With “Anne Will”, Ricarda Lang said what was previously unthinkable for Greens. There are many indications that the green co-boss is currently launching a test balloon in the dispute over the nuclear power plant runtime extension. Jens Spahn also takes this step with the speed limit. What’s in store for us?

Was it a slip of the tongue? In any case, Ricarda Lang, co-leader of the Greens, did not categorically rule out an extension of the service life of the three nuclear power plants still in operation on Sunday evening at “Anne Will”. That would indeed be a taboo breach by the eco-party. After all, the founding principles 45 years ago were: “Ecological, social, grassroots democracy, non-violent”. This included a categorical “nuclear power, no thanks”, the trademark of the “ecos”.

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Lang’s party friend, Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck, recently announced a stress test in relation to the energy supply. Could there be a need for an extension of the term in the end?

Apparently yes. Literally in the ARD: “If you see that, unlike all the numbers so far, a power shortage is to be expected, we will of course put all the measures on the table again. But as of now, that doesn’t make any sense.”

As of now – that’s before the stress test. However, if the result is such that “all measures are put on the table again”, then, yes, then the Greens could suddenly prefer a realistic to an ideological solution, yes, they would have to prefer it. After all, their own economy minister runs the commissioning of closed coal-fired power plants. They are undoubtedly more harmful to the climate than the nuclear reactors, which the Greens always condemn. Even fracking gas is no longer taboo for the Greens in view of a possible energy shortage.

It is quite possible that in retrospect, Lang regretted addressing what was previously unthinkable for the Greens. But she did not take back what she had said, even under pressure from several questions. She ruled out only one thing, both decisively and emotionally: “An extension of the lifespan with new fuel rods, with new long-term lives and approval procedures.” Except that nobody has called for that so far, neither from the ranks of the traffic light parties nor from the opposition CDU/CSU.

The Greens already have problems within the party because the party has so far renounced sacred principles, not only in energy policy in view of the energy crisis triggered by Putin. It is also difficult for the left wing of the Öko-Party, which once emerged as a pacifist force, to bear the 100 billion euros in debt for the Bundeswehr. Quite apart from the fact that the Green Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is much more committed to arms deliveries to Ukraine than Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and his party comrade Christine Lambrecht, who is overwhelmed as defense minister.

The turning point triggered by Russia’s attack on Ukraine has not only forced the Greens to rethink. In the CDU, too, a speed limit of 130 on the autobahn is no longer seen as a death knell for its own automotive industry. The deputy leader of the party and parliamentary group, Andreas Jung, has now emphasized that a temporary speed limit should not be “taboo”: “In this situation, every party has to jump over its own shadow.” Many in the Union parliamentary group now think like him, Jung added.

In any case, the former health minister and current deputy parliamentary group leader Jens Spahn thinks like Jung. If the Greens are willing to make compromises on nuclear energy, such as extending the life of nuclear power plants by six months, then the CDU should not issue any “bans on thinking” about the speed limit. But not everyone in the Union thinks like Jung and Spahn. The Union also has something to do with “Fundis” on this issue. Most of them are in the CSU.

Did Lang say more in Anne Will’s talk show than she actually wanted, or did she deliberately let a test balloon rise? Much speaks for the latter. So far, no well-known Green Party has contradicted the co-chairs. Something similar is happening in the Union. The move away from the speed limit by Jung and Spahn has so far led to more opposition in their own ranks.

It is still unclear how the government will react if after July 21 Putin only starts gas deliveries to a limited extent or turns off the tap completely. In this turning point, however, old certainties are no longer a basis for the necessary decisions.

“The office changes people faster than people change the office,” is a wisdom of Green veteran Joschka Fischer. He had to find out for himself when, of all things, the first red-green federal government sent German soldiers into combat operations in the Kosovo war in 1999.

During the Ukraine war and the resulting energy crisis, Habeck and Baerbock, Fischer’s grandsons, are moving away from the once strict rejection of arms exports to crisis areas and from their call for an accelerated phase-out of coal. It is quite possible that the facts will prevail over beliefs when it comes to the issue of extending the term.