The Greens and the dilemma surrounding nuclear power plants

GGreen politicians are stressed these days. On the one hand, they rule the country in an unimaginable exceptional situation, which requires measures that were also unimaginable for a long time. On the other hand, they definitely don’t want to go down in history as the party that changed the running times of the nuclear power plants has extended. From the point of view of the Greens, that would be the GAU.

If you want to understand this aversion, you have to look back more than forty years. Because the nuclear phase-out after the Fukushima reactor catastrophe has nuclear power faded in public awareness in this country, efforts – including those of the Greens – concentrated on the energy transition and the fight against global warming from then on. But without the anti-nuclear movement, the Greens would not exist. The party arose out of resistance to nuclear armament and the use of nuclear energy. No Greens without Gorleben. “We reject the construction and operation of nuclear power plants,” says the first basic program from 1980. And: “Nuclear energy threatens the future of all life.”

The attribution – and not just your own – as an anti-nuclear party was and is so massive that Fukushima led to previously unimagined poll heights and helped Winfried Kretschmann to be the first Greens to be promoted to a prime ministerial post in Baden-Württemberg. When the Bundestag decided to phase out nuclear power in early summer 2011, the Greens celebrated it as a historic victory – their victory. While younger climate protectors are now more flexible when it comes to nuclear power, the older ones are unforgiving and uncompromising on this point.

Rejection of nuclear power for decades identity

And yet it is more than a question of generations and also more than a primal green defensive reflex: for decades, the rejection of nuclear power was an identity for the Greens – their base, officials and voters. It is a core value, the foundation of the party. If the foundation crumbles, it becomes shaky at the top.

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