The strategy adopted by the French Greens in their last Council is the mere conclusion of their "realistic switch" eighteen months ago. The choice is an historical one.
Since the creating of Les Verts in 1984, autonomy had been at the core of our strategy. Electoral alliances were looked upon as unthinkable. Year after year the electoral system gave us the same results: whatever the votes, no Green members were sent to parliament. Election after election we were "giving away" our votes to the Socialist Party in the second round, getting nothing in return. Autumn '95 was a turning point-the Congress deciding that we should investigate the possibility of alliances within the left.
For several months, working groups were set up to determine if conditions required by the ecologists could be fulfilled, both in terms of program and purely electoral issues. The contract that was agreed upon by the Council should allow the French Greens to enter Parliament in the 1998 general elections after having achieved significant gains as far as our program is concerned in the fields of economy, nuclear energy, ecotaxes, rail transportation, parity between men and women, more flexible laws regarding immigration and renegotiating Maastricht, linking it to criteria of sustainable development.
Even if we cannot yet speak of a large coalition which includes all left wing parties and ecologists, the traditional political schemes have, nonetheless, been severely shaken by this new concept of "contractual autonomy."
Reprinted from the European Federation of Green Parties' UPDATE January-February, 1997
Catherine Greze, Les Verts Co-national Secretary, email@example.com