Green Parties under Comparative Perspective

Yüklə 96,3 Kb.
Pdf görüntüsü
ölçüsü96,3 Kb.

Green Parties under Comparative Perspective


Wien Universität

Working Paper n.99

Barcelona 1994



Ever since the student movements of the 1960s disappeared, other social

movements and citizens' initiative groups have emerged and have developed rapidly

in most Western European countries. At the end of the 1960s new issues like air and

water pollution, noise, harmful substances in foodstuffs and the preservation of

scarce resources have entered political debate and have politicized opinion in

Europe. From the early 1970s onwards, widespread awareness of environmental

deterioration has been apparent and has become one of the central political issues in

Western Europe. The famous 1972 Club of Rome Report,  Limits of Growt, is

symbolic for the larger and long-term problems associated with environmental

destruction caused by governmental environmental policies, that have often

succumbed to economic pressures.

In many European countries, the politization of the environmental issue led to

the foundation of environmental groups at local and regional levels. Most of these

groups emerged spontaneously and were motivated by and protested about single or

limited issues, such as the provision of parks, urban renewal, new highways and the

construction of nuclear power plants. These groups employed a variety of methods in

seeking to influence and change policy decisions of the established parties. They

utilised local and national laws on giving the public access to plans for urban renewal

and constructions, and on compulsory hearings for those directly concerned. Other

methods used were liaison and consultations with local councils, particularly on

planning matterns, and also direct action in influencing the public.  In many countries,

the success of the local environmental movements led to the establishment of

national umbrella organizations in order to strengthen the political impact of the

environmental movements nationally; for instance,  the Federal Association of

Environmental Citizen Initiatives-BBU in Germany (founded in 1972), the Amis de la

Terre in France (1971), the Miljövarsgruppernas Riförbund-MIGRI in Sweden (1971),

and the Vereiniging Milieudefensie-VMD in the Netherlands (1972).

In the mid 1970s, one particular issue became dominant in several European

countries: nuclear energy. Heavily influenced by the oil crisi, most  european

governments decided to expand their nuclear energy programme. It was, however,

precisely the nuclear power issue that demonstrated the need for organizing social

movements at the national level, since energy problems could not be resolved

politically at the local level.  More and more local action groups in various countries

formed nationally organized "antinuclear-power" organizations as, for instance, the

Organization for Information on Nuclear Power-OOA in Denmark (founded in 1974),

the Committee for the Co-ordination of Regional Antinuclear Power Initiatives-LEK im

the Netherlands (1973), the  Miljöverbund  in Sweden (1976), the Initiative of

Anti-Nuclear Power Plants-IÖAG in Austria (1976), and the Action against Nuclear

Power-AMA in Norway (1974).

In the late 1970s, another issue became prominent in several European

nations: the NATO dual track policy on intermediate nuclear forces and the eventual

stationing of Cruise missiles and the Pershing II in Western Europe. This political

decision created much solidarity among these movements across national boarders

in Western Europe. Large demonstrations were held, occasional sit-ins, and the

illegal occupation at sites of proposed stationing of missiles took place.  Most of these

activities were initiated by national organized peace movements.

At the same time as many political scientists have emphasized, most West

European countries had built up a reserve of cultural support responsive to future

issues concerning the quality and the extent of democracy. However, almost exactly

around the late 1970s, most advanced industrialized European states underwent a

crucial change.  In many countries, the unemployment rate increased; more citizens'

initiatives group were formed; protest actions against environmental destruction and

nuclear power plants became a regular new element in the political behaviour of

many Europeans, especially among the younger population; and there emerged a

general and increased "fear" about the security provided by the nuclear deterrence of

NATO. "New" social movements thus became active everywhere on the political

scene. This development more or less indicated that the basic cultural characteristic

had changed in many European countries: weaker class cleavage structures, and the

rise of a new value orientation along with "participating citizens" were the political

symptoms of the 1980s.

In the early 1980s, most citizens' initiative groups and “new” social movements

have looked for closer contact to the Social Democrats or other established left-wing

parties. They expected those parties to act as an effective force against a full

commitment to economic growth, and as a consequence the destruction of the

environmental and the stationing of nuclear power weapons. However, the negative

experiences of the followers of these social movement with the bureaucratic

organizational structures of most left-wing established parties and interest groups as

well as the perceived lack of responsiveness of political institutions to come to grips

with a fundamentally different policy approach, became the major reason for the

foundation and the growth of Green parties in Western Europe.


As has been pointed out above, most Green parties have similar

back-grounds. They began as networks and alliances of citizen initiative movements

at the local level, formed around social and environmental issues that have largely

been neglected by the established parties in government and opposition. In addition

to that, Green parties differ from established parties with regard to three essential

features (Müller-Rommel, 1990, p. 217f.):

First, most Green parties follow an ideology that consists of strong concerns for equal

rights (especially for minorities), strong ecological and anti-nuclear power thinking,

solidarity with the Third-World, demands for unilateral disarmament, and a general

left-wing egalitarian disposition. Among others, most Green parties stand for peace

through unilateral disarmament and a nuclear-free Europe; also protection of the

natural environment through the introduction of transnational pollution controls, and

more generally an effective environmental policy directed against an unquestioned

commitment to economic growth. These parties advocate an alternative life-style

through less emphasis on material goods, more individualism, self-realization, and

self-determination. They display a more sympathetic orientation towards the Third

World, a concern for the genuine sharing of wealth between rich and poor nations,

and helping poorer countries to create their own self-sufficient economies free of

financial domination by the industrialized nations. In sum, Green parties introduce a

programmatic and ideological thinking which is less consistent with the traditional

ideological framework of the Left/Right dimensions; they advocate a set of alternative

values that differ significantly from those of the established larger parties. In addition,

the issues emphasized by the Greens are widely perceived as challenging the

conventional economic and security policies. Since sympathy with such policies is

likely to rise with growing distance to the production process, the members of the

new middle classes should be disposed to be more favourable to the demands of the

Greens -regardless of their actual value orientation (Baker, Dalton, and Hildebrandt,

1981, p. 152ff.).

Second,  all Green parties display a strong preference for participatory party

organization. The organizational structure of most Green parties gives local party

branches more autonomy in decision-making. It is designed to give the grassroots a

maximum chance of interest articulation and, as such, an impact on policy formation

within the party. This process of decentralization in decision-making is seen to be the

essential precondition of meaningful participatory opportunity at all levels of the party

organization, because it distributes power to more units and makes politics more

transparent and hence intelligible.

Third, and most important, Green parties have a similar electorate with

characteristics that differ significantly from those of the established parties. Several

studies of the voters for Green parties in single countries show that Green parties

voters are mainly younger, new middle class, urban, highly educated, with new value

orientations, a general left-wing orientation, and occupy white-collar and government

jobs where the traditional class conflict is virtually non-existent. Furthermore,

comparative data on the electorate of Green parties indicate that most voters of the

Greens display a “left-wing postmaterialist” profile. We refer to this group of voters as

the "New Left” (Müller-Rommel, 1989).

Inherently, the three typical characteristics of Green parties  -as described

above- involve many continuos variables. For example, the degree of participatory

party organization varies somewhat between Green parties. Some parties have a

more hierarchically organized party structure than others.

In addition, as regards strategy for implementing Green  parties issues, the

Greens may be classified by two different types.

On the one hand, there are the "pure Green reformist parties" that do not

reject free economic enterprise. These parties prefer to select genuine ecologist

issues that do not bring them strongly into policy conflict with the established parties

over the social welfare state and foreign policy. In terms of alliance politics, the

reformist Greens seek cooperation with Social Democratic parties, rather than with

radical  new left parties. Among these parties are the Greens in Belgium, Great

Britain, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Switzerland (GPS), and France.

On the other hand, there are also, "alternative Green radical parties" that seek

fundamental changes in social and political institutions and stand for a new

alternative, social-radical form of democratic paradigm. Most of these parties reject

an alliance with Social Democrats. Rather, they seek cooperation with radical  new

left parties. Among them are the Green parties in Luxembourg, Austria, Italy, and

Switzerland (GAS).



Green parties exist in nearly all Western industrialized societies, although their

activities and their electoral strength vary considerably between countries as well as

between the local, regional, and national levels within any one country. (see for a

detailed description and analysis of Green parties in Western Europe, Müller-Rommel

1989, 1993).

In  Scandinavia we find Green parties  -organized on the national level- in

Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. In Norway small  left-wing or liberal parties have

taken over the issues of the environmentalists and peace movements followers on

national level.

The history of the Greens in  Finland began in 1979 with the unpopular

decision of the government to drain a lake which was a nature protection area for

birds. The Greens first nominated their own candidates for the 1979 parliamentary

elections, but gained only 0.1% of the national vote. From 1979 until 1983, the

decentralized Green list -which has not been established as a Green party- increased

its voter strength 1.5% of the vote and -because of the proportional electoral system-

won two seats in the parliament. In the 1987 national election the Green list was able

to increase its electoral success to 4% of the total vote and in the 1991 national

election the Greens gained 6.8% (10 seats).

In Sweden many Centre party voters were disillusioned by the party's policy

decision in 1980 to support a referendum for the further building of nuclear power

plants. In 1981 the Miljöpartiet was founded with the support of many former Centre

party followers. According to a reliable Swedish public opinion poll, the Miljöpartiet

would have gained around 4% of the national vote in November 1981. However, the

electoral result in the 1982 general election was disappointing for the  Miljöpartiet:

they received only 1.6% of the vote and gained no seats in the national parliament.

Since 1983, the Swedish environmentalists made efforts to establish closer ties to

other Green parties in Europe. In autumn 1984, the party changed its name from

Miljöpartiet to Green Party in order to be more attractive to new social movement

followers at the 1985 national election. The electoral outcome was again very

disappointing for the Greens. Because the Social Democrats adopted several

environmental issues in their programme for the campaign, the Greens only gained

1.5% of the national vote. However, in the 1988 national elections the Greens won

5.5% of the vote and hold 20 seats in parliament. In 1991, the vote for the Green

party in Sweden dropped down to 3.4%. Because of the  three percent threshold

hurdle, the Greens lost all seats in the national parliament.

In Denmark a Green party was set up in 1983, but did not receive support

among the voters to appear on the ballot papers for the following national elections.

In the local elections of 1985, the Green party won enough of the vote to elect

several delegates to local councils. According to a national survey, 2.3% of the

population was ready to vote for the Greens in December 1985. However, in the

1987 and 1988 national elections the Danish Greens received only 1.3% of the total

vote. This result was due the fact that in Denmark two other small left-wing parties

adopted major issues of the "new politics" in their party programmes. In addition,

those parties (Socialist People's Party -SF- and the Venstre Socialist Party -VS) were

in close alliance with the antinuclear power and the environmental movements.

Green parties have established in all the  Benelux countries.  Belgium  is the

first country in Western Europe where self-styled representatives of Green parties

were elected to a national parliament (see the detailed study by Riheaux in this

book). Although the two Green parties (AGALEV for the Flemish, and ECOLO for the

Wallons) had already campaigned in the 1977 and 1978 elections, it was not until the

1981 general election that they could win 4.8% of the vote and receive four seats in

the national parliament. In the 1984 European elections, the Greens in Belgium

archived another electoral breakthrough, wining two seats in the European

Parliament. Ever since then, the two Green parties became an established element

of the party system in Belgium. They received 6.2% (9 seats) in the 1985, 7.1% (9

seats) in the 1987, and 10% (17 seats) in the 1991 national election.

In  Luxembourg an “alternative list” (AL) was founded in 1979 prior to the

European and national elections. The political protest of the AL was not purely

directed against the environmental policy of the established parties, but also against

the political system as a whole. In both 1979 elections, the AL gained 1% of the vote.

Encouraged by the electoral success of the Belgian Greens in 1981, the followers of

new social movements in Luxembourg  -after a series of intensive and conflictive

debates- founded a new Green party in 1983 (The Green Alternative). In the 1984

European and national elections, the party won 6.1% and 5.2% of the vote winning

two seats in the national parliament. Because of the “country-vote-proportional

representation" for the European parliament, the Luxembourg Green party however

has no seats in Strasbourg. In 1989 the Greens could increase its electoral results;

they gained 8.4% (4 seats) in the national and 10.4% in the European election.

