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Support for Germany’s Green party plummets

A new poll shows that Robert Habeck is no longer among Germany's 10 most popular politicians. Credit: Getty

April 11, 2023 - 2:30pm

One of the things the Green Party in Germany could always count on was the popularity of its leadership. Joschka Fischer, the former foreign minister and first elected Green federal politician, was consistently one of the most broadly liked German politicians. Fischer knew very well how to use this popularity to push for a political agenda that was not always popular with the Green base — as with German participation in the Kosovo war.

It was moves like this that made Fischer the face of the so-called “Realo-Wing” (realist wing) of the Green party. Its members were Left-populist during election campaigns but knew that the reality of governing is not the same as being an opposition party. In many ways, the “Realos” made the Greens an almost mundane party in bourgeois Germany.

Alas, it did not last: the leadership around Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock, now officially under 29-year-old Ricarda Lang and political veteran Omid Nouripour, has decided to stay truer to Green principles. These principles were formulated by the so-called “fundamentalist wing” of the party, which is characterised by the rejection of the capitalist-industrial structure of Germany and a desire to replace it with their vision of an eco-economy that would do without modern forms of energy or production.

As it currently turns out, however, those principles might not be as popular with average Germans as one would have thought. A recent poll by the opinion research institute INSA shows Habeck is no longer among the country’s 10 most popular politicians, and Baerbock has fallen to eighth. To put this into context: a similar poll taken in November 2022 had Baerbock in first place, only slightly ahead of Habeck. But now the pair are even less popular than finance minister Christian Lindner, whose FDP didn’t even meet the necessary threshold to remain a party in the regional parliaments of Berlin and Lower Saxony.

Not surprisingly, the falling popularity of its most prominent faces is dragging the Green Party down in the polls as well: only 15.5% of voters would give them their vote, while the Alternative for Germany — a Right-wing party that exists in a permanent state of dysfunction — would garner 16%. Yet what should really worry the Greens is that, on the question of which party has the best climate policy, their support fell by 15 percentage points from 47% to 32% — and the most used answer in the questionnaire was “no party”.

The fall from popular favour began when Habeck refused to make concessions that from January 2024 all new heating systems in Germany must be 65% renewable, which basically means mandatory heat pumps. Most Germans do not believe that renewables will suffice to cover the country’s electricity needs in the future, so these plans are extremely unpopular. The same is true for the Green push to end the internal combustion engine, to which two-thirds of the German population are opposed. Evidently, the party has ignored the pride, not to mention employment, that the car industry generates for the Germans and their economy.

Even on the question of nuclear energy, Habeck and his circle are alienating vast swathes of the German public. While the Government opposes nuclear at every turn, the population has shown more pragmatism on the issue, with 65% supporting its continued use. On a visit to Kyiv last week, Habeck said during an interview that the Ukrainian nuclear power plants should continue to operate — “after all, they have already been built,” he said. But then why is Germany planning to take its last remaining reactors offline next week, despite them all being in top condition? 

After Joschka Fischer, many Germans believed that once in government even the most radical Greens will become Realos, so a vote for them was not seen as a particular risk. This attitude is changing, as are the Greens’ election prospects.

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Damien Farrell
Damien Farrell
1 year ago

Green parties sound nice in theory but are awful in practice. As citizens in Europe realise how harmful net zero policies really are (mandatory heat pumps?), the Green vote will disappear.

Damien Farrell
Damien Farrell
1 year ago

Green parties sound nice in theory but are awful in practice. As citizens in Europe realise how harmful net zero policies really are (mandatory heat pumps?), the Green vote will disappear.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

