Green parties were once hailed as offering a “new politics” vis-à-vis the political establishment by proposing radical political, economic, and environmental reforms, but they have since transformed in many countries to become more moderate and pragmatic. While some doubt whether their ideology still contains any essential core, I contend that a unifying link can be found in the philosophy of the Daoist sage Laozi. I illustrate this by analyzing the party program of Miljöpartiet de Gröna (Sweden’s Environmental Green Party), one of the world’s most electorally successful green parties. As demonstrated here, this green party’s current ideology strongly reflects key imperatives of Daoist political ecology revealing the philosophy’s durability and attractiveness over time and its perceived relevance to pressing issues of sustainability and climate change.
The Case of the Swedish Greens
Devin K. Joshi
Today's German Green Party looks much like its parliamentary counterparts. However, the long-term political experience of activists who founded the party informed flexible and open political thinking and structure, and raised questions about the nature of deep social change that are worth returning to. The Green Party in its current form is not the only possible relevant and practical manifestation of this thinking. This piece briefly traces an evolution of political thought before the emergence of the Green Party through the case of one former activist.
Sarah E. Summers
This article explores the connections between West German autonomous women's movement and the green movement from inception of the green movement in the 1970s until its institutionalization with the Green Party in the 1980s. I argue that understanding the role of feminism in the movement and vice versa requires scholars to rethink the autonomous strategies of the New Women's Movement. In doing so, I contend that autonomous feminists understood the wider implications of the green movement beyond ecological preservation, thus aiding in the transition to political party. Entangling the two movements also highlights the limits of gender equality in the Green Party as it implemented the quota system in the 1980s, and offers lessons for the potential future success of gender parity in German politics.
This article narrates the development of the antinuclear movement from the bottom up, showing how local protests initiated changes in Germans' ideas about democracy and public participation, precipitating the Green Party's emergence. The narrative begins with the pre-history of the 1975 occupation of the Wyhl reactor site in Southern Baden. It shows that vintners' concerns about the future of their livelihoods underpinned protests at Wyhl, but argues that the anti-reactor coalition grew in breadth after government officials' perceived misconduct caused local people to connect their agricultural concerns with democracy matters. It then explains how local protests like the Wyhl occupation influenced the formation of the German Green Party in the late 1970s, showing how the sorts of convergences that occurred amidst “single issue” protests like the anti-Wyhl struggle enabled a wide variety of activists to come together in the new party. Thus, the article argues that particular, local concerns initiated a rethinking of participation in electoral politics. Far from fracturing society, these local concerns promoted diverse new coalitions and shaped an inclusive approach to electoral politics.
After the first Bundestag elections in 1949, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) established itself as kingmaker either of the Christian Democrats or the Social Democrats. The entrance of the Green Party into the German Bundestag in 1983 brought about a significant change in the German political landscape, which challenged the German Liberals to redefine themselves. At present, it seems that the FDP is on its way back into the federal government after ten years of opposition, although "neoliberal" ideology is currently facing a severe international crisis. This constitutes a puzzling issue for political scientists, which is addressed in this article by analyzing the factors that can explain the German Liberal's latest success. Furthermore, the FDP's chances in comparison to the other two small parties (Left Party and Greens) are discussed. Finally, attention is focused on the characteristics of the FDP's election campaign and its coalition options for 2009 and beyond.
Following the end of their government coalition with the Social Democratic Party, German Green Party leaders spoke of "a dawn of new opportunities" for Alliance 90/The Greens. They wanted to capitalize on the strategic opportunities afforded by Germany's new five-party system and on the unexpected rise of climate change in public debate. Shortly before the 2009 federal election, however, the party's "new opportunities" seem rather limited. Selectively focusing on one particular explanatory factor, this article contrasts the Green's neo-radical eco-political position as it has emerged since 2005 with the ways in which environmental issues are addressed by the currently popular LOHAS (Life of Health and Sustainability) consumer movement. It suggests that the German Greens may have paid too little attention to the ongoing reframing of the environmental issue in public discourse and that this has impaired their prospects for a swift return to government office.
Environmental movements became a major vehicle for promoting citizen participation in both East and West Germany during the 1980s. Their critiques of industrial society, however, reflected the different constellations of power in their respective countries. Movements in both East and West formed green parties, but their disparate understandings of power, expertise, and democracy complicated the parties’ efforts to coalesce during the unification process and to play a major role in German politics after unification. I propose that the persistence of this East-West divide helps explain the continuing discrepancy in the appeal of Alliance 90/The Greens in the old and new German federal states. Nevertheless, I also suggest that the Greens have accomplished their goal of opening technical issue areas—particularly energy—to political debate. This is currently working to enhance their image throughout Germany as champions of technological innovation and democratic openness in the face of climate inaction and right-wing populism.
The West German Green Party's 1983 entrance into the Bundestag marked a major break, both in the history of this young political force and the parliamentary system of the Bonn Republic. The Greens had been founded in opposition to the guiding principles of the West German postwar consensus and conceived of themselves as an “anti-parliamentary party.” Although they had gained parliamentary experience in some regional chambers, their entrance onto the national parliamentary stage juxtaposed old ideals and new challenges—for the Greens themselves as well as for German political culture. Taking this singular historic moment as a starting point, this article summarizes the formation of the Greens in the context of the changing political and ideological landscape of the 1970s. It also contrasts the party's formation with the transformations in terms of program and personnel that it undertook during the 1980s. The focus lies less on the specific activities of the green parliamentary group than on the broader developments in green politics and thinking.
Stephen Milder and Konrad H. Jarausch
The September 2013 Bundestag election, which reelected Angela Merkel
as chancellor, was a clear defeat for the Green Party. Alliance 90/The
Greens (henceforth the Greens) fared far better than the Free Democratic
Party (FDP), which failed even to score the five percent of the vote required
for representation in parliament, but still fell from 10.7 percent to 8.4 percent,
losing five of their sixty-eight seats in parliament. Since in March of
that same year, surveys had shown their support at 17 percent, this disappointing
result forced Jürgen Trittin, the leader of the parliamentary delegation
to step down.1 In many ways, this perceived electoral debacle marked
the end of an era. The former Federal Minister of the Envi ron ment, who
had originally joined the party in 1980, told reporters that “a new generation” would have to step forward and lead the party into the 2017
campaign. This statement suggested not only that the Greens’ rebellious
founding impulse was spent, but also that they had become part of the
establishment in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), now requiring a
reinvigoration of their own. Since the Greens were once expected to be little
more than a short-lived byproduct of the social conflicts of the 1970s, a
closer look at the party’s founding moment at the beginning of the 1980s
might shed new light on its current predicament.
Hermann Schmitt and Andreas M. Wüst
When Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der went public and announced his plan for early elections on the evening of 22 May 2005, the SPD and the Green Party had just lost the state election in North-Rhine West-phalia. It was the last German state ruled by a Red-Green government, which left the federal government without any stable support in the Bundesrat. The chancellor's radical move resulted in early elections that neither the left (SPD and Greens) nor the conservative political camp (CDU/CSU and FDP) was able to win. While the citizens considered the CDU/CSU to be more competent to solve the country's most important problems, unemployment and the economy, the SPD once again presented the preferred chancellor. The new govrnment, build on a grand coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD, might be able to solve some of the structural problems of the country. While this will be beneficial for Germany as a whole, it will at the same time weaken the major German parties, which are running the risk of becoming politically indistinguishable.