Greens rush to set agenda

SUDDENLY, EVERYBODY is in a hurry in Germany. Gerhard Schroder, winner of last Sunday's general elections, says he will be rushing to Berlin in April, five months before the government's scheduled move to the resurrected capital.

The Greens, too, are pressed for time. Even before the first meeting of their parliamentary group yesterday, several Green MPs were offering urgent advice to a government that has yet to be formed. "There must be very quick decisions, to make it clear that things are changing in Germany," said Claudia Roth, one of the new MPs.

Ms Roth, a former member of the European parliament and a leading representative of the Greens' fundi wing, the so-called fundamentalists, is especially impatient with her future coalition partners' dithering over nuclear power. "We need to legislate for the closure of nuclear plants, and we need to make it quite clear that some of these plants will be closed down immediately," she said.

She was speaking to The Independent shortly before joining her colleagues in the first meeting of the parliamentary party since the elections. Green MPs had conferred on Monday night, but are split along fundi and realo - the so-called pragmatists - lines.

How the 47 of them will combine, and how they can co- operate with Mr Schroder's Social Democrats have become the central questions in German politics. The answers will define the speed of Mr Schroder's progress through the minefields of government.

The early signs do not seem encouraging. The Greens' leadership yesterday demanded four out of 16 cabinet posts, one more than expected. They put employment and a new nationality law at the top of their list of priorities, followed by the eco-tax on petrol, and nuclear power.

The latter looks set to provide the sternest test for the coalition-builders. On this issue at least, Mr Schroder is in no haste. The SPD has pledged to "phase out" nuclear power, maybe over 10 years.

It had been expected that, in the spirit of give and take, some minor concession will be tossed to the Greens, perhaps by setting an earlier deadline. Parliament is elected for only four years, so in some ways Mr Schroder can promise over a 10-year span whatever he likes. But if the Greens stick to their guns, some real compromise might have to be struck.

In judging what the Greens will buy, Mr Schroder is hampered by the fact that not even Joschka Fischer, the Greens' de facto leader, knows what can be sold to his members. Although they have come a long way from their organic vegetable patches, the Greens remain an unconventional party. So unconventional, that their membership sets the party line, and the leaders have to toe it.

The structure of the party is diffuse and painstakingly democratic. Genders have to be balanced in every post, as do the regions and the two wings. The fundis are nowhere near as dogmatic as their predecessors 20 years ago, but they try hard to live up to the label. Half the team of 12 that sits down to negotiate with Mr Schroder on Friday are fundis.

Even then, the Social Democrats might not discover the Green bottom line. Ms Roth thinks, for instance, that even if Mr Fischer becomes Foreign Minister, her wing of the party will not be entirely reassured. "Foreign policy will be difficult," she says. "We have different ideas concerning the Bundeswehr, and security structures in Europe." They want to abolish conscription and to water down Nato's role.

The fundis have other ideas, too. They will not scupper a coalition deal, because the Red-Green project is too important for all participants, but they are certain to apply the brakes to Mr Schroder's progress.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people

Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PE Teacher, Full Time Role, Gillingham School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We are urgently seeking an exper...

Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Admin - £35,000 - 5 month FTC

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 5 month Fixed Term Contract - Telecommunicati...

Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester is seeki...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London