The Graying of the German Greens

The Graying of the German Greens

Pity the fate of the graying Greens. Germany is full of this sad—and perhaps politically endangered—species. The “antiparty” that emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a synonym for youthful vigor has become just another political party—nearly as boring and encrusted as the old-line parties. A product of post-World War II Germany’s “baby-boomers,” the Greens never got the knack of capturing the support of the “babybust” cohorts born after 1967.

Partly, the Greens have been the victims of their own success. When everybody is more or less “green,” maintaining the distinctiveness of the Green party is no easy trick. But, beyond this “crisis of consensus,” the German Greens face other troubles. Like the other political parties in West Germany, they were caught napping by the collapse of communism and abruptness of reunification. But whereas the other parties could reactivate dormant nationalistic or patriotic elements of their traditions as the drama of re-unification unfolded, the Greens were stuck with their own carefully cultivated rootlessness and antinationalism. In fact, the Greens had always vehemently denied obvious historical parallels of their antimodernism to classic German romanticism and even some Nazi ideology.

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