• Germany's news in English

German business eyes friendlier future with the Green Party

AFP · 3 Oct 2010, 14:26

Published: 03 Oct 2010 14:26 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Particularly smaller, often family-owned, businesses – the backbone of Europe's biggest economy – are being drawn in by the opposition Greens' programme of pragmatic sustainability.

"The Greens and small- and medium-sized businesses – it is a match practically made in heaven," said Mario Ohoven, president of the BVMW industry group representing the interests of such firms.

A recent survey by the Handelsblatt business daily among 800 industry executives on which parties best catered to their needs put the Greens at the top of the class for the first time with a "satisfactory" grade.

The Greens were born out of the often-radical ecologist movement of the 1970s and regularly alienated industry with their uncompromising views on emissions, nuclear power and energy efficiency.

But after 30 years of practical experience as a party, including their 1998-2005 stint as junior partner in the federal government, the Greens have grown more pragmatic while the pinstriped crowd has perhaps grown more green.

The common ground now includes traditionally conservative fiscal policies, concern for conservation of natural resources, deep suspicion of the power of big electric companies and calls for tighter regulation of financial markets.

Meanwhile some of Germany's biggest innovators in the renewable energy sector are small companies with fewer than 50 employees.

Even the powerful Federation of German Industry (BDI), a bastion of big business, seems to be taking a shine to the Greens and last week invited their parliamentary group leader Renate Künast to address its autumn conference.

It was a major step for an organisation that has frequently crossed swords with the Greens over their proposals, from taxation of emission-spewing energy sources to a national minimum wage.

"I do not expect applause but I'll take it if I get it," Künast joked as she took the podium.

She said that the Greens had "evolved, even though some of the labels attached to us still remain."

Künast was well received, and several executives noted that the party had grown beyond its hardliner roots.

"The Greens no longer have this image of the party in trainers," Thomas Kraneis of Lahmeyer, an infrastructure consulting firm, told AFP, adding that the tension between the party and business largely "belonged to the past."

A poll for ZDF public television published Friday showed the Greens with 19 percent support.

Story continues below…

This was nearly twice their score at last September's general election, making them the third strongest political force behind Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Union bloc at 31 percent and the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) at 30 percent.

By contrast, the Free Democrats, a strongly pro-business party and junior partner in Merkel's ruling coalition, drew just five percent, while the far-left Die Linke tallied nine percent.

And the Greens' strong backing among educated urban voters could see Künast become the premier of the city-state of Berlin after an election next year, which would be the first time the party managed to place a state premier.

Political commentators warn however that despite their improved image, the Greens are profiting from the weakness of other parties and may struggle to maintain their sensational poll numbers.

"Neither in terms of their policies nor their personnel have the Greens earned this support at the moment. They have returned to what they were in the beginning: a catch-all for protest," the daily Financial Times Deutschland wrote.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

23:06 October 3, 2010 by jlmcnamara
The Greens good for business? Maybe if they write you a check but beyond that? What am I missing here?
Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd