The German Greens begin to face the consequences of their utopian deceptions.
“When you're green, you’re growing. When you're ripe, you rot.” – Ray Kroc
Democracies governed by a multi-party parliamentary system have a significant design flaw: when no single party wins enough seats to form a majority government, the party achieving a plurality of the vote must use valuable concessions to solicit support from another party. In many such instances, these alliances can be leveraged by far-leaning parties to capture substantial and unwarranted power. In some countries, a single vote of no-confidence against the government can trigger an election, and the constant threat of such an outcome only adds to the power of the minority group holding just enough seats to be the deciding factor.
Consider Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s leftist New Democratic Party (NDP). In the country’s 2021 federal election, Singh’s party won less than 18% of the popular vote and only 7.4% of the seats in parliament. Outside of the westernmost province of British Columbia, the NDP was victorious in just 12 of 296 races despite being one of only two parties in the country to field a candidate in every riding. Notwithstanding these paltry numbers, the NDP was the only logical coalition partner to Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, and Singh parlayed this position into becoming arguably the second most powerful person in the country. Shortly after the election, Singh and Trudeau signed a confidence-and-supply agreement that paved the way for policies well to the left of average voters. Singh can effectively end Trudeau’s rule and trigger a new election on any day of his choosing—power wholly out of sync with the NDP’s relative popularity at the ballot box.
Nowhere has such disproportionate leverage been played more decisively by marginal interests than in Germany, where the Green Party has completely hijacked seats of power in government despite never gaining more than a modest standing in the Bundestag. In the nine German federal elections since 1990, the Greens have held, on average, just 9% of the seats in play. They reached their high-water mark in the 2021 elections, scoring a mere 16%. Nonetheless, the Greens have exhibited an exceptionally disciplined approach to spending their limited political capital, focusing the vast majority of their efforts on destroying Germany’s energy sector. In the process, they have brought one of the mightiest economies in the world to its knees.
Unique among political parties in the country, the Greens have maintained a maniacal single-mindedness on ridding Germany of its fleet of world-leading nuclear power plants. When the current embodiment of both the party and the country were formed in 1990, Germany produced nearly a third of its electricity from dozens of nuclear reactors spread across East and West Germany alike. As of April of this year, it produces none (emphasis added throughout):
“The shutdown of Emsland, Neckarwestheim II and Isar II shortly before midnight was cheered earlier in the day by anti-nuclear campaigners outside the three reactors and at rallies in Berlin and Munich. Inside the plants, staff held more somber ceremonies to mark the occasion…
But with other industrialized countries, such as the United States, Japan, China, France and Britain, counting on nuclear energy to replace planet-warming fossil fuels, Germany’s decision to stop using both has drawn skepticism at home and abroad, as well as unsuccessful last-minute calls to halt the decision.”
Like the proverbial dog who caught the car, the Greens suddenly find themselves in an interesting and existentially dangerous position. Left without a unifying mission, the architects of one of the greatest policy blunders of all time have little to do but face the lies they told in justifying their foolhardiness in the first place. As winter approaches, and the data rolls in, the political fallout is manifesting quickly. Six months on from that fateful day in April, what is the current state of affairs in Germany? How will the country power itself through this winter and in the years ahead? Will the current rightward shift in German politics lead to blowback the Greens might soon regret? Let’s head to the Bundestag and survey the damage.