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Green Parties in Western Europe

The Green Parties in Western Europe
A Brief History, Their Successes and Their Problems

By Jürgen Maier, Federal Executive Committee, Die Grünen, Germany

May 13th, 1990


1. The Erosion of Traditional Party Systems

The traditional pattern of the party systems in West European politics has been eroding since the early 1980's. The capability of the two main currents of parties, coming either from the labor movement (Social Democratic, Socialist, and Communist parties) or from a bourgeois background (Christian Democrats, Conservatives, and Liberals) to integrate large parts of the electorate has been continuously decreasing in almost every Western European country. The reasons for this change are to be found in the profound social changes in the societies of all industrial nations since WW2. The issues polarizing the society are no longer issues that basically stem from the struggle of the working class to get its fair share of the GNP or even to over come capitalism. The capitalist core countries in Western Europe (maybe excluding the UK) saw the gradual erosion of the "working class identity" and the emergence of a growing "white collar" sector employed in the tertiary branches of the economy. Social Democratic parties, particularly in Germany, had create the notion of "social partnership" between labor and capital to minimize strikes and social unrest in general as long as there is enough growth so that labor could get its share of growth. To put it cynically: trade unions were turned into a kind of insurance companies for their members.

The unprecedented industrial growth since WW2 led to the gradual dissolution of socio-political milieus under he hegemony of either church or the organizations of the labor movement and the emergence of politically less party-affiliated middle classes. They expressed themselves in the 1970's as citizen's movements. They didn't care about this or that ideology or theoretical explanation of this or that contradiction - they cared for instance about the nuclear power plant in their backyard that was threatening heir health.
They were met with ignorance and arrogance by the powers that be and so were provoked to become an opposition to the traditional parties. "Now let's vote for ourselves" was one of the slogans of these days, and green and green-alternative parties and electoral alliances entered the scene, and right from the beginning were quite successful.

It was not only the far-reaching changes in the societies of the industrial nations that led to the crisis of the traditional party system and its ideologies, there was also the emergence of new questions and problems that did not easily fit into the traditional political patterns.

The ecological crisis is a crisis that affects not one class but the whole of humankind. In fact, in the 1970's, both conservative and socialist parties did their best to uphold the ideology of unlimited economic growth solving all problems against the growing environmental movements - trade unions often being in the forefront of the opposition to ecological policies, like the joint manifestations pro nuclear power of the West German Confederation of Industry and the IGBE Mineworkers and Energy Union in the 1970's.
Ecology, grassroots democracy, social justice, and non-violence are the "four pillars" of the Green Party. Some quotes from the introduction to the Green Party's 1980 founding manifesto: "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.

Grassroots democracy, however, also requires extensive coordination and organization, if ecological policies are to be successful against the strong opposition of the powers that be. We therefore call for more direct democracy by plebiscites on local, state and federal level." "We strive for a society free from violence, a society in which oppression and violence against people by people is abolished. Humane objectives cannot be achieved by inhumane means. The principle of nonviolence is valid without exception, be it within society as a whole, be it between society and minorities, be it between nations. The principle of non-violence does not restrict the fundamental rights of self-defense and includes social resistance in its various forms. In the long run, resistance can be most effective when conducted in a non-violent way, as the anti-nuclear movement's example shows. We are absolutely opposed to the use of force between nations."

2. The First Big Successes: Die Grünen - The Green Party of West Germany

The most visible and spectacular event symbolizing the decay of established political structures was the election of the West German Green Party "Die Grünen" to the Bundestag in 1983. For the first time in 30 years, a new political party managed to get the 5% of the popular vote necessary under Germany's proportional representation electoral system to obtain seats in the federal parliament. The pictures of bearded, long-haired MPs without ties sitting next to Chancellor Kohl in Parliament went around the world.

In January 1990, Die Grünen celebrated the tenth anniversary of its foundation. In January 1980,the various green lists and organizations that had been formed in the late 1970's on local and state level in the FRG met in Karlsruhe to form together a national party. The origin of this movement was the movement against nuclear power that emerged in the FRG in the second half of the 1970's. This movement was opposed to the vast nuclear power program of the Social Democratic-Liberal coalition government, equally supported by the Christian Democratic opposition in the Bundestag, the federal parliament. Environmentalist groups thus started to run first for local councils, and then for state parliaments in the late 1970's, a time characterized by the increasingly repressive policies of the Social Democratic government of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

The Social Democratic security state alienated a great deal of the progressive electorate of the SPD. The ecological questions that emerged at this time were almost equally ignored by all the three established political parties of the FRG. At the same time, the environmental movement organized around new issues, quite different from the issues that mobilized extra-parliamentary protest in the late 1960's and the early 1970's. It was not only a student movement, unlike these earlier extra-parliamentary protest movements, but drew a great deal of its strength from local residents, ordinary people, opposing projected nuclear installations in their backyard. Particularly vehement protest movements emerged at Wyhl near Freiburg in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg and in Gorleben, close to the GDR border of Lower Saxony.

