Hans-Christian Ströbele

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Hans-Christian Ströbele
Christian Stroebele 2010.jpg
Member of the German Bundestag
Incumbent
Assumed office
1998
Personal details
Born (1939-06-07) 7 June 1939 (age 75)
Halle, Province of Saxony
Nationality German
Political party Alliance '90/The Greens
Alma mater Free University of Berlin
Occupation Lawyer
Website www.stroebele-online.de

Hans-Christian Ströbele, German pronunciation: [hans ˈkʀɪsti̯an ˈʃtʀøːbələ], (born 7 June 1939) is a German politician and lawyer. He is a member of the German Green party.

Education and early career[edit]

Ströbele studied law and political science in Heidelberg and at the Free University of Berlin. He has practiced law since 1969 in Berlin. In the late 1960s he was involved in the student movement. From 1970 to 1974, he was a member of the SPD. He was also a member of the "Socialist Lawyers' Collective" for ten years, and rose to national fame defending militants of the urban guerrilla group Red Army Faction and other defended political activists.[1]

In 1983, Ströbele was convicted by the Berlin District Court of supporting terrorist groups through his smuggling of information between members serving in prison. The Court concluded that Ströbele had helped decisively to keep the groups active during their time in prison.

Beginnings of the Green Party[edit]

Ströbele co-founded the "Alternative List for Democracy and Environmental Protection," a predecessor to the Berlin chapter of the Greens. He was a member of the Bundestag from 31 March 1985 until 1987 (the end of the term). On the Berlin state level, he helped facilitating the red-green coalition of 1989/1990.

Ströbele became the party’s spokesman in June 1990 but he stood down in February 1991 after opposing the Persian Gulf War. This included opposition to the delivery of Patriot missiles to Israel during an official visit of the party in the country. As of 1992 he continued as assemblyman of the Greens in the Tiergarten borough of Berlin.

Member of Parliament, 1998-[edit]

In 1998, when the Greens became the junior partner in a government led by Gerhard Schröder, Ströbele entered the German parliament (Bundestag) again through his place on the Green Party's electoral list. Since then, he has been a member of the Parliamentary Control Panel, which provides parliamentary oversight of Germany’s intelligence services. Between 2002 and 2009, Ströbele also served as one of the deputy chairpersons of the Green Party’s parliamentary group in the Bundestag.

During the early years of the Schröder government Ströbele became opposed to the politics of Green foreign minister Joschka Fischer, in particular the troop deployments in the Kosovo War (1999) as well as Operation Enduring Freedom (2001). Leading an effort to organize a 1999 national party congress to debate the party's stand on Kosovo, Ströbele collected 500 signatures from within the party to demand an end to NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia.[2] In 2001, he urged the Greens to leave the coalition government.[3]

During the pre-elections of the Greens to the German federal election, 2002, Ströbele was not given a place on the Green Party list, at that point generally assumed to be the only way a Green candidate could gain a seat in parliament according to Germany's proportional representation electoral system. In that situation he chose to campaign for a direct mandate in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Prenzlauer Berg East constituency holding positions that were remarkably different from the Green's official election campaign. Unexpectedly he won the direct mandate with 31.6% plurality vote becoming the first and only Green to hold a direct seat in parliament since 2002. In the federal elections of 2005 he won another direct mandate, now with a 43.2% majority of the votes. Given his local reputation, other parties tried to counter him with creative campaigns (notably Vera Lengsfeld’s "We have more to offer") for the federal elections of 2009 but again Ströbele won the direct mandate, now by 46.8% of the vote and again with 39.9% in 2013.

Political positions[edit]

Military engagement[edit]

Ströbele has consistently voted against the participation of the German Bundeswehr in the NATO-led security mission ISAF in Afghanistan. In 2010, he abstained from the vote on German participation in United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon but has subsequently voted against its renewal.

In numerous cases, however, Ströbele has in voted in favor of German participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions as well as in United Nations-mandated European Union peacekeeping missions on the African continent, such as in Darfur/Sudan (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014), South Sudan (2011, 2012 and 2013), and the Central African Republic (2014). Yet he opposed Operation Atalanta in Somalia (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), EUTM Mali (2013 and 2014) and EUTM Somalia (2014). In 2014, he abstained from the vote on a German mandate for the peacekeeping mission EUFOR RCA in the Central African Republic.

Role of German intelligence during the Iraq war[edit]

In 2006, Ströbele was one of the authors of a classified report prepared by a committee of the German Parliament that held closed-door hearings on the role of German intelligence during the Iraq War. The German report confirmed many details in a 2005 classified American report by the Joint Forces Command which spoke of the German intelligence liaison officer working in coordination with American intelligence in Qatar. However, Ströbele contended that the parliamentary report was largely based on incomplete and partially censored information provided by the German intelligence agency BND and wrote a dissenting comment on the report which he posted on his Web site.[4]

Visit of Pope Benedict XVI[edit]

When Pope Benedict XVI addressed members of the German Parliament during his first official visit to Berlin in 2011, Ströbele – who had opposed the pope’s appearance due to his positions on women in the church, gay rights and victims of sexual abuse by priests – stood up and left as the speech began. Benedict then singled his party out for praise, saying that “the emergence of the ecological movement in German politics since the 1970s” represented a “cry for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside.” [5]

Eurozone crisis[edit]

During the Eurozone crisis, Ströbele was the only member of the Green Party's parliamentary group to vote against Germany's support for implementing a series of financial support measures such as the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and European Stability Mechanism (ESM) in June 2012,[6] citing constitutional objections.[7]

NSA surveillance and Edward Snowden[edit]

On 31 October 2013, Ströbele – then the longest serving member of the parliamentary committee that oversees German intelligence[8] – and journalist Georg Mascolo met with Edward Snowden in Moscow to discuss the possibility of the NSA whistleblower testifying before the German parliamentary committee investigating foreign spying in Germany and obtaining access to cell phone calls on German government officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.[9][10]

Arms exports[edit]

Following a controversial 2011 deal to export German tanks to Saudi-Arabia, Ströbele threatened to appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court should the federal government continue to refuse to release any information. In 2014, he – alongside fellow Green Party parliamentarians Katja Keul and Claudia Roth – lodged a complaint before the Federal Constitutional Court, arguing that it was unconstitutional for the government to keep the Bundestag in the dark about planned arms deals because it prevented the parliament from doing its job of keeping the government in check. The court ruled that while the government did not have to disclose information about planned defense exports, it did have an obligation to provide the Bundestag with details, on request, once specific arms deals had been approved.[11]

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]