Germany goes to the polls on 24th September. And that means the country is in full on election mode at the moment. Posters are appearing on lamp posts, street stalls proliferating outside U-Bahn stations and supermarkets. It’s the first time I’ve actually been living in Germany for a Bundestag election (although I have followed previous ones pretty closely), so it’s a learning experience for me. I’ve explained why I joined the Grüne here, and also looked back over two years of my membership of the party here.
Things are a bit different now, with more than three years of party experience behind me. I have seen one election campaign – that for the Abgeordnetenhauswahl last year – and I am more confident in my party activity these days. I still fear I am going to be caught out when someone asks me a question I cannot answer at a street stall, but those fears are receeding. The old adage that you can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time really holds true in party work – there are some very irate voters you encounter who will never even want to listen to what you have to say to them. One woman complained to me the other day that the wars Joschka Fisher fought as Foreign Minister was the reason she could not vote Green today. I politely pointed out that Joschka no longer had any role in the party, and that the party had moved on in these questions, but to no avail!
A good fifth of the people living in Kreuzberg (the Bezirk where I live) do not have the right to vote here, and encountering such people at election events is both a saddening and interesting experience. When they say to me “ich habe kein Stimmrecht!” (I do not have the right to vote) and my reply is “ich auch nicht!” (me neither) the look of confusion is quite something. Why, their eyes ask, is this guy even campaigning here if he cannot vote? But if I cannot vote, I can at least have a voice. I can do my bit to get our people elected, to put our programme into practice that would grant permanent residents the right to vote in Germany, regardless of nationality.
The election is five weeks away, and the situation for the Greens does not look especially optimistic, but I’ll be campaigning until the end!