These movements could not be absorbed or integrated by any established political party, and so they soon started to set up their own lists. Since in Germany traditionally every political party is associated with a certain color, these environmental lists quickly were labelled "the Greens." This name was also chosen for the first national election these green lists contested: the European Parliament elections in 1979. The Greens - still not a party, but just an electoral coalition - scored a respectable 3.5% of the vote. According the proportional representation electoral system of the FRG, any list needs at least 5% to obtain seats. This barrier for twenty years served as a formidable, almost impenetrable barrier for new parties, so this result was seen as quite a success, though the European Parliament elections are taken less seriously than other elections. A few months later, the Green List in the FRG's smallest state, the city-state of Bremen, made it into the state parliament with just 5.1%. However, this was basically about the same story as the city council seats green groups already had obtained in other Northern German cities, simply the status of Bremen is different. This was not yet the breakthrough.

In March 1980, the Green Party, now officially founded as a political party, successfully made it into the state parliament of the southwestern state of Baden-WHrttemberg with 5.3%. Though the federal elections in late 1980 yielded only a disappointing 1.5% for the Green Party, the new party had now demonstrated its ability to make it into state parliaments and that a vote for the Greens would not be wasted. In the next two years, the party got seats in the state parliaments of Lower Saxony, West Berlin, Hamburg, and Hessen. 1981 and 1982 were the years of the phenomenal rise of the peace movement against the NATO decision to deploy Pershing 2 and cruise missiles in Western Europe, thus adding a powerful new mobilizing issue to the Green Party. These years were also the years of the growing pressure of the Social Democratic rank and file against the leadership of Chancellor Schmidt who adamantly defended the NATO decision. September 1982 then saw the collapse of the Social Democratic-led coalition and the formation of a Christian Democratic-Liberal coalition. The early election of March 1983 catapulted the Greens on a wave of the massive protests against the missile policy of both the new government and the now-opposition SPD into the Bundestag. The 5.6% for the Greens meant 28 seats, the Green Party being the first newly-formed political party to make it into the Bundestag in almost 30 years.

The Greens were met with intense hostility by all established parties and soon attained the role of the real opposition in the party system. The new party challenged almost every cornerstone of politics in the Federal Republic. To challenge the absolute priority of economic growth in this "Economic Miracle" country and to put the emphasis on environmental and immaterial values was unprecedented in West German politics. To challenge West Germany's role as NATO's nuclear battlefield was a direct attack on what Chancellor Kohl labelled the FRG's "raison d'etat." The many challenges the Greens presented to the elitist parliamentary system like the limits they placed on MP's salaries and the "rotation" (replacement) of MP's or even just the casual colorful clothes among all these gray suited old men caused bitter all-party resentment among the traditional politicians. It took the SPD some years to adjust to its new role as opposition after 13 years in government. Though the Green Party was still a very heterogenous alliance of former extra-parliamentary activists, former Social Democrats, former Communists, former conservatives, and newly politicized people, it succeeded in putting its issues on the agenda of West German politics. While the established parties in 1982 were still able to deny flatly that there is such a thing as acid rain and dying forests, in 1984, they already contested state elections claiming that they are the ones doing most to save the forests.

3. Party or Movement? Social Basis and Identity Problems

Environmental issues were quickly established as issues no party could afford to neglect. At the same time, however, the Greens were forced to transform from a single- or two-issue movement into a real political party addressing all political issues, from social security to civil rights to foreign policy. You simply can't sit in parliament and say nothing on anything except environment and disarmament. With the electoral success of 1983, the party also saw its membership skyrocketing. People having sympathized with it but still doubting its seriousness and durability joined the party in large numbers. So the party absorbed people coming from different political movements such as the feminist movement, the Third World solidarity movement, the civil rights movement, etc. They allowed the party to develop credible and profound policies in issues that did not belong to its key issues at the beginning. Membership today stands at approximately 40,000.

