Second Print Edition
What do the Greens think about the current fatigue with representative democracy? Can the green idea of including more people in the political process, and in more ways, address this general disenchantment? A discussion between Ska Keller and John Barry.
The specificity of ‘democratic radicality’ is by no means a bulwark for the Greens against developments or rationales that run counter to this ‘democratic requirement.’ Nonetheless, it is a progressive component of the Greens’ heritage, one that must be constantly revived and that commits individuals to their responsibilities.
Old Europe is disaggregating. The new Europe, which has long been a reality in the mind of many European citizens, is waiting for its constitution, one that will effectively take us into the future.
The Green Primary was an unprecedented democratic experiment at a European level. It allowed green sympathisers everywhere in Europe to participate in the process of selecting the leading candidates of the European Green Party in the May 2014 European elections. A transnational assessment of the primary from the perspectives of France, Germany and Spain.
The European Citizens’ Initiative opened a much needed channel for citizens to reach the European Institutions directly, and brought with it immense potential to reinforce the EU’s democratic legitimacy. Yet weaknesses remain in its implementation and regulation, as illustrated by the Commission’s response to the Right2Water ECI. Green members of the European Parliament have advocated a number of changes to improve it, such as binding the Commission to offer a clear legislative proposal to successful ECIs.
Given the current political climate, it behoves ecologists to thrust imagination, innovation and experimentation to the forefront of political action and thought. This requires a “benevolent distance” between the Green foundations and the Green parties.
In Belgium voting is compulsory. Nevertheless, more and more people choose not to vote. This means that the voices of socially weaker groups tend to fade away, unless civil society organisations take conscious steps to put social themes at the top of the political agenda. This is exactly what was done during recent elections in Flanders.
In an unprecedented step towards direct democracy, Finland adopted a national Citizens' Initiative law in March 2012. Although it has succeeded in opening debates in the national parliament on a number of issues, serious questions remain over whether citizens really have the power to effect change through the tool.
The Fifth Republic in France has become characterised by an increasingly narrow political class, while the political engagement of citizens has plummeted. The EU has not succeeded in improving these weaknesses in democracy, which can only be surmounted through a successful campaign for deep reform: a transition to the Sixth Republic.
The EU Fifth Project is creating a network of community-based movements as part of a broader transition, starting at the local level and gaining international momentum, with the aim of building a sustainable future.
Do we really want more Europe, integration and solidarity? Or should we perhaps first ask exactly what ‘more Europe, integration and solidarity’ should look like? The results of the European elections in Poland show that ‘old federalism’ is retreating.
While seeming solid, democracy in Sweden faces serious challenges, such as the rise of populism and voter disengagement. In this context, green foundations are well-placed to propose new initiatives that may help re-engage citizens in the political process, notably through structural changes.
Before investing excessive hope in radical participatory solutions we need to re-examine established beliefs about democracy and sustainability and their mutual relationship.
The Green European Foundation aims to provide a platform for Green foundations to interact and collaborate at a European level. The diversity among these partners is both a strength and a challenge for the task of steering Europe towards a Greener course in the future.
The European Elections, held in tandem with local elections, proved to be a turning point for the Irish Greens. It was a real comeback at local level, particularly in Dublin, and came desperately close to electing an MEP. Green Foundation Ireland (GFI) has played a real part in this recovery.