The Worldwide green parties reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Worldwide green parties

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This article is about the green parties around the world. It describes differences between green parties in a broader sense and "Green Parties" in a narrower sense, that is formally organized political parties (and political movements) based on the Four Pillars of the Green Party and similar value systems (we call them Green Parties (capitalized) in the rest of this article, whereas green parties includes parties that share only partly this common value system). This article also informs about the history of green parties and green movements and about their world-wide collaboration. For information about a specific Green party, see the links at the end of the article or the List of Green party issues.

So, what is a green party? Greens generally view grassroots democracy, pacifism, and social justice causes - especially those related to the plight of indigenous peoples - as inherently related to ecology and human bodily health. Thriving of natural ecoregions, preventing global climate change, and preserving other aspects of the natural environment (see environmentalism) are viewed as necessary to maintain human life.

Table of contents
1 Definitions
2 History
3 Growth and maturity of Green Parties
4 Green Party's politics
5 Global Reach
6 Specific Green Parties
7 External Links

Definitions

'Small-g' Green Parties

A (generic or 'small-g') green party is any contemporary political movement which springs out of concern for the destruction of ecosystems -- "environmentalism". But such a green party is not necessarily committed to the entire program of the Green Parties as such.

Greening

The term "green" is heavily appropriated by politicians and marketers, even used as a verb -- it's not uncommon to hear of "greening" a party or a candidate. Typically these 'small-g greens' do not support the Green parties in all particulars, but are movements or factions within existing or established political parties.

Green Movement

Green Parties are part of, but do not exclusively represent, a larger political movement to reform human governance to better fit the constraints of the biosphere -- usually called the Green movement to contrast it from the electoral participation of the legally-registered Parties.

In some countries, notably the U.S. and France, there are or have been multiple parties with differing platforms naming themselves Green.

Many people also confuse Green Parties with Greenpeace, a global NGO prominent in the ecology movement, which was founded in the 1970s as the green parties and shares some green goals and values, but does work with different methods and isn't organized as a political party.

'Capital-g' Green Parties

The distinction is very often made between "green parties" (generally spelled in lowercase) in a general sense of emphasizing environmentalism, and specific organized political parties with the name "Green Party" (capitalized) that have grown up around a statement of principles called the Four Pillars and the consensus process built on them. The main difference between a Green Party and a 'generic or small-g' green party is that the former, in addition to environmentalism, also stress goals of social justice and global peace. While most of this article covers Green Parties in the later sense, the discussion of green politics touches on many issues also relevant for 'small-g' green parties.

The organized Green Parties themselves may disagree with the distinction between "green party" and "Green Party", as many Greens argue that there is no respect for nature without peace, and no viable peace without thriving ecoregions, seeing "green" as a new coherent system of political values.

Four pillars

The four pillars or four principles of the Green Parties are:


History

In March 1972 the world's very first green party (the United Tasmania Group) was formed at a public meeting in Hobart, Australia. At about that same time, in Atlantic Canada, 'the Small party' was formed with similar goals. In May 1972 a meeting at Victoria University of Wellington, in Wellington, New Zealand, launched the Values Party, the world's first national green party. The term 'Green' was first coined by the German Greens when they contested their first national level election in 1980. The values of these early movements were gradually codified into those of today's worldwide Green Parties.

Growth and maturity of Green Parties

As Green Parties generally grow from the bottom up, from neighborhood to municipal to (eco-)regional to national levels, and are often ruled by consensus, strong local coalitions are a pre-requisite to electoral breakthroughs. Usually growth is sparked by a single issue where Greens can bridge the gap to ordinary citizens' concerns.

The first such breakthrough was by the German Green Party, famous for their opposition to nuclear power, as an expression of anti-centralist and pacifist values traditional to greens. They were founded in 1983 and have worked in coalition with the Social Democratic Party of Germany in a so-called Red-Green Alliance since 1998. In 2001, they reached an agreement to end reliance on nuclear power in Germany, and agreed to remain in coalition and support the German government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the 2001 Afghan War. This put them at odds with many Greens worldwide but demonstrated also that they were capable of difficult political tradeoffs.

Other Green Parties that participated in government on the national level include the Finnish Green Party, Agalev and Ecolo of Belgium and the French Green Party.

