The Greens can do without shouts of triumph. As cool winners, they don’t need that at all. Election after election, step by step, her party grows, gains weight, gains more influence. Just now in Schleswig-Holstein, and now in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen did so well, each with over 18 percent, that there is more and more talk of a third people’s party alongside the CDU/CSU and SPD. Not only kingmakers are seen, but also possible contenders for the throne, i.e. the chancellorship. Many, especially younger people, trust Robert Habeck to be capable of it.

When Habeck describes the challenges of the transformation of industry and the economy, he explains, as he says, “the physics”, the technical, explains financial matters and he explains himself by openly expressing his own concerns and social tasks . Green today means authentic, credible, pragmatic, responsible. So the Greens seem to have leased the word future, even secured it for themselves.

Even Russia’s attack on Ukraine is playing into their hands: without arousing suspicion of cynicism, the war is acting as a catalyst for the energy transition that is counteracting climate change. It is becoming clearer than ever these days that addiction to fossil fuels is misleading. But from the well-known, green Weg-mit! demands, the new, realistic vision of a sustainable management of the planet emerges, a “reconciliation of industry and ecology”, as was also heard on election night.

The green green, the ecological green, has the advantage of coloring the military olive green positively. Robert Habeck’s worried brow when he talks about the necessary arms deliveries to the Ukraine is evidently more convincing than the angry war cry of the hawks or the despondent fluttering of the doves of peace.

With the more than 13 million voters in North Rhine-Westphalia, however, factors that point beyond eco-green and olive green to the social factor, for example in the area of ​​schools and universities, will also have been relevant. The FDP had promised a lot here and delivered little. On the other hand, the educational policy of the Social Democrats, see Berlin, does not provide enough inspirational impulses. Half a year with Olaf Scholz as chancellor, who usually governs with a subdued voice in difficult times of crisis, can hardly be held responsible for the losses in North Rhine-Westphalia.

It was a long way from the dusty health food store of the 1970s to the stage of federal and world politics. For a long time, green politics, with all its aspects from consumer shirking to pacifism, was considered ideological and utopian. The early Greens seemed to many to be a mixture of sympathetic do-gooders and hard-wearing cranks. As traders of the apocalypse, they offered little that was attractive: dying forests, dying rivers, polluted oceans, toxic waste, tipping climate – a concert of catastrophes.

Gradually, however, many of the warnings turned out to be really true. Innovation spurts began in industry, and green terms made their way into advertising. Trade has long been booming, where labels promise “eco”, “organic”, “sustainable” or “grazing”. And after the general election, FDP leader Christian Lindner deliberately spoke of a “social-ecological market economy”, a magic formula for the traffic light government.

The fact that the green in the traffic light shines brighter than the liberals’ yellow, which is associated with profit interests, is part of the trend: In the most recent European elections, the Greens achieved their best European result to date, with the German Greens having the largest share. In any case, since this Sunday at the latest, Germany has the best chance of being the first Green-led government.