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Candidate Tanja Prinz: Not elected in three rounds of voting this Saturday

Photo: Christophe Gateau / dpa

There have probably been better days for the Berlin Greens. The mood is tense to irritable. The state association surprisingly broke off the party congress on Saturday after the only candidate Tanja Prinz failed in the elections for the state chairmanship.

The 44-year-old from the Tempelhof-Schöneberg district association did not receive the necessary absolute majority in three rounds of voting at the state delegates' conference in Berlin-Moabit. As a result, she renounced a possible fourth round of voting.

The Greens vote: 41 votes in favour, 104 against

In the last round of voting, it received 41 votes in favour – with 104 votes against and 2 abstentions. In the two previous rounds of voting, support for them was even lower. There had already been an interruption after the second round of voting, during which Prinz had consulted with her supporters as to whether she should run again.

Even then, the chances of changing the delegates' minds were slim. Prinz said goodbye immediately after the vote: "Thank you very much, Merry Christmas!"

According to the Greens, the current state executive committee is still in office and fully capable of acting until a new board is elected. This is to be done at a continuation of the party congress, which is scheduled for Wednesday evening. A clear majority of the delegates agreed to a corresponding motion of procedure by the state board.

According to the statutes, the state association is led by a dual leadership, which must include at least one woman. So far, these are Philmon Ghirmai, who belongs to the left of the party, and Susanne Mertens from the Realo wing. Ghirmai called the result of the vote a clear vote that everyone must take seriously.

A difficult situation

"A situation has arisen that no one could wish for," said Ghirmai. He justified the motion to interrupt the party congress by saying that the election of the state executive committee should not be rushed. "We need to talk." Timur Ohloff, a delegate from the Mitte district association, criticized the procedure. It would have been better to present an opposing candidate at the party congress, he said.

In her speech at the party congress, Prinz had demanded that the black-red chapter be closed as quickly as possible. For Franziska Giffey, economics is nothing more than a photo shoot. Black-Red can't do it and plunders the coffers. The Greens must gain trust – "in the city centre and outside", according to the Reala from Lichtenrade. It would be an honor for me to be your national chairperson," she concluded. However, it did not get through to the delegates.

No leadership in sight

The question of who should lead the Berlin Greens in the future has already caused a lot of uncertainty in the party in recent weeks. Behind this is also the fear of a dispute over direction and internal party strife between the various parts of the party, for which the Berlin Greens were notorious years ago.

The leftists within the Greens, to which Ghirmai belongs, were overwhelmingly in favour of continuing the coalition with the SPD and the Left Party in the repeat election in February. Parts of the Realos, for whom Tanja Prinz stands, thought this was wrong. Prinz was in favor of keeping more coalition options open.

Another of their points of criticism: From their point of view, the Greens fell far short of their possibilities in the repeat election with 18.4 percent – in Berlin, of all places. And this is not fate, but also due to mistakes of the party.

A choice of direction for 2026

At the heart of the matter is the question of what the Greens want to rely on in the next election to the state parliament in 2026: on the old alliance partners? Or black-green or black-green-yellow? Should the national association be prepared to become Kai Wegner's next partner? The current Governing Mayor is said to have liked to form a coalition with the Greens as early as February – but did not receive a signal of serious interest from their side in time.

The questions remain unanswered, and even within the Realos, opinions differ. This was evident, for example, in the conflict between Prinz and the previous chairwoman Susanne Mertens. From the point of view of the critics from the Realo camp, Mertens has shown too little profile vis-à-vis the party's left and has relied too much on consensus.

At the end of October, Prinz therefore announced that he himself would run for the state chairmanship alongside Ghirmai. She narrowly prevailed over Mertens in a vote of the Realo wing. And shortly afterwards she announced that she did not want to run for office again.

The fact that Prinz failed so clearly on Saturday shows that there is no majority in the party for a clear change of course. The party must now clarify where the Greens should go. The continuation of the National Delegates' Conference is the first opportunity to do so.