Green party

This article is about Green parties in general. For political parties, see List of green political parties and Green party (disambiguation).
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In 1979, Daniel Brélaz became the world's first green member of a national parliament (in Switzerland).

A Green party is a formally organized political party based on the principles of green politics, such as social justice, environmentalism and nonviolence. Greens believe that these issues are inherently related to one another as a foundation for world peace. Green party platforms typically embrace social-democratic economic policies and forming coalitions with leftists. Green parties exist in nearly 90 countries around the world; many are members of Global Greens.


There are distinctions between "green" parties and "Green" parties. Any party, faction, or politician may be labeled "green" if it emphasizes environmental causes. Indeed, the term may even be used as a verb: it is not uncommon to hear of "greening" a party or a candidate.

In contrast, formally organized Green parties may follow a coherent ideology that includes not only environmentalism, but often also other concerns such as social justice, consensus decision-making and nonviolence. Greens believe that these issues are inherently related to one another as a foundation for world peace. The best-known statement of the above Green values is the Four Pillars of the Green Party, adopted by the German Greens in 1979–1980 (but forsaken since). The Global Greens Charter lists six guiding principles which are ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, nonviolence, sustainability and respect for diversity.


The world's first political parties to campaign on a predominantly environmental platform were the United Tasmania Group which contested the April 1972 state election in Tasmania, Australia and the Values Party of New Zealand, which contested the November 1972 New Zealand general election.[1] The name 'Green' derives from the 'Green Bans': an Australian movement of building workers who refused to build on sites of cultural and environmental significance.[2] The first green party in Europe was the Popular Movement for the Environment, founded in 1972 in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. The first national green party in Europe was PEOPLE, founded in Britain in February 1973, which eventually turned into the Ecology Party, and then the Green Party. Several other local political groups were founded in beginning of the 70's and Fons Sprangers was probably the first Green mayor in the world, elected in 1970 in Meer, and active till 2006 for the Flemish Greens. The first political party to use the name "Green" seems to have been the Lower Saxon "Green List for Environmental Protection", founded Sept. 1, 1977.

The first Green Party to achieve national prominence was the German Green Party, famous for their opposition to nuclear power, as well as an expression of anti-centralist and pacifist values traditional to greens. They were founded in 1980 and have been in coalition governments at state level for some years. They were in federal government with the Social Democratic Party of Germany in a so-called Red-Green alliance from 1998 to 2005. In 2001, they reached an agreement to end reliance on nuclear power in Germany, and agreed to remain in coalition and support the government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the 2001 Afghan War. This put them at odds with many Greens worldwide.

In Finland, in 1995, the Finnish Green Party was the first European Green party to be part of a national Cabinet. Other Green parties that have participated in government at national level include the Groen! (formerly Agalev) and Ecolo in Belgium, Les Verts in France and the Green Party in Ireland. In the Netherlands GroenLinks ("GreenLeft") was founded in 1990 from four small left-wing parties and is now a stable faction in the Dutch parliament.

Around the world, individuals have formed many Green parties over the last thirty years. Green parties now exist in most countries with democratic systems: from Canada to Peru; from Norway to South Africa; from Ireland to Mongolia. There is Green representation at national, regional and local levels in many countries around the world.

Most of the Green parties are formed to win elections, and so organize themselves by the presented electoral or political districts. But that does not apply universally: The Green Party of Alaska is organized along bioregional lines to practice bioregional democracy.


Depending on local conditions or issues, platforms and alliances may vary. In line with the goal of democracy, neighboring ecoregions may require 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 or groups concerned with peace or citizens rights.

A Red-Green alliance is an alliance between Green parties and social democratic parties. Such alliances are typically formed for the purpose of elections (mostly in first-past-the-post election systems), or, after elections, for the purpose of forming a government.

Some Greens, such as those in Hawaii, find more effective alliances with more conservative groups (Blue-Green alliance) or indigenous peoples - who seek to prevent disruption of traditional ways of life or to save ecological resources they depend on. Although Greens find much to support in fostering these types of alliances with groups of historically different backgrounds, they also feel strongly about forming diverse communities through encouragement of diversity in social and economic demographics in communities, especially in the United States.