Green Party's politics

Values and Ethics

Green Parties participate in the legal electoral process and seek to influence the definition and enforcement of law in each nation in which they are organized. Accordingly, Green Parties do not advocate an end to all law or all violent or potentially-violent enforcement of law, although they prefer peace, de-escalation, and harms reduction approaches to enforcement.

Often confused with "left" political parties advocating central control of capital, Green Parties usually advocate stark divisions between public commons (in land or water) and private enterprise, with little cooperation -- higher energy and material prices are presumed to create efficient enterprise. Green Parties rarely support subsidies to corporations -- sometimes excepting research grants to find more efficient or ecologically sound industrial techniques.

Many "right" Greens follow more geo-libertarian views which emphasize natural capitalism - and shifting taxes away from value created by labor or service and charging instead for human consumption of the wealth created by the natural world. That said, Greens may view the processes by which living beings compete for mates, homes, and food, ecology, and the cognitive and political sciences very differently. These differences tend to drive debate on ethics, formation of policy, and the public resolution of these differences in leadership races. There is no single Green Ethic.

Values of indigenous peoples (or "First Nations"), and to a lesser degree the ethics of Mohandas Gandhi, Spinoza and Crick, and the growth of awareness of ecology, have had a very heavy influence on Greens - most obviously in their advocacy of long-term "seven generation" foresight, and on the personal responsibility of every individual to make moral choices. These ideas have been summed in the Ten Key Values drafted by the U.S. Green Party which include restatement of the Four Pillars that European Greens used. On the global level, the Global Greens Charter proposes six key principles.

Critique of green policy

Critics sometimes claim that the universal and immersive nature of ecology, and the necessity of converting some of it to serve humanity, renders the entire political program of Green Parties a shallow excuse to claim a monopoly on the means of production that sustain all human lives. These critics often see Green programs as just a form of socialism or fascism -- which some claim are more characteristic of Gaians or non-parliamentary groups such as Green Anarchist, who are part of the Green Movement but less committed to democracy or humanity.

Platforms

Green platforms draw terminology from the science of ecology, and policy from Feminism, political liberalism (U.S. style), libertarian socialism (Social Ecology) and even sometimes libertarian survivalists.

It is rare for a Green platform to propose lower fossil fuel prices, unlabelled genetically modified organisms, tax, trade and tariff liberalizations that remove protections for ecoregions or communities.

Alliances

Still, what defines green parties is respect for ecology and mimicry of its decentralized control (which operates by feedback not rules). Depending on local conditions or issues, platforms and alliances may vary drastically. In line with the goal of bioregional democracy, neighboring ecoregions may require drastically different policies or protections.

Green Parties are often formed in a given jurisdiction by a coalition of scientific ecologists, community environmentalists and local (or national) leftist groups or groups concerned with peace or citizens rights.

A Red-Green Alliance is an alliance between Green Parties and left-wing or social democratic parties for elections (mostly in first-after-the-post election systems) or after elections to form a government. Some Greens find more effective alliances with spirit groups, or with more conservative groups (Blue-Green Alliance) or indigenous peoples - who seek to prevent disruption of traditional ways of life or ecological balances they depend on.

Such alliances often highlight strategic differences between participating in Parties and advancing the values of the Green Movement. For example, Greens allied to oust the Centre-left ruling PRI party of Mexico, and Ralph Nader of the US Greens campaigned with Pat Buchanan (a very conservative Catholic also running for US President) on joint issues like farm policy and bans on corporate funding of election campaigns. Many (especially members of the Democratic Party) also blame Nader's campaign for the election of US President G. W. Bush in 2000, who most Greens consider to be a stark enemy of environmentalism.

As a matter of philosophy, Greens will in general accept short-term pain in return for long-term and strategic gains: despite the blame, the US Greens grew drastically in size throughout 2001. However, stable coalitions (such as that in Germany) tend to be formed between elections with 'the left' on social issues, and 'the grassroots right' on such issues as (what they consider to be) irresponsible corporate subsidies and public ethics.

Policy issues

A few issues affect most of the green parties around the world, and can often inhibit global cooperation. Some affect structure, and others affect policy:

On matters of ecology, extinction, biosafety, biosecurity, safe trade and health security, "Greens" generally agree or at least have some agreement to agree, typically based on (scientific) consensus.