The German Greens today are placed in the party spectrum on the left. However, they are not a traditional left-wing party, neither in terms of its social basis nor in terms of its ideology. Though many people coming from a Marxist background, especially radical left sects of the 1970's now extinct, play important roles in the party, it constantly has defended the rights of the socially underprivileged but never understood itself as a class-oriented party. The social basis of the Greens is rather weak in the traditional blue-collar working class and much stronger in the middle class. Teachers, lawyers, students, academics of all kinds are the domain of the Greens, mostly between 25 and 40. In fact, the Greens used to have their maximum support in the age group between 18 and 25, but this seems to have shifted now to the age group of 25-35. In regional terms, the Green strongholds are the big cities with strong white-collar and services sectors and the university cities, plus some regions with particular environmental problems such as nuclear installations. The Greens enjoy maximum support in the two southwestern university towns of Freiburg and Tübingen (around 20 percent) and in West Berlin (14 per cent). In the earlier years, the Greens enjoyed more support among male voters than among women, but apparently this has changed in the meantime.

Today the Green Party can claim to have changed West German politics as no small opposition party that new was ruling on federal level did before. Environmental issues are addressed by every other political party. The same can be said about disarmament. The Social Democrats changed their defense policy considerably since having to compete with the Greens for the opposition vote, and even the Christian Democrats now hesitate to openly promote arms build-ups as they used to do till the early 1980's.

Women's issues are another area of Green success. In the Green Party there is a strong influence of the feminist movement. In 1983, the Green Party changed its party constitution to require all its party committees and parliamentary groups to consist of at least 50% women. Originally ridiculed by all the other parties, the Social Democrats have now followed by requiring their party to have 40% women in the relevant party panels and parliamentary groups within the near future. Even the Christian Democrats were forced to try to improve their image among women and to include more women in the Cabinet than any of the previous government. But there is still a lot to do to reach true self-determination and equal opportunities for women. The reactionary anti-abortion laws of the FRG have always been opposed by the Green Party. Abortion is an individual decision of a woman and must not be criminalized by the state. In countries where abortion is illegal because of inadequate observation of the principle of the separation of the church and state, abortions happen anyway but secretly and often disastrous conditions, or the women do it abroad. The state has to take care that no woman is forced into abortion: there have to be adequate children day-care center, easy access to contraceptives, and adequate social security so that nobody is forced to abort.

Another very important achievement of the Green Party is the democratization of West German society. Many Greens come from the anti-authoritarian 1968 student movement and the citizen's initiatives of the anti-nuclear movements. These movements in itself were a popular movement against the established bureaucracies and contributed a lot to the opening of the German political system to popular demands. An important function of the Green Party is to defend minorities and immigrants. The Green Party is unanimous in it strong opposition to all elements of nationalism and chauvinism. We support equal rights for immigrants and oppose the attempts of the right-wing parties to get rid of immigrants by the new Immigration Act approved by the Bundestag in 1990. West Germany should positively acknowledge that it is an immigrant nation and should positively accept that it is becoming a multicultural society. With the imminent unification of West and East Germany, German nationalism has been rising, particularly against Turkish immigrants. Anti-semitic agitation is vigorously opposed by the Greens because of the German history and because anti-semitism is on the rise in Eastern Europe and has to be opposed wherever it becomes manifest. The democratic nature of a society essentially can be checked in its behavior towards minorities.

Not only the conditions for Green politics have changed considerably in the last ten years of its existence, but also the party itself. In 1980, it was a grassroots-activists based movement that had decided to participate in elections as a party of different style and structure. Today it is a lot more difficult to inspire people to join the party, and a lot more difficult to inspire members to do more than just pay their membership contributions. The growth of the professional bureaucracy of the party has been fast and steady - today it is almost impossible to tell how many people work in paid jobs for the Greens all over the republic. With this growth the party rank and file and the electorate have developed a kind of "consumer mentality" towards the party and its leadership. "We have voted for you, we pay our contributions for you, now let's watch how you change the world for us." This was not exactly the original idea of "basic" or grassroots democracy. Like any other party, the Green Party has developed its "political class" of professional politicians, despite all intentions of "rotating" the MPs etc. However, the party seems to develop a tendency to lose the advantages of a grassroots democratic organization without really gaining at the same time the advantages of a professional organizational structure.

Another problem for the Greens is that the average age of the Green party voters, members and even more activists and functionaries is growing steadily. While in the early 80's the Green Party had its strongest support in the group of 18-25 years (up to 30%), it is now in the 25-40 years group. Young people (under 25) are becoming a rare phenomenon in Green Party meetings, after having attended one meeting often deterred from attending another by the dominating political style of the 1968 generation. I have joined the Green Party in 1980 and today, I still am the youngest at almost every meeting. The Green Party as a phenomenon of the 1968 generation middle classes? To a considerable degree, yes.