Alliances often highlight strategic differences between participating in parties and advancing the values of the Green movement. For example, Greens became allied with centre-right parties to oust the centre-left ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party of Mexico. Ralph Nader, the 2000 presidential nominee of the U.S. Greens, campaigned with ultra-conservative Pat Buchanan on joint issues such as farm policy and bans on corporate funding of election campaigns, although this "alliance" between Nader and Buchanan was very specifically limited to the purpose of showing that there was broad support for certain specific issues, across the political spectrum.

U.S. Greens grew dramatically throughout 2001. However, stable coalitions (such as that in Germany) tend to be formed between elections with left-wing parties on social issues, and 'the grassroots right' on such issues as irresponsible corporate subsidies and public ethics.

On 13 June 2007, the Irish Green Party, represented by six members of parliament or TDs, agreed to go into a coalition government for the first time in their history, with Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil and the Green Party were joined by the Progressive Democrats in a coalition also supported by a number of independent members of parliament (the Progressive Democrats later dissolved as a party, though their members remained in parliament). The Green Party held two Cabinet seats, as well as two junior ministries, until their withdrawal from government in January 2011. They lost all of their six seats in the following month's general election, but regained two in the 2016 General Election.

In the Czech Republic, the Green Party was part of the governing coalition, together with the conservative Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and the Christian Democrats (KDU–ČSL) from January 2007 until the government collapsed in March 2009. The Finnish and French Green parties are now the only ones actively participating in government.

Green parties


Belgian and German roots

The first green parties in Europe were founded in the late 1970s, following the rise of environmental awareness and the development of new social movements. Green parties in Belgium first made a breakthrough. Belgium had Green members of parliament elected first in the 1970s, and with seats on the local council, held the balance of power in the city of Liege, so were the first to go into coalition with the ruling party on that council. In 1979 political campaigns and dissident groups feeling underrepresented in west German politics formed a coalition to contest the 1979 elections to the European Parliament.

Although they did not win any seats, the groups in this association formally agreed to become a party and won a breakthrough in the German national elections of 1983. They were not the first Green Party in Europe to have members elected nationally but the impression was created that they had been, because they attracted the most media attention. This was partly due to their charismatic leader Petra Kelly, a German who was of interest to the American media because she had an American step-father. Since its foundation in 1980 and merger with Alliance 90 after the German reunification, Kelly's party, now named Alliance '90/The Greens, has become one of Europe's most important Green parties. It played an important role in the formation of national-level Green parties in other countries such as Spain as well. The forerunner of the Green Party in the United Kingdom was the PEOPLE Party, formed in Coventry in 1972. It changed its name to the Ecology Party in 1973 and the Green Party in 1985.

1984–1989: A new political force

In 1984 Greens agreed a common platform for the European Parliament Elections and the first Green Members of the European Parliament were elected here. Germany, a stronghold of the Green movement, elected seven MEPs; two more came from Belgium and two from the Netherlands. As those nine MEPs did not entitle the Greens to form a parliamentary group on their own, they concluded an alliance with MEPs from Italy, Denmark, and regionalists from Flanders and Ireland to form the GRAEL (Green Alternative European Link) group, also known as the Rainbow Group. Politically they engaged in the fight against environmental pollution, nuclear energy (1986 saw the Chernobyl disaster), the promotion of animal protection and the campaign against the demolition of Brussels by speculation fuelled by the presence of the European institutions.

From the 1990s until today

In 2015 and 2016, Raimonds Vējonis (Latvia) and Alexander Van der Bellen (Austria, pictured) became Europe’s first two green heads of state.

After years of co-operation between the national Green parties they formed a pan-European alliance that unites most European Green parties. The Greens are a party within the European parliament with 46 seats, as of June 2009. It has a long-standing alliance with the European Free Alliance (EFA), an alliance of "stateless nations", such as the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru and Scottish National Party. Together European Green Party/EFA have 58 seats and they are the fourth largest party in the European Parliament.

While on many issues European Greens practice the same policies, one issue divides European Green parties: the European Union. Some Green parties, like the Dutch GreenLeft, the Green Party of England and Wales, the Swiss Green Party, the Irish Green Party and the German Alliance '90/The Greens, are pro-European while some, like the Green party in Sweden, are moderately eurosceptic.

Some Green parties have been part of governing coalitions. The first one was the Finnish Green League that entered government in 1995. The Italian Federation of the Greens, the French Greens, the German Alliance '90/The Greens and both Belgian Green parties, the French-speaking Ecolo and the Dutch-speaking Agalev were part of government during the late 1990s. Most successful was the Latvian Green Party, who supplied the Prime Minister of Latvia in 2004. The Swedish Green party was a long term supporter of the social-democratic minority government until the election 2006 when the social-democratic party lost. The Irish Green Party were in government from 2007 until January 2011 when the party withdrew their support for the ruling coalition. During their period in office, the Irish Green Party held two Cabinet portfolios including Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

In Scandinavia, left-wing socialist parties have formed the Nordic Green Left Alliance. These parties have the same ideals as European Greens. However, they do not cooperate with the Global Greens or European Greens, but instead form a combined parliamentary group with the Party of the European Left, which unites communists and post-communists. There is one exception, in 2004 the MEP for Danish Socialist People's Party has left the Nordic Green Left parliamentary group and has joined the Green parliamentary group in the European parliament. The Socialist People's Party is currently an observer at the European Green Party and the Global Greens. Outside of Scandinavia, in 2004, Latvia became the first country in the world to have a Green politician become Head of Government, but in 2006 the Green Party received only 16.71 percent of the vote. In the Estonia 2007 parliamentary elections, the Estonian Greens won 7.1 percent of the vote, and a mandate for six seats in the country's parliament, the Riigikogu.

In some countries Greens have found it difficult to win any representation in the national parliament. Three reasons can be found for this. It includes countries with a first past the post electoral system, such as the United Kingdom. However, despite the first past the post system in the United Kingdom, the Green Party of England and Wales won their first seat in the House of Commons when Caroline Lucas won the seat of Brighton Pavilion. The Scottish Green Party has had success in the devolved Scottish Parliament and the Irish Green Party in Northern Ireland has had success in the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly, where the first-past-the-post system is not used. In countries where a party with similar ideals is stronger, such as Norway and Denmark, Green parties tend to perform worse. In some Eastern European countries, like Romania and Poland, Green parties are still in the process of formation and have therefore not gained enough support. The Green Party of Bulgaria is a part of the left-wing Coalition for Bulgaria, currently in opposition. It has no parliamentary representation but it did supply one Deputy Minister in the government of Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev from 2005 to 2009.

The European Green Party 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, Greece and Republic of Cyprus, or getting organized to do so, e.g. in Malta. Therefore, the EGP 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, except for Hungary, where the local Green party, Politics Can Be Different (LMP), has succeeded in getting into the parliament and many city councils.[3][4]

Asia and Oceania

Green parties have achieved national or state parliamentary representation in New Zealand, Australia and Vanuatu. In New Zealand the Green Party of New Zealand currently holds 14 seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives after the 2011 general election.[5] The Australian Greens hold 10 seats in the Australian Senate and one seat in the Australian House of Representatives. They also have representation in the upper and lower houses of state parliaments of five states and in the unicameral chamber of one territory. Greens also hold representative positions in local government across New Zealand and Australia (where a number of local government authorities are controlled by Green councilors). The Greens took the seat of Melbourne from the Australian Labor Party in 2010 with candidate Adam Bandt. This is the first time the Greens have won a Lower House seat at a general election (although they have previously won two seats at by-elections).

Proportional representation in the Australian Senate and in New Zealand has strengthened the position of the Australian Greens and the Green Party of New Zealand and enabled them to participate directly in legislatures and policy-making committees. In countries following British-style 'first past the post' electoral rules, Green parties face barriers to gaining federal or provincial/regional/state seats. The Australian Labor Party's practice of allocating a portion of ALP ticket votes to Australian Greens has helped bring AG candidates into parliament.

In the 2008 ACT election in Australia, the Greens won 15.6% of the vote, winning 4 out of 17 seats. Shane Rattenbury was elected the speaker of the assembly, the first time a Green party member had held such a position in any parliament or assembly in Australia. However, they retained only one seat at the 2012 election in the same territory.

