Greens roar back with Schröder's blessing

Ten thousand people are expected in the Marienplatz in central Munich tomorrow night, and there could be more. The guest is no rock star but, four days before Germany's election, Joschka Fischer, leader of the Greens and Foreign Minister, is the next best thing.

The star quality of this former Sixties rebel attracts support far beyond the Greens' usual constituency. And if there is one smile broader than that of Chancellor Gerhard Schröd-er in Germany it is Mr Fischer's. On Sunday, he was given Mr Schröder's public endorse-ment at a rally in Berlin: if the coalition returns to power, he promises, Mr Fischer will keep the job he so palpably loves.

The Greens are enjoying their second spectacular revival. The first was their emergence from 15 years of almost terminal in-fighting to join Mr Schröder in government four years ago. Almost exactly 10 years have passed since the Greens' first high-profile leader, Petra Kelly, was found dead, apparently killed by her long-time lover, who killed himself.

The latest revival of the party's fortunes has been only a little less spectacular than its post-Kelly renaissance. Only three months ago, the prevailing view was that even if Chancellor Schröder managed by some miracle to be re-elected, he would need a new coalition partner. The Greens looked as though they might not receive enough votes to get back into parliament, let alone join a new government.

Now, the bets are only on whether they can exceed 8 per cent of the vote or will have to settle for 7. If Mr Schröder is re-elected, the Greens will return to government, too.

Blazing Mr Fischer's trail to Munich at the weekend was Renate Künast, the minister for Consumer Protection, Nutrition and Farming (the order is deliberate). Ms Künast, who endorsed Jerzy Montag, the Greens' parliamentary candidate for Munich South, embodies many of the reasons Germany's Greens have succeeded in government where other "alternative" parties often fail.

The 47-year-old social worker and lawyer achieves a rare combination for a politician – especially a female politician – of being transparently competent and well-liked. She talks straight, is prepared to compromise and stands up to lobby groups.

The Greens sell a T-shirt printed with a Friesian cow design and the legend "Cows prefer Kunast", a play on the German for cow and the first syllable of her name. Witty and often cheeky, the Greens' election propaganda is streets ahead of any other party's. Another poster shows Mr Fischer, in open-necked shirt and grey hair dishevelled, and says: "Minister on the outside, green on the inside". "Aussenminister" translates as "minister on the outside", but also means Foreign Minister.

Ms Künast was rapturously received at a restaurant next to a park in the Munich suburbs. Her audience of 300, a highly respectable group of all ages, from pensioners to teenagers, testified to the success of Germany's Greens in tapping into the mainstream and broadening their appeal.

One of the brochures available contains "The Greens' 10 greatest hits, 1998-2002", picturing "the band" (their cabinet), and their achievements in government, including an end to battery-chicken farming, increased investment in alternative energy, improved women's rights and higher family allowances.

Their four years in government have worked in their favour. They have adapted to taking responsibility and proved themselves shrewd political operators. They have maintained the loyalty of even their most idealistic supporters, while no longer scaring traditionalists. Their manifesto calls for a redivision of labour, with shorter working hours and more part-time work, as part of the solution to Germany's high unemployment.

Their priority this week, though, is to attract as many votes as they can to increase their bargaining power and make the "red-green" coalition "more green".

Immigration reared its head yesterday for the first time in the election campaign when Edmund Stoiber's centre-right alliance issued an "immediate" seven-point plan, headed "Less immigration, more integration". The plan called among other things for immigration to be "reduced to a tolerable level" and for deportation of failed asylum-applicants to be speeded up. Family reunification would also be curbed. The document was condemned by Mr Schröder as a "counsel of despair", reflecting his challenger's declining popularity.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
Latest stories from i100
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

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum