Following Germany’s recent election, coalition talks are underway to determine the structure of the next government and who will replace Angela Merkel as chancellor. In this episode of The Conversation Weekly podcast, we find out what the results tell us about the preferences of German voters – and we dig into the history of the Greens, now one of the kingmakers in coalition talks.
We also hear from a researcher looking at the health benefits of saunas and hot baths, especially after exercise.
Germany has entered a frenzied phase of coalition talks. Olaf Scholz and his Social Democratic Party (SPD) emerged with the largest number of seats in the Bundestag, the German parliament, in the 26 September election. However, Scholz would have to work with at least two other parties to form a majority. The kingmakers are the Greens, who are in third place, and the Liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) in fourth. While not natural allies, their leaders have already started talks.
Read more: Germany election: Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats top but smaller parties hold the key to government
Angela Merkel, whose Christian Democratic Union party voted for the SPD and finished second, will remain as caretaker chancellor until a coalition agreement is reached. It could take months.
“I think Merkel will hold the so-called neuzharsansprachen, New Year’s address, at the end of December,” says Jasmine Riedl, a professor of political science at the Bundeswehr University Munich in Germany.
The Greens’ 14.8% of the vote was not as much as their candidate for chancellor, Annalena Baerbock had expected. He led the election with 25% in one phase earlier this year. But Riedl says the Greens are still one of the big winners of this election, doubling their vote share from the last 2017 election. “The climate question is certainly very much on people’s minds,” she says, adding that both the Greens and the FDP did particularly well with voters under the age of 25.
In this episode we track the history of the Greens, from their early days as an “anti-party” party in West Germany in the 1980s, before merging into the East German Alliance 90 party, until today, the first party. Dropped one into the field. candidate for chancellor.
Nico Switek, guest professor of German studies at the University of Washington in the US, says it began as a “very colorful group” of people with diverse perspectives ranging from feminism to pacifism and even some more conservative elements. “Over time, the party became markedly more leftist,” he explains, before giving up some of its former radicalism and becoming more pragmatic as it came closer to power. He explains how the Greens have in recent years entered into coalitions at the state level with several other parties, including conservatives and liberals, which have opened them up to criticism for being too close to big business.
Chantal Sullivan-Thomset, a PhD candidate in German and politics at the University of Leeds in the UK, explains how the membership of the Greens has changed over the past few decades, and the concerns of party members she has spoken to for her research. Some are concerned about how to sell the changes needed to address the climate crisis to the general public: “That if you go really radical, your chances of winning over your heart and mind are very low. ” Others really wanted the Greens to talk more about system change, she said: “For them it’s about how we stop people from consuming.”
In our second story, we talk to a researcher investigating how good saunas and hot baths are for your health. Charles James Steward, PhD candidate in the Center for Sport, Exercise and Life Sciences at Coventry University, studies the health benefits of long, regular soaks and how they can improve – and even mimic – the effects of exercise. Effect. He describes what the evidence tells us so far and the experiments he is using for further investigation.
Read more: Can’t cope with running? take a hot bath or sauna – research shows they offer some of the same benefits
Plus, Lucia Caballero, environment and energy editor at The Conversation in Madrid, gives us some of her recommended readings.
This episode of The Conversation Weekly was produced by Mend Marivani and Gemma Ware, with sound design by Eloise Stevens. Our theme music is by Neeta Saral. you can find us on twitter @TC_audioon Instagram, at theconversationdotcom or via email at [email protected] You can also sign up for The Conversation’s free daily email here.
News clips in this episode are from ZDFheute Nachrichten, DW News, France 24 English, BBC News, BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRNEN, ABC News and Sky News.
You can listen to The Conversation Weekly through any of the apps listed above, download it directly through our RSS feed, or find out how to listen more here.