Hamburg vote could forge ‘black-green’ alliance

The convoluted results of Sunday's state elections in Hamburg could alter Germany's political landscape with the country's first ever conservative-Greens coalition.

Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrat party (CDU) may be willing to create a “black-green” coalition with the left-leaning Green party in Hamburg. Sunday’s election yielded a victory for the CDU, but the party lost its parliamentary majority. Meanwhile the party’s traditional coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), didn’t win enough votes to earn any parliamentary seats.

After his victory at the polls on Sunday, Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust (CDU) discussed a new party openness to a partnership at a party meeting in Berlin on Monday. Beust said Chancellor Merkel and other party leaders had given him their approval.

Some Greens were optimistic about the possibility at a Monday committee meeting in Berlin. “It’s not about gaining governmental oversight at any price, but achieving political change,” said party leader Claudia Roth at the meeting. “We aren’t majority leaders, but we want our fundamental ideas to take hold in the government.”

But another Green party leader, Reinhard Bütikofer, was more skeptical during an interview on German public radio station Deutschlandfunk, citing controversial public school policies as an example of the many differences a coalition would need to overcome.

A “black-green” alliance, a nickname which refers to the party colors of the CDU and the Greens, would be the first of its kind for German state-level politics. The two parties are traditional adversaries, but in Hamburg it appears they may be able to find common ground now that the FDP is no longer a possible CDU partner. A coalition between The Greens and the CDU is the next best option for both parties as they face the growing popularity of The Left party, a development that complicates traditional party boundaries across the German political landscape.