To be boring
 the politicians are fudging the issue, as they always do. They are making easy decisions but leaving the difficult decisions behind. They think that everybody is stupid and they can’t see reality. If the Greens in Germany or any party in the UK actually confronted environmental decisions head-on, and brought people into the discussion – this is what it means to you, yes you!! – they would get respect from the people and the task would be much easier.
Now is the time to stop making silly targets like NetZero and to start to discuss the environment with everybody – treating the electorate as people, not sheeple.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The politicians can’t debate Net Zero in an open manner because it would immediately be rejected by the electorate
In an open debate the public would learn that the policy is simply technologically impossible in the prescribed timeframes.
The public would further come to understand that the policy, even though doomed to fail will cost trillions, will destroy the industry of any country foolish enough to continue to pursue it, and will lead to a major degredation in the living standards people in the West have become accustomed to. And all this would also be for little to no reduction in carbon emmisions because the punishing green taxes and regulations in the West will just continue to shift jobs and production to countries without such impediments to profit.
Because open discussion would immediately condemn the policy, we have suppression. Anyone questioning the policy is demonised as a “climate denier”, even if they accept global warming is happening but is simply saying the policy response is wrong.
Government fails to set out any coherent plan with costings. Instead, to make it look like they are doing something, it sets targets and makes piecemeal policy such as requiring heat pumps, banning the sale of vehicles using fosil fuels, in the knowledge that there is no way it is going to meet the net zero commitments, but not worrying about it because when government does have to admit its folly it will be someone else’s problem.
There’s no debate because there can’t be one. Government will just keep foolishly pressing forward until it hits the point where the public have had enough making sacrifices to “save the planet”, and they start booting out the politicians asking for more.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

I agree with you almost. My problem is that I think that the control of plastic waste is more important. This doesn’t even get a mention nowadays.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Oddly enough, there’s an article on the BBC News website today about the impending collapse of Tupperware, the plastic container company.
Tupperware warns of collapse unless it finds funds – BBC News

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Tupperware collapse might be caused by so many pieces of plastic trash. Tupperware is durable, most other plastic containers aren’t.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Tupperware collapse might be caused by so many pieces of plastic trash. Tupperware is durable, most other plastic containers aren’t.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Over fishing is probably the most pressing environmental issue facing the world, but no one talks about it at all.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Because a large proportion of it was generated by masks and other Covid hysteria policies that they support.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Oddly enough, there’s an article on the BBC News website today about the impending collapse of Tupperware, the plastic container company.
Tupperware warns of collapse unless it finds funds – BBC News

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Over fishing is probably the most pressing environmental issue facing the world, but no one talks about it at all.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Because a large proportion of it was generated by masks and other Covid hysteria policies that they support.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

I agree with you almost. My problem is that I think that the control of plastic waste is more important. This doesn’t even get a mention nowadays.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The politicians can’t debate Net Zero in an open manner because it would immediately be rejected by the electorate
In an open debate the public would learn that the policy is simply technologically impossible in the prescribed timeframes.
The public would further come to understand that the policy, even though doomed to fail will cost trillions, will destroy the industry of any country foolish enough to continue to pursue it, and will lead to a major degredation in the living standards people in the West have become accustomed to. And all this would also be for little to no reduction in carbon emmisions because the punishing green taxes and regulations in the West will just continue to shift jobs and production to countries without such impediments to profit.
Because open discussion would immediately condemn the policy, we have suppression. Anyone questioning the policy is demonised as a “climate denier”, even if they accept global warming is happening but is simply saying the policy response is wrong.
Government fails to set out any coherent plan with costings. Instead, to make it look like they are doing something, it sets targets and makes piecemeal policy such as requiring heat pumps, banning the sale of vehicles using fosil fuels, in the knowledge that there is no way it is going to meet the net zero commitments, but not worrying about it because when government does have to admit its folly it will be someone else’s problem.
There’s no debate because there can’t be one. Government will just keep foolishly pressing forward until it hits the point where the public have had enough making sacrifices to “save the planet”, and they start booting out the politicians asking for more.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

To be boring
 the politicians are fudging the issue, as they always do. They are making easy decisions but leaving the difficult decisions behind. They think that everybody is stupid and they can’t see reality. If the Greens in Germany or any party in the UK actually confronted environmental decisions head-on, and brought people into the discussion – this is what it means to you, yes you!! – they would get respect from the people and the task would be much easier.
Now is the time to stop making silly targets like NetZero and to start to discuss the environment with everybody – treating the electorate as people, not sheeple.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Net zero is wonderful and generates tremendous support – until the reality of net zero kicks you in the teeth. We can only hope these self-destructive policies are abandoned before they do permanent damage to the economies of the west. Maybe it’s too late already.

Charlie Dibsdale
Charlie Dibsdale
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Net zero is a platitude that ignores the reality of how disruptive and damaging the changes needed are. Is the climate changing – yes it always has, it’s a dynamic system. Will the current climate change be catastrophic in a short number of years, I am not convinced. If as humans we can survive and prosper in climates as diverse as Sweden compared with Malaysia, then we can do what we as humans are good at – adapt. Is it a good idea to move from reliance on fossil fuels yes, in time, as long as it does not consign us to penury?