With unification with East Germany imminent, the West German political parties will have to unite with their friends in East Germany. In the case of the established Christian Democratic, Social Democratic and Liberal parties this will be rather easy - they set up their satellite parties in East Germany and exert a lot of influence over their policies. In the case of the Greens, there has been an environmentalist and pacifist movement long before the collapse of the SED regime. They did organize a Green Party themselves without the West German Greens telling them what to do. The merger of the West and East German Greens will happen in the near future. This will change the social and generational composition of the party to some degree.

4. From Opposition to Government

With everybody trying to co-opt the green issues, politics has also become increasingly complex and difficult for the Green Party itself. The demand for Green protest votes has considerably declined, and people increasingly expect the Greens to be able to implement their ideas themselves by participating in coalition governments. This question has shaken the Green Party to the ground for years, leading to paralyzation and almost splitting the party into the pro-coalition, "moderate" so called "realists" ("realos") and the anti-coalition, "radical fundamentalists" ("fundis"). In 1982, the Greens for the first time were confronted with holding the balance of power between Social and Christian Democrats, in the two states of Hamburg and Hessen. Having entered these state parliaments for the first time, as opposition movements, it was hardly conceivable that they immediately could support of even join the incumbent Social Democratic governments, and promptly the negotiations between Greens and Social Democrats failed and early elections in both states were called. While in Hamburg the Social Democrats then got an absolute majority, in Hessen the balance of power did not change. After two years of Social Democratic minority governments occasionally supported by the Greens, in 1985 the two parties in Hessen formed the first coalition government with a Green Minister for Environment and Energy.

However, the Social Democrats, having ruled the state for more than 30 years, were extremely unwilling to really change their policies, particularly regarding nuclear power, and so the coalition broke after 14 months of conflicts, despite heavy compromising by the Greens, in February 1987. The subsequent early elections led to Green gains (9%), but the Social Democrats lost heavily to the Christian Democrats (and many of their voters stayed at home), so that a new government of Christian Democrats and Liberals took over. It became obvious that the vast majority of the Green electorate supported the "red-green" coalition, but the Social Democratic electorate was split almost equally into one part supporting cooperation with the Greens, one part being neutral to it, and a third part opposing it. The "red-green" project seemed over before it really had started, and the Social Democrats ruled out further such coalitions with the Greens.

The scene surprisingly changed two years later, in January 1989, after the West Berlin state elections resulted in a totally unexpected majority for Social Democrats and Greens, both being in opposition before. Unlike Hessen, the Berlin Green Party (for historical reasons called the "Alternative List") was not dominated by the pro-coalition "realo" faction. It proved that negotiations with an SPD having been in opposition like the Greens and wanting to get power are easier than with an SPD just having lost a ruling majority, and a coalition government with three Green minsters was established. All three are women, serving in West Germany's first-ever state cabinet with more female that male minsters. The coalition, however, is far from being harmonious because the SPD quickly is falling back into their ruling party attitude and increasingly trying to block the implementation of green elements in the coalition agreement. Therefore it is doubtful whether the coalition will survive the full legislative term until 1993. Meanwhile, Frankfurt and recently Munich (since May 1990) are two more big cities in West Germany administered by Green-Social Democratic coalitions.

For the Greens the question of participating in government presented serious identity problems for a party that was trying to be movement and party simultaneously. However, you can't maintain the claim of sharing activities equally between the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary area when you are in fact the most "parliamentarized" party. Due to the rather small membership and the electoral successes, almost every green activist hold a seat in a parliament or local council or is employed by the respective parliamentary groups. It is still for many Greens a somewhat repulsive notion that the party has become more or less just another political party, different from others, but clearly a party and not a movement.

The question of participating in government has bitterly divided the Greens for years. This was the superficial expression for the fact that within the Greens there are reformists who want to use the state as a means to change the society and people basically rejecting reformism and to a considerable degree the state as such. The extremely polarized confrontation between hard-cord "fundis" (opposed to any form of participation in government coalitions) and hard-core "realos" (trying to become minsters at any price) that had paralyzed the party for years now more or less has come to an end. There were lots of bitter and intense internal conflicts, most of them taking place via the media. However, the party now finally seems to have realized that the choice between a policy to get a coalition at any price and a policy to avoid a coalition at any price is a choice between two dead end strategies. The hard-core left wing ("fundis") and the hard-core right wing ("realos") are losing now a lot of their influence to growing center-left and center-right groups who differ more in the contents of their policies than in the form of how to implement it and share a pragmatic approach to the question of coalitions with the SPD. A lot of "fundis" have meanwhile left the party to radical extra-parliamentary groups, while a number of "realos" defected to the Social Democrats.

