Dissension sprouts in West Germany's Green Party
It was either "the Reds pushing past the Greens," or it was "creative unrest." The first was the conservative Die Welt's characterization of the West German environmentalists' party convention March 21-23; the second was the Frankfurter Rundschau's more sympathetic but still dubious editorial evaluation.
In any case it was not the ordinary German convention. Both newspapers featured photos of young delegates sitting or lying on the Saarbrucken convention floor with bare feet kicking in the air in relaxation.
Actually, this convention was not so chaotic as the Greens' two previous nationwide meetings in the past year. It was by a relatively orderly process that the more uncompromising antiestablishmentarians among the 750 delegates got their goals accepted as the party program in this election year. And it was without breaking with the fledgling party -- yet -- that the party's conservative cofounder, Herbert Gruhl, dissociated himself from the program.
In addition to subordination of economic growth to ecological balance, the Green's program now calls for an immediate rejection of nuclear energy, West German disarmament, and the breakup of large businesses into smaller ones that would be managed by their employees.
Dr. Gruhl, a Bundestag member who resigned his Christian Democratic (conservative) representation to help found the Green Party, withdrew as this utopian program was adopted. Others who also wanted the party to keep its focus on environmental issues withdrew as well.
The expectation among observers in the press and other parties now is that the moderate minority in the Green Party will soon split off from the left-oriented majority. Hopes for a national voice for the environmentalists have thus been dashed only a week after the Greens' unexpected success in the Baden- Wurttemberg state elections raised expectations. The Greens won 5.3 percent of the popular vote -- enough to place its candidates in the state legislature for the first time.
The Greens could still play a spoiling role in next October's general election, however. Following the Green Party convention, Social Democratic general secretary Egon Barr rejected cooperation between his (governing) party and the Greens. He curtly said they could only pull votes away from the government coalition and thus help elect conservative chancellor candidate Franz-Josef Strauss -- a particular bugbear of the Greens and the Left in general.
Other planks in the new Green Party platform include:
* Unilateral disarmament of West Germany, to be followed by immediate dissolution of the NATO and Warsaw Pact military alliances and institution of a demilitarized zone in West and East Europe.
* Immediate worldwide disarmament and withdrawal of all troops from foreign territory.
* An immediate plan for ending nuclear reprocessing and other "atomic plants" and a ban on nuclear-plant exports; energy and raw materials conservation.
* A 35-hour workweek and shortened work years with full pay; a ban on lockouts of strikers; cutback on overtime; a ban on alcohol and cigarette advertising; and a 100-kilometer speed limit on highways.
After heated debate between women's groups favoring an unlimited right of pregnant women to end their pregnancies and those who argued that taking life is always wrong, the convention also adopted a compromise on abortion. The program states this should be a moral and personal rather than legal decision.