Baden-Wurttemberg: A Green-led government?

The state assembly election this Sunday in Baden-Württemberg has a decent chance to result in Germany’s first state premier from the Green Party.

The state has been led by the Christian Democrats, the party of German federal Chancellor (PM) Angela Merkel, for nearly 60 years. The party has slid in polls nationally recently, down to around 33%, according to Spiegel. Among the issues contributing to the slide, in addition to a plagiarist ex-minister, is the government’s stance on nuclear power. It recently announced a temporary shutdown of seven nuclear reactors in response to the Fukushima crisis. In Baden-Württemberg, the political problem for premier Stefan Mappus and his CDU is even especially acute:

Mappus’ problems, however, go beyond his party’s sinking numbers nationwide. The Baden-Württemberg governor, after all, has long been a firm, even boisterous, supporter of nuclear energy. Last year, as Merkel’s government was preparing legislation to extend the lifespans of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors, Mappus even went so far as to hint that Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen — a CDU party ally — should resign due to his reluctance to support the extension.

The combined Green-Social Democratic vote could be larger than that of the CDU and its partner the Free Democratic party.

Current polls show that even though the CDU can still count on 38 percent support on Sunday, it may not be enough to keep Mappus in power. His current coalition partners, the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), stand at 6 percent in the polls. The Social Democrats and the Green Party, for their part, add up to 47 percent support — three points ahead of the CDU-FDP alliance — with recent Green gains suggesting it may be possible that the party could claim the state’s governorship.* It that happens, it would be a first for the Greens in Germany.

The Greens and Social Democrats (SPD) are close in the poll, at 25% and 22%, respectively; the Green gain is 5 points in the past week (The Local).

The Green Party’s strength is not only due to Fukushima, as it has been gaining for months due to its leading of the opposition to a controversial redevelopment project in Stuttgart, the state capital.

If the Greens pass the SPD and the SPD-Green combo is greater than the CDU-FDP combo, the Green leader could become premier. That’s two “ifs” and both races are close. This will be one to watch.

Aside from some municipalities, is there a government anywhere that has been led by a Green chief executive?

* Contrary to Spiegel, I prefer “premiership,” as that captures the fact that the state executive emerges from and is dependent upon the assembly majority.

15 thoughts on “Baden-Wurttemberg: A Green-led government?

  1. MSS, I assume your question is referring to national and provincial governments, but if it can include local governments – there are several local councils in NSW and Victoria with Green Mayors. Byron Bay and Marrickville come to mind.

    • “Aside from some municipalities” was a phrase I inserted because I was aware of some local executives in Australia, and possibly Germany. So, yes, I meant national and state/provincial.

  2. There is at least one case. Indulis Emsis from the Latvian Green Party was Prime Minister for ten months in 2004.

    • Well, had I only searched my own biographical database on executives, I would have known about the Latvian Green PM! Just to be on the safe side, I did what I should have done in the first place: search the data base (n=905). Emsis is the only one with the word “green” in his or her party’s name. (I suppose it still can’t be completely ruled out that there is another case rendered in its native language in our data, or as an acronym.)

      • ” the first Green politician to lead a country in the history of the world.” So says Wikipedia, which goes on to note:

        On March 9, 2004, he became the prime minister of Latvia, leading a centre-right minority government consisting of The Greens and Rustics union, Latvia’s First Party and Latvian People’s Party. For most of time, the government was also supported by the leftist National Harmony Party.

        …On October 28, 2004, the government fell as the Saeima voted 39-53 against the government’s budget proposal for the year 2005.

        He later served as Speaker, then retired due to “criminal proceedings against him.”

        Interestingly, the Greens were only the fourth largest party in the parliamentary elections (2003) for the term during which Imsis became PM. The Union of Greens and Farmers had won 12 seats out of 100. That would have to put the Latvian Greens somewhere well up the list of smallest parties ever to head a government in a parliamentary democracy.