Despite this relative decline of the influence of both "fundis" and "realos," the "realo" faction are still capable to induce serious ideological disputes within the party. Particularly the federal parliament and leadership is often plagued by bizarre ideological disputes that can only be explained by the history of many activist coming from the 1968 student movement. Many of them joined all kinds of weird extreme left groups in the 1970's such as Maoist, Trotskyist, pro-Albanian, etc. splinter groups. Many of them ended up with the "realo" faction in the party, and now with the same ideological vigor as in the 1970's favor "ecological capitalism," as one their protagonists labeled it. Others rather look for "ecological socialism."

Meanwhile it should be clear that the old ideological contradiction of capitalism vs. socialism is outdated, but within the Greens it still forms the basis of intense struggles within their leadership. Capitalism has not only failed to solve the central problems facing humanity nowadays - the ecological crisis and the widening gap between rich and poor nations, between North and South - in fact, the capitalist world market is directly responsible for these problems. The Green Party therefore can only fulfill its functions if it challenges the central tenets of capitalist growth economies that live on the expense of future generations and the vast majority of people living in the "Third World" - without falling into the trap of outdated marxist assumptions. The Green Party was founded as a progressive party of a new type, and as such it gets votes. It is hardly conceivable that it would be elected as a kind of eco-liberal party. However, I am quite optimistic that the present ideological disputes will not lead to a split in the party as the media like to predict simply because at the grassroots the party is much less engaged in such ideological disputes but more in practical activities for Green objectives.

5. Prospects for Die Grünen

As the party now is entering its 11th year, it is entering a year that will be crucial for its future. 1990 is a year with lots of local and state elections, and in December there will be federal elections. The unification drive with East Germany has considerably strengthened Chancellor Kohl's Christian Democrat-led government, and it seem that the first all-German elections that will take place in not too distant future will return him with a solid majority. For the Greens, it will be a matter of survival to get enough votes in East Germany to get 5% on all-German level. With both Greens and Social Democrats being rather weak in East Germany and the conservatives being very strong in both West and East Germany, Social Democratic-Green coalitions therefore look rather unlikely at least on federal level in the near future. The Greens clearly are opposition in the current drive for a unified Germany that is nothing less than speedy incorporation of the GDR into the FRG, with a lot of negative domestic, social and foreign policy consequences. At the moment the unification process is also thwarting the rise of the extreme right that became apparent with the extreme-right "Republican Party" obtaining seats in the European Parliament elections in June 1989 (7%).

The rise of the extreme right, not only in terms of the Republican Party, but also in terms of a changing political atmosphere with regard to immigrants, is mainly due to the social disenfranchisement of a certain sector of the lower classes. Surveys have shown that the vast majority of Republican voters are young men with socially low status who are taking refuge in blaming immigrants and women for their unemployment. However, youth and long-term unemployment is a problem likely to persist. Capitalist modernization in the FRG is leading to a "two-thirds society" with a permanently disadvantaged and disenfranchised lower third of the society. While Greens and to a limited degree red-green coalitions have tried to combat rising racism and right-wing extremism by improving the status of immigrants by measures like giving them the right to vote in local elections, etc., they have so far hardly been able to address the underlying socio-economic reasons, let alone do something to cure these reasons.

On the contrary, the Greens are running danger to entangle themselves into coalition policies that will persist these dark sides of capitalist modernization. The coalition government in the city of Frankfurt that was formed in March 1989 is an example of such tendencies with the Green Party running danger of becoming just an appendix to the Social Democrats. In Frankfurt, the booming financial center of the FRG, the Greens hold the portfolios for environment and "multicultural affairs" in the city government. However, the city government is as servile to the demands of the city's business circles as its Christian Democratic predecessor: the Greens had to agree with the Social Democrats on such nasty things as the further expansion of the airport, construction of new highrise towers for banks, etc. and the big polluters within the city limits like the Hoechst chemical company are hardly affected by the new administration.

For the socially underprivileged, the new administration of this rich city hardly improved anything. The modernization and growth of the export-oriented economy still is taboo. The prospering yuppie middle class of this city is "modern" enough to accept a Green junior partner in the city administration to improve the environmental and cultural quality of life - to put it cynically: to repair the negative ecological and social consequences of Social Democratic-style capitalist modernization - while the requirements of booming business sector remain paramount. Developing Frankfurt into "Manhattan" remains the policy of the city administration. Social Democratic-Green alliances as a more modern, more acceptable form of capitalist modernization - this may well be the result of such alliances in many cities. After all, if you have a Green minister for environment telling you she is doing everything to stop pollution, but unfortunately the agreements with the Social Democrats don't allow it for the time being, it's easier to justify environmental pollution than if you have strong extra-parliamentary movements and an opposition Green Party challenging the government.

