Meet your Greens

<em>Green issue</em> - A country-by-country guide, compiled by <strong>Jann Bettinga </strong>and<st

Green party politics began in Australia in March 1972, when the United Tasmania Group was formed at a public meeting in Hobart town hall. Two months later, at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand's Values Party was born. But the term "Green" was not coined until the German Greens contested their first national election in 1980. Since then, the Greens have spread across the world. In Europe, more than ten million people now vote Green, and the European Parliament's 626 members include 46 Greens.

Australian Greens
Founded: August 1992
0/148 MPs; 1/76 senators

The solitary representative in the federal parliament was elected from Tasmania. But the Greens have been more successful in regional politics. In 1989, for example, five Greens held the balance of power in the Tasmanian legislative assembly. Today, the party has three MPs in Western Australia, one in Tasmania, two in New South Wales and one in the Australian Capital Territory.

As well as campaigning on the usual ecological issues, the Greens also campaign for the rights of the country's original occupants, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Partido Verde
Founded: 1986
1/513 MPs

Formed in the wake of the movement against the Angra dos Reis nuclear plants, the party became famous for its "hug the lake" chain of 100,000 people around the polluted Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.

Canadian Green Party
Founded: 1983
Representation: 0/301 MPs

The Green Party, which has about 4,000 members, ran 111 candidates in 2000, up from 79 in 1997, and it nearly doubled its vote. But it still won only 0.81 per cent of the total vote, up from 0.42 per cent in 1997. Its main strength is in British Columbia. Joan Russow, the Green leader, is campaigning for proportional representation, under which, she believes, her party would have two MPs.

De Gronne
Founded: 1983

0/179 MPs

With only 300 members, the Danish Greens have never won enough votes to break into parliamentary politics. In the 1998 national election, just over 20,000 people voted for them, and they did not even contest the latest European elections, though the party holds two local government seats. It favours global disarmament, a common wage for all citizens, and withdrawal from the European Union.

Les VertsFounded: 1984
7/577 MPs; two ministers

Formed from a merger of the Parti Ecologiste and the Confederation Ecologiste, Les Verts won more than a million votes and seven National Assembly delegates in the 1997 elections. In the 1999 European Parliament elections, the party gained 1.7 million votes and elected nine Greens. Dominique Voynet is the environment minister, while her fellow Green Guy Hascoet glories in the title of "Secretary of State for the economy of social solidarity".

Bundnis 90/Die Grunen
Founded (Die Grunen): 1980
47/668 MPs; three ministers; two ministers of state; five parliamentary ministers of state

The German Green Party (created in its present form in 1993, after Die Grunen joined Bundnis 90, an alliance of East German civil rights movements) won almost 7 per cent of the vote in the 1998 national elections, making it the third largest party. Now the Greens form part of a coalition government with the Social Democrats (SPD) and hold three ministries: foreign affairs (with the minister Joschka Fischer, who is also deputy chancellor); environment; and consumer protection, food and agriculture.

Federazione dei Verdi
Founded: 1990
8/630 MPs; 9/324 senators

This year's elections were a huge disappointment for the Italian Greens. The party received fewer than a million votes, cutting its strength in the lower house from 15 to eight and, in the senate, from 14 to nine. The party had already been plunged into self-examination by the 1999 European elections, which resulted in just two MEPs. The party was reorganised, and a new leader was appointed. Now it is again debating its role in Italian politics. But the party can point to the electoral system, which now awards 75 per cent of the parliamentary seats on a first-past-the-post basis.

New Zealand
Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
Founded: 1972
7/120 MPs

The Values Party, formed in May 1972, fought a general election almost immediately, advocating zero economic growth, plus drug and homosexual law reform. As early as 1975, it won 5.3 per cent of the vote, but the first-past-the-post system (since reformed) denied it any parliamentary seats, and its vote dropped to just over 2 per cent in 1978. The present party was formed in 1990 and won 7 per cent of the vote in the election that year. The first Green MPs were elected in 1996; by then, the party also held the mayoralty of Dunedin. Its leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons, successfully introduced an energy and efficiency bill, and the party also claims credit for a royal commission on genetic modification.

Ekologicheskaya Partiya (Kedr)
Founded: 1992
0/450 MPs

The Constructive Ecological Party, or Kedr (Russian for "cedar"), was formed in 1992 at Ekaterinburg in the Urals, and it actually won a seat in the 1993 Duma elections. But it has not been successful since, though it won almost a million votes (1.39 per cent) in 1995. Nowadays, it appears to be stronger on motherhood and the family than on the environment.

South Africa
Green Party of South Africa
Founded: 1999
0/400 MPs

The party was founded as the "Government by the People Green Party" by Judy Sole, a nature resort developer, before the June 1999 elections. She said she could not "let the whole election happen with no environmental party at all standing for election". The party did not win any seats and it remains weak.

Confederacion de los Verdes
Founded: 1984
2/350 MPs; 1/259 senators

Regional divisions and internal party rifts have weakened the Spanish Greens. They did not win a single seat in the 1999 European elections. But two Greens were elected to the Mallorcan parliament in 1999, with the environment minister being a Green Party member. In the 2000 elections, two friends of the party - dubbed "observer members" - were elected to the national parliament. In May, a new green-left federation, Los Verdes - Izquierda Verde, was established.

Miljopartiet de Grona
Founded: 1981
16/349 MPs

Miljopartiet first appeared in parliament in 1988, when it gained 5.5 per cent of the votes. It won no seats in 1991, but it was back in 1995. In that year, it also got 17.2 per cent of the vote in the European Parliament elections. And three years later, in the national elections, the Greens gained political power by cooperation with the Social Democrats and the Left party. In line with most Scandinavian Greens, Miljopartiet opposes EU membership.

Partija Zelenych Ukrajiny
Founded: 1990
17/450 MPs

New electoral laws allowed the Greens to break into parliament in 1998, with 1.5 million votes. As well as the usual ecological concerns, the party is strong on human rights, under the slogan "the state for the man instead of the man for the state".

United Kingdom
Green Party in England and Wales
Founded: 1973 (as "People")
0/659 MPs

In the 2001 election, the party took 3 per cent of the vote, doubling its share from the 1997 election. It did best in Brighton, with 9.3 per cent. With the first-past-the-post system, the party has little chance of a Westminster seat, but it has two seats in Strasbourg.

For Scotland, see Tom Brown. For the US, see Andrew Stephen.

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