There are very substantial policy differences between and among Green Parties in each country and culture, and constant debate about the degree to which natural ecology and individual needs align.

Global Reach

Around the world, there has been an explosion of Green Parties over the last 30 years. Green Parties now exist in most countries with democratic systems: from Canada down to Peru; from Norway to South Africa; from Ireland to Mongolia. There are Green representation at national, regional and local levels in many countries around the world. Even in some countries without democratic systems, there are now Green NGOs: for instance, in China there is Green-Web. Links to all the Green Parties around the world can be found at www.greens.org.

Most of the Green Parties are formed to win elections, and so organize themselves by the presented electoral or political districts. But that does not apply universally: The Green Party of Alaska is organized along bioregional lines to practice bioregional democracy.

Global Gatherings

Global cooperation is taking place increasingly. Global Gatherings of Green Parties now happen. The first so-called Global Gathering took place in Canberra, in 2001. It agreed a proposal from the African Green Parties that the next Global Gathering will be hosted by them, no later than 2006.

Global Green networking dates back to 1990. A First Planetary Meeting of Greens was held in Rio de Janeiro May 30th-31st, 1992. At this meeting, a Global Green Steering Committee was created, consisting of two seats for each continent. In 1993 this Global Steering Committee met in Mexico City and authorized the creation of a Global Green Network including a Global Green Calendar, Global Green Bulletin, and Global Green Directory. The Directory was issued in several editions in the next years. In 1996, 69 Green Parties from around the world signed a common declaration opposing French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, the first statement of global greens on a current issue. A second statement was issued in December 1997, concerning the Kyoto climate change treaty. [1]

At the 2001 Canberra Global Gathering delegates for Green Parties from 70 countries decided upon a Global Greens Charter which proposes six key principles. Over time, each Green Party can discuss this and organize itself to approve it, some by using it in the local press, some by translating it for their web site, some by incorporating it into their manifesto, some by incorporating it into their constitution document. [1] This process is gradually taking place. In an online forum several Green Parties say where they are up to with this process. [1]

The Gatherings also agree on organizational matters. The first Gathering voted unanimously to set up the Global Green Network (GGN). The GGN is composed of three representatives from each Green Party. A companion organization was set up by the same resolution: the Global Green Coordination (GGC). This is composed of three representatives from each Federation (Africa, Europe, The Americas, Asia/Pacific, see below). Discussion of the planned organization took place in several Green Parties prior to Canberra. [1] The GGC communicates chiefly by email. Any agreement by it has to be by unanimity of its members. It may identify possible global campaigns to propose to Green Parties world wide. The GGC may endorse statements by individual Green Parties. For example, it endorsed a statement by the US Green Party on the Israel-Palestine conflict. [1]

Thirdly, Global Green Gatherings are an opportunity for informal networking, from which joint campaigning may arise. For example, a campaign to protect the New Caledonian coral reef, by getting it nominated for World Heritage Status: a joint campaign by the New Caledonia Green Party, New Caldonian indigenous leaders, the French Green Party, and the Australian Greens Party.[1] Another example concerns Ingrid Betancourt, the leader of the Green Party in Colombia, the Green Oxygen Party (Partido Verde Oxigeno). Ingrid Betancourt and the party's Campaign Manager, Claire Rojas, were kidnapped by a hard-line faction of the FARC on 7 March 2002, while travelling in FARC-controlled territory. Ingrid Betancourt had spoken at the Canberra Gathering, making many friends. As a result, Green Parties all over the world have organized, pressing their governments to bring pressure to bear. For example, the Austrian Green Party has campaigned, the Scottish Green Party, Green Parties in African countries, in Canada, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, France, Sweden etc. Bob Brown, the leader of the Australian Greens Party, went to Colombia, as did an envoy from the European Federation, Alain Lipietz, who issued a report. [1] The four Federations of Green Parties issued a message to FARC. [1] Ingrid Betancourt and Claire Rojas are still prisoners, facing their death. However, the effort of the Green Parties does at least show their potential to unite and campaign jointly.[1]

Global Green Meetings

Separately from the Global Green Gatherings, Global Green Meetings take place. For instance, one took place on the fringe of the World Sustainable Development Summit in Johannesberg. Green Parties attended from Australia, Taiwan, Korea, South Africa, Mauritius, Uganda, Cameroon, Greek Cyprus, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, the USA, Mexico and Chile. The Global Green Meeting discussed the situation of Green Parties on the African continent; heard a report from Mike Feinstein, the Mayor of Santa Monica, about setting up a web site of the GGN; discussed procedures for the better working of the GGC; and decided two topics on which the Global Greens could issue statements in the near future are Iraq and the 2003 WTO meeting in Cancun.

