This was my speech at the Grüne Bundesdelegiertenkongress yesterday in Leipzig.
It was enough to get me more than 200 votes for position 14 on the list, and 299 votes for position 20. But not enough to get an electable position.
The structures of power in the party won out. Deals between the Länder, and between the power blocs, delivered the votes for other candidates. Being from Berlin, a Land that had half a dozen candidates in the running, and a Land that had no formal vote to back any one candidate, was not to my advantage. The extend to which these deals were to hold was not communicated to some of the candidates – I know I was not alone in having incomplete information.
Focus on your speech, I was told. I did. I delivered the best speech I could. And I delivered a speech that was, in my view, a lot better than those delivered by other candidates. Also I prepared the best online communication campaign I could (here). And I brought unique and relevant experience. But it was not enough. You learn from this.
The campaign overall was an important learning process, but not a pleasant one.
The raw competition between candidates really grated. It’s not my style. And even getting information was a problem – I heard about a hustings in Munich at 11pm on the day before it was due to happen – because they had conveniently not thought to email all candidates. And 250 Euro for a last minute rail ticket was beyond my means. And to be accused of being a liar by the number 4 on the list was a particular low point. Whatever I am, I am not a liar.
Being a candidate takes a big toll on a person. I’ve invested a hell of a lot of time and money (both directly, and due to lost earnings as a freelancer) in this. And still people tell me I did not travel the country enough. It worries me the extent to which a bid like this is next to impossible for many people for financial, professional or personal reasons. And such a bid is not good for your personal life – those closest to me have invested ridiculous amounts of time, for free, as well, and for no useful outcome.
The wider reaction to my candidature has also been interesting. Or, more notably, the lack of reaction. No-one with any level of responsibility in the party has tried to say OK, it didn’t work, but there’s something you can do for us. In fact throughout this process no high level support in the party has been forthcoming. It’s me that is at fault here I presume though.
So what do I do?
Here I draw a line.
EU politics is my thing. It is not as if, like some of the people who were successful, I would want to keep trying for every possible elected position at every level until finally being able to get one.
Were I to want to run for the European Parliament in 2024, the way to do so is clear – I would have to spend far more time travelling across Germany, work within some of the policy committees (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Europa) for example, and then make sure my network were similar to that of those who were successful. I’d have to immerse myself in the party even more than I have to date (and I already spend more time doing party politics than I think I should). Further, having seen how this congress worked out I am not at all sure I want to do that, but I know that it is necessary.
I have also felt a change in people’s reactions towards my other work having announced I would run for the EP. “You’ve crossed to the dark side now!” a journalist friend of mine joked to me recently. But he sort of had a point – that I would then be treated differently in my EU analysis work while being a candidate.
There might have been a chance to get a low spot on the list, a non-electable position. But I opted to not do that for these reasons – it would have made sense were I trying to run for some other role in the short term. But I am not. And I do not do things by halves – I do them with my whole determination and commitment, and after this weekend’s congress I do not have that full commitment at the moment. I may at some point regain that determination, but at the moment I do not have it.
I tried. I failed. I learn. And I move on.
I’ll go back to being a normal member of the Grüne. I’ll scale down my party activity somewhat. I will campaign in the EP election, but in the ways I wish, and for the candidates I want to back. And I will continue to blog, to analyse Brexit, to be active in EU politics in other ways.
But, above all, please now in no way consider me a politician or a wannabe politician. I’m back to where I was. I hope.