Charlie Dibsdale
Charlie Dibsdale
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Net zero is a platitude that ignores the reality of how disruptive and damaging the changes needed are. Is the climate changing – yes it always has, it’s a dynamic system. Will the current climate change be catastrophic in a short number of years, I am not convinced. If as humans we can survive and prosper in climates as diverse as Sweden compared with Malaysia, then we can do what we as humans are good at – adapt. Is it a good idea to move from reliance on fossil fuels yes, in time, as long as it does not consign us to penury?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Net zero is wonderful and generates tremendous support – until the reality of net zero kicks you in the teeth. We can only hope these self-destructive policies are abandoned before they do permanent damage to the economies of the west. Maybe it’s too late already.

Ian Mullett
Ian Mullett
1 year ago

Dismantling the fossil fuel industry and capitalism at the same time does throw up some tricky structural issues that most Green Party manifestos don’t adequately deal with.

Arthur G
Arthur G
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Mullett

You mean the fact that we’ll all end up as subsistence farmers without fossil fuels and capitalism?

Arthur G
Arthur G
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Mullett

You mean the fact that we’ll all end up as subsistence farmers without fossil fuels and capitalism?

Ian Mullett
Ian Mullett
1 year ago

Dismantling the fossil fuel industry and capitalism at the same time does throw up some tricky structural issues that most Green Party manifestos don’t adequately deal with.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

Politicians are rarely scientists and simply want to talk about doing things that sound decisive about problems that have been highlighted by campaigns. They are naturally attracted by simplistic authoritarian solutions whose downsides are not immediately apparent to large sections of the population. The response of a conservative government to a covid demonstrated that they were happy to trash the economy and long term health to keep the press and large sections of the population onside.

It is good to hear that the lack of realism in the politically favoured solutions to climate change are now being more sceptically viewed by the population at large. Perhaps the politicians might catch up and look to more practical responses.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Bang on target – well said

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Bang on target – well said

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

Politicians are rarely scientists and simply want to talk about doing things that sound decisive about problems that have been highlighted by campaigns. They are naturally attracted by simplistic authoritarian solutions whose downsides are not immediately apparent to large sections of the population. The response of a conservative government to a covid demonstrated that they were happy to trash the economy and long term health to keep the press and large sections of the population onside.

It is good to hear that the lack of realism in the politically favoured solutions to climate change are now being more sceptically viewed by the population at large. Perhaps the politicians might catch up and look to more practical responses.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
1 year ago

SO the Greens want to enforce heat pumps…
During Communist times, there was a very popular Polish song ‘MĂłj jest ten kawaƂek podƂogi, nie mĂłwcie mi więc, co mam robić’

This is my piece of floor – so don’t tell me what to do.
It appears the Greens in Germany want to go even further than the Communists in Poland did and tell people what they have to do with their piece of floor.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
1 year ago

SO the Greens want to enforce heat pumps…
During Communist times, there was a very popular Polish song ‘MĂłj jest ten kawaƂek podƂogi, nie mĂłwcie mi więc, co mam robić’

This is my piece of floor – so don’t tell me what to do.
It appears the Greens in Germany want to go even further than the Communists in Poland did and tell people what they have to do with their piece of floor.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

“Realo-Wing” (realist wing) 
Realist eh?
I find it hard to get a handle on this German humour thing.

Geoff Wilkes
Geoff Wilkes
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

In practice, they were pragmatic, doing deals to get things done, in contrast to the “Fundis,” who would never compromise.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Wilkes

Or the loonies compared to the stark raving loonies

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Wilkes

Or the loonies compared to the stark raving loonies

Geoff Wilkes
Geoff Wilkes
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

In practice, they were pragmatic, doing deals to get things done, in contrast to the “Fundis,” who would never compromise.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

“Realo-Wing” (realist wing) 
Realist eh?
I find it hard to get a handle on this German humour thing.

Geoff Wilkes
Geoff Wilkes
1 year ago

Fischer was not the “first elected Green federal politician.” He was one of the first *cohort* elected, which consisted of 28 federal parliamentarians.

Last edited 1 year ago by Geoff Wilkes
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

if net zero means meeting net zero Germans or having net zero chance of going there, then I’m all for it.