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Separating Green garbage in state elections, Germany

Green pro-immigration prospects in German state elections look dim

Germany's far-left Green party have already lost in two German states in regional elections in the past year, and its future in federal and regional politics since its 1980 founding, with pro-immigration leaders like Cem Özdemir, born from Turkish migrants, look dim.

Published: May 7, 2017, 12:19 pm

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    In the most recent surveys by the Forsa Institute, Germany’s leading pollster, their prospects aren’t very encouraging. In just the past year, Green lawmakers lost in the state parliaments of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saarland after coming in under the 5 percent minimum.

    Voters in Germany’s northernmost state, Schleswig-Holstein, will be voting today in a closely-watched regional election. The poll is being seen as a test of the left as well as Merkel’s popularity ahead September’s federal election.

    The Greens had forced Germany to begin entirely phasing out nuclear power, and with only more immigration proposed to replace their most effective stand, the Greens have plummeted. Sensing a rising tide against immigration, Green Party co-chairwoman Katrin Göring-Eckardt used a major newspaper interview to focus entirely on simplifying household waste separation, hardly a sexy political issue.

    Around 2.3 million people are eligible to vote in Sunday’s regional election, with analysts predicting a good chance a different coalition to be voted in, suggesting a partnership between the SPD, the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), or a coalition of the CDU, the Greens and the FDP and keeping the rising AfD out.

    With key regional elections only 11 days away in NRW, the Green party is polling less than the Alternative for Germany (AfD), and the libertarian Free Democrats (FDP). The latter are fierce competitors of the Greens, as both attract the well-educated, working-age and financially comfortable.

    Elections to the legislature in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), will be held May 14. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens have governed there since 2010 under state premier Hannelore Kraft (SPD).

    Traditionally, the NRW election is also of significance for federal politics with 13 million voters, one-fifth of the German electorate. Not infrequently, results in NRW initiates developments at the federal level. In 2005, the defeat of the SPD in NRW led to the premature end of the federal coalition.

    This regional election is often referred to as “a smaller-scale Bundestag [federal parliament] election.” According to opinion polls, however the current government of Kraft and her deputy state premier Sylvia Löhrmann (Greens) will be punished in the election on 14 May.

    The SPD has determined state politics in NRW since 1966; its reign was interrupted for only five years by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)-FDP government under premier Jürgen Rüttgers (2005-2010). Since 1995, the Greens have been involved in all SPD state governments, lately inviting in migrants, and ignoring workers.

    In recent surveys by Infratest dimap, the SPD is only polling about 34 percent and the Greens could fail to clear the 5 percent hurdle required for entry into the state parliament. Five years ago, the SPD won 39.1 percent of the vote and the Greens 11.3 percent.

    The CDU vote could increase by almost 10 percent, while the Alternative for Germany (AfD) could rise to more than 20 percent in the region’s social hotspots where workers in the Ruhr are increasingly facing unemployment and with cities facing rigorous austerity measures which have reduced all the services provided by the municipalities to the legally prescribed minimum, the leftist parties have seen their voter base eroded.

    The unemployment rate is above 15 or 20 percent or more, especially in the northern districts. One in three children in the Ruhr area — one in two in some districts — lives in a household dependent on the minimal “Hartz IV” welfare grants.

    “In no other federal state is so little money spent per pupil as in North Rhine-Westphalia,” the Federal Statistical Office’s educational financial report noted and teachers’ workloads have grown exponentially under the “red-green” rule as Greens claim to manage refugee policy.

    The CDU top candidate and regional chairman in NRW, Armin Laschet, is exploiting the refugee problem in his election campaign. For weeks, he has called for more powers for the police, more video surveillance, and the consistent deportation of asylum seekers who fall foul of the law. His campaign is being conducted under the motto “zero tolerance” in a effort to attract AfD voters.

    In its election brochures, the SPD counters by claiming it has trained almost twice as many police officers as the CDU state governments, also courting possible AfD supporters.

    The Alternative for Germany (AfD) is thriving with growing unemployment and poverty, especially in the Ruhr area. It kicked off its NRW election campaign in Essen in the beginning of April with a converted Social Democrat, Guido Reil, now standing for the AfD. The trademark of this works council representative for the Mining, Chemical and Energy (IGBCE) trade union at the Prosper Haniel (Bottrop) coal mine, is his agitation against open borders to allow yet more refugees into the state.

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