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Worldwide green parties

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While the generic term "green party" can be used by anyone, there are a number of loosely-affiliated but nonetheless formally organized political parties and political movements based on the Four Pillars of the Green Party to which the term is especially applicable. The Greens 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 maintenance of human life, and perhaps more importantly, as a neutral focus for people to find ways to agree even with deadly enemies. To Greens, peace follows ecology.

In March 1972 the world's very first Green party, the United Tasmania Group was formed at a public meeting in Hobart; in May 1972 a meeting at Victoria University, Wellington, 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.

Table of contents

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. Even in some countries without democratic systems, there are now Green NGOs: for instance, in China there is Green-Web[?].

Turning to the subject of bioregional democracy, only one Green Party in the world is organized along bioregional lines: The Green Party of Alaska. Green Parties seek to win elections, and so organize themselves by the presented electoral districts.

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.

No monopoly on policy

A (small-g) green party is not necessarily committed to the entire program of the Green Parties as such. What follows describes only parties that include peace movement and social justice ideals:

In some countries, notably the U.S., 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 and peace movement - with which there are very substantial policy and methodology differences.

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 and peer review. The confusion seems to arise from the similar positions taken by Greenpeace and Green Parties on these ecological issues, and characterization of the Parties as concerned with a single-issue - although supporters counter that "life is body within ecology", and that there is no point or value putting anything before a human's own health.

That conviction aside, 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.

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 who part of the Green Movement but less committed to democracy or humanity.

Global Cooperation

Global cooperation is taking place increasingly. Global Gatherings of Green Parties now happen. The first 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.

The Gatherings 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.) Discussion of the planned organization took place in several Green Parties prior to Canberra. [1] (http://www.greens.org.au/bobbrown/global.htm) 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. [2] (http://www.greenpartyus.org/press/pr_04_10_02)

Secondly, the Canberra Global Green Gathering agreed a Global Green Charter. 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. [3] (http://green.ca/english/members/constitution.shtml) This process is gradually taking place. In an online forum several Green Parties say where they are up to with this process. [4] (http://greenparties.hpg.ig.com.br/virtual)

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.[5] (http://www.global.greens.org.au/spinifex-4.pdf) 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, the Australian Greens 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. [6] (http://www.providence.edu/polisci/affigne/free_ingrid.htm#Anchor-Lipietz) The four Federations of Green Parties issued a message to FARC. [7] (http://www.web.greens.org/~cls/gp/to-farc-ep) 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. [8] (http://www.providence.edu/polisci/affigne/free_ingrid.htm)

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, Camaroon, 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.

The GGC was responsible for creating a Global Greens web site (http://www.greens.org/). 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 disadvantage of global organizing and of the Green 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. For perfection we must turn to emotional and spiritual work.

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 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

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 use. Although Greens vary in their views of the priority to be assigned to these Values or Pillars in any given dispute resolution or policy debate, there is little dispute that all apply in some order to more or less any situation requiring public controls.

Some Greens view the compromises of other political parties as dishonest, inherently unethical, as they fail to respect

Platforms

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

It is rare for a Green platform to propose lower fossil fuel prices, unlabelled artificial organisms, tax, trade and tariff[?] liberalizations that remove protections for ecoregions or communities. It is far easier to characterize what Greens oppose than to say what they support.

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. This is sometimes called a Red-Green Alliance - although as noted above 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.

Strategies

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 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.

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 ruled by consensus, strong local coalitions are always 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 recently worked in coalition with the German Social Democrats[?] in a so-called Red-Green Alliance. 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 Chanceller 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.

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 (they are part of a coalition government for the state of West Australia,) 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 [9] (http://www.feinstein.org/greenparty/electeds)). 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 are often organized with help from those in other nations. As of 2002, most notably in Africa (See story 'Crisis of Growth?') (http://europeangreens.org/news/update/updapril2002) (Agreement between the African and American Federations) (http://global.greens.org.au/charter/africanamericaprotocol). 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) (http://greenparty.org.uk/international/international/81/gewd.htm) The Green East-West Dialogue (http://www.europeangreens.org/peopleandparties/networks/gewd).

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.

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:

List of green parties

Parties describing themselves as 'green' but not observing the Four Pillars or Ten Key Values

External Links

Green Party newsletters

Sources:



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