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Lead Me If You Can. Green Party Elites and New Coalition Models

Elites
Green Politics
Political Leadership
Political Parties
Coalition
Party Members
Qualitative
Niko Switek
University of Washington
Niko Switek
University of Washington
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Abstract

As green parties emerged from grassroots movements, members and activists tend to be more critical of its party elites. While a lot of radicalism has been shed in the last decades, the party base nevertheless conceives itself as a guard dog over party policy against office seeking ambitions of higher ranks. This conflict culminates in times of coalition formation. Here the German Greens offer an interesting case: Because of a weakened Social Democratic Party as their established coalition partner, they are pushed to consider alternative coalition models. In the German multilevel system coalitions are often “tested” on land level, and we see several cases, where regional branches experimented with new coalition partners. Examining the intra-party process leading to the coalition decision, this paper looks at the role of party elites in organizing acceptance for these coalitions and specifically focuses on individual leaders and their authority, mainly drawing on qualitative interviews.