WEither in the state or in the federal government, the Greens each headed a ministry of the interior. At least if you disregard Otto Schily, who had long since switched to the SPD when he became Federal Minister of the Interior in 1998. This could change now. It is not unlikely that Robert Habeck will become Federal Minister of the Interior. The party chairman has always formulated reaching into other milieus than his political goal; he wants to finally get the Greens out of the eco-party niche.
The Ministry of the Interior would be the maximum exploitation – and quite an imposition for the party. But at a state council, Habeck recently said: It would be a “stair joke of history” if the Greens, who wanted to expect so much from society, were not prepared to expect anything from themselves. Does the Ministry of the Interior belong to it?
The Greens have clearly expressed interest in the Ministry of Finance, which is the second most important house in the federal government after the Chancellery and, from a Green point of view, the key department for climate policy. But the FDP also wants the house, party chairman Christian Lindner has leaned so far out of the window that it cannot be seen how he should do without without losing face. Some Greens think that this is his problem, not theirs. On the other hand, the Greens do not want the FDP to go into the coalition in a humiliated state; that would weaken stability from the outset.
Around 80,000 employees
In the logic of the previous governments, the Federal Ministry of the Interior was the third most important house. The mere figures alone prove that it is a political thick ship: the house has around 80,000 employees, including the twenty subordinate authorities. In the past, the Federal Minister of the Interior sat at the table in all important rounds. In the pandemic, the interior department was involved in every regulation, if only because there are simply not enough lawyers in the Federal Ministry of Health. As a constitutional department, the Ministry of the Interior must anyway be involved in all constitutional questions in the legislative process.
With this house, the Greens would undoubtedly have weight in the new federal government. But it would be challenging in several ways. The Federal Ministry of the Interior is considered “black”. This is not only due to the fact that the number of CDU members among the officials is allegedly particularly high, although there are also SPD members and occasionally even a few Greens. The house is characterized by the fact that the house management was in the hands of the CDU or CSU for most of the time, interrupted only by Schily under Red-Green and ministers of the FDP between 1969 and 1982. In addition, the daily concern with dangers to security shapes the view on reality. Many civil servants have little to do with the green concern of “total surveillance without cause”.
Especially since the self-confidence of the specialist level in the Federal Ministry of the Interior is pronounced. The fact that Habeck is not a lawyer would not make it any easier for him. Just as little as the fact that the number of experienced domestic politicians among the Greens can be counted on one hand. Here, too, the lack of government experience at the state level is noticeable. Irene Mihalic, formerly a police officer herself, and Konstantin von Notz, previously deputy parliamentary group leader for home affairs and law, could become parliamentary state secretaries – but who else? The Greens will also find it difficult to find a replacement for the permanent state secretaries and department heads, who are often replaced when there is a change of government. If they stay, Habeck will have to come to terms with them. Because to make politics against the house would be a hopeless endeavor.
It goes without saying that one will be loyal to any leadership, according to the ministry. However, a green minister also has to deal with the reality on the desks. It is doubtful whether the Greens have fully understood what this means. In the party one can hear that a “new narrative” can be found for the interior ministry: As a “Germany ministry” one wants to present the house, which cares for social cohesion, for integration, fights against hatred, agitation and right-wing extremism and finally breathe life into the home department that Horst Seehofer (CSU) had founded. Apart from the fact that a lot of things are not so easy due to the competence of the federal states, the central departments of the House of Public Security and Migration are and will remain. Both are difficult issues for the Greens.
The party has changed
Of course, the party has changed since the founding Greens celebrated civil disobedience, sympathized with the release of prisoners, and engaged in violent clashes with police. For years the Greens have not only been demanding better equipment for the police, they have also publicly thanked them for operations, including those against the left-wing scene. Not everyone likes that at the grassroots level, where the old enemy image of the police is still very popular. Habeck wrote in his blog in detail and appreciatively about a day on a Frankfurt police patrol. And for a few years now, the green parliamentary group has been holding a police congress. Although the Greens want to commission a study on racism in the security authorities, they warn against blanket judgments.
The Greens no longer want to abolish the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, but rather to set up a new one. The Greens are critical of additional competencies for the security authorities, such as online searches, but are no longer completely nailed down here. It remains to be seen whether you are ready for the next step.