Compared to Belgium and Luxembourg, the story of the development of the

Greens in the Netherlands is more complex. Until 1984, the  political issues of the

new social movements were largely represented by the Radical Party (PPR) and the

Pacifist-Socialists (PSP). The Radical Party was formed in 1968 as a split from the

Catholic People Party, while the Pacifist-Socialists had split from the Dutch Labour

Party in 1957. Since there was fairly strong support for these parties among the

followers of new social movements, no  Green and alternative list or party were

formed. However, because of the new Dutch electoral law for the European election

in 1984 requiring that a party needs at least 4% of the total vote in order to get a seat

in the European Parliament at Strasbourg, the Radicals initiated an alliance with

those left-wing smaller parties which had not polled more than 2% in the national

election. The idea was to reorganize left-wing radical politics in the Netherlands by

founding a party alliance with the PPR, the PSP, and the Communists (CPN). After a

series of critical debates about "Green credentials", these parties founded the Green

Progressive Akkord (GPA), taking the Green label because the party executives

expected to attract additional voters by calling themselves the Greens. A public

opinion survey in 1983 announced that 12.5% of the Dutch voters would support a

Green party. However, the GPA polled only 5.7% at the 1984 European elections,

while the PPR, PSP, and CPN together received 5.6% at the national elections in

1982. These results suggest that the GPA's campaigning strategy has not been as

successful as desired in winning votes, although it has achieved the immediate aim

of getting two candidates elected to the European Parliament, one coming from the

PSP and the other from the PPR. In the 1986 national election a small group of

"pure" ecologists nominated their own candidates on a list called "Green Federation".

This group won 0.2% of the total vote, while the PPR received 1.3%, the PSP 1.2%,

and the Communists 0.6% of the vote. Together, these results total 3.3% of the

national vote, indicating that the small "new politics" parties have lost significantly

over the past three years. In 1989, the green-left parties scored a total of 4.1% (6

seats) and in 1994, they received 3.5% (5 seats) of the national vote.

The Greens in  West Germany are composed of  an agglomerate of several

citizens' action groups which have been aliented by the bureaucratic organizational

structures of the established parties and interest groups. (see the detailed study by

MülIer-Rommel in this book) It was not until March 1979 that the alternative political

alliance (SPV) was first founded, primarily to contest the European elections of that

year. Following their success in obtaining 3.2% of the vote, they made serious efforts

to form a national party. After a series of lifely  conferences which demonstrated the

differences among the various groupings, a party  Die Grünen was founded in

January 1980. Following several conferences, the national programme was adopted

in March 1980. Participation in the 1980 Federal election resulted in a rather

disappointing electoral outcome of 1.5% of the vote. In spite of this poor national

performance in 1980, the Green and alternative lists won between 1970 and 1982

more electoral success at the state (Länder) level. In March 1983 the Greens could

increase their supporters to win 5.6% of the national vote and 27 seats in the

Bundestag. In the European election of 1984, the Greens gained an impressive 8.2%

of the vote and received seven seats in the European Parliament. In the 1987 federal

election, they received again 8.3% of the national vote. Because of this result, the

German Greens hold 44 seats in the national parliament between 1987 and 1990.

However, in the 1990 national election, which was the first election after the German

unification, the Greens in East and West Germany nominated two separate lists with

candidates for the national parliament. The West German Greens only gained 3.8%

of the vote and the East German Bündnis '90 received 1.2%. Consequently, the West

German Greens could not send any candidates to the national parliament, because

of the 5% threshold hurdle in the German electoral law. In the Eastern part of

Germany, however, the 5% threshold has been diminished for the 1990 national

election in order to protect minorities. This is why Bündnis '90 could send 8 delegates

to the German national parliament, although they scored only 1.2%. Meanwhile,

Bündnis '90 and Die Grünen are united as one party and will run on one list for the

1994 national election.

The first "Ecology List” in Western Europe to be organized on the national

level was formed in France prior to the 1974 presidential elections. For the first time

in French politics, the ecologists nominated their own presidential candidate. Since

then, the ecologists have taken policy stands which have been radically opposed to

those of the larger established parties. In 1977, three ecological groups formed the

Collectif Ecologie '78 for the purpose of campaigning for the parliamentary elections.