  3. The final preliminary results are in:

    CDU 39.0%, 60 seats (all by plurality)
    Greens 24.2%, 36 seats (nine)
    SPD 23.1%, 35 seats (one)
    FDP 5.3%, 7 seats (none by plurality)
    Linke 2.8%, no seats
    Pirates 2.1%, no seats
    Others 3.5%, no seats

    So you have your Green-led government, probably! The CDU lost nine seats, the FDP eight, the SPD three, while the Greens gained 19 seats (there will be one fewer Überhang-/Ausgleichsmandat). The CDU is only 26 votes behind in Tübingen, but if they gain this seat from the Greens the latter will be compensated and will be given a total of 37 seats.

    The concentration of the Greens around university towns in particular meant that they were able to “win” quite a few constituencies, though Baden-Württemberg has a regionalised best-loser system so this makes little difference in practice.

    In neighbouring Rheinland-Pfalz the CDU actually gained three seats, while the SPD lost their absolute majority of 53 seats and will have to find a coalition partner. Minister President Kurt Beck (federal leader of the SPD 2006-08) is on the right of his party but will start negotiations with the Greens, who re-entered the Landtag. The FDP lost their ten seats:

    SPD 35.7%, 42 seats (24 from districts)
    CDU 35.2%, 41 seats (27)
    Greens 15.4%, 18 seats (all list seats)
    FDP 4.2%, no seats
    Linke 3.0%, no seats
    Others 6.5%, no seats

    I recommend the “Wahlmonitor” pop-up at, where there are some interesting exit-poll questions as well as simple-but-handy results of all elections since the war (Württemberg-Hohenzollern and Baden before 1952 may be missing).

  4. Hopefully no-one will notice the electoral catastrophe suffered by the ALP in New South Wales on the weekend.

    The Greens may win a single seat in the legislative assembly although they expanded their representation in the legislative council. NSW is probably the weakest of the Greens’ state branches. The Nationals also recovered most of the assembly seats they had lost to independent MPs over the last few elections.

  5. MSS

    The alarming thing about the NSW result is that, while there is 2 years until the next federal election (barring the Greens or independents jumping ship) the polls show the federal ALP drifting in the same direction. The same faction controls policy and campaigning in the federal branch as in NSW and Gillard has proved herself less than adept at policy.

  6. We have the final results for the NSW legislative council. Small mercies, Pauline Hanson of One Nation infamy did not win the 21st seat. The Greens did not expand their numbers in the council as expected, although they did win one district in the legislative assembly.

    No doubt the UK AV campaigners (preferences are not compulsory in NSW) will lightly pass over the NSW electorate’s capacity to change the government decisively.

    I did see former prime minister John Howard interviewed on British TV and asked if it were true that Fiji is abolishing AV. Given that Fiji has been a military dictatorship since 2006, and has just cancelled the elections promised for 2014, I am not sure they are the happiest example anti-AV campaigners could choose.

  7. The Green caucus in Baden-Württemberg are green: 23 of their 36 deputies in the legislature are new. “We need to reinvent ourselves,” says Theresia Bauer from Heidelberg, one of the most experienced members.

    The largest group are teachers, but the caucus includes a lawyer and manager, a naturopath, an organic farmer, a book dealer, two accountants, a wine dealer, a civil engineer, two journalists, a 24-year-old law student, a trade unionist and a kiosk owner. Muhterem Aras, the daughter of an Anatolian immigrant family, worked her way up to being a tax consultant with ten employees.

    “The one-vote electoral law puts many experienced local politicians such as Wolfgang Raufelder from Mannheim into parliament.” Unlike most German voting systems, Baden-Württemberg voters cast only one vote, for their local deputy. The “top-up” deputies are the defeated candidates who got the most votes. This gives an advantage to those whose names are known. Although the Greens always nominate 50% women, the Greens who won seats were 11 women and 25 men.

  8. > ‘I prefer “premiership”, as that captures the fact that the state executive emerges from and is dependent upon the assembly majority’

    Well, yeah. But if we translate Landeshauptmann as “Governor”, we leave open the thrill of perhaps one day seeing a news photo of “Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor [*] of the US State of California, meets with David McAllister, Governor of the German State of Lower Saxony.”

    [*] Assuming the Jerry Brown precedent holds, we can expect that Schwarzenegger vill be bach in the gubernatorial chair sometime around 2039.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.