FRANKFURT—The message from last month's national elections is that the environmental Green party can no longer be dismissed as a temporary phenomenon. But it is still too soon to know whether it can translate its electoral gains into an ability to influence government policies on scientific research.

Part of that answer lies in whether the Greens join with the Social Democrats (SPD) and succeed in incorporating their views into formal opposition to the ruling coalition of Christian Democrats and Free Democrats.

The Greens captured 44 seats in the 497-seat Bundestag, up from 27 seats in the 1983 election. They received 8 percent of the popular vote, representing more than 3 million voters. The ruling coalition received 53 percent of the vote, with the SPD receiving 37 percent.

Based on their record, the Greens are likely to concentrate initially on social and environmental issues. They will undoubtedly continue to oppose new...

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