Fischer, Joschka

Fischer, Joschka
▪ 1996

      Joschka Fisher, Germany's Green Party (Die Grünen) leader, steered his party from its anti-nuclear image during the 1990s and in 1995 accomplished his goal of having the Greens replace the Free Democratic Party (FDP) as the third force in German politics. Earlier, in May 1994, the Green Party had won 10% of Germany's vote while the FDP failed to win the minimum 5% needed for seats in Parliament. In 1990 when the Green Party was knocked out of the Bonn Parliament by a euphoric tidal wave that followed reunification, few would have taken seriously Fischer's plan to run the country in 1998. In 1995 few doubted it.

      Fischer was born on April 12, 1948, in the town of Gerabronn, Baden-Württemberg. His political views were galvanized in 1967 when a student was shot dead by police following a political demonstration in Berlin. In 1983, at the height of the protest movement against the U.S. deployment of Pershing II and cruise missiles, he was elected one of the Green Party's first MPs in Bonn on a platform advocating the immediate shutdown of nuclear plants, a shorter workweek, withdrawal from NATO, and the dismantling of the German army. From his seat in the Bundestag (lower house of Parliament), Fischer was a gadfly, often heckling the government with wicked and humorous remarks.

      Fischer emerged as the clear leader of the Greens after the party failed to win seats in the legislature in 1990. His realist (Realo) faction, composed largely of Bundestag members, wanted the Greens to work within the political system, pursuing environmental goals but with more flexibility. The fundamentalist (Fundi) faction, which dominated the party's nonparliamentary executive committee, advocated a purist ideological posture and pushed to maintain its extraparliamentary roots and campaign for change at the local level. Fischer's Realo ideologies moved the Green Party beyond grass roots environmentalism. The party worked to curb automatic entitlements and to cut government bureaucracy, appealing to young professionals whose parents, holding the same jobs 10 years earlier, would never have voted Green. Fischer saw Germany bound militarily to the West, if not through NATO, then through a European alliance. That seemed to some a betrayal, but it returned the Greens to Bonn in 1994 with 7.3% of the vote. Fischer asserted that the Greens were no longer radical, as demonstrated by the party's pragmatic shift toward the centre that had been spurred by his leadership. (DANIEL LATHAM)

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Universalium. 2010.

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