BERLIN – A German graffiti artist known for his depictions of the humble banana spray-painted a placard featuring the fruit in the capital Berlin on Saturday as part of a protest action calling for holding national referendums to be included within a future government coalition agreement.
Thomas Baumgaertel, who is perhaps more commonly known as the “Banana Sprayer,” installed a large placard featuring a banana and the words “Without referendum everything is bananas!” outside the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, ahead of another round of coalition talks with the Social Democratic Party of Martin Schulz.
The artwork comprised part of a Greenpeace and civil society campaign entitled “Now is the time: Referendum. Nationwide,” calling for national referendums to be included within an eventual coalition deal between the conservatives and social democrats.
While referendums can be held on a state level in Germany, under current laws they cannot be held on a national scale.
Since the last federal elections were held in September 2017, when no party secured a sufficient majority to be able to govern alone, Merkel’s conservative bloc has been in talks with various parties aimed at reaching an agreement on forming a coalition.
The SPD had initially ruled out its involvement in another grand coalition, but after initial efforts to form a coalition with the liberal Free Democratic Party and Alliance 90/The Greens collapsed it altered its stance, and party members narrowly voted in favor of moving forward with negotiations.