Jakob Blasel is under pressure. Between phone calls with journalists and discussions with fellow campaigners, the 19-year-old, one of the most famous faces of Fridays for Future (FFF), learns for his law degree. He is also an intern at the office of Lisa Badum, the climate policy spokeswoman for the Green Group. Nonetheless, he won’t miss the big FFF protest – he wants to strike in Kiel for the climate, where he currently lives.
Blasel’s awareness has risen again since he recently announced via Twitter that he would run for the next Bundestag for the Greens, of which he is a member. “In the next term, we must fight the climate crisis with all determination. It’s our last chance, ”says Blasel. He wants to be part of the fight in parliament.
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He is not skimping on the demands of the FFF, which some call radical. “My goal is for the Greens to include the demands in their election manifesto.”
The corona crisis had taken the FFF out of its sails for a while. The climate problem disappeared from the headlines, schools were temporarily closed and demonstrations were also banned. Even FFF icon Greta Thunberg appeared in public less often. She is also going back to school. Still, the movement overcame the difficult times. Today, Friday, the activists report to the streets again.
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But how does the FFF as a movement deal with the fact that some supporters now want to join parliament and thus become part of the political system that has largely rejected their demands so far? Even the Greens do not argue that Germany should be carbon neutral by 2035.
‘Some FFFs like that I run. Some cannot understand it, ”says Blasel. He respects that, he sees no other way for himself. “What we achieve along the way is great. The place where things go wrong is in parliament. That’s why Blasel wants to go in there.
The sociologist Klaus Hurrelmann is skeptical whether both levels – the political movement FFF and the parties – can be brought together. “Finding compromises is the work of the devil for Fridays for Future. Their mark is an absolute must, ”says Hurrelmann. In contrast, finding compromises is a politician’s daily business. This could not only lead to tensions within the FFF, but especially within the parties, for which the former activists would stand up. First of all, these are the Greens. There are also FFF activists who want to run for the Left Party.
The Greens have shown how a political movement can develop into a party: they have their roots in the environmental movement and especially in the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s. But at one point, massive protests were no longer enough for the activists. One wanted to change the system from within.
“Even Jürgen Trittin represented things he had previously rejected”
“The estrangement between the extra-parliamentary opposition (ApO) in the form of environmentalists and the Green Party has not failed to materialize,” said Dieter Rucht, a Berlin sociologist who specializes in political movements. The cooperation would work temporarily, but in the long term there are two playing fields with different rules: “The MP must orientate himself on what the voter wants to maintain his power. The ApO is not under this pressure. That could mean that such alliances don’t last long.
“Many newly elected members of the Bundestag may assume that party logic isn’t rubbing on them. But even Jürgen Trittin later represented things that he had previously vehemently rejected, ”says Rucht. For Trittin, once a vivid member of the anti-Akw movement, sit-downs against Castor transports were part of the natural tools of the green movement. When he helped negotiate the nuclear consensus as Minister of Green Environment, he advised against the green base to avoid sit-ins. He was misunderstood by his former activist colleagues.
“This may give the impression that the most important thing is that they are in their power and involved in parliament and the government, they don’t care about the rest,” says Rucht. Until now, however, the activists of Fridays for Future have not allowed themselves to be frustrated by the fact that politicians do not implement their demands one on one.
Blasel, who is a member of the Schleswig-Holstein Greens, is not afraid that party operations will exhaust him and that he will only pay attention to the favor of the voters. “I am lucky that Green voters approve of my demands.” He too received a lot of encouragement from the party. He will likely have to accept compromises anyway – at the latest when the Greens begin coalition negotiations.
What needs to be done is non-negotiable, Blasel says. But about how. “There are many ways to protect the climate.” That FFF activists have not founded their own party, but are now joining established parties, is quickly explained from Blasel’s point of view: the climate crisis simply leaves no time to form their own party.