It just seemed as if the Greens were getting back on the election campaign offensive after the series of breakdowns of their Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock with their core issue of climate protection and also thanks to mistakes made by CDU competitor Armin Laschet.

But then came the news of the embarrassment in Saarland: In the smallest area, the Greens are not allowed to compete with a state list after the incontestable judgment of the federal electoral committee due to serious errors in the list of candidates.

Thomas Holl

Editor in politics.

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This means that the party will not receive any second votes in the Bundestag election on September 26th in Saarland.

It is almost impossible for the party, which has traditionally performed poorly in elections, to win a direct mandate.

In the 2017 election, six percent and 35,117 second votes were just enough for the Greens for a mandate.

Markus Tressel had been elected for the Greens three times since 2009, and the 44-year-old politician from Saarlouis decided not to run for 2021.

In view of the good current polls, the Greens could have hoped for a doubling of their share of the vote or more this time.

Who is a cook, who is a waiter?

If the parties' race for places one and two in the federal government turns out to be just as close as in 2002, one or two missing mandates could cost Baerbock and the Greens the possible - albeit currently unlikely - chancellorship.

Because in the event that a traffic light coalition with the SPD and FDP would be enough after September 26th, the Greens smugly asked Joschka Fischer before the 1998 election and immediately answered the question of who cook or waiter ( in) will be in a coalition.

This time the answer would be more difficult when looking at party strength: Olaf Scholz or Annalena Baerbock?

In 2002 the SPD with Chancellor Schröder became the strongest party by a lead of 6000 votes ahead of the Union with Edmund Stoiber as the challenger.

There are many local causes and responsible actors for the fact that the Greens on the Saar could end up in a fiasco with an announcement. But also the behavior and the interventions of the Green leadership in Berlin in the state association have contributed a lot to this debacle. For years, the state party has been involved in power struggles and intrigues over the former state chairman Hubert Ulrich, who is acting in the background.

The 63-year-old Ulrich, whom his party friend Daniel Cohn-Bendit described years ago as a politician acting in the style of a “Mafioso”, resigned after the parliamentary end for the Greens in the 2017 state elections.

But Ulrich, who, like his political foster son Tressel, came from Saarlouis, pulled the strings with his loyal followers even after his apparent withdrawal and influenced personnel decisions in his mind.

This is what happened at the state party congress on June 20, which awarded the list places for the federal election.

Party congress disregards statutes

According to the statute actually laid down in the party statutes, the first place for entry into the Bundestag should have gone to a woman, since odd places on the list are female. A rule that the regional association had already ignored when Tressel was nominated. But this time, the Berlin party headquarters believed, a woman would get first place on the list. But the candidate for state chairwoman Tina Schöpfer fell through in three ballots and resigned after this humiliation.

Also at the instigation of the delegates from Saarlouis - notorious within the party as "Hubert's Army" - the women's statute was subsequently suspended and a man could be allowed to run for first place. And as luck would have it, to the surprise of the Greens, he was the alleged political retiree Ulrich. In a battle vote, Ulrich, also known as “Panzer” in the party, clearly defeated 25-year-old Jeanne Dillschneider. But with this coup the problems only started, which then led to the disaster on August 5th. Baerbock clearly criticized Ulrich's nomination and announced "intensive" talks with the Saar Greens.

The Baerbock confidante and political federal manager Michael Kellner "encouraged" party friends internally to go to the arbitration tribunals in order to reverse Ulrich's election, also out of concern about a legally insecure list. Since the regional arbitration court declared itself biased, the neighboring party court in Rhineland-Palatinate should decide.

Before that, however, the state executive, which was not dominated by Ulrich, decided that the state list should be re-established on July 17th. A few days later, the Rhineland-Palatinate arbitration court ruled that the Ulrich list could not be submitted to the state election committee due to a violation of the statutes and the participation of four non-voting party members. But the second list party congress could almost not take place. Previously, by decision of the Federal Arbitration Court, 49 delegates from Ulrich's local association Saarlouis had been excluded because their nomination had violated the publicity requirement. At the party congress without Ulrich and his mighty troops, Jeanne Dillschneider was voted first on the list.

But the state election committee did not allow this second state list requested by Kellner because the delegates from Saarlouis had been deprived of their voting rights. That violates the democratic principle of the Basic Law and is to be valued higher than the party statutes. A view that was followed by the Federal Election Committee, which the Federal Greens had called - and which, with its no to the state list, perhaps created the decisive factor in the federal election.