It’s been an unusually hot summer and fall in Bavaria this year. Politically, it got even hotter this Sunday night when Bavaria’s Green party became the second strongest party in the region.
Their stunning success was at the same time a dire warning for other left leaning parties such as the SPD and Die Linke. The former lost 10% of their electorate giving them an all time low while the latter didn’t even make it into the regional parliament.
Clearly, some of the SPD and Linke voters switched to the Green Party as did some conservative voters who usually support the CSU.
The CSU in their turn lost their complete majority in part because of voters switching to the radical right party AFD which, like the Greens, celebrated an historic election night.
Thus both parties, Greens and AFD, benefited from the continuing erosion of traditional German political forces.
Yet while the rise of the AFD reflects the fear and hatred of the “other” as well as backward thinking Nationalism and Provincialism, the ascent of the Greens is its mirror opposite.
The remarkable showing of the Greens in arguably Germany’s most conservative region is a potentially bright sign for the future of this country; demonstrating that progressive policies and visions are interesting to voters who are now willing to a take a chance and change political and social direction.
The Greens have modernized their image, seeking a broader base of issues but at the same time they have remained true to their core beliefs centering around the environment, new technologies, Europe, women, and the fate and integration of migrants.
In a time of apparent right wing ascendancy, their message of hope and change seems to be finally reaching receptive ears, especially in large metropolitan centers such as Munich.
Promisingly, the party can boast of two rising young stars: Katharina Schulze and Ludwig Hartman. It’s a safe bet to assume that we will be hearing more about and from these two charismatic leaders in the near future.
So as temperatures continue to rise here in Northern Europe, the political climate is starting to reflect these dire changes and may soon contribute to a possible melt-down of the grand coalition in Berlin.