Greens in Europe: Incremental Growth

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2015-59-12-58-71

T. Rovinskaya, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., 117997, Moscow, Russian Federation (

Abstract. The article deals with the environmental ideology evolution and the Green Movement political development – from groups of activists and ecological non-governmental organizations to influential political parties, at both national and international level (mainly in the Western Europe). The overlook covers the period from early 1970s to present. The mass political Green Movement arose in early 1970s in the Western Europe, USA and Australia in response to vivid ecological threats and the inability of national and international authorities to offer effective solutions. From the very beginning, the Greens declared their commitment to the principles of environmental responsibility, global sustainable development, inclusive democracy, consideration for diversity, personal freedom, gender equality and non-violence. In the political field, the Greens meet two main challenges: formation of political agenda with regard to environmental issues; promotion of effective political decisions and economic mechanisms to protect the environment from an anthropogenic impact. Ecological NGOs, especially large international organizations (like Greenpeace) perform public protest actions against the transnational and state corporations’ economic activities violating the environment (f.e. Arctic oil extraction, radioactive waste storage, gene engineering in agriculture etc.). But beyond the active political lobbying and drawing of wide public support to acute environmental issues, NGOs are not able to involve into political process directly. Within 1970s–1980s (and also later on) ecological political parties were formed in most Western European countries, with a target to participate in official parliamentary elections at local, regional, national and supra-national level. Many of them succeeded and became influencing in their countries. Political methods used by the Greens are thoroughly analyzed in the paper. Special attention is paid to political strategy and tactics of the German ecological party Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, as well as to participation of the European Union Green parties in work of the European Parliament. German Greens count for the most successful ecological party not only in Europe, but also worldwide. Using flexible tactics of parliamentary coalitions, they managed to facilitate a general turn of the German policy toward ecologization (renunciation of the atomic energy development in Germany, conservation of energy and renewable energy sources programs, ecological taxes implementation, prohibition on gene engineering in agriculture etc.). Being a part of the governing coalition, the “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen” were also involved in many other sociopolitical and international issues. Since 1984, many European ecological parties are present in the European Parliament. In 2004, the European Green Party was created to consolidate electoral efforts of the Greens at the European level. Almost all EU ecological parties are also members of the international Global Greens organization. Owing to activities of the Green Movement as a whole, state authorities of many countries (primarily in the Western Europe) adopted environment friendly legislation and state programs. Despite short periods of reverse, the general development of Greens is progressive and prospective.

Keywords: environmentalism, ecologism, Sustainable Development, Green Movement, eco-NGO, Greenpeace, TNC, Green parties, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Greens-European Free Alliance, European Green Party, Global Greens

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For citation:
Rovinskaya T. Greens in Europe: Incremental Growth. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2015, vol. 59, no. 12, pp. 58-71.

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