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How I survived the "probably longest" Green Party conference

The first coffee machine goes on strike on the second day of the Green Party conference in Karlsruhe. Sometimes, I learn, you have to be lucky as a party conference observer.

Behind the story - How I survived the "probably longest" Green Party conference

Making-of is the name of our new format. We want to give you a personal look behind the scenes, tell you about our everyday journalistic life and our research. We are starting with a short series in which we look back on our moments in 2023.

That can't be! The anticipation gives way to questions when I hear that my first party conference, of all things, will be "probably the longest" in the history of the Greens. Four days at the Karlsruhe exhibition center, from 9 in the morning until late at night - is that like a school trip? And were school trips actually fun?

I only started at stern seven weeks earlier. Now it's the end of November and the Greens don't just want to adjust their position in government. The delegates from the district associations are also electing new party chairpersons and all candidates for the 2024 European elections.

Oh dear, elections, you also need a program. The Green base has a lot to criticize about the party leadership's draft, with over 1,400 amendments submitted in advance. The agenda provides for an end after midnight on almost every day. And nobody told me that two absent CDU grandees, Friedrich Merz and Konrad Adenauer, would play the leading roles at a Green Party conference. The CDU leader appears in what feels like every other speech, the CDU chancellor only in the program debate.

Everyone is somehow caught up in it

It really is a bit like a school trip, there is a lot to experience, too little to eat, there is a lot of arguing - and everyone is somehow trapped. The first coffee machine goes on strike on the second day. Are over 800 tired delegates and almost 2000 guests a few too many coffee drinkers after all? Whether a member of the Bundestag, a simple party member or a journalist, everyone is the same when the coffee machine breaks down. At one point, a top Green party member walks past the back rows (where the journalists are seated) and croaks out in a stricken voice: "I'm not sure what my hotel looks like on the inside." Then she moves on, laughing.

Sometimes, I learn, you have to be lucky as a party conference observer - that you're not sitting on the toilet or at lunch when something unscheduled and entertaining happens. It was to be expected that the course of migration policy would be discussed emotionally on Saturday evening.

At other times, I happen to arrive just in time. For example, to hear party left-winger Claudia Roth being forced to give a speech in defense of former CDU Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. "Yes, Adenauer was definitely not a feminist," she exclaims, but ...

What had happened? In the draft for the European election program, the party leadership wrote a sentence from the first German Chancellor: "The unity of Europe was a dream of a few. It became a hope for many. Today it is a necessity for us all."

The delegates vote: the view from the back rows of journalists.

The only quote in the more than 100-page program is supposed to come from a conservative? No way! Shirin Kreße from the Berlin-Mitte district association has submitted a motion. She is calling for the quote to be deleted. "Adenauer was problematic in his time and still is today," she says at the lectern. A quote cannot be considered independently of a person. Her vision of Europe is feminist, anti-fascist - and is not called Konrad Adenauer.

State Secretary for Culture Roth: The quote is about the beginning of the European idea. "He tried to reach out to France. He tried to contribute to reconciliation." The party leadership must have sensed that Kreße had struck a nerve with many. Roth quickly suggested a compromise: How about adding two more quotes to the program, from women? Then you could also leave Adenauer in.

Nice try, but in the end it was in vain. Significantly more hands with voting cards go up for Kreße. The Greens kick Adenauer out of their program. A true spectacle, how beautiful is party democracy!

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