What Does Green Mean? How the German Green Party Differs from the American
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2000 12:15 p.m.

During the 1984 State Parliamentary election in
Baden-Wuritemburg, a leading newspaper called
Green Party candidate Rezo
Schlauch "a stroke of luck."
This judgment has been borne out by
Schlauch's subsequent political successes,
culminating in his 1998 election to the
German Bundestag. In the current federal
government headed by Gerhard Schroder,
the Green Party is (along with the Social
Democratic Party) part of the ruling coalition.
Undeniably, Schlauch deserves some of
the credit.

Rezzo Schlauch studied law at the
Universities of Freiburg and Heidelburg,
then practiced in Stuttgart before joining
the Green Party in 1980. When serving in
the State Parliament, he worked on ecological
agriculture and the problems of rural regions.
His special talent was for brokering compromise between radical environmentalists and conservative farming
communities like the one in which he had grown up. As one
journalist wrote, Schlauch combined "a broadly left-wing
political consciousness with a strong attachment to his native
soil and awareness of tradition." By 1995
Schlauch was a national figure. During the
Bosnian war, the Green Party, which had long
been committed to nonviolence, was divided
over the question of whether Germany should
join the NATO-led intervention. Green
leader Joschka Fischer, now German Foreign
Minister, took a pro-intervention stand, and
the issue was decided when Schlauch agreed.

Today, after decades of grassroots activism
and dissent, the Greens are on their way
to becoming what Schlauch calls "a viable
governing party." It has not been a smooth
process, as he would be the first to attest.
But it is a fascinating story, full of valuable
lessons for anyone interested in the future
of European politics. Rezzo Schlauch's
Athenaeum talk is cosponsored by the
European Union Center of California. Lunch will be served
at 11:45 a.m. Mr. Schlauch will speak at 12:15 p.m.