Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

Factors Affecting Green Party Development: Explaining the Decline of Green Parties in Slovenia

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

Factors Affecting Green Party Development: Explaining the Decline of Green Parties in Slovenia

Article excerpt

Introduction

Green parties face a number of challenges to achieving parliamentary success. Achieving long term success is particularly difficult. The Irish and Czech Greens, for example, managed to gain parliamentary seats, but forfeited their legitimacy in an unwise government coalition with the right (Jepps, 2010). In Romania, the Green parties achieved early success by taking advantage of a ballot structure which confused voters, thereby securing parliamentary seats without securing legitimacy (Pavlinek and Pickles, 2000: 190-191). By contrast, the Greens in the Netherlands have been a stable faction in the Dutch parliament despite the party system being predominantly determined by the Dutch consociational political system. In the UK, the Green Party only recently entered the House of Commons--although it gained over a million votes across the country it won only one parliamentary seat (Crossley 2015). Furthermore, while it has been argued that Green party support correlates with the shift from a modern industrial society to a post-modern, post-industrial society (Burklin, 1985), this argument is not as applicable to post-socialist East European countries as to West European countries. While both structural and agential factors have been revealed to be critical for new parties seeking to enter parliament (Bolleyer, 2013), there has been little research into the factors affecting the maintenance of parliamentary seats by new political parties in general (Fink-Hafner and Krasovec, 2013) or by Green parties in particular.

So, what factors determine Green party electoral success? Researchers have so far focused only on a limited range of factors which could be generally described as external and internal. It has often been said that electoral rules and party systems (so-called 'external factors') are the primary explanation for the success (or lack thereof) of Green parties, as for example in the case of the UK.

By contrast, the case of Romania suggests a possible manipulation of electoral rules in favour of gaining non-legitimate parliamentary success, whereas the Greens in the Netherlands have succeeded in spite of the country's unfavourable external institutional characteristics. With the exception of a few brief observations (as in the cases of the Irish, Czech and Romanian Greens), this set of factors has not been systematically analysed. Nevertheless, Green parties have been observed to be organisationally fragmented since the early period of Green party development (e.g. Rudig, 1985; Kitschelt, 1989; O'Neil, 2012). Indeed, the role of agency may appear to be critical.

Intra-party conflicts in European Green parties have led to party splits, particularly during their early stages of their development (O'Neil, 2012: 174-175). Furthermore, conflicts among Green parties within a particular milieu (for instance, in the Netherlands during the 1990s) have led to inter-Green party competition which has resulted in a poor parliamentary representation for the Greens (Lucardie, and Vorman, 2008). In spite of this, Green parties have been able to join forces to obtain positions in government, as happened in Belgium in 1999 (Buelens, and Deschouwer, 2002). Since there are clearly various Green party behavioural patterns, it is important to take into account the potential significance of political agency of Green parties (Bluhdorn and Szarka 2004).

Likewise, the window of opportunity for Green party electoral success arising from the recent economic crisis has only been analysed in a few Western countries (Hernandez and Kriesi, 2015). Our analysis aims to offer an insight into the possible strategic uses of the crisis circumstances (such as the decline in the legitimacy of 'ideological' parties in power) which could enable Green parties in a post-socialist context to succeed at the ballot box.

In short, this article tests the often overlooked thesis that the characteristics of the agency within the Green party segment in a given national party system may be a crucial factor in the long-term success or failure of Green parties within that system. …

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