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The Austrian way: is black-green the future of radicalism?

NZ_flag_design_Fern_(Green,_Black_&_White)_by_Clay_Sinclair_and_Sandra_Ellmers

Time is a funny thing.

There was a time there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about Austria, the bad boy of central Europe that had not learnt from its very chequered past and where Europe’s youngest premier, Sebastian Kurz of the right of centre ÖVP, had dared to form a governing coalition with the nasty folks from the right-wing FPÖ.

How could Austria, of all countries, allow itself to be run by a coalition featuring the populist far right? Was there historical amnesia in Austria?

Time passes. A scandal, a new election and a different election result later, the no longer youngest premier in Europe (that honour now goes to Sanna Marin of Finland) has clung onto power not with the far right but with the altogether more wholesome Greens.

Surely, dear reader, such a thing could never work? A Green-Black coalition? Greens, with their Socialist, radical history with the conservative right of centre?

Of course it is a marriage of convenience brought on by forced circumstances. But for the doomsayers, I suggest just looking across the border at Germany, to the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg which shows how it can be done – and to Berlin, which is looking at how Austria will manage its Black-Green coalition with an eye to the Federal elections in Germany in 2021.

Whilst Federal Chancellors, not to say Federal ministers, often struggle with popularity in Germany, Minister-Presidents of Federal states often enjoy significant popularity, often way beyond their party’s standing nationally. In a highly localised, regionalised nation, local loyalties run deep.

The nature of the Federal system allows politicians to have glittering careers without ever touching Berlin. One such is Bodo Ramelow, the re-elected Minister-President of Thuringia, whose personal cache is way above that of his party (Die Linke) at federal level.

Another is the long-in-tooth Minister-President for Baden-Württemberg, the redoubtable Winfried Kretschmann, the Green who dared a coalition with the CDU, and nine years later remains in power and remains the leading elected Green in the country.

The reason the Black-Green coalition in Stuttgart works rather well is the reason that the Austrian federal coalition will work and the reason the putative CDU-Green federal coalition in Berlin will work rather well if the election results in 20 months are what we expect. A mixture of pragmatism and much needed forward thinking.

The Greens in Stuttgart and locally across the state are happy to attack the CDU on a daily basis, and equally happy to run the state government with them. Some of Germany’s biggest industrial players, Daimler, Bosch et al, are naturally close to the CDU with its reputation for sound economic management and unstinting support for these core enterprises.

But Germany is dealing with the need for a change in the energy model, and rather than putting its head in the sand, in Stuttgart at least, the Greens will engage with the biggest employers in the state to ensure that change happens, but happens without significant and sudden unemployment.

All fuelled by some of the world’s leading climate change and renewable energy institutes in places like the University of Freiburg, this writer’s alma mater.

We are gnashing our teeth in countries where the only way to (re)invent a radical centre seems to be to form new parties in electoral systems that make the rise of the new painful, almost impossible. A proportional representation system helps. A history of coalition-making helps. A viable, mature, realistic Green party with meaningful proposals for energy change certainly helps.

A leading party, the CDU, struggling to select a replacement for Mutti Merkel, facing up to a Green party with two highly popular and respected leaders certainly makes for an interesting scenario 20 months before the Federal election.

I will place a bet. The Austrian coalition will function well and will marry right-of- centre populism on areas such as immigration with an active Green agenda. Kurz und Kogler will argue and not infrequently attack one another – but the coalition will hold. Berlin will watch closely, and whoever wants to be the next Chancellor will ensure the CDU has an agenda going into the federal election which will not rule out a coalition with the Greens.

I venture Robert Habeck, or possibly Annalena Baerbock, will be Vice-Chancellor of Germany after that election, presiding over a cabinet with several Green ministers. Losers of course will be the SPD, but they have entirely lost their way and are handing on the mantle to the Greens.

And while the AfD will cause much consternation with about 15 per cent of the vote, it is the Greens who will dictate policy and negotiate a “green deal” into the 2020s.