However, the Green can't be blamed that they cannot get out more of their Social Democratic allies. This just represents the existing power balance which can't be shifted dramatically at the negotiating table after an election. What many Greens have to be blamed for is how uncritical they celebrate the "Social Democratic policy with a few green spots" that is at the moment the maximum they can get from the Social Democrats as big successes. Ultimately, any Green Party minsters are only as strong as the popular pressure for Green policies since they don't have the institutional backing of the powers that be in business and bureaucracy. If the Green Party perceives its participation in government just as a chance to capture well-paid jobs where you have to pacify the public by creating the Green facade around expansive economic growth, it has missed a formidable chance. How the party will fare between the Scylla of being absorbed in Social Democratism and the Charybdis of isolation in an opposition ghetto of 8% still remains an open question.

However, it is clear that no Green Party can achieve very much if there is not strong popular movement for Green objectives, for ecology, for civil rights, for disarmament. In the early years, Die Grünen used the slogan of being based in the movement and using this as a basis for parliament, but when the movement became weaker, many Green MPs started to believe thy could change the world alone by parliamentary means. The second report of the Bundestag Parliamentary Group to the party dated November 1984 stated quite correctly: "Without grassroots activities there is no parliamentary success, not even parliamentary issues. But parliamentary activities never can be a substitute for grassroots activities. Without grassroots activities a small parliamentary group such as the Greens would be without any influence." Indeed the biggest successes of the Greens in changing West German politics hardly are just a result of parliamentary activity. A Green Party and the grassroots movements have different tasks and can increase their political success by mutual cooperation, but neither can be a substitute for the other nor be very successful without the other.

6. Green Parties - An International Phenomenon

Though the German Greens were the first ones to make headlines in the international press, they are neither the first Green Party nor the first one to get seats in a national parliament. New Zealand is on record as having the first green party - the "Values Party" formed in 1972. Despite spectacular electoral results, it didn't get seats due to New Zealand's anachronistic, British-style electoral system. Only little later Britain's Ecology Party, later renamed Green Party, was formed. 1982 Belgium's two Green Parties won seats in their national parliament. The European Parliament elections in June 1989 established Green Parties in most EC countries and saw skyrocketing electoral results of the so "Latin Europe" (Portugal, France and Italy).

Frontrunners were - quite unexpectedly - the British Greens with 14.5 percent, but the British electoral system didn't give them a single seat. The new parliamentary group in the European Parliament in consists now of Greens and green-related MPs elected on 12 different lists from 7 countries: Portugal, Spain, France, West Germany, and the Netherlands. Greens have established a presence in national parliaments of Sweden, Finland, West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Malta, Ireland, and recently Greece. In a few cases like Norway, Denmark and Iceland already existing parties or electoral alliances so far have taken this place and prevented the rise of green parties to parliamentary representation, in some Mediterranean countries like Spain and Greece the unification process of green and alternative groups so far has been not yet really completed.

However, "Green Party" is not exactly always the same in the various countries. As the political culture of the countries concerned is different, so are the histories and policies of green and alternative parties. Almost from the beginning there were ideologically-motivated tensions between the so called "green-greens" who wanted to avoid any identification with the "left" and the so called "green-alternatives" or "red-greens" who from the beginning had perceived the Greens as a progressive political project addressing not only the ecological but also the social dimension of Green politics.

Though elements of both sides were present in almost every green-alternative party, their presence varied greatly in the respective national parties. Germany's "Die Grünen" rather quickly had decided this question in favor of a progressive policy, emphasizing "ecology, basic democracy, non-violence, social responsibility" as their four main pillars, so that the leaders of their conservative faction like former Christian Democratic MP Gruhl quitted the new party. The "fundi-realo" conflict that later almost paralyzed the party had quite a different nature and was more of a confrontation between eco-socialists still stuck to a considerable degree in traditional leftist policies of the 70's and "eco-social democrats" but both of these dominant currents had nothing to do with "green-green." The conservative element within the Green Party by then had already formed its own party, as it happened likewise in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, where "Groen Progressief Akoord" (now renamed "Groen Links") and "Dei Greng Alternativ" who have parliamentary representation are of little attractiveness to conservatives.

In some other countries, like France and Britain, the situation was different. For various reasons, the progressive movements saw Green politics with suspicion and stuck to affiliations with Socialist or Communist parties. Thus the Green parties largely remained small and confined outside the political game, more than unfair electoral systems anyway would have forced them to be. Consequently, they were preoccupied with maintaining their green-green "ideological purity" much more than if they had been an actor in day-to-day politics. Only recently this has begun to change, and they find themselves more and more forced to accept their place as progressive opposition. The practical experience of cooperation between "green-green" and "green-alternative" in places like the Green-Alternative group (GRAEL) in the European Parliament 1984-1989 contributed a great deal to this development. May prejudices proved to be wrong, an approach emphasizing not ideological differences but common practical political action prevailed.

