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Germany's Greens convene, squabble - and remain undecided

Showdown time came and went last weekend, and the Greens are still as undecided as ever. They declared that they won't endorse passive coalitions with minority Social Democratic governments - but then again they won't stand in the way of local Greens who want to endorse such cooperation at city or state level. And they might reconsider at federal level as the general election of 1987 draws nearer.

They are still for rotation of Green members of Parliament after half a four-year term (i.e., next March) - but they haven't yet slugged this out in the party or set penalties for those Green MPs who refuse to step aside.

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Moreover, they haven't figured out if they should stay pure and utopian, or if they should corrupt themselves by compromise and become a real political party in order to affect real-world policies.

In a word, the fight between the ''Fundis'' (those in ''fundamental opposition'') and the ''Realos'' (the adherents of ''realpolitik'') proceeds apace.

The continued ambivalence of the Greens is reflected in the tension between, on the one hand, the Greens' grass roots and the Fundi-heavy party executive board, and on the other hand the more pragmatic Green delegation in the Bundestag.

Accusations of ''parliamentarization'' and ''Social Democratization'' accompanied the defeat of attempts by MPs Otto Schily and Joschka Fischer to promote an eventual ''Red-Green'' coalition. Catcalls likewise greeted Karl Kerschgens, the Landtag member in Hesse who guided the Greens' five-month experiment there in ''tolerating'' the Social Democrats. That experiment collapsed last month.

Counter taunts of ''Bolshe-vization'' and ''sectdom'' failed to sway the 700 delegates in Hamburg away from the Fundis' opposition to any form of coalition. But the delegates did applaud Schily's hard-hitting questions in the Bundestag committee investigating the Flick party-financing scandal. And in a quixotic twist radical East German expatriate Rudolf Bahro's call to split the Greens into an even purer, smaller movement served to unite the convention in compromise.

The result, in a marathon seven-hour debate, was a resolution that did not condemn coalition across the board but left it as an option at the local level - and didn't even rule it out altogether at the federal level.

The Greens now say it is up to the Social Democrats to take the initiative if they are interested in some kind of cooperation on the left, but the Social Democrats are not all that enthusiastic about the prospect.

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The left-winger tipped as the likely winner in next year's state elections in the Saar, Oskar Lafontaine, would welcome the Greens as full Cabinet partners with full political responsibility - an offer the Greens regard as a trap.

Gerhard Schroeder, the more long-shot Social Democratic candidate in Lower Saxony, shares Lafontaine's view. The Social Democratic candidate in West Berlin's mayoral election next spring, Hans Apel, has rejected cooperation with the Greens out of hand, however.

Other targets of protest before the convention that petered out for lack of a quorum included nuclear power, bureaucratization, chemicals in agriculture, United States ''war policy'' in Central America, the revived Western European Union, and experiments with animals. (US missiles hardly appeared in the discussion.)

Positive goals included Western European independence from the US, a peace treaty with East Germany, private radio stations, and houses of refuge for those patients who escape from psychiatric hospitals.

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