The most important election since the founding of the European Union is to be held this September as Angela Dorothea Merkel, one of the longest ruling elected politician, steps down.
It’s the end of an era in many ways and very much the beginning of a new one with a once weak Germany now feeling confident.
It is also in some ways the end of a generation, with this election likely to be the first in Germany that will probably be decided more by the millennials than the baby boomers.
And thus a fresh face seems to be rising, Annalena Baerbock (pictured with our own added bitcoin) who is currently the co-leader of the German Greens.
The Greens there are to decide this month which of their co-leaders will be Chancellor if they win. Baerbock leads, with the general opinion being that she will be nominated, although of course one can never rule out what arguably would be stupid surprises.
That’s because she looks the part, and if she is nominated therefore, the Greens may perform even better than current opinion polls suggest.
That’s as much due to the Greens themselves as to the opposition which appears to be in disarray.
Neither of the old men in CDU/CSU, current rulers of Germany, seems to court much enthusiasm or optimism. Some may even suggest they’d be a Gordon Brown after the long rule of Tony Blair. Thus the polls:
Both CDU and SPD have seen a fall, with FDP (Liberal Democrats) interestingly rising at the same time as the greens. Making a potential Green and Yellow coalition a very first in the entire world.
AfD, in some ways the mirror opposite of Greens, looks somewhat static, something that may well make them a wasted vote.
The Green thus are the hot new thing, and so what they say in their manifesto matters and quite a lot for the entire continent, especially at this early stage.
As you’d expect by their name, their focus is the environment but in a realistic rather than an ideological way.
That means they will build more train lines, push renewable energy, get more electric cars, that sort of stuff.
They are what can be called European patriots. They want a Federal Europe, eventually, with majority voting, a law making parliament, a fiscal union, being some of the steps to get to the point where there is an EU budget through direct taxation.
On the economy they argue “regionalization in critical areas and global cooperation belong together.”
They also mention cryptocurrency in a section about Monetary and Fiscal Policy where they talk mostly about the central bank, with their draft manifesto stating:
“Central banks should create their own standards for digital currencies. This requires European regulation for their development, which establishes legal certainty for consumers. An undermining of the money and currency monopoly through private currencies in the euro area may not be allowed.
Digital payments, cryptocurrencies and the people behind the accounts must be traceable. A government infrastructure is needed to combat crimes such as money laundering, depictions of sexual violence against children, tax evasion and the financing of terrorist activities.”
The first part is obviously talking about central bank digital currencies, here contrasted with ‘private’ currencies, by which presumably they mean something like Libra.
In the second paragraph then they talk about public currencies, or cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin etc, with the Greens seemingly saying AML and KYC must apply.
If that is the correct interpretation, then they’re not really saying much because AML/KYC has applied to cryptos in the United States since 2013.
There can however be other interpretations, that by ‘private currency’ they mean bitcoin, but then why also mention cryptos and say they need to be traceable, meaning AML/KYC needs to apply.
The worry for bitcoiners is of course that since they are Green, they don’t like bitcoin at all, but that would be an extremist stance on the environment, with the German Greens being a center party rather than a radical party.
What matters to them therefore is not that energy is used, but how it is produced. For European and North American mining, some 90% of it is through renewable energy.
Due to the intense competition to mine bitcoin, which means securing any efficiency gains especially where energy production is concerned as that is most of the cost of mining, it is easily envisionable that market forces will lead to innovation in energy production in this space more than in any other industry.
There is little incentive for example to upgrade your house to be more energy efficient. There is almost total incentive to upgrade your mining energy setup because if your competitor does and you don’t, you’re out of business.
Hence miners generally tend to go to remote areas and setup hydro power as that is most efficient. In that process they could well be driving advancements on how such power is produced, something that could lead to lower costs and/or more abundance of renewable energy.
They could even get into the production of solar panels, driving that industry forward and so lowering costs or increasing productivity for all.
A stance against bitcoin due to energy usage therefore would be counterproductive if the aim is to increase renewable energy usage and production as well as to foster an environment where there can be much innovation in the production of such renewable energy.
Then there are cryptos like ethereum which are going Proof of Stake, so making that argument mute, but even for bitcoin, this is one of few industries of scale that has an inbuilt incentive to harness renewable energy production, and thus one of the few that can give rise to energy scientists and so on, increasing the chances of innovation.
Because ultimately the answer must be innovation, or at least that must be a key part of it, with bitcoin mining already driving innovation in semiconductors.
Their manifesto therefore seems to suggest at worst they’ll be neutral on bitcoin, with their new slogan being Change Creates Stability.
That’s quite catchy as most agree some change is needed to maintain Europe’s advancement, with their change on offer being a green European continent that has a global outlook and influence.
If that is the right recipe to win over Germans remains to be seen, but on visuals – and presuming Baerbock gets nominated – she has arguably won.
That would usher in a new generation of politics and a new continent, with it probable all European and global capitals will be paying close attention to what might even be called Germany’s first international election in living memory.