German Greens receive more large donations than Angela Merkel’s party

By Philip Oltermann in Berlin
Green party (Die Gruenen) co-chairwoman and top candidate for the upcoming German federal elections Annalena Baerbock.
Annalena Baerbock, the Greens (Die Grünen) co-chair, is a top candidate in the upcoming German federal elections. Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

Germany’s Greens have so far received more large donations ahead of this September’s federal elections than the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel, after a Dutch tech entrepreneur gave the environmental party the highest one-off sum of cash in its history.

Steven Schuurman, co-founder of software company Elastic, whose net worth is listed by Forbes magazine as 2bn US dollars (£1.45bn), on Tuesday transferred to the German Greens (Die Grünen) a donation of 1.25m euros (£1m).

A Greens spokesperson confirmed the receipt of the money and described it as the largest single donation in the party’s history. The party also believes this is the largest one-off donation to any party that has ever been declared to the Bundestag.

The donation is the second large sum given to the Greens this year: in April, the party confirmed it had received 1m euros (£860,000) from a software developer from Greifswald, who told the party he did not feel as if he deserved the riches he had made from speculating on bitcoin.

The party, which nominated co-leader Annalena Baerbock as its candidate for chancellor, is expected to double its showing in parliament compared to the last national vote in 2017, and could play a kingmaker role during the coalition-building phase after the vote.

Schuurman said the donation came with no strings attached and his companies did not stand to profit commercially from Green party policies in Germany.

“I had reached a point where I realised I wanted to use my money and time to make the world a little bit of a better place,” Schuurman said. “The climate crisis is such an immense and international challenge that you can only tackle it through governments.

“Germany is perhaps the most influential country in the EU, and I was impressed with the Greens’ party programme and that they have a candidate who recognises the urgency of the situation.”

“Humanity is a beautiful species,” he added. “This is the generation that will decide whether it will sail into the storm or change direction.”

The Greens’ general secretary, Michael Kellner, said the donation was a “significant sign of support for more climate protection”.

Schuurman’s donation means the party has this year received 3.14m euros (£2.7m) in donations of at least 50,000 euros (£43,000), more than the 2.95m euros (£2.5m) collected by the centre-right CDU, which is fielding party leader Armin Laschet as the candidate to step into Merkel’s shoes and has attracted the highest amount of private donor support at the last two elections.

The pro-business, low-tax Free Democratic party (FDP) is the beneficiary of the highest amount of larger donations, having received 3.6m euros (£3.1m) so far this year.

Schuurman earlier this year donated 1m euros to Dutch social-liberal party D66, and 350,000 euros (£300,000) to the Party for the Animals (PvdD) in the Netherlands.

German political parties are permitted to receive private donations from outside Germany as long as they come from within the EU.


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