Mosel bridge latest - Greens wilt
3 May 2011 by Sarah Washington

The following is the exasperated blog written late last night by Sarah Washington, who has led the vigorous and vociferous worldwide campaign against the proposed building of an ugly, expensive and unnecessary bridge across the Mosel. Further comments on the forum include Sarah's open letter to the German Green party. For plenty more articles on the Mosel bridge issue, click on the tag at the bottom of the page.

There was no will from the Green party in Rheinland-Pfalz to stand up for German culture or a new transport agenda. Barring an upset from the party faithful at the weekend, they will agree to build the Hochmoselübergang (Mosel bridge).

Kurt Beck was adamant he wanted the bridge built, and the Greens feared he would go into a coalition with the CDU if they challenged him. They were not willing to risk their chance at government by calling his bluff, and will now have to be part of the government that builds the bridge.

The only concession achieved was an agreement to monitor the unstable slopes at Ürzig and Graach for signs of landslide trouble. (You'd have thought they needed to do that anyway.) In theory, building companies must also compensate for any future problems with the vineyards, in effect meaning they will never pay a penny as nothing can be proved.

In the end it turns out to have been purely a question for the state of Rheinland-Pfalz alone, where not enough Green voters are perceived to care about the bridge as each has their own pet project to fight for. This is a reflection of the guiding principle of a parochial German politics: 'every man for himself'. Every neighbour only cares for themselves, every village only cares for itself, every district only cares for itself and every state cares only for itself.

You hate the fact that a man in your village got a favourable reshuffle in a bridge-inspired land reform, so therefore the bridge must be built. A neighbour hates a guy in the opposite village because he sold his land to the government for the bridge for a high price, therefore the bridge must be built. Your mayor wants to build a monumental new mayoral mansion for your village and he can ask the state for the money as recompense, so the bridge must be built. Your neighbouring region is envious of your 2,000-year-old wine culture that has brought you some success over the centuries, therefore (to stop you having it so good) the bridge must be built.

Envy forged from mistrust is the backbone of German society and therefore politics. Or is it caused by rotten politics?

Ultimately, the reason the Green negotiators did not listen to the intense pressure from the rest of Germany and the world was because they think it is better to rule than to stand on principle. In a federal system, each state can afford to ignore the outside world. There is no thought of what is best for Germany, of how to guide her future. Therefore it is unimaginable that there is a will to protect a unique culture that developed long before the country ever did. And once the voting is over, it is assumed that no one will remember in five years who did or said what. This strategy is a gamble, one that has been shown to rack up damaging costs in the long run. The only thing that many potential Green voters will remember is which party signed the agreement to build 'the bridge the world did not want'.

The thousands of people across the globe who believe to the bottom of their souls that this vandalism must not go ahead are too fragmented to affect political decisions here.

We need another way. We will seek it. Absurdity cannot be allowed to rule the day.