November 1, 2000
German Green Warns Against Nader Threat
A founding member of the Green Party in southern Germany calls Ralph Nader's U.S. Green Party campaign "immature" and an "alarming" threat that could put into power a Republican who is "a certified polluter" opposed to the ideals of Greens on both sides of the Atlantic.
In a statement about Nader's impact on Campaign 2000, Martin Kilian, who helped found the German Green Party in Konstanz in 1979, said the winner-take-all electoral system in the United States differs dramatically from the German political system. Under that system, the Greens could gain seats in parliament by winning 5 percent of the vote or more.
"Back in the 1970s, we too had felt that we always voted for a 'lesser evil,' the Social Democrats in our case," Kilian said. "Yet we were lucky. Germany has a parliamentary government and a proportional election system. No vote for us was lost as long as we got up to 5 percent."
Kilian, now a journalist living in Charlottesville, Va., noted that the Greens in Germany used their seats in the parliament to join the coalition government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a Social Democrat. Joschka Fischer, a Green, is Germany's current foreign minister.
"The American situation, alas, is very different," Kilian said. "America is not a parliamentary democracy and proportional representation doesn't exist – the winner takes all. Under this scenario, Ralph Nader, the Green presidential candidate, could throw the American presidential election to the Republicans – a highly alarming prospect.
"The next American president would be a certified polluter and a man who couldn't be further from any ideals the Greens here and on the other side of the Atlantic espouse.
"As somebody who has voted Green since 1979 in Germany, I don't understand the reasoning behind Nader's position. The bottom line of all progressive politics is the improvement of people's lives and the protection of the environment. George W. Bush, on both accounts, would be a step back. Just look at his tax cut or a Bush energy policy.
"The position of the American Greens is highly questionable and outright immature, if you ask me."