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Global Green Party History Chronology - 1980

Table of Contents
- January 12th-13th: West German Greens Hold First Party Congress
- March 8th and 23rd: Ecolo formed in Wallonia, Belgium
- March 16th: Greens Win Six Seats in Baden-Württemberg, Enter First State Parliament in West Germany
- March 21st-23rd: West German Greens Approve First Federal Program
- June 21st-22nd: West German Greens Decide to Contest First Federal Elections
- October 5th: West German Greens Receive 1.5% in First Federal Elections

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January 12-13: West German Greens Hold First Party Congress

The first formal Congress of Die Grünen, the West German Green Party, was held in the city of Karlsruhe, near the French-German border in the south west of the country.

It was attended by 1,004 delegates from local and regional Green groups, each representing ten members at the local level. Another 250 representatives from alternative and counter-cultural groups participated in the discussions.

Even though the first national Green meeting in West Germany was held March 17-18, 1979 (and is recognized by the party as its ‘founding meeting’), it was in Karlsruhe that Lukas Beckmann, a member of the party's Federal Executive (1979-84), recalls that many delegates had to leave at 4:45pm to catch their trains. He and others prevailed upon the janitor of the assembly hall to stop the clock several times. "I believe the constitution was approved at about 5:30."

Most delegates did stay til the end, as the constitution passed 875 to 53, with 12 abstentions (94.3%).

Delegates agreed to keep the 1979 European Election Platform in place until a new one was approved and to provisionally retain the existing Executive Committee of Herbert Gruhl, August Haußleiter and Helmut Nedermeyer, until the party’s next Congress in March. It was also decided to prohibit dual party membership, to prevent ‘infiltration’ by outside organized forces.


March 8 and 23: Ecolo formed in Wallonia, Belgium

On March 8th a few dozen ecological activists from Wallonia and Brussels came together at Opheylissem, a village in Walloon Brabant, to wrote the founding text for Ecolo, the Green Party in Wallonia. They were joined a little over two weeks later on March 23rd by another group of like-minded activists who gathered in the village of Huy; and with that, they completed the first step in an emerging green identity movement in French-speaking Belgium which had started slightly less than ten years earlier.

Ecolo's founding culminated a long evolution of the Wallonian environmental movement, which created Wallonie-Ecologie as a permanent environmental organization in 1978 and then saw Wallon Greens running under a common list called 'Europe-Ecologie' with Flemish Greens for the European elections in 1979. It was their obtaining 5.1% of the Wallon vote - the best result of all the European Greens, that provided an immediate and forceful impetus for the establishment less than a year later, of a formal Green Party in Wallonia.

Nevertheless, there was considerable fear of being “swamped” by the political system. In order to protect themselves, the ecologists from Wallonia and Brussels chose to create what they called a “movement”, a concept which they felt was different from that of a “party”. Through their federalist and self-management philosophy, they wanted society to win back the power done away with by the supporters of bureaucracy and even trade unions.

Ecolo was to be "a permanent structure based on the self-managing and federalist model, with the objective of putting ecological demands into the political area in terms of social management."


March 16: Greens Win Six Seats in Baden-Württemberg, Enter First State Parliament in West Germany

Soon after their founding constitutional meeting in Karlsruhe, the Greens had a breakthrough election in the state of Baden-Wüttemberg - the third largest and most populous, located in the southwest of Germany. Local Greens there received 5.3% of the vote (241,303 votes), surpassing the 5% threshold needed to enter parliament and winning six seats.

Those first six were Helgo Bran, Hans-Dietrich Erichsen, Wolf-Dieter Hasenclever, Holger Heimann, Winfried Kretschmann and Elsbeth Mordo.


March 21-23: West German Greens Approve First Federal Program

The Second Congress of the West German Greens Die Grünen, was dedicated primarily to approving the party’s first Federal Program.

Ecology, grassroots democracy, social justice, and non-violence were the "Four Pillars" of Die Grünen. Some quotes from the preamble to the Federal Program: "Ecological policy rejects exploitative forms of economy and the unscrupulous plundering of natural resources and raw materials, as well as the destructive interventions into nature's ability to renew itself. We believe that the exploitation of nature as well as human beings must be stopped if we are to master this acute threat to life on earth."

"Both the capitalist and state-socialist form of concentration and monopolization of economic power yield destructive forms of economic growth which contaminate and destroy the very basis of human and natural life. Only by self-determination at the grassroots, the ecological, social and economic crises can be appropriately dealt with. Since we favor self-determination and the free development of every human being, and since we support the idea that people should be able to creatively determine their own needs and wishes free from outside pressure and in harmony with the natural environment, we strongly support human and democratic rights, in our country as well as abroad." "Grass roots democracy call for active and decentralized direct democracy. Our fundamental belief is that decisions taken at the grassroots must be given priority. The local level is smaller and more easily accountable to the people and therefore must be given maximum autonomy and self-determination."

Delegates also elected new Executive Committee to staggered two-year terms and chose as party speakers August Haußleiter (later replaced by Dieter Bergmann), Petra Kelly and Norbert Mann (later replaced by Manon Maren-Grisebach.


June 21-22: West German Greens Decide to Contest First Federal Elections

For the third time in 1980, the West German Greens gathered on a national level to decide strategy and policy. This time delegates came to Dortmund in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and approved a resolution to participate in the October 5th Federal Election and an election platform (Wahlplattform) for it.

The party also chose as its symbol for the election campaign the one which Roland Vogt had proposed for the 1979 European election - the sunflower. According to Petra Kelly, it was derived from the Danish anti-nuclear symbol, the smiling sun, which came to say 'Nuclear Power? No Thanks?' in so many languages. "It stands for our commitment to live with the earth, to live with an ecological sense, to try to help the flowers live. Because if you help a flower live, you're helping people live as well."

August Haußleiter also stepped down as one of the party’s spokespersons and was replaced by Dieter Burgmann.


October 5: West German Greens Receive 1.5% in First Federal Elections

In their first Federal Elections, Die Grünen polled 1.5% of the vote, less than half the 3.2% they won in in June 1979 European Parliament election. This was in part due to circumstances beyond their control.

Because the ultra-conservative Franz Joseph Strauss was the right's candidate for Chancellor, many potential Green voters decided to vote for the Social Democrats (or even for the center-right Free Democratic Party) to ensure he did not succeed. Petra Kelly had personally fought Strauss in an energetic campaign in the common homeland of the state of Bavaria. But even there, the fear of Strauss being Chancellor led voters to vote 'strategically'.

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