Global Greens Web Site

The GGC was responsible for creating a Global Greens web site. This web site represents the efforts of the GGC to deepen communication between Green Parties, and to facilitate action on matters of global consequence.

The Green Federations

The member parties of the Global Greens (see for details) are organised into four continental federations [1].

As of December 2003, the European Federation of Green Parties is planning to announce a further step towards a singular organisation in 2004: The formation of a European Green Party. This event is linked to the upcoming European Parliament elections in June, 2004.

Critique

The disadvantage of global organizing and of the Global Greens Charter is that it is not a Green way, to impose things from the center. The Green spirit is about decentralization, localization, and 'power to the people.' This is more of a valid criticism of the Green Charter than it is of the GGC - since unanimity is always required - or of the GGN, which is only about coordinating campaigns and campaigning jointly. Or of the Global Green Gatherings, since they are merely an opportunity to talk together: participants report a buzz from being there.

However, in the case of the Charter, it does consist of generalizations, when local reality in the present moment is unique. To listen to generalizations, (and to force their application by law) is the root of authoritarianism. However, that is the political process, and we must reduce our ambitions of how perfect Green Parties might be.

Specific Green Parties

The following highlights some aspects important only for specific Green Parties. For information about the programme and the history of a Green Party in a specific country, use the list at the end of the section.

Green Parties in the English-speaking World

In English-speaking countries, Green Parties face electoral systems that have traditionally disadvantaged smaller parties, and a culture which has not been subject to invasion or colonization by others: they have achieved influence in Australia (where they are represented in the Australian Senate and the legislatures of four states and one territory) in the United Kingdom, in New Zealand (where for one parliamentary term they were part of the national Government), and (as mentioned above) the United States. Two provinces of Canada, British Columbia and Ontario, have strong provincial Green Parties. In the United States, at least 143 Greens hold elected positions the local level as of 2002, including 49 in California (according to [1]). In Australia, New Zealand, in almost every country in the European Union, and recently in some elections even in the United Kingdom, proportional representation and other Electoral reform strengthened the position of the Green Parties and enabled them to participate directly in legislatures and committees.

In countries following British-style 'first past the post' electoral rules, Green Parties face barriers to gaining federal or provincial/regional/state seats. As of the end of 2002, there were no Greens in the elected houses of the national legislatures of the United States, United Kingdom or Canada. Accordingly, in these countries, Green Parties focus on Electoral reform.

Green Parties in the Developing World

Green Parties in the developing world are often organized with help from those in other nations. As of 2002, most notably in Africa ('Crisis of Growth?', Agreement between the African and American Federations). However, the European Federation of Green Parties has worked to support weak Green Parties in European countries. Until recently, they were giving support to Green Parties in the Mediterranean countries. These Green Parties are now making electoral gains, e.g. in Spain and Greek Cyprus, or getting organized to do so, e.g. in Greece and Malta. Green Parties in Italy and France are part of the political pendulum and return to government with the success of the main parties of the left. So the European Federation is now turning its attention to Eastern Europe -- all these countries have Green Parties, but in materially-poor Eastern Europe the success of Green Parties is very patchy ( Text about the Green East-West Dialogue, The Green East-West Dialogue).

Skeptics point out that industrial nations are in the best position to adopt state-of-the-art clean energy and corresponding high pollution standards -- and that Green Parties advocate going against progress.

Other than hosting the first Afghanistan peace conference as part of the German government, Green Parties in the developed world have made few concrete moves to spread their values using the diplomatic channels. This is usually seen as one of the responsibilities of the Green Movement -- letting parties concentrate on their voters.

List of Green Parties

This list is sorted alphabetically by country.

See also: List of Green party issues,

External Links

Global Lists and Websites

Green Party Newsletters

Sources