It's Not Easy Being Green: Green Parties: From Protest to Power. (Environment)

By Rootes, Christopher | Harvard International Review, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview

It's Not Easy Being Green: Green Parties: From Protest to Power. (Environment)


Rootes, Christopher, Harvard International Review


A decade ago, it appeared that Green parties might fade as quickly as they had bloomed. Now, how ever, Green parties appear to have become fixtures in the party systems of most Western democracies, and the Greens participate in coalition governments at the national level in Germany, France, Belgium, and Finland, as well as at the regional and local level in most European states. The green challenge has entered a new phase.

The rise of the Greens as a political force was sustained by the unprecedented increase in concern for the environment. Environmentalism has been seen as one enduring manifestation of the "post-materialist" revolution in values that swept the Western world in the wake of increased affluence, participation in higher education, and relative geopolitical stability. However, to see environmentalism solely in this light is to ignore the extent to which, especially for the world's poor, environmental issues are often fundamentally materialist issues of physical survival, safety, and sustenance. Partly for that reason, the level of environmental concern in a country has not been a particularly good predictor of electoral support for its Green party.

The Greens have polled poorly in such places as southern and eastern Europe, where the understanding of global environmental issues is low, environmental concerns principally take the form of personal complaints about pollution and its impact on health, and environmental organizations are weak. But nor have the Greens been successful in all countries where global environmental awareness is most widespread and environmental movement organizations are especially strong. Environmental awareness may have been a precondition for the rise of Green parties, but the prevailing electoral systems and the conditions of political competition determine whether potential is translated into votes.

Origins

The Greens have been most successful under conditions of proportional representation. By contrast, the majoritarian electoral systems of the United States and Britain have been especially inhospitable to them. Even when the British Greens won almost 15 percent of the national vote in the European election in 1989, they did not win a single seat in parliament. In such systems, a vote for the Greens appears to be a "wasted vote," or at best a symbolic act of protest against the mainstream alternatives. Such protest voting may have the effect of making major parties more attentive to environmental issues, but a proportional system of representation is a necessity for the advance of Green parties.

In Britain, the introduction of proportional representation for elections to the European Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, and the London Assembly in 1999 and 2000 facilitated the election of the Greens despite their relatively small share of the overall vote. In New Zealand, the introduction of proportional representation in 1999 led to the election of Green members of parliament (MPs) and to the Greens holding the balance of power. In Australia, the Greens' breakthrough in 2001 came in elections to upper houses elected by proportional representation but not in lower houses where majoritarian systems prevail.

Green parties have seldom grown automatically out of environmental movements. Indeed, if there is a common antecedent to Green parties, it is not so much the broad environmental movement, which traces its origins to the conservation and urban-hygiene movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but the anti-nuclear movements and campaigns of the 1970s. Indeed, in countries such as Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands, where the environmental movement was already relatively well-institutionalized, environmentalists have often regarded Green parties with indifference or even hostility. The antinuclear campaigns, however, did not enjoy the measure of institutional access commonly accorded to environmental groups. Moreover, they were novel and urgent, and they drew on sections of the left that linked environmental objections to nuclear energy with wider security issues. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

It's Not Easy Being Green: Green Parties: From Protest to Power. (Environment)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.