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Green Party has highest number of members in its history

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Green Party has highest number of members in its history
A bike tour this May of green party members, including Michael Kellner (center). Photo: DPA
10:26 CEST+02:00
For the first time in the history of their party, the German Greens have 70,000 members as of the beginning of October.

Since the beginning of 2018, the number of members has grown by over 5,000, according to a Thursday report from ZEIT Online.

They are also now the second most popular party in Germany, according to a RTV/ntv-Trendbarometer poll from this past Sunday September 30th, which asked participants who they would vote for should elections fall that day. That puts them ahead of the SPD, with 17 percent of the vote.

As of Friday, the party was also the second most popular in Bavaria, which holds elections in a week, according to a ZDF poll of 1,122 participants in the south German state.

The party also comes ahead of the AfD, who snagged 15 percent of the vote in the Germany-wide survey of 2,501 people.

“We have more people than ever before who stand for climate change, an open society and against inequality,” said party manager Michael Kellner told ZEIT Online on Thursday.

A key reason for the party's success, he says, is its restructuring at the beginning of 2018. In January, Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock replaced the previous party leaders Cem Özdemir and Simone Peter.

“We set off the year in a good mood, which gave us new strength and made us more visible,” he said.

Growth in membership has been especially strong in east Germany, particularly in Brandenburg and Saxony. The number of women within the party has also grown significantly, with 39 percent of its members now women.

Among the newcomers to the party is Marina Weisband, who from 2011 to 2012 was the director of the Pirate Party, which she left in 2015 because she felt the party had become too conservative.

While the number of members of the Green party - which originally united largely around denuclearization issues - has fluctuated in the past, it has risen steadily since 2007.

In 1993, the year in which the West German Greens joined forces with the East German civil rights movement Bündnis 90 in order to form the current party, there were almost 40,000 members.

Compared to the SPD and CDU, the Greens are still a small party. At the end of last year, the SPD had 443,000 members, the CDU 442,173. With 141,000 members as of the end of 2017, even the CSU - which is only active in Bavaria - is still twice the size of the Greens.

In the 2017 federal elections, the party received 8.9 percent of the votes, snagging 67 out of 109 seats in the Bundestag.

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