The mood among the Berlin Greens is tense and even irritable. The state association surprisingly canceled the party conference on Saturday after the only candidate, Tanja Prinz, failed in the elections for state chairmanship. The 44-year-old from the Tempelhof-Schöneberg district association did not receive the necessary absolute majority in three ballots at the state delegates’ conference in Berlin-Moabit. She then decided against a possible fourth round of voting.
In the last round of voting she received 41 yes votes – with 104 no votes and 2 abstentions. In the previous two rounds of voting, support for her was even lower. After the second round of voting, there was an interruption during which Prinz consulted with her supporters about whether she should run again. The chances of changing the delegates’ minds were already slim. Immediately after the vote, Prinz said a curt farewell: “Thank you very much, Merry Christmas!”
According to the Greens, the previous state board will continue to be in office and fully capable of acting until a new board is elected. This is supposed to happen at a continuation of the party conference, which is planned for Wednesday evening. A clear majority of delegates approved a corresponding proposal for rules of procedure from the state executive board.
According to the statutes, the regional association is led by a dual leadership, which must include at least one woman. So far these are Philmon Ghirmai, who belongs to the party left, and Susanne Mertens from the Realo wing. Ghirmai called the result of the vote a clear vote that everyone should take seriously.
“A situation has arisen that no one could wish for,” said Ghirmai. He justified the request to interrupt the party conference by saying that the election of the state executive committee should not be rushed. “We need to talk.” Timur Ohloff, a delegate from the Mitte district association, criticized the approach. It would have been better to present an opposing candidate at the party conference, he said.
In her speech at the party conference, Prinz demanded that the Black-Red chapter be ended as quickly as possible. For Franziska Giffey, business is just a photo shoot. Black and Red can’t do it and are looting the coffers. The Greens need to gain trust – “in the city center and outside,” said Reala from Lichtenrade. “It would be an honor to become your state chair,” she concluded. But it didn’t get through to the delegates.
Fear of a dispute over direction
The question of who should lead the Berlin Greens in the future has caused a lot of uncertainty in the party in recent weeks. Behind this is also the fear of a dispute over direction and intra-party strife between the different parts of the party, for which the Berlin Greens were notorious years ago. The left within the Greens, to which Ghirmai belongs, voted with a large majority in favor of continuing the coalition with the SPD and the Left in the repeat election in February. Parts of the Realos that Tanja Prinz represents thought this was wrong. Prinz was in favor of keeping more coalition options open.
Another of her criticisms: From her point of view, the Greens fell far short of their potential in the repeat election with 18.4 percent – in Berlin of all places. And that is not just fate, but also due to mistakes on the part of the party.
Essentially, it’s about the question of what the Greens want to rely on in the next state parliament election in 2026: on the old alliance partners? Or black-green or black-green-yellow? Should the regional association prepare to become Kai Wegner’s next partner? The current governing mayor is said to have liked to form a coalition with the Greens in February – but did not receive a signal of serious interest from them in time.
The questions remain unanswered, and opinions on this also differ within the Realos. This was evident, for example, in the conflict between Prinz and the previous chairwoman Susanne Mertens. From the perspective of critics from the Realo camp, Mertens showed too little profile towards the party left and relied too much on consensus. At the end of October, Prinz announced that he would run for the state presidency alongside Ghirmai. She narrowly defeated Mertens in a vote by the Realo wing. And shortly afterwards she announced that she no longer wanted to run for office.
The fact that Prinz failed so clearly on Saturday shows that there is no majority in the party for a clear change of course. The party now has to clarify where the Greens should go. The continuation of the state delegate conference is the first opportunity for this.