Saturday, 4 April 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (75): The manifesto of the European Green Party (EGP)

There we go. The European Greens head for the big thing, the Green New Deal, the revolution of the system.

But let's slow down for a moment. I would like to start with an interesting quote from their manifesto:
The current economic slowdown is an opportunity to transform our system, so that we can avoid the extremes of the resource and climate crises, and secure a good quality of life.
In other words: The current crisis is good, and the Greens are welcoming the opportunities that the slowdown offers. I suppose they are the only ones saying this, and I wonder whether they are ready to put this argument forward in their campaign activities. Because it would mean to explain to citizens that they should have less, instead of more and more and more. And, although quite true, that is not the most attractive campaign message, I suppose.

You might ask: So the Greens don't support actions to overcome the crisis? In fact, they want something new, they want 5 Million new "green collar jobs" in five years by fostering investments in new energies and environmentally friendly technologies. Sounds good, but sounds like overly typically campaigning rhetoric. Investing a lot of state money into the system - the Green New Deal - is supposed to trigger job creation in Europe. There's a lot of hope behind this (which is not bad in itself), and a lot of optimism regarding the possibilities to influence EU spending over the next five years, that is during the current budgetary period.

Not surprisingly, the Greens are against nuclear energy. They are also against genetically modified crops. And they are for a more sustainable fisheries policy. Typical green brand elements, anything else would have surprised me.

For the post-crisis times, they demand a special EU institution and regulation to oversee financial activities in the European Union. They are pro-immigration, and ask for more respect for asylum seeks - sounds natural, but seeing how many are treated in this Union, a definitely appropriate demand. Other parts of the manifesto are standard social rights and standards declarations, which I don't need to reiterate.

My personal favourite in the manifesto is the follow paragraph:
As the only EU institution directly-elected by the people, the European Parliament should be granted the right to initiate legislation. A proportion of MEPs should be elected on Europe-wide transnational lists, which would allow citizens to vote for candidates that represent the whole of the EU, rather than just their national or local constituency. More needs to be done to encourage young people to participate, for example by lowering the voting age. Citizens should also have the opportunity of direct democracy through European referenda on issues of Europe-wide concern.
And although I am not the biggest supporter of large-scale referenda, this paragraph is, if I recall correctly, the most explicit proposal for EU democracy reform I have read in any of the main manifestos.

Altogether, the manifesto has the right length and a good balance between more general statements and clear policy proposals. I don't support everything that is written in there, but as a citizen I know quite clearly what I am voting for if I vote Green. If we'll get what they promise is, as always in elections, not guaranteed. But the benchmarks are set.

In this sense, the Green manifesto is an easily readable and politically definite campaign document, on that's worth reading for supporters - and opponents.

PS.: The manifesto and other campaign information can be found on the EGP website, which has received rather negative remarks on EUobserver today (in fact, the tone of the article is positive but the details are quite negative).

Read also: My articles on the PES and ELDR manifestos, the EPP manifesto drafts and the manifesto of the European Left.

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.


Eurocentric said...

Transnational group lists for a small proportion of EP seats could be a good idea, though I'd see the abolition of the (solely) list system at a regional and national level as a top priority. (Citizens should be able to vote for candidates, like they are in Ireland [North and South] and in Malta [perhaps elsewhere?]).

Haven't read the manifesto yet, though, so I should go through it in more detail.

Mike said...

Not much of a blog, if you invent sentiments that aren't there:

"I would like to start with an interesting quote from their manifesto:
The current economic slowdown is an opportunity to transform our system...
In other words: The current crisis is good, and the Greens are welcoming the opportunities that the slowdown offers."

That's a very clumsy take on what they said and what you quoted for all to see. 'Opportunity' does not infer 'good thing' or something to be 'welcomed'. I suggest you stick to science, and leave the politics and journalism to others.

Julien Frisch said...

Well Mike, a blog is something subjective, so what I do here is neither politics nor journalism nor science, it's usually something in between.

In fact, I quoted this particular sentence because it is an interesting perspective.

To be honest, in a certain way I even share this perspective, because I definitely think that we are living a lifestyle which is not sustainable - and so it's true that in a weird way the crisis is good, because it might force us to rethink the way we are living, consuming, growing.

If this is not what is meant by the European Greens in their manifesto - I don't care. But this is what I read in this sentence, subjectively.

If you don't share this, I don't mind, because I never claimed that what I say has to be shared by others. :-)