The Green Confederation (Confédération Verte) in Vanuatu won 3 out of 52 seats in the last general election in October 2012. Its most prominent member is Moana Carcasses Kalosil, who became Prime Minister in March 2013.[6] Carcasses, a Green liberal,[7] does not lead a Green government, but a broad coalition government in which he is the only Green minister.[8]

There is a Papua New Guinea Greens Party, but it does not have any members in Parliament.[9] There was briefly a Green Party in Fiji from 2008 to 2013; as Parliament was suspended by the military regime during this time, the party was not able to take part in any election before all parties were deregistered in 2013.[10]

North America

As of the 41st general election in Canada, held on May 2, 2011, there was only one federally elected member of the Green Party of Canada in the Canadian House of Commons, its leader Elizabeth May. However, at the dissolution of the 41st Parliament on August 2, 2015, the Green Party of Canada held two seats in the House of Commons, the second seat belonging to formerly Independent MP Bruce Hyer who was elected to the House of Commons as a member of the NDP in 2011. Only May won re-election to the 42nd parliament. There remains no federal representation by the Green Party of the United States in the U.S. Congress. Accordingly, in these countries, Green parties focus on electoral reform. In Mexico, however, the Partido Verde Ecologista has 17 deputies and four senators in Congress as a result of the 2006 elections.


In Canada, the strongest provincial Green parties are the Green Party of British Columbia and the Green Party of Ontario; although in Ontario they have yet to win a seat in provincial election. As of May 2013, the first ever BC elected green member was elected, and in 2014 a green MLA was elected to the New Brunswick legislature. Federally, the Green Party of Canada received 3.91% of the popular vote in the 2011 federal election and its support and influence continues to rise. Support waned slightly in the 2011 federal election when it captured 3.91% of the popular vote, down from the 6.8% captured in the 2008 federal election; support fell another 0.46% in the 2015 federal election. Although Ms. May was the first elected Member of Parliament, the first seat was gained in the Canadian House of Commons on August 30, 2008 when sitting Independent MP Blair Wilson joined the party. May continues to sit as a Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and has exerted a considerable amount of legislative influence on a number of issues ranging from denying unanimous consent for military intervention in Libya, playing a central role in exposing changes to environmental legislation hidden in the omnibus Budget Bill C-38, to introducing a private member's bill to develop a national strategy on Lyme disease.

In the 2008 Vancouver municipal election, Stuart Mackinnon, a member of the Vancouver Green Party, was elected to the Vancouver Parks Board. Since that time former Green Party of British Columbia leader, and deputy-leader of the federal Green party, Adriane Carr won the Greens' first seat on Vancouver City Council, in 2011 municipal elections. See also: Provincial parties in Canada & List of Green party leaders in Canada.

United States

In the United States, Greens first ran for public office in 1985. Since then, the Green Party of the United States has claimed electoral victories at the municipal, county and state levels. The first U.S. Greens to be elected were David Conley and Frank Koehn in Wisconsin 1986. Each was elected to a position on the County Board of Supervisors in Douglas and Bayfield counties respectively. Keiko Bonk was first elected in 1992 in Hawaii County, becoming Official Chairwoman in 1995. The first Green Party mayor [11] was Kelly Weaverling, elected in Cordova, AK in 1991.

Approximately 100 Greens hold elected office across the US as of October 2016.[12] The first US Green elected to a state legislature was Audie Bock in 1999, to the California State Assembly, followed by John Eder to the Maine House of Representatives in 2002 and 2004 and Richard Carroll to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2008. While in office in 2003 in the New Jersey General Assembly, incumbent Matt Ahearn made a party switch to Green for the remainder of his term.

The Green Party has contested six U.S. presidential elections: in 1996 and 2000 with Ralph Nader for President and Winona LaDuke as Vice President, in 2004 with David Cobb for President and Pat LaMarche for Vice President, and in 2008 with Cynthia McKinney for President and Rosa Clemente for Vice President. In 2012, the Green Party nominated Jill Stein for President and Cheri Honkala for Vice President. In 2016, the Green Party again nominated Jill Stein for President, with Ajamu Baraka selected as the Vice President.

