the blanket no to modern genetic engineering in agriculture.
At least when it comes to climate protection, however, it is obvious that the conflict will continue. The climate activist from Fridays for Future washes the party’s head and says: “You know that what we say is right and vitally important.” And then Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann said that not only good ideas are needed, but above all majorities, and you can get them not just by referring to climate research.
There is almost no political competition among the Greens
It is no longer new that the traditionally belligerent Greens prefer to resolve their conflicts internally and demonstrate unity to the outside world. Or deliberately stage conflicts – as when many celebrities compete against each other on the subject of referendums at the federal level, Habeck together with veteran Jürgen Trittin on the other hand, federal manager Michael Kellner and the Bavarian young star Katharina Schulze for this. Incidentally, the Habeck / Trittin tandem prevailed, albeit by a narrow margin, so the basic program now calls for citizens’ councils, but not referendums.
There is almost no political competition among the Greens. Baerbock dedicates exactly one sentence to Union and SPD in their speech, Habeck does not even mention them. It’s not a coincidence. While the conservatives warn against a red-red-green bogeyman, the left against a black-green, the greens speak of themselves – and of their content. Coalitions play just as little a role this weekend as the eternal question of the candidate for chancellor. Whether left or middle or middle-class, the Greens are one thing, at least at the moment: pretty disciplined. When it’s not about the basic income.
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