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Green Party Member Activism in 2018/2019 – the gentrification of protest

Wednesday 3 February 2021, 13:00

Postgraduate Researcher Chantal Sullivan-Thomsett presented this talk as part of the Research Seminar Series hosted by the School of Politics and International Studies.


Which of the following are true facts about the German Green Party?

1. It was an erstwhile protest party.
2. It was a former national government coalition partner.
3. Baden-Württemberg, home to Mercedes Benz, is the first German state to have a Green state prime minister.
4. They were the second largest party in Germany in the 2019 EU elections.

The answer is: all of them. These are all traits of the past and present German Greens. Despite the professionalisation of the Greens leading them to the political centre, the party and its membership still genuinely support, encourage and take part in ecological and social protests and demonstrations that often lead to criticism and accusations of hypocrisy. Based on nine months of ethnographic fieldwork in Berlin, Kiel and Stuttgart, this paper will examine the activism of Green Party members in both party and protest movements during a period of unprecedented electoral success at state and European level, and amongst the emergence of the Fridays for Future movement. Through an interpretive analysis highlighting the links between locality, history and perception, this paper will introduce how Green Party involvement in protest could illustrate a gentrification of protest.