There are now two international structures of green and alternative parties. The Green group in the European Parliament, as already mentioned, consists of 12 different parties and list from 7 EC countries. Apart from that, there is the loose coordination of the "European Greens," established in 1983 as a project of "green-green" parties to establish a separate structure excluding the more left-wing alternative parties such as the Dutch Groen-Progressief Akoord (now renamed Groen Links) or the West German Die Grünen. Despite opposition from the more conservative "green-green"elements, this coordination is now slowly being opened to incorporate the full spectrum of green-alternative parties in Europe, starting with the West German Greens in 1987 and including now even the longtime controversial Dutch Groen Links. it now has membership of 21 parties from 18 countries plus 4 observers. However, there is nothing like a political directorate that could interfere in the policies of the member parties and any political decision has to be taken unanimously. This coordination thus is nothing like the Socialist International but just a loose coordination."

Outside Europe, green parties have proved to be predominantly a feature of the industrialized nations. New Zealand has been mentioned, and in Australia some green and related movements have obtained seats in the federal and state parliaments and in the island state of Tasmania they are now part of a ruling alliance with the Labor Party. Canada has a Green Party, hampered by the unfair electoral system, and the United States have Green movements that have participated in elections on local level. In Latin America, fake green parties have been set up by the sect "La Comunidad" directed by the and Argentine "philosopher" acting under the name of Silo, but these are artificial creations without grassroots support in the ecological movements of these countries. An exception is the very active Brazilian Green Party, who is currently campaigning in the Congressional election campaign with its leader Fernando Gabeira, an ex-guerilla, and has seats in some city state parliaments such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The Brazilians are completely independent of "La Comunidad" and are the only Green Party in a Third World country so far that successfully established a political presence.

7. Green Parties in Eastern Europe

With perestroika in the Soviet Union the green movement is now quickly spreading to the Eastern European countries. In many Eastern European countries, environmental problems are often even more serious than in heavily industrialized Western Europe. Green Parties were among the first new independent political forces to be established as the power monopolies of the Communist Parties began to fade. In fact, in the GDR and Czechoslovakia the Green movement has played a very active role in the revolutions in these countries. Western European Greens always have maintained contacts to Eastern European Green and democratic groups, even long before this was officially accepted.

The first Green movement to gain parliamentary representation in Eastern Europe were the Green in the Baltic Soviet republics. As part of the respective Popular fronts, they got seats in the USSR Congress of People's Deputies and the Supreme Soviets of these republics. Some of them attended the congress of the European Greens in April 1989 in Paris and raised international attention to their cause. Western Greens became aware of the striking fact that there are now Green MPs in the USSR but still not in the UK, the self-proclaimed "Motherland of Democracy" with its unfair electoral system. Today, in other Soviet republics there are also very active green movements, particularly in Georgia and the Ukraine, but also parts of the RSFSR. So far, from the Soviet Union only the Estonian Greens have applied for membership in the coordination of European Greens and were admitted as full members in December 1989.

The first East European Green Party to contest nationwide elections running on their own is the Green Party of the German Democratic Republic. Founded independently of the West German Greens in November 1989 in East Berlin, they obtained 2 percent and 8 seats in the GDR elections in March 1990. Unlike the other political parties in the GDR with "sister parties" in West Germany, the GDR Greens maintain their political independence, although received substantial technical support from the West. In accordance with the West German Greens, they oppose the unification drive and ran in favor of a sovereign GDR confederated with the FRG. The Modrow government in early 1990 gave various opposition groups cabinet seats as ministers without portfolio, so the GDR Greens were the first to have cabin et minsters on national level, though this happened under very special conditions.

In Czechoslovakia, Greens were given parliamentary seats in December 1989 even before their party was officially launched in February 1990. They are organized in a very federal way with a particularly strong base in Slovakia. They play now an active role in the political life of their country. The situation is different in Poland and Hungary, where Greens still are rather marginal, despite the massive environmental problems and struggles there. Poland's Greens are plagued by strong factionalism and the existence of several organizations claiming the Green label for themselves. However, in their stronghold of Krakow they recently won the mayoral elections. Hungary's Greens suffer from the serious discrimination in the Hungarian electoral laws against smaller parties as well as from internal disputes, though the Danube movement against the Nagymaros dam, played a pivotal role in the East European environmentalist movement. Greens now also have taken root in Romania and Bulgaria, though are still in a very early stage of their development.

