Cablegate: Baden-Wuerttemberg Green Party Expresses

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: On November 23, the Baden-Wuerttemberg (B-
W) Greens held their first state convention since the
September national elections to discuss policy. Leading B-W
party leaders such as caucus chief Winfried Kretschmann and
Freiburg Lord Mayor Dieter Salomon are concerned about the
viability of the national SPD-Green Party coalition. They
cautioned the national leadership not to allow the party to
be dragged down by the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which
has been heavily criticized in the weeks since September's
national elections for breaking campaign promises. Some
even called for forming a coalition with the Christian
Democratic Union (CDU), but were not supported by the
majority of the assembled delegates. The overall mood was
anger at the SPD, general frustration with Berlin leadership
and the direction of the Green Party. End Summary.

Kuhn Speaks of Severe Crisis

2. (U) The Baden-Wuerttemberg (B-W) Green Party met in
Esslingen on November 23 to discuss policy. It was the
party's first meeting since its strong showing in last
September's national elections. In his keynote address the
delegates, national chairman Fritz Kuhn admitted that the
national government and the Green Party is in severe crisis.
The proposed increase in pension contributions and the
extension for the Obrigheim nuclear reactor (contrary to
nuclear phase-out plans) are big setbacks in terms of Green
Party policy priorities. Kuhn urged the Greens' federal-
level coalition partner, the SPD, to tell voters the truth
about public budget issues. Half of Germany's 16 states
have budgets in violation of state constitutional
guidelines. Kuhn suggested that extensive structural
reforms of the pension and health system were needed, along
with consolidation of the budget, a new program to assist
start-up companies, and a continuation of the eco-tax.
According to Kuhn, a broadening of the basis for assessing
social contributions is an absolute necessity. This
expanded basis may include earnings from rents and other
private income such as from investments.

3. (U) Unlike the SPD, the Green draws most of its support
from small and medium-sized businesses, Kuhn continued. The
SPD, with support from large corporations, does not
understand that bigger companies are much more capable of
dealing with non-wage labor cost increases than companies
with only a handful of employees. Kuhn also insisted that
the Green Party would not tolerate an increase in the value-
added tax since this would be an additional blow to
stumbling economic growth. Kuhn sharply attacked the
Christian Democrats for lacking in constructive alternative
suggestions for economic reform. He dismissed the CDU
investigative committee on alleged election fraud by SPD-
Greens as a "waste of time."

--------------------------------------------- -
Salomon Expects SPD/Green Government Will Fail
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (U) Kuhn's speech received only moderate applause. In
the two-hour discussion that followed, leading B-W Greens
voiced their frustration, anger and disappointment at the
performance of the governing Party coalition. Freiburg
Green Lord Mayor Dieter Salomon delivered a rousing speech,
urging the Berlin leadership to reverse disastrous recent
developments. He received a standing ovation. He warned
the party that good poll results did not mean support for
Green policies but a reaction to SPD failings: the FDP did
similarly well during the CDU donation scandal. The SPD,
according to Salomon, does not understand that, "This is its
last chance to achieve important reforms. Instead,
Schroeder is allowing labor unions to lead him around by the
nose while the economy runs aground." Salomon criticized
Kuhn for not saying anything new. The Green Party has the
right ideas, but Berlin leaders are not implementing them,
Salomon said.

5. (U) Salomon told the delegates that public mood is so
bad that the 11 percent the Greens won in recent polls would
"melt like snow in the sun." Salomon criticized the tax
reform for being well-intentioned but ill-conceived and
undermining the financial basis of the communities. Using
his own city as an example, Freiburg's budget deficit will
reach 80 million Euro in 2003, which will mean the loss of
several hundred jobs in the city administration. In that
context, Salomon blasted the chief of Ver.di (the service
workers union) Frank Bzirske for demanding a three percent
plus increase in wages. "The Chancellor is in nirvana and
the Greens stick blindly to the coalition agreement. The
federal government will fail with these irresponsible
economic policies. It is better the Green Party leave the
coalition now, than be dragged under by Social Democratic

6. (U) Eugen Schlachter, a close friend of the former Green
Party financial expert Oswald Metzger, also called on the
Green leadership in Berlin to change coalition partners
rather than continue with damaging compromises. Otherwise,
the Green Party may go under with the SPD. In a sharp stab
at SPD Secretary General Olaf Scholz's statement that the
SPD should control the policy discussion on children's
education and upbringing Schlachter stated "whoever talks
such nonsense is unsuitable for a governing coalition."

CDU Needs to Make the First Step

7. (U) Green Bundestag members did not welcome the
suggestions by some rank and file members that the Green
Party should change coalition partners. B-W Caucus Chief
Winfried Kretschmann pointed out that Greens and CDU have
many things in common but said, "The CDU is still too weak
on environmental issues." It is up to the CDU to make the
first move to show it is taking environmental issues
seriously. Kretschmann said the national Green leadership
in Berlin needed to remember its roots in the state party
and improve communication. He also said that the extension
of the Obrigheim nuclear reactor's operating license should
have never happened.


8. (SBU) Comment: The recent convention shows that the
Green Party rank and file in the party's southwest heartland
is no longer willing to keep quiet. Fear, anger and
frustration are growing among the Greens that the crisis in
the national government, in their view the fault of the SPD,
will drag them down. Green Party leaders in Berlin are seen
as too eager to please the SPD and too willing to compromise
on key issues. The Green Party convention in Esslingen made
clear that some in the party believe a change of coalition
partner is necessary. Green Party members at the convention
also told us that interpersonal relationships between SPD
and Green partners have been severely damaged in the past
several weeks, further eroding cooperation.


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