The End of War Fatigue

Support for arms build-up has increased massively among Green Party voters. Party sympathizers are particularly affluent, less affected by the backlash from sanctions.

BERLIN (Own report) – With bellicose demands such as an end to “war fatigue,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock can hope for higher-than-average approval among the Green voters, according to recent opinion polls on the questions of arms-buildup and arms deliveries to Ukraine taken among the party’s supporters. The opinion that one must “be prepared to defend one’s country and freedom by any means necessary,” is expressed more decisively among supporters of the Green Party than among supporters of all other parties. Greens are also far ahead in endorsing deliveries of heavy weaponry. The explanation for this phenomenon can be found in the development of the party itself, whose founding generation has long since made its way from the 1980s social movements up into well-paid and secure professional positions. The proportion of civil servants and those holding public service positions is greater and of low-income workers smaller among the Greens, than in all other parties. Thus, Greens are individually least affected by the negative backlash sanctions have on their own country’s supplies and the economy.

Deterrence rather than Disarmament

As recent polls confirm, not only the Green Party’s functionaries and members of parliaments, but its voters have completely turned away from former peace-movement positions. In 1989, “only six percent of West-Germany’s Green Party sympathizers were convinced that military “deterrence is the best defense,” whereas today that figure is 62 percent, according to a survey by the Allensbach Institute.[1] By contrast, “the hope that unilateral concessions could benefit disarmament,” shrank “from 77 to 35 percent.” Regarding the Ukraine war, an average of 57 percent of the German population opines “that one must be prepared to defend one’s country and freedom by any means necessary.” This is “most resolutely expressed by Green Party” sympathizers. Asked, in another survey, if the West should deliver heavy weaponry to Ukraine, 67 percent of the Green supporters responded “yes”. With 70 percent, the approval was slightly higher only among FDP voters. With an approval rate of 53 percent, even voters of the CDU/CSU were much more reluctant than their Green counterparts.[2]

„Realpolitik in its most Brutal Expression”

This shows that particularly aggressive statements by Green government politicians are very much in line with the sentiment prevailing among Green voters. “We must also deliver heavy weaponry,” Anton Hofreiter, Green member of the Bundestag demanded on April 6. This would be „Realpolitik in its most brutal expression” and – regarding the question whether Russia could classify Germany a party to the war– “risky” but still necessary.[3] A little later, German Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Green Party) declared, it would be “important that the West supports Ukraine with additional” particularly “more effective weapons.” “Germany should not make an exception.”[4] Özdemir claimed that, after all, arms deliveries were necessary to prevent a global famine – with military successes against Russia. German Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Green Party) chimed in “more weapons must be provided,” the minister demanded in mid-April. “Of course, brutalizing the war also means scaling up the quantity and quality of arms deliveries.”[5] After all, the Ukrainian armed forces are fighting against Russia “also on our behalf.”

“A Moment of Fatigue”

Last but not least, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Green Party) regularly jumps out front demanding the severest possible sanctions against Russia – thereby outdoing even politicians from the conservative Christian-Democratic parties, known for their harsh tones in Moscow’s direction. Just days after the war began, Baerbock announced that the West’s sanctions should “ruin Russia.”[6] In mid-May, she added that Germany will ”never again” import gas from Russia. This prompted cautious criticism from CDU Chair, Friedrich Merz, saying “I do not share this apodictic form” of the foreign minister’s announcement.[7] Last week, Baerbock caused quite a stir, when she warned against “war fatigue”: “We have reached a moment of fatigue,” alleged the Green politician.[8] This is due, not least, to the fact that the prices for energy and food have risen sharply, provoking growing dissatisfaction within the population. Despite this, she insisted, the sanctions against Russia must be maintained. The sanctions are massively contributing to the hike in energy and food prices,[9] which Baerbock, simply denies, so as not jeopardize the economic war against Russia.

The Greying of the Greens

Thanks to the socio-economic situation of its voters, the Greens have relatively little problems with escalating the war and the sanctions, because their supporters are materially particularly well off and often solidly secure, in comparison to those of other parties. This is due to the party’s development since the 1980s. Whereas in 1980, nearly 80 percent of the Green voters were below the age of 35, this age group was only 27.8 percent in the 2017 parliamentary elections.[10] Younger voters still constitute a particularly strong proportion of the party’s electorate. In the 2021 parliamentary elections, it was the strongest force, garnering around 23 percent of the votes of the 18 – 24-year-olds.[11] However, many voters of the 1980s have remained faithful to the party. Sometimes there is even talk of the party’s “greying.” Reflecting its origins in the strongly academia-influenced social movements of the 1980s, the Green Milieu has the highest academic qualifications. In 2016, around 37 percent of the Greens’ supporters had a college degree – considerably more than the supporters of the FDP (32 percent), the Left Party (31 percent) and the SPD (21 percent).[12]

Affluent, Secure

This is also related to the fact that the Green voters have incomes well above the average. For example, the median value – the numerical half of the entire electorate – of needs-adjusted monthly incomes, is higher among the Greens, than within any other party.[13] The same holds true for the proportion of civil servants (10 percent), and those holding public service positions (40 percent), the supporters of the Greens are in the lead by a wide margin. The backlash of sanctions on the German economy will hardly impact them directly. On the other hand, only 10 percent of their voters hold so-called “menial” – low-paying – jobs, less than in all the other parties. In terms of the proportion of their electorate who are members of trade unions, the Greens (18 percent) are only ahead of the Christian-Democrats (17 percent) and the FDP (16 percent).

Goodbye to the Peace Movement

As was noted in a short analysis published in 2020, the Green Party voters, in accordance with their material situation, “today, are still left-wing only on socio-political issues” – such as LGBT equality – whereas “on social and economic policy,” they have long since abandoned earlier positions.[14] In a period, where the decline of the West is jeopardizing the accustomed material prosperity of bourgeois milieus also in Germany, this is also being compounded by the final renunciation of their earlier peace movement positions in the power struggles against the global political rivals – Russia and China.


[1] Renate Köcher: Neues Leitbild „Wehrhafter Frieden“. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27.05.2022.

[2] Silke Kersting, Jürgen Klöckner: Die Wandlung der Grünen: Plötzlich Panzerfans statt Pazifisten. 30.04.2022.

[3] Serafin Reiber, Jonas Schaible: „Scholz muss handeln, Europa wartet darauf“. 06.04.2022.

[4] Özdemir fordert mehr Waffen für Ukraine. 17.04.2022.

[5] Habeck fordert mehr Waffen für die Ukraine. 15.04.2022.

[6] See also “Russland ruinieren“.

[7] Marie Illner: Merz widerspricht Baerbock: „Teile ich in dieser apodiktischen Form nicht“. 12.05.2022.

[8] Baerbock warnt vor Kriegsmüdigkeit. 25.05.2022.

[9] See also  Die Hungerkrise (II) und Die Sanktionen schlagen zurück.

[10] Frank Decker: Wahlergebnisse und Wählerschaft der GRÜNEN. 01.09.2020.

[11] Frauen und Rentner lassen Union abstürzen, die Jungen bestimmen die Kanzlermacher. 27.09.2021.

[12], [13] Karl Brenke, Alexander S. Kritikos: Wählerstruktur im Wandel. In: DIW Wochenbericht Nr. 29 (2017). S. 595-606.

[14] Frank Decker: Wahlergebnisse und Wählerschaft der GRÜNEN. 01.09.2020.