BERLIN — The media weren't happy with the second convention of the German Greens, held in eastern Berlin May 15-17. "Beer and sausage are preferable to sharp discussion", was the comment of one local journalist.
"How old and boring the Greens have become", was another frequent remark of the international and German press. Reporters were clearly disappointed at the lack of drama and factional infighting that have typified previous party congresses, especially the first all-German convention held at Neumünster in May 1991.
"We have not become old and boring but more mature and better disciplined", was how co-speaker Christine Weiske answered the criticism.
The Green Alternative List of Berlin helped get the convention off to an imaginative start by installing an original Berlin streetcar in front of the Moabit town hall. The city's Greens are campaigning for the reintroduction of streetcars to help ease worsening traffic problems.
The 529 delegates debated and approved the continuation of the bloc with Alliance 90, the eastern German civil rights movement. The only issue still unresolved is the joint executive: Alliance 90 is seeking equal numbers on it, which the Greens see as unrealistic given that their membership is about 10 times the size of the Alliance's.
"We have found the platform for our 1994 election program and will now be able to give concrete answers to internal political questions", said co-speaker Ludger Volmer.
The right of asylum for foreigners was discussed heatedly. A large majority agreed that German borders must remain open to all foreigners seeking asylum.
The delegates also rejected Article 218 of the criminal code, which forbids abortion. Article 218 is a sore point with women in the five new states of the former East Germany, where abortion was legal.
A week after the convention, in local elections, the Greens, Alternative List and Alliance 90 received a total of 14.4% of the vote in Berlin, an increase of 4%.