German Greens betray anti-nuclear movement
Johannes.Schneider at SPAMgmx.net
Wed Apr 11 07:58:14 MDT 2001
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> GERMANY: Greens betray anti-nuclear movement
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CDU, Greens May Form a Coalition in Frankfurt
By Ulrich Adolphs
FRANKFURT. When the chairman of the city's Christian Democratic Union
organization, Udo Corts, was spotted dining with a European Parliament
deputy, Daniel Cohn-Bendit of Alliance 90/The Greens, following the 1997
local elections, it caused quite a stir at city hall.
At the time, a CDU-Green coalition in the city was numerically possible, but
following the recent local elections that excitement is growing again. The
CDU has held exploratory coalition talks with the Social Democratic Party
(SPD), the Greens and the Free Democratic Party, but all signs are pointing
to the Greens.
Sources say it would not be a full-fledged coalition with written
undertakings and an oath of allegiance, but would include an agreement to
cooperate in clearly defined policy areas. The CDU is the largest group in
the new city council with 36 representatives, but cannot obtain the
necessary majority of 47 seats with the Free Democratic Party (four seats)
alone. A majority could be achieved with the support of the SPD, with its 28
seats, but the Greens' 13 seats would also be enough, and would presumably
leave the CDU with greater leverage.
The remaining 12 council seats are held by six small parties, some of them
extremist, which are considered by the larger parties to be neither
acceptable nor reliable as coalition partners.
After 12 years of sharing power, the Frankfurt SPD is facing political
exclusion, not least because of bad feelings engendered by a campaign which
relentlessly pilloried the CDU as the "slush fund party" and attempted to
link Mayor Petra Roth of the CDU to her state party's dubious financial
practices while attacking her alleged lack of leadership.
Following talks between the CDU and SPD in recent days, Mr. Corts -- who is
the parliamentary undersecretary in the Hessian Interior Ministry --
announced coolly that he saw no basis for doing business without a "signal
that that sort of thing will no longer happen." The Frankfurt SPD chairman,
Franz Frey, dismissed the suggestion that his party should apologize for its
campaign as an "absurd idea."
The Greens, however, have been pragmatic. In the battle between Ms. Roth and
the SPD's Achim Vandreike, the party astutely kept the door open to the CDU
by not publicly backing either candidate, and then warmly congratulated Ms.
Roth upon her re-election.
The Social Democrats, who see themselves as more natural allies of the
Greens, are clearly unhappy to hear coalition negotiations between the CDU
and the Greens apparently proceeding so smoothly.
For the CDU and the Greens, the first "black-green" -- to use the party
colors -- coalition to run a major German city would have political risks
for both, which is why the Christian Democrats in particular are pressing
for the inclusion of the FDP, although this would not be numerically
The FDP has seemed to be thrilled at the prospect of becoming a coalition
"safety valve," which would mean a seat on Frankfurt's executive council for
the first time in 30 years. But even with the FDP, life would be difficult
for a CDU-Green government, partly because of plans to expand Frankfurt
Airport. The CDU is enthusiastically in favor, the Greens bitterly opposed.
Still, the airport planning process is proceeding through the bureaucratic
planning process and may not re-emerge for a final political decision for
four or more years. Nor should the planning process for the skyscrapers
which give Frankfurt a different look from other European cities, a highly
contentious issue in the past, present insurmountable difficulties, since
new guidelines are already in place to allow for a dozen new major
construction sites, and implementation will take longer than the next city
government's five-year life.
The major compromise for the CDU would probably involve scaling back some
transportation projects, which could probably be managed.
Despite their apparent ideological differences, the CDU and the Greens have
already proved that they can work together successfully in Frankfurt, as
when they joined forces against an SPD plan to roll city-owned theaters into
a limited private company. And national leaders of both parties have
announced that they will leave it up to their local party organizations to
decide for or against any possible coalitions at the municipal level. On the
weekend, Hesse's CDU premier, Roland Koch, appeared to give his blessing,
saying the decision was entirely the Frankfurt CDU's.
By all accounts, both parties' representatives in Frankfurt are using the
leeway granted them by their national and state parties. The Greens' leader
in the Frankfurt City Council, Lutz Sikorski, and the party's failed mayor
candidate, Jutta Ebeling, were even reported to be "enjoying" the
negotiations. And Ms. Roth, in what may have been an attempt to soften up
reluctant members of her own party, said a CDU-Green coalition should no
longer be feared as "some sort of nightmare."
Insiders now say the chances are good that just such a coalition will be
announced in Frankfurt by late April or early May.
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