Eastern European Greens share many objectives of their Western friends, though their socio-political history is very different. Particularly remarkable is the absence of the 68 student movement with its ideological rifts that have shaped so many of the Western European Greens. Controversial among all of them is the attitude towards former Communist Party members joining Green parties. Serious differences between East and West European Greens exist in the perception of the nation state: East European Greens particularly from the Soviet Union, emphasize national independence and sovereignty, while their Western allies emphasize limitation of national sovereignty by supranational and international structures - quite understandable from the different historical background. Also, there are cultural differences: the Western Greens tend to be more "alternative" and tend to have many more women active in politics than the Eastern Greens.

8. The Role of Green Parties in European Politics

Having established themselves as an independent political force, green and alternative parties are now facing the next challenge: determining what role to play in European politics. Socialist and Conservative/Christian Democratic parties have their idea of (West) European integration. Despite all their differences in detail, they basically agree in fundamental questions. Green and alternative parties - in all their diversity -now have to prove they can really change the course of European politics and be more than just the "bad conscience" of a modern capitalist society. First of all, the challenge is to keep a clear political line in denouncing the half-hearted attempts of the traditional parties to get a "green image," and to keep the ability to promote political alternatives. They must keep putting the traditional parties under pressure and withstand the tendency to be swallowed into a kind of all-party politics of "talking green" without really changing anything.

Green politics must provide the political alternative - both conceptually and in day-to-day politics - to the project of the United (Western) Europe of capitalist modernization that involves the build-up of the EC as economic, political and eventually even military superpower competing with the U.S. and Japan for dominance in global markets. Our region is being organized by transnational capital, which brings together far flung and heterogenous areas and peoples into an integrated, hierarchical division of labor. The consequences of this course will be the continuation of Europe's neocolonial relations with the countries of the so-called Third World, technocratic management of an unecological economy to limit its disastrous effects that are now threatening the whole of humankind, and a "two-thirds" society inside the EC with a permanently unemployed underclass and with almost impenetrable frontiers and a "fortress mentality" against Eastern European and Third World immigrants. A formidable challenge will be to push back the growing racism in almost every EC country. Green and alternative parties have to be in the active core of a broad anti-nationist and anti-racist alliance in European societies to push back the rise of another product of the erosion of the traditional party system: the neo-fascist parties.

European societies today have shown to have an increasing need for green/alternative policies. It is not only electoral successes of green and alternative parties demonstrating this but also the objective crisis of nature and humankind and the attempt of the established, traditional parties to get a "green" image. Green politics can only be successful as an international force. The superficial "greening" of the traditional parties leaves no need for unpolitical, "green-green" middle-of-the-road environmentalism. With everybody trying to co-opt the green issues, politics has also become increasingly complex and difficult for the green parties. The demand for Green protest votes has considerably declined, and people increasingly expect the Greens to be able to implement their ideas themselves by participating in the executive.

Europe today is reorganizing itself in amazing pact. The bloc structures that have divided Europe for 40 years are gradually being dissolved. But there can be no return to the nation states of the 19th and early 20th century. In fact, today we need both a delegation of powers to the regions and supranational structures: regionalization and internationalization at the same time. Today, the central governments of the nation states are too powerful. Thus the regional levels should be strengthened and given more autonomy, but at the same time there should be a delegation of sovereign rights of the nation state to supranational institutions such as the Council of Europe and the United Nations to prevent nationalistic adventures and a "re-balkanization." The Cold War military alliances of NATO and the Warsaw Treaty (and also the Western European Union, WEU) are anachronistic remnants and have no place in the Common House of Europe. They should dissolve as quickly as possible. We need a system of all-European collective security (cf. U.N. charter articles 52-54) for which the CSCE could be a starting point. Debates about changing borders, as we have it currently for instance among the right wing in West Germany with regard to the GDR and Poland are not very helpful for this purpose.

European Collective Security is a proposal to define the "common house of Europe" more concretely and could be an alternative to simply adding more and more nations to the EC. This framework could provide a basis for a more intense exchange and cooperation in economy, ecology, technology, and culture. It could be an alternative to the ideas of drawing Eastern European nations closer and closer into the orbit of the EC and ultimately establish French-West German political and economic hegemony over Europe. Building the Common House of Europe must at the same time involve new arrangements concerning world trade structures to reduce the capacity of the "economic superpowers" to establish permanent dependence of the Third World (and possibly in the future Eastern Europe) in the notorious European tradition of Empires. Ultimately, the Common House of Europe has to be built from the grassroots. Green movements play an important role in this endeavor.

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