We can wring our hands all we like this side of the water that separates the UK from Europe. But short of a revolution, radical politics, like its more conservative cousins, is the art of what is possible. And Austria and Germany will show what’s possible when right of centre and Green combine.

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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You may withdraw this consent at any time by <a href="mailto:[email protected]">emailing us</a> or clicking “unsubscribe” at the bottom of our emails).</label> </li></ul></div></li><li id='field_5_6' class='gfield gform_validation_container field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_5_6' >Phone</label><div class='ginput_container'><input name='input_6' id='input_5_6' type='text' value='' autocomplete='off'/></div><div class='gfield_description' id='gfield_description__6'>This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.</div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_5' class='gform_button button' value='SUBSCRIBE' tabindex='71' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_5"]){return false;} if( !jQuery("#gform_5")[0].checkValidity || jQuery("#gform_5")[0].checkValidity()){window["gf_submitting_5"]=true;} ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_5"]){return false;} if( !jQuery("#gform_5")[0].checkValidity || jQuery("#gform_5")[0].checkValidity()){window["gf_submitting_5"]=true;} jQuery("#gform_5").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=5&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=64' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_5' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='5' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_5' value='WyJbXSIsIjg1ZGYwZWM3YzAyMDRmYTcyZDYxNmIwMWJiNmFhYzVhIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_5' id='gform_target_page_number_5' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_5' id='gform_source_page_number_5' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_5' id='gform_ajax_frame_5' title='Ajax Frame'>This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.</iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 5, 'https://radixuk.org/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_5').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_5');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_5').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_5').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_5').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_5').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_5').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_5').val();gformInitSpinner( 5, 'https://radixuk.org/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [5, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_5'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_5').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_5').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [5]);window['gf_submitting_5'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_5').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [5, current_page]);} );} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 5) {if(typeof Placeholders != 'undefined'){ Placeholders.enable(); }} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [5, 1]) } ); </script>
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[gravityform id=6 title=false description=false ajax=true tabindex=999]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_6' ><div id='gf_6' class='gform_anchor' tabindex='-1'></div><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_6' id='gform_6' action='/opinion/7141-2#gf_6'> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_6' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_6_5' class='gfield gravity_head gfield_html gfield_html_formatted gfield_no_follows_desc field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><h3>Before you go!</h3> <p>Stay up to date with what's happening at Radix. Get email notifications</p></li><li id='field_6_1' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_hidden_label field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' >Name<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name has_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_2 ginput_container_name' id='input_6_1'> <span id='input_6_1_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_1.3' id='input_6_1_3' value='' aria-label='First name' tabindex='1000' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" placeholder='First Name*'/> <label for='input_6_1_3' class='hidden_sub_label screen-reader-text'>First</label> </span> <span id='input_6_1_6_container' class='name_last' > <input type='text' name='input_1.6' id='input_6_1_6' value='' aria-label='Last name' tabindex='1002' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" placeholder='Last Name*'/> <label for='input_6_1_6' class='hidden_sub_label screen-reader-text'>Last</label> </span> </div></li><li id='field_6_2' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_6_2' >Email<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_2' id='input_6_2' type='email' value='' class='large' tabindex='1004' placeholder='Email*' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id='field_6_4' class='gfield gf-conf-check gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' >Confirmation<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_checkbox'><ul class='gfield_checkbox' id='input_6_4'><li class='gchoice_6_4_1'> <input name='input_4.1' type='checkbox' value='Please keep me updated on new website content and Radix news. (We will process your data in accordance with our <span class="pp"><a href="https://radixuk.org/privacy-policy">Privacy Policy</a></span>. You may withdraw this consent at any time by &lt;a href=&quot;"mailto:[email protected]"&quot;&gt;emailing us&lt;/a&gt; or clicking “unsubscribe” at the bottom of our emails).' id='choice_6_4_1' tabindex='1005' /> <label for='choice_6_4_1' id='label_6_4_1'>Please keep me updated on new website content and Radix news. (We will process your data in accordance with our <span class="pp"><a href="https://radixuk.org/privacy-policy">Privacy Policy</a></span>. 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