Developing world

Green parties in the developing world are often organized with help from those in other nations. As of 2002 the foundation of Green parties has been the most notable in Africa.[13][14]

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 - allowing parties to concentrate on their voters. However, the leader of the Kenyan Green Party, Wangari Maathai, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, enhancing the image of Green parties across the third world.

In the greater Middle East region, a few Green parties have been created, such as the Green Party of Pakistan since 2002 and Green Party of India[15] since 2010, and the Green Party of Saudi Arabia, but many of these Green parties are underground organizations.


Marina Silva's Green Party in the Brazilian presidential election, 2010 won 19.33% of the vote of the first round taking enough votes from Dilma Rousseff of the incumbent PT party to stop her getting the 50% needed to avoid a second round of which she went on to beat Jose Serra of the opposition PSDB party. Despite only winning numerically the vote in only 1 state; the relatively electorally small Federal District which holds the capital of Brazil; the Green Party interestingly came second to Dilma in Amapa, Amazonas, Pernambuco and in Rio de Janeiro in front of Jose Serra. The Green party also tied with Serra in Ceara, both having 16.36% of the vote, although Dilma won the state. Maranhão also had a 1.5% difference in vote between Serra and Marina with the Green Party coming third. In São Paulo, the Green Party numerically had their strongest showing with almost 5 million votes taking 20.77% of the vote. Success in the legislature however only amounted to winning 2 more seats to a total of 15 in the Chamber of Deputies and the loss of their only senate seat.


In the 1990s, the Oxygen Green Party was created under the leadership of Ingrid Betancourt but dissolved after her infamous kidnapping. Later, the Visionaries Party was created by Antanas Mockus whose ideals earned him the Bogotá Mayoral Office twice. In the 2010 Colombian presidential election a green party has been created under the name Colombian Green Party, with former Bogotá mayor Antanas Mockus being the leader.


The Green Party of Lebanon was founded in 2008 as a secular party.[16] Its first president was Philippe Skaff, CEO of Grey Advertising.[17] The party debuted with the May 2010 municipal elections.[18] In 2011, the party became the first political party in Lebanon to elect a female leader when Nada Zaarour was elected its president .[19]


Greens and the Left Party of the Future is a left-libertarian and green party in Turkey. It was founded on 25 November 2012 as a merger of the Greens Party and the Equality and Democracy Party.

Prominent members include Murat Belge, left-liberal political author and columnist for Taraf; Kutluğ Ataman, filmmaker and contemporary artist; and Ufuk Uras, former Istanbul deputy and president of the Freedom and Solidarity Party.

The party is one of the participants in the Peoples' Democratic Congress, a political initiative instrumental in founding the Peoples' Democratic Party in 2012.

See also


  1. Dann, Christine. "The development of the first two Green parties New Zealand and Tasmania". From Earth's last islands. The global origins of Green politics. Global Greens. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  2. Bevan, RA (2001), Petra Kelly: The Other Green, New Political Science, vol. 23, no. 2, November,pp. 181-202
  3. Text about the Green East-West Dialogue
  4. The Green East-West Dialogue
  5. 2011 General Election preliminary results
  6. "Moana Carcasses named new Vanuatu PM", Radio Australia, 25 March 2013
  7. "Moana Carcassés Kalosil", IMF
  8. "Nation's interest first: Carcasses", Vanuatu Daily Post, 26 March 2013
  9. "Papua New Guinea Greens Party", Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission
  10. "Going Green", Fiji Sun, 2 June 2013
  11. "Green Party Officeholders :: Mayors". Retrieved 2013-08-29.
  13. Crisis of Growth?
  14. Agreement between the African and American Federations
  16. "Green Party holds annual congress in Beirut | News , Lebanon News". The Daily Star. 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
  17. "Lebanon's Green Party | The Lebanese Inner Circle : Blog". Retrieved 2013-08-29.
  18. "A Green Party Grows in Lebanon". Green Prophet. 2009-12-07. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
  19. "Green Party becomes first in Lebanon to elect female leader | News , Lebanon News". The Daily Star. 2011-09-06. Retrieved 2013-08-29.

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