European Shades of Green. Green Ideas and Political Power in Europe

In Western Europe Green political parties have been present in politics for a few decades now and they shape the politics on both, a national and European level. The turning point that let to the establishment and the development of the West European Green Parties was the 1968 student revolt and the wave of new social movements that resulted from it. In the former Soviet bloc, however, the protest movements lacked this dimension - only after 1989 was it possible to create the first ever Green parties that have become politically more visible and active in recent years.
Common historical experience is ascribed to the “new” member states of the European Union. The weakness of Green political forces in these countries is often explained by the means of the “post-socialist syndrome”. In spite of the fact that the acceptance of “green” values such as ecology, equal rights or democratic freedom is growing in the post-socialist societies, most of the Greens in the new EU member states have not managed to enter politics. In this context, the weakening Green representation on the European level can also be seen as a consequence of EU enlargement.

At the same time, it is not easy to find a clear common denominator for the development of the Greens in the former socialist countries. Most of the parties, among them the Polish Greens (Zieloni 2004) exist only as an extra-parliamentary opposition having a marginal influence on political processes. However, some of them, for example the Greens in the Czech Republic (Strana zelených) and Estonia (Erakond Eestimaa Rohelised) have managed to enter parliaments or even government (as in the Czech Republic).

Shortly before the oncoming elections to the European Parliament the future of Green political movements seems rather unclear. Questions like

  • What common ground exists between the Western European Green parties and the post-socialist ones in the new EU member states, despite the differing history and historical experiences?
  • Is the success of the Czech Greens an “accident” or a signal of a need for Green politics in the developing democracies in Central and Eastern Europe?
  • Is there any future for the green politics in Poland?
  • Will the oncoming elections to the European Parliament change the disadvantageous for the Greens balance of political power on the EU level or will it confirm the current status quo?

were discussed by Ulrike Lunacek - co-chairwoman of the European Green Party, Ladislav Vrchovský – board member of the Czech Green Party Strana zelených, Dariusz Szwed – Co-chairman of the Polish Greens, Zieloni 2004, Dr. Przemysław Sadura - Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw. The chairman was Jacek Żakowski - journalist and feature writer.

More in the invitation and report.