The group favoured a decentralized approach and pronounced its distrust of

traditional political structures. It was, however, not until January 1984 that the various

factions among the Ecologie and other new social movements founded the French

Green party (Les Verts). Electorally, the ecologists have been rather unstable over

the past ten years. In the 1974 presidential elections, the ecological candidates

polled 1.3% of all votes and held sixth place in the field of twelve candidates. In the

1976 cantonal elections, some local ecological groups obtained relatively high

electoral results, and encouraged other ecologists to nominate candidates for the

local election in March 1977. The ecologists, however, have not received the

expected high amount of total votes. In the 1978 general election, the ecologists

nominated candidates in 201 out of 474 constituencies of metropolitan France. They

received the highest vote in Paris and in areas where there was strong local

opposition to nuclear power stations. For the 1979 European elections, the ecologists

formed a list called  Europe Ecologie and gained 4.4% of the vote. In the 1981

presidential elections, the ecologists' candidate obtained 3.5% of the poll, 3.1% of the

total electorate, and ranked fifth among the ten presidential candidates. For the 1984

European elections, the French Green party and another moderate Green list

(Entente Radicale Ecologiste-ERE) competed for voters. Because of the electoral

split neither of the two Green organizations received the 5% of the vote necessary to

send Green candidates to the European Parliament. This situation was completely

different in 1989: The Greens gained 10.6% of the vote for the European election and

have received for the first time in its party life nine seats in the European parliament.

The foundation of local Green lists in  Italy dates back to 1980, when some

small autonomous ecological groups nominated candidates for local elections in

several Northern-Italian cities. The number of local Green lists increased to 16 in

1983, and for the local administrative elections in May 1985 about 150 Green lists

competed with other parties for voters. On the whole, they won 2.1% of the total

turnout in three districts where they nominated own candidates. This result showed

that Green lists in Italy gained a total of 141 seats in the representative assemblies:

10 in the regional, 16 in the province, and 115 in city councils. In the June 1987

national election the Lista Verde, a joint group of all Green lists in Italy plied 2.5%

and won 13 seats in the national parliament (Chamber of Deputies) and two seats in

the upperhouse (Senate). Despite this, the Italian Greens have remained incohesive

and have been called the "Green Archipelago". In the 1989 European elections, they

gained 6.2% and 5 seats while in the 1992 national elections they only received 2.8%

(16 seats) of the national vote.

The forerunner of the present ecology party in  Great Britain was formed in

1973 under the name People's Party. In 1975 the party changed its name to Ecology

Party (and later to the Green party). In contrast to most other Green parties in Europe

the People's Party and the later Ecology Party were not as strongly supported by the

British environmental and peace movement, perhaps because they directed their

political activities as interest groups rather than seeking parliamentary

representatives through political parties. The Ecology Party exists to a greater or

lesser extent throughout the country and is a unified organization, although for

electoral purposes the expressions "Scottish Ecology Party", "Ecology Party of

Wales", and "North Ireland Ecology Party" have been used in some areas. In fact, the

Greens were the fastest growing party in Great Britain until the formation of the

Social Democratic Party in 1981. The Ecologists were for instance quite successful in

the 1976 and 1977 local elections. In the 1979 general elections the Green party

nominated 53 candidates and gained 1.6% of the vote where it contested seats. In

the June 1979 direct elections to the European Parliament, the Greens nominated

three candidates, who gained 3.7% of the vote in their constituencies. The general

elections of 1983 and the European elections of 1984 brought low electoral support

which was likely consequence of the British majority electoral system, where smaller

parties stand hardly any chance of winning seats in the national parliament and it

even discourages sympathetic voters who often feel that a vote or the Ecology Party

is a wasted vote in Britain. In the 1989 European election, the British Greens gained

-to the surprise of most political observers- 10.4% of the vote but no seat. This

support was interpreted as an "unnormal" protest vote.

The Green party in  Ireland was founded under the name "Green Alliance" in

1981. The party is essentially a network of small, independent groups,  either local

and functioning in a particular geographical area, or of specialists dealing with a

particular issue or aspect of Green Alliance policy. The local and specialist groups

are completely autonomous, and therefore free to adopt  the organizational structure

they choose. The Irish Greens fielded seven candidates in the 1982 general elections

and received only a small number of first preference votes. For the 1984 European

election, the Green Alliance nominated only one candidate in the constituency of

Dublin where the party gained 1.9% of the vote. In the 1987 national election they

could slightly increase voting support on national level to 0.4% of the total vote. Since

1989, the Greens have one candidate in the national parliament.

In Austria, two Green parties were founded in 1982: the Alternative List (ALÖ)

and the Green Union (VGÖ). Both parties drew their support mainly from the

followers of smaller citizens' movements and political groups formed around social

and environmental issues. The growth of those groups has been encouraged by the

success of the national referendum against nuclear power plants in 1978. The ALÖ

and VGÖ differ with regard to their ideological stands. While the VGÖ is more a right-

wing party which even nominated "fascist" candidates on their list for the 1983

general elections, the ALÖ programme and strategy is similar to the German Green

party. The ALÖ has established its strength at the local level and has used the

network among the grassroots to gradually extend its electoral support in district

elections. Both parties polled well enough to send Green party members to the

respective parliaments. In the 1983 general elections the Austrian Greens were not

very successful mainly because of conflicts within and among the two parties. The

VGÖ and ALÖ nominated separate lists and gained 1.9% and 1.4% respectively, of

the total vote. With a united Green list and an electoral result of 3.3% (VGÖ/ALÖ),

the Green parties would have been able to send seven delegates to the national

parliament in 1983. For the 1986 national elections both Green parties formed an

alliance and received 4.8% of the vote and 8 seats in the national parliament. In the

1990 national elections, the Greens could stabilize its electoral support: they gained

5.4% and send 9 candidates to the national parliament.

In Switzerland, the first regional Green party was founded in Zürich in 1978.

The party participated in the 1979 general elections with its own candidates list, and

gained one seat in the national parliament because of the proportional electoral law.

In the following years several Green parties were formed in different areas

throughout Switzerland. At the same time, alternative left-wing social movements

developed in larger cities. In May 1983, most of the decentralized Green parties

founded the "Federation of Green Parties in Switzerland" (GPS) on the national level.

One month later, some left-wing followers of the alternative groups established the

"Green Alternative List in Switzerland" (GAS). Both groups nominated their own

candidates for the 1983 general election. The GAS won 3.5% and the GPS 2.9% of

the national vote. In the 1987 national election the GPS could increase its voting

support to 4.8%, while the GAS polled again 3.5%. In the 1991 national elections,

both parties received 7.7% and gained 15 seats in the national parliament.

This cross-national overview has shown that Green parties exist in nearly  all

Western European party systems. Between 1978 and 1994 they have participated in

nearly two hundred local and regional elections as well as in 81 national elections in

15 countries. Currently, Green parties are represented in 10 national parliaments

(Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Italy, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Greece

and the Netherlands). In five countries the Greens are not represented in national

parliaments (France, Sweden, Spain, Great Britain, and Denmark). In all countries,

Green parties participated in two and more national elections. Generally, however,

the level of electoral support and parliamentary representation of Green parties is

relatively small. They can nearly be classified as small parties which have specific

roles and functions in European party systems: In several cases they hold "blackmail

potential" and act as "mobilizers of social and political conflicts"

(Müller-Rommel/Pridham 1990) (Table 1).



There are several approaches measuring party success. Impact on

governmental policy could be considered as one crucial criterion. Alternatively, party

can be successful in affecting political issues and the tone of political life without

necessarily increasing its electoral support. In the traditional literature, the political

success of parties is commonly defined in numerical terms, i.e. by voter turnout

and/or legislative seats. We have limited our analysis to this definition assuming that

those parties which gain enough vote to be represented in national parliament have

some political influence on the national level of a political system.

A serious problem in applying a numerical definition is that of determining

cut-off points for electoral success. Knowing that such an exercise is always

essentially arbitrary, this analysis is based upon criteria which are (hopefully) both

reasonable and plausible.

First, all Green parties which are organized on national level of the political system

are included in the sample. In addition all Green parties have contested at least two

national elections in the past seven years.

Second, the average party vote was computed for the period of sixteen years. Parties

which have polled (on average) four percent or more of the national vote were

qualified as successful. A green party is unsuccessful if it falls below the four percent

threshold (Kitschelt 1989: 19). Table 2 shows that Green parties in seven countries

are labled as successful: in Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Luxembourg,

Switzerland, France, and Austria.


Third,  political success is defined by Green parties' concentration in a national

parliament measured by the proportion of "Green" seats in relation to the total seats

in national parliament. A Green party is defined successful if its degree of

concentration in national government is above three percent. Given this definition,

Green parties in seven countries can be labled as successful: in Belgium,

Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, and Finland.

In a further step, an index of electoral success is created which consists of the

Green parties' concentration in national parliament 1994 and their average electoral

results between 1978 and 1994. The index has produced three patterns of electoral


-highly successful Green parties with more than three percent parliamentary

concentration and an average electoral result of more than four percent (Belgium,

Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria),

-medium successful  Green parties with  either more than three percent

parliamentary concentration or an average electoral result of more than four percent

(Germany, Netherlands, France, Finland),

-unsuccessful Green parties with less than three percent parliamentary

concentration and less than four percent average electoral result (Italy, Sweden,

Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Spain, Greece).



It has been shown that the electoral success of Green parties varies

considerably across Western Europe. There are, of course, several explanations for

this development. Generally, it seems obvious that certain features of national

political systems provide likely explanatory variables. In Western Europe, we find, for

instance, growing and continuing disaffection of the voters with many established

parties; declining system performance in the context of the economic recession with

possible profound effects on party systems; evidence of party systems fragmentation

and electoral volatility in several countries; and the emergence of new political issues

opening the way for some restructuring of the political systems (see

Müller-RommelPoguntke 1994). Altogether, these features present a significantly

different situation compared with the postwar period and one of sufficient duration in

which Green parties might have unprecedented opportunities.

Comparative work on European party systems has debated  -though other

inconclusively- the "unfreezing" of long-standing cleavages. Support for the

established parties is characterized by specific historically-rooted social milieu,

whereby the structure of social conflict within a nation produces long-term and

relatively stable political cleavages within the party system. Furthermore, the

determinants of electoral choice could be tracked back to basic social allegiances

such as class, religion or region traits. The end-result was largely a Left-Right pattern

of partisan alignment.

Yet the emergence of new value orientations in Western Europe together with

the foundation of Green parties has produced a new dimension of conflict. This is

because Green parties direct their protest which is based on new values against left

and right targets alike. As such, the Greens challenge the stability of the established

political constellation by adding a "new" conflict dimension to the traditional left-right

party system cleavage structure without breaking down the primary cleavage


Ronald Inglehart (1977) argues that the traditional Left-Right dimension no

longer adequately describes modem patterns of political conflict, because new

political issues can no longer be regarded as expressions of Left-Right conflicts

alone. The need to combat environmental pollution and to develop a peace policy is

not, at least overtly, questioned by either conservative or left-wing parties.

Inglehart shows that the "valence issues" of the new politics are better placed

on an establishment/anti-establishment scale than on a Left-Right one. Some

sections of the population sympathize with the peace movement,  squatters  and

social fringe groups. Others favour the police, the administrative bureaucracy; that is,

the established institutions of the state defending the existing social order. In this

context Inglehart holds that this new political dimension is partly an expression of the

emergence of a sizeable and active minority giving priority to post-material values.

In examining the electoral behaviour of this post-materialist minority, Ingle hart

found that these individuals heavily prefered left-wing parties. Initially this finding

appears to confirm the thesis that voters are still in the habit of attaching their political

ideas and demands to certain parties via terms like "Left" and "Righ". In a

comparative study, however, Inglehart and Klingemann (1976) showed that the

designation "Left" and "Right" have largely become stereotypes for specifying political

parties, and that the decision to vote for one of these parties is still closely connected

with a party identification shaped by class and religion. According to Inglehart, it is

precisely this inertia of established party loyalities and group formations which

prevents the post-materialist value structure from taking full effect on electoral choice.

Following the logic of this argument, the new dimension of conflict should

become more pronounced when Green parties with new politics issues enter the

competition for votes. Some studies on the Greens in single European countries

have shown that Green party voters are both highly interested and very active in

politics. They view governmental policy more critically than the average voter and

they are mostly without historically formed party identifications to one of the

established parties. The new dimension of conflict within European party systems

should, therefore, intensify when Green parties increase their electoral success.



It has already been argued that Green parties in Europe mobilize many

followers of new political movements by making it possible for them to find rational

expression for their views at the ballot box. Green parties thus serve as a political

vehicle for those movement supporters whose grievances have been ignored by the

larger established parties. Green parties also give assurance to their voters that they

are doing something on a parliamentary level about the causes of their discontent. By

making themselves the spokesperson of the discontented, Green parties, however,

additionally promote the process of change of party loyalities for older generations

and prepare the way for increasing volatility within the party system.

On the other hand, Green parties also affect political issues and the tone of

political life by bringing controversial matters into the public debate. If the issues

prove popular, they may well be adopted by one or more of the larger established

parties, as larger parties in Europe currently seek to adopt some environmental

issues first raised by Green parties. This leads to changes in the programms of major

European parties.

It seems to be evident that Green parties compete in the first glance with

larger socialist parties. Both party types are committed to changing the political

system. However, while socialist parties seek system change through reform policies

addressing the traditional conflict between capital and labour, the Green parties ask

for a fundamental rethinking of the economic growth theory.

This process particularly affects the larger socialist parties. In most European

countries, the Socialist's rank-and-file members as well as party elites split into two

groups: those with a traditional left-wing outlook who are concerned with the security

of the working class and economic stability (the Old Left), and those with a new

politics orientation who rather emphasize the quality of life, the nature of economy,

and the extent of democracy (New Left). The "New Left" in socialist parties stands in

competition with Green parties regarding the "new politics voter", while the "Old Left"

is still fighting along the old cleavage dimensions. The socialist parties are, therefore,

trapped between two cultures, although only a minority of the electorate is on the

new politics side. The majority in most Western European democracies stand in the

center of the political spectrum. Whatever the socialist parties might be able to gain

from the new left, they risk loosing from among the old left voters. Consequently, the

only viable strategy for the Socialists is to attempt some reconciliation of old politics

(in order to integrate the majority of the Socialist's voters) and a moderate version of

new politics (in order to attract Green parties voters). A radical realization of "new

politics issues" is beyond the reach of the socialist parties.

In functioning as promoters of new politics issues, however, Green parties

offer radical answers to radical questions concerning ecological problems, military

concerns, and the questions of democratic and civil rights. The success of Green

parties is nourished by radical issue positions that larger socialist and conservative

parties are not able to take fully into consideration. It thus seems theoretically cogent

and empirically substantiated to predict that Green parties are here to stay as long as

the political issues of new political movement followers remain on the political agenda

and are not adopted by any established party.




BAKER, Ken et al.: Germany Transformed. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1981.

INGLEHART, Ronald: The Silent Revolution. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1977.

KLINGEMANN, Hans-Dieter; INGLEHART, Ronald: "Party Identification, Ideological Preference, and

the Left-Right Dimension among Western Mass Publics", in: BUDGE, I. et al. (eds.):  Party

Identification and Beyond. London, Wiley Press, 1976.

KITSCHELT, Herbert: The Logics of Party Formation. Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1989.

MÜLLER-ROMMEL, Ferdinand:  New Politics in Western Europe. The Rise of Green Parties and

Alternative List. Boulder, Westview Press, 1989.

MÜLLER-ROMMEL, Ferdinand: "New Politics Parties and New Social Movements in Western

Europe", in: DALTON, R.; KÜCHLER, M. (eds.):  Challenging the Political Order. Oxford, Oxford

University Press, 1990, p. 209-231.

MÜLLER-ROMMEL,  Ferdinand: Grüne Parteien in Westeuropa. Entwicklungsphasen und

Erfolgsbedingungen. Opladen, West-deutscher Verlag, 1993.

MÜLLER-ROMMEL, Ferdinand; PRIDHAM, Geoffrey (eds.):  Small Parties in Western Europe.

London, SHGE, 1991.

MÜLLER-ROMMEL, Ferdinand; POGUNTKE, Thomas:  New Politics. Concepts. Methodology,

Empirical Finding. London, Dartmonth Publisher, 1994 (forthcoming).

Yüklə 96,3 Kb.

Dostları ilə paylaş:

Verilənlər bazası müəlliflik hüququ ilə müdafiə olunur © 2023
rəhbərliyinə müraciət

    Ana səhifə