Think Green? Vote Red?

by | May 23 2019

Election day is approaching, we all have to decide how to vote. And it will be difficult, because coalition talks will follow. How do we achieve a coalition that promotes a sustainable, green transport policy and takes the climate crisis seriously?

Earlier this month we laid out the transport manifestos of the main parties for the coming Bremen state election this Sunday. We concluded that, given the state of the opinion polls, two coalition outcomes were likely – a grand coalition of CDU and SPD, or a left coalition of SPD, Greens and Die Linke. But the most recent opinion polls point to one other possibility – a so-called Jamaica coalition of CDU, Green and FDP.

Jamaica already exists in Schleswig-Holstein, and is an option that is attractive to the right-wing faction of the Greens. Their dream is Kretschmann’s way in Baden-Württemberg. But anyone who dreams of Kretschmann’s success here in Bremen forgets that the Greens in Baden-Württemberg are the larger party . Baden-Württemberg is green and black, not black and green.

The Greens in Bremen certainly have their right wing, as evidenced by our recent post describing the attempts by some Greens in Schwachhausen to legalise pavement parking. The question here is – what would prove better for the Transport Transition?

There is no doubt that the Greens have the strongest commitment to sustainable travel. Our interview with transport spokesperson Ralph Saxe lays out compelling reasons to back the party. But this does not take into account the Greens’ internal battles. Would an election win for the CDU over the SPD embolden the right wing in the Greens to form a Jamaica coalition?

With the CDU campaigning strongly on “keeping (motorised) traffic flowing”, it is unlikely to prove helpful to those seeking a Transport Transition. The FDP are also strongly pro-motor car. A Jamaica coalition could well mean politicians like Ralph Saxe get marginalised in the process.

Die Linke, on the other hand, have exhibited a strong commitment to a Transport Transition. Their presence in a left coalition would strengthen the hand of the likes of Ralph Saxe in coalition talks and would be more likely to lead to strong measures in support of a Transport Transition.

The SPD’s lead candidate Carsten Sieling has already ruled out a “grand coalition of CDU and SPD, in favour of a left coalition with the Greens and Die Linke. Paradoxically, this suggests that cycling campaigners in Bremen wanting to see a government committed to sustainable transport should seriously consider voting SPD to improve the chances of that party gaining more votes than the CDU. With the CDU moving ahead of the SPD, they will get the first chance at forming a coalition. A CDU win will point to an attempt at a Jamaica coalition. But if the SPD run the CDU close, it could kill off these ambitions, and open the door to a left wing régime committed to transforming the state’s transport policies.

Equally, a strong Die Linke will also increase the likelihood of such a government.

For cycling activists, the advice is clear. To get Green, vote Red. Under the Bremen voting system, this can mean voting for those Green candidates sympathetic to a Transport Transition. But equally, there are compelling reasons for voting for SPD and Die Linke candidates with similar sympathies.


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