Germany's Greens jettison principles

CANNABIS WILL not, after all, be legalised in Germany, the turbines of nuclear plants are unlikely to judder to a halt in the near future and the autobahns will continue to be speed tracks.

But after a week of climb-downs, the rank-and-file Greens drew a line in the sand yesterday, rebelling against their leaders' newly discovered militarism. Their leaders had agreed that if necessary the Serbs could be bombed, even by the Luftwaffe.

But even this uprising, rendered devoid of meaning after Nato's agreement with Belgrade, was less debilitating than expected.

Joschka Fischer, the party's leader and now certain to become Germany's next foreign minister, had managed to persuade 28 of his 48 members in the outgoing parliament to back Germany's participation in any punitive mission against the Serbs. Only nine Greens voted against, and another eight abstained. Despite being given a free vote, the majority of the parliamentary party endorsed Mr Fischer's tightrope act.

The vote marks the heaviest defeat yet for the Greens' "Fundi" wing. Their leader, Ludger Volmer, had urged his colleagues to resist authorising Nato action in Kosovo, which he said would be "in contravention of international law".

Yesterday, the Greens and Germany with them crossed the Rubicon. After the refusal to participate in the Gulf War, and its very late arrival on the Balkan scene, Germany now seems ready to play as full a part in Nato as any other normal member.

The climbdown over Kosovo also illustrates how quickly the Greens have been shedding their ideological baggage in their rush to reach the highest offices of Germany.

Less than three weeks ago, when they found themselves in negotiations for government posts after the Social Democrats' stunning electoral triumph, the Greens were clutching a long list of demands. Almost all have been either watered down, or tossed into the waste-bins.

Walking the thin dividing line between compromise and cave-in, Mr Fischer has found himself pushed systematically towards the latter.

So smoothly have the coalition talks been proceeding from the Social Democrats' point of view, that Gerhard Schroder, the future Chancellor, has had more trouble containing the ambitions of his colleagues than those of the Greens.

As the negotiations continue into the weekend, it is already clear that most of the Green booby-traps have been defused. Thus, on motorway speed limits, a cause very close to Green hearts, there appears to be no compromise in sight. Mr Schroder said "no speed limits", and it looks as though there will be none.

The Greens will be given the Health Ministry, but no cannabis will be available, with or without prescription.

And on the life-and-death question of nuclear power, Mr Fischer's team extracted a mighty fudge from their coalition partners. The "Fundis" wanted the immediate closure of some nuclear plants. The "Realos", led by Mr Fischer, expected, at the very least, a set timetable for closures, beginning in the life-time of the new parliament. What they got in the end was a one-year moratorium, during which negotiations are to be conducted with the nuclear industry. After that, they will have more talks about setting deadlines for the 19 plants that supply one-third of Germany's electricity.

Jurgen Trittin, the Greens' Environment minister, suggested that some power plants will be phased out in the next four years, but he appears to have received no cast-iron guarantees to that effect.

The Greens were also forced to sacrifice some of their dreams of granting German nationality to children of Germany's long-term foreign residents. Under the deal reached, the automatic right will be extended only to the third generation of immigrants, although even that, with the easing of nationalisation rules, will create up to three million German "foreigners". Although this agreement is exactly on the Social Democrats' terms, the Greens are happy to present it as a "compromise".

Whether Mr Fischer can sell the entire package to his more militant grassroots will be seen next weekend, when the Greens hold an emergency conference. But so far he has got away with it, and there is every indication that the "Realos" are in the ascendancy.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Midsummer swimwear season is well and truly upon us – but diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice