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Groen (political party)

Green
Groen
President Meyrem Almaci
Founded 1982
Headquarters Sergeant De Bruynestraat 78–82 Anderlecht
Youth wing Young Green
Membership  (2014) Increase 7,800[1]
Ideology Green politics[2]
International affiliation Global Greens
European affiliation European Green Party
European Parliament group The Greens–European Free Alliance
Francophone counterpart Ecolo
Colours      Green
Chamber of Representatives
(Flemish seats)
6 / 87
Senate
(Flemish seats)
3 / 35
Flemish Parliament
10 / 124
Brussels Parliament
(Flemish seats)
3 / 17
European Parliament
(Flemish seats)
1 / 12
Flemish Provincial Councils
24 / 351
Mayors
2 / 327
Website
www.groen.be
Politics of Belgium
Political parties
Elections
Part of a series on
Green politics
Sunflower symbol

Groen (English: Green; Dutch: Groen, ), founded as Agalev (see name-section below), is a political party in Belgium based on green politics. Groen is often the smallest Flemish party with a representation in the federal, regional or European parliament. Its French-speaking equivalent is Ecolo; both parties maintain close relations with each other.

Contents

  • Party history 1
    • Before 1979 1.1
    • 1979–1999 1.2
    • 1999–now 1.3
      • 2010 federal election 1.3.1
  • Party chairperson 2
  • Name 3
  • Ideology and issues 4
  • Representation 5
    • Members of the European Parliament 5.1
    • Municipal government 5.2
  • Electorate 6
  • Election results 7
    • Federal Parliament (Federaal Parlement) 7.1
    • Regional parliaments 7.2
      • Brussels Parliament 7.2.1
      • Flemish Parliament 7.2.2
    • European Parliament 7.3
  • Elected politicians 8
    • Current 8.1
    • Past 8.2
  • Organization 9
    • Organizational structure 9.1
    • International organisations 9.2
    • Relationships to social organisations 9.3
    • Relationships to other parties 9.4
  • International comparison 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

Party history

Before 1979

Many of the founders of political party Agalev came from or were inspired by the social movement Agalev. This movement was founded by the Jesuit Luc Versteylen, who had founded the environmental movement Agalev in the 1970s. Core values of this social movement were quiet, solidarity and soberness. This movement combined progressive Catholicism with environmentalism. It sought to spread environmental consciousness first on a small scale, but since 1973 it took action to protect the environment and promote environmental consciousness. In the 1974 and 1977 elections Agalev supported several candidates from traditional parties, these however soon forgot the promises they made. In 1977 the movement entered the elections in several municipalities not to gain seats, but to promote its ideals.

1979–1999

In reaction to these broken promises, a debate erupted within Agalev on whether to set up a political party or to remain independent of politics. In the same year the party contested several municipal elections to no avail. A national level Agalev Working Group was founded to coordinate the new party. It also set up a separate association that could enter in elections. It participated in the 1979 European elections. Although the party won 2.3% of the votes, it won no seats.

In the 1981 election the party won 4% of vote and two seats in the Chamber of Representatives and one in the Senate. Ecolo, the Walloon green party also won two seats in the Chamber and three seats in the Senate. The political party Agalev was officially founded in 1982. It remained separate of the social movement. Prominent members of the movement Agalev, such as founder Versteylen chose not to join the political party Agalev. In the municipal elections of 1982 the party performed particularly well winning more than 10% in several municipalities. In its first periods in parliament the party functioned as a protest party forcing the other parties to take more action against environmental pollution and Third World poverty. The party campaigned on specific environmental issues, such as local anti-nuclear energy protests.

The party won two additional seats in the 1985 elections, two additional seats in 1987 and one in 1991: in that year it won seven seats in parliament. Agalev had become a serious political partner for other parties. In 1992 Agalev was asked to support a constitutional change called the Sint-Michiels accords, which would make Belgium a federation. Agalev gave its support in exchange of a tax on bottles, the first ecotax in Belgium. In the 1995 the party campaigned on a clean hands theme, after a series of political scandals was revealed. The party however lost two seats.

1999–now

In the 1999 elections Agalev and its Walloon sister party Ecolo performed exceptionally well. A scandal surrounding dioxine in for consumption chickens just before the elections, played an important role in the party's performance. The party won 7,0% of vote and nearly doubled its seats from 5 to 9. The Greens joined the first cabinet Verhofstadt. The cabinet further consisted of the liberal Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD) and Reformist Movement (MR) and the socialist Different Socialist Party (SP.A) and Parti Socialiste (PS). The cabinet was called Purple-Green cabinet or the Rainbow cabinet, because of the many political colours in the coalition. Agalev supplied two ministers, Magda Aelvoet who became vice-prime minister and minister for Public Health and the Environment, and Eddy Boutmans who became minister for Development Cooperation. The party also joined the Flemish Government, which was composed of the same Flemish parties Agalev, SP.A and VLD. Mieke Vogels became the Flemish minister for Wellbeing and Development Cooperation and Vera Dua became minister for Agriculture and the Environment.

On the national level, the greens, both Ecolo and Agalev were able to enact legislation on several key green issues: the cabinet decided to opt out of trade arms with Nepal, which was at civil war at the time. She was replaced by Jef Tavernier. The Ecolo minister for mobility Isabelle Durant left the cabinet just before the elections over the issue of nighttime airplane flights over Brussels. Finally the party voted in favour of a new election law that enacted a 5% Election threshold in both the Senate and the Chamber.

The 2003 federal election formed a turning point for the party. The party was reduced to 2,6% of the vote, well below the 5% limit and the party lost its seats in the Chamber and Senate. In response to the election results the Flemish ministers Mieke Vogels and Vera Dua stepped down. They were replaced by Adelheid Byttebier and Ludo Sannen respectively. The party renewed is its political profile and made some important strategic decisions. Agalev would continue as an independent Flemish progressive Green party. The party congress rejected the proposal of Agalev-Limburg to form a federal cartel with the SP.A and Spirit. The party also ruled out any participation in the future Flemish Government. The party would allow provincial and municipal cartels. The party changed its name to Groen!. The party changed the function of political secretary to party president, bringing the party more in line with other Belgian parties. Vera Dua became the first party president. The decision to continue separately led to considerable upheaval within the party, several prominent members, such as Antwerpen councillor Fauzaya Talhaoui and Flemish minister Sannen left the party and joined either Spirit or SP.A. Sannen was replaced as minister by Tavernier.

Before the 2004 elections Dua announced that if the party was supported by less than 280.000 votes, the independent green political project would end. The party gained enough support to meet this limit, although it lost half of it seats in Flanders compared to the 2000 elections. The party won seats in every provincial district except Limburg, where the support to cooperate with SP.A and Spirit was greatest.

In the 10 June 2007 federal election, the party regained representation in both the Chamber and the Senate. It got 265,828 votes (4% of total) and four seats.

The regional (for Flemish Parliament) and European elections of June 2009 were generally devoted to promote the concept of a green economy as an answer to the national and global economic crisis. The results of the election were below the expected and stranded on a status quo. Chairwoman Mieke Vogels chose to give up her presidency and was succeeded by Wouter Van Besien in October 2009.

On 11 January the Party unveiled its new logo and announced the dropping of its trademark exclamation point from the end of the party's name, after 8 years of usage. The new party slogan is "Works for all" to highlight the party's desire to look after the needs of all of society, not just its traditional voter base.

2010 federal election

Electoral arrondissement Main candidate
Chamber of Representatives Antwerp Meyrem Almaci
Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde Tinne Van der Straeten
East Flanders Stefaan Van Hecke
Leuven Eva Brems
Limburg Toon Hermans
West Flanders Wouter De Vriendt
Senate Freya Piryns

Party chairperson

Name From To
1 Vera Dua 15 November 2003 10 November 2007
2 Mieke Vogels 10 November 2007 25 October 2009
3 Wouter Van Besien 25 October 2009 present
4 Meyrem Almaci Elect

Name

  • 1982–2003: Agalev
  • 2003–2012: Groen!
  • 2012–present: Groen

The party was founded as Agalev, which meant Anders Gaan Leven (English: to start living differently). This conveyed the green message that humans need to choose alternative lifestyles that are more sustainable. When the party registered at the election authority, it was forced to supply a meaning for each initial. The party thus ran under the name Anders Gaan Arbeiden, Leven, En Vrijen (English: going to work, live and have sex differently), improvised and not entirely serious, but legally correct.

After the 2003 election defeat the party renewed its political profile. This also involved a name change to Groen! (English: Green!). The name conveyed a closer alliance to the worldwide green movement with the word green and an independent and positive nature with exclamation mark.

In January 2012 the party underwent another name change by removing the exclamation mark from the end of its name.

Ideology and issues

As a traditional green party, the three core values of Agalev were ecology, peace and participatory democracy. In the early years the party specifically sought to overcome traditional cleavages (liberal-socialist, Catholic-secular and Flemish-Belgian). Since the 1980s the ideals of diversity and social justice have also taken a prominent role. The party now places itself explicitly in the left/progressive camp. In its current political program it connected these three values by the concept of quality of life.

Representation

In this table the election results of Agalev/Groen!/Groen in House of Representatives, Senate and European elections is represented, as well as the results of regional elections for Flanders and Brussels. The party's political leadership is represented as well. If it was part of the governing federal coalition, then its minister is listed.

Year Belgian Chamber Belgian Senate European Parliament Flemish Parliament Brussels Parliament Federal Cabinet *
1979 0 0 0 n/a n/a extra-parliamentary unknown
1980 0 0 0 n/a n/a extra-parliamentary unknown
1981 2 1 0 n/a n/a opposition Leo Cox
1982 2 1 0 n/a n/a opposition Leo Cox
1983 2 1 0 n/a n/a opposition Leo Cox
1984 2 1 1 n/a n/a opposition Leo Cox
1985 4 2 1 n/a n/a opposition Leo Cox
1986 4 2 1 n/a n/a opposition Leo Cox
1987 6 3 1 n/a n/a opposition Leo Cox
1988 6 3 1 n/a n/a opposition Leo Cox
1989 6 3 1 na 1 opposition Leo Cox / Johan Malcorps
1990 6 3 1 na 1 opposition Johan Malcorps
1991 7 5 1 na 1 opposition Johan Malcorps
1992 7 5 1 na 1 opposition Johan Malcorps
1993 7 5 1 na 1 opposition Johan Malcorps
1994 7 5 1 na 1 opposition Johan Malcorps
1995 5 1 1 7 0 opposition Johan Malcorps / Wilfried Bervoets
1996 5 1 1 7 0 opposition Wilfried Bervoets
1997 5 1 1 7 0 opposition Wilfried Bervoets / Jos Geysels
1998 5 1 1 7 0 opposition Jos Geysels
1999 9 3 2 12 1 Magda Aelvoet Jos Geysels
2000 9 3 2 12 1 Magda Aelvoet Jos Geysels
2001 9 3 2 12 1 Magda Aelvoet Jos Geysels
2002 9 3 2 12 1 Magda Aelvoet Jos Geysels
2003 0 0 2 12 1 extra-parliamentary Jos Geysels / Dirk Holemans / Vera Dua
2004 0 0 1 6 1 extra-parliamentary Vera Dua
2005 0 0 1 6 1 extra-parliamentary Vera Dua
2006 0 0 1 6 1 extra-parliamentary Vera Dua
2007 4 1 1 6 1 opposition Vera Dua / Mieke Vogels
2008 4 1 1 6 1 opposition Mieke Vogels
2009 4 1 1 7 2 opposition Mieke Vogels / Wouter Van Besien
2010 5 2 1 7 2 opposition Wouter Van Besien
2011 5 2 1 7 2 opposition Wouter Van Besien
2012 5 2 1 7 2 opposition Wouter Van Besien
2013 5 2 1 7 2 opposition Wouter Van Besien
2014 6 3 1 10 3 opposition Wouter Van Besien

Members of the European Parliament

After the 2004 European Parliament elections, the party has one representative in the European Parliament: Bart Staes. The Green! delegation is part of the The Greens–European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament. Together with the two MEPs of the Dutch GreenLeft he forms one transnational delegation.

Municipal government

Green! participates in several municipal governments. The party is especially strong in university cities like Leuven and Ghent.

Electorate

The six biggest Flemish political parties and their results for the House of Representatives (Kamer). From 1978 to 2014, in percentages for the complete 'Kingdom'.

The support of Green! has strongly fluctuated recently. It draws most of its support from Flemish voters who do not feel bound to the strong social organizations and pillars. The party is strongest in urban areas with concentrated student populations like Ghent and Leuven.

Green!'s support is distributed in the following way between the electoral districts in the 2007 general election:
Province Votes (%) 2007 Result (seats) 2007 Votes (%) 2011 Result (seats) 2011
Antwerp 6.9% 1 7.7% 2
Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde 2.7% 1 4.1% 0
Leuven 8.2% 0 9.8% 1
Limburg 4.1% 0 4.8% 0
East Flanders 7.2% 1 7.4% 1
West Flanders 5.8% 1 6.3% 1

Election results

Federal Parliament (Federaal Parlement)

Election year Chamber of Representatives (Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers) Senate (Senaat) Government Notes
# of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
% of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
% of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/–
1977 2,435 0.0
0 / 212
3,270 0.1
0 / 106
in opposition
1978 5,556 0.1
0 / 212
Steady 0 in opposition
1981 138,575 2.3
2 / 212
Increase 2 121,016 2.0
1 / 106
Increase 1 in opposition
1985 226,758 3.7
4 / 212
Increase 2 229,206 3.8
2 / 106
Increase 1 in opposition
1987 275,437 4.5
6 / 212
Increase 2 299,049 4.9
3 / 105
Increase 1 in opposition
1991 299,550 4.9
7 / 212
Increase 1 314,360 5.1
5 / 70
Increase 2 in opposition
1995 269,058 4.4
5 / 150
Decrease 2 223,355 3.7
1 / 40
1 / 25
Decrease 4 in opposition
1999 434,449 7.0
9 / 150
Increase 4 438,931 7.1
3 / 40
3 / 25
Increase 2 in coalition
2003 162,205 2.5 3.9
0 / 150
0 / 88
Decrease 9 161,024 2.5
0 / 40
0 / 25
Decrease 3
2007 265,828 4.0 6.3
4 / 150
4 / 88
Increase 4 241,151 3.6 5.9
1 / 40
1 / 25
Increase 1 in opposition
2010 285,989 4.4 6.9
5 / 150
5 / 88
Increase 1 251,605 3.9 6.3
1 / 40
1 / 25
Steady 0 in opposition

Regional parliaments

Brussels Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
% of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
1989 4,821 1.1 (#12)
1 / 75
in opposition
1995 3,906 1.0 (#11)
0 / 75
Decrease 1 in opposition
1999 13,223 3.1 (#4)
0 / 75
0 / 11
Steady 0 in opposition
In cartel with SP
2004 6,132 9.8 (#5)
1 / 89
1 / 17
Increase 1 in opposition
2009 5,806 11.2 (#5)
2 / 89
2 / 17
Increase 1 in coalition

Flemish Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
% of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
1995 267,155 7.1 (#6)
7 / 124
in opposition
1999 451,361 11.6 (#5)
12 / 124
Increase 5 in coalition
2004 308,898 7.60 (#5)
6 / 124
Decrease 6 in opposition
2009 278,211 6.77 (#7)
7 / 124
Increase 1 in opposition
2014 365,781 8.70 (#5)
10 / 124
Increase 3 in opposition

European Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
% of electoral
college vote
# of
overall seats won
# of electoral
college seats won
+/–
1979 77,986 2.3 (#5)
0 / 24
0 / 13
1984 246,712 7.1 (#5)
1 / 24
1 / 13
Increase 1
1989 446,539 12.2 (#4)
1 / 24
1 / 13
Steady 0
1994 396,198 10.7 (#5)
1 / 25
1 / 14
Steady 0
1999 464,042 7.46 11.98 (#6)
2 / 25
2 / 14
Increase 1
2004 320,874 4.94 7.99 (#5)
1 / 24
1 / 14
Decrease 1
2009 322,149 4.90 7.90 (#6)
1 / 22
1 / 13
Steady 0
2014 447,244 6.71 10.62 (#5)
1 / 21
1 / 12
Steady 0

Elected politicians

Current

Chamber of Representatives
Constituency Name Notes
Antwerp Meyrem Almaci
Antwerp Kristof Calvo
East Flanders Stefaan Van Hecke
Leuven Eva Brems
West Flanders Wouter De Vriendt
Senate
Type Name Notes
Directly elected Freya Piryns
Community Senator Mieke Vogels
European Parliament
Type Name Notes
Directly elected Bart Staes
Flemish Parliament
Type Name Notes
Antwerp Dirk Peeters
Antwerp Mieke Vogels also appointed as Community Senator
Brussels-Capital Region Luckas Van Der Taelen
East Flanders Elisabeth Meuleman
East Flanders Filip Watteeuw, replaced in January 2013 by Björn Rzoska
Flemish Brabant Hermes Sanctorum
West Flanders Bart Caron

Provincial councilors

  • 2012 – 2018:
  1. Greet Bockx
  2. Tom Caals
  3. Koen Kerremans
  4. Diederik Vandendriessche
  5. Loes Van Cleemput
  6. Karin Van Hoffelen
  7. Yasmina Beldjoudi
  8. Inge De Bal
  9. Elisabet Dooms
  10. Jan Fiers
  11. Rik Franck
  12. Riet Gillis
  13. Stephan Boogaerts
  14. Luc Debraekeleer
  15. Luc Robijns
  16. Tie Roefs
  17. Sarah Sneyers
  18. Bernadette Stassens
  19. Erik Torbeyns
  20. Alex Colpaert
  21. Herman Lodewyckx
  22. Gerda Schotte
  23. Maarten Tavernier

Past

Chamber of Representatives

  • 1987 – 1991 (6):
  1. Jozef Cuyvers
  2. Wilfried De Vlieghere
  3. Jos Geysels
  4. Hugo Van Dienderen
  5. Wilfried Van Durme
  6. Mieke Vogels
  • 1991 – 1995 (7):
  1. Magda Aelvoet (until 20 July 1994)Lodewijk Steenwegen
  2. Luc Barbé
  3. Wilfried De Vlieghere
  4. Vera Dua
  5. Jos Geysels
  6. Hugo Van Dienderen
  7. Mieke Vogels (until 11 January 1995)Peter Luyten
  • 1995 – 1999 (5):
  1. Frans Lozie
  2. Jef Tavernier
  3. Hugo Van Dienderen
  4. Lode Vanoost
  5. Joos Wauters
  • 1999 – 2003 (9):
  1. Eddy Boutmans (until 12 October 1999)Leen Laenens
  2. Anne-Mie Descheemaeker
  3. Kristien Grauwels
  4. Simonne Leen
  5. Fauzaya Talhaoui
  6. Jef Tavernier (until 28 August 2002)Liliane De Cock
  7. Peter Vanhoutte
  8. Lode Vanoost
  9. Joos Wauters
  • 2007 – 2010 (4):
  1. Meyrem Almaci
  2. Wouter De Vriendt
  3. Tinne Van der Straeten
  4. Stefaan Van Hecke
  • 2010 – 2014 (5):
  1. Meyrem Almaci
  2. Eva Brems
  3. Kristof Calvo
  4. Wouter De Vriendt
  5. Stefaan Van Hecke

Brussels Parliament

  • 1989 – 1995 (1):
  1. Dolf Cauwelier
  • 1999 – 2004 (1):
  1. Adelheid Byttebier (until 6 June 2003; replaced Mieke Vogels as Flemish minister)Anne Van Asbroeck (SP.A)
  • 2004 – 2009 (1):
  1. Adelheid Byttebier
  • 2009 – 2014 (2):
  1. Bruno De Lille (became Brussels-Capital Region state secretary)Elke Van den Brandt
  2. Annemie Maes

European Parliament

  • 1984 – 1989 (1):
  1. Paul Staes
  • 1989 – 1994 (1):
  1. Paul Staes
  • 1994 – 1999 (1):
  1. Magda Aelvoet
  • 1999 – 2004 (2):
  1. Patsy Sörensen
  2. Bart Staes (left Spirit for Groen! in July 2002)
  3. Luckas Vander Taelen (until 2002)Jan Dhaene (left Groen! for SP.A in January 2004)
  • 2004 – 2009 (1):
  1. Bart Staes
  • 2009 – 2014 (1):
  1. Bart Staes

Flemish Parliament

  • 1995 – 1999 (7):
  1. Vera Dua
  2. Jos Geysels
  3. Johan Malcorps
  4. Ludo Sannen
  5. Jos Stassen
  6. Ria Van Den Heuvel
  7. Cecile Verwimp
  • 1999 – 2004 (12):
  1. Magda Aelvoet (until 12 July 1999; became federal minister)Ann De Martelaer
  2. Veerle Declercq
  3. Jos Geysels
  4. Eloi Glorieux
  5. Dirk Holemans
  6. Johan Malcorps
  7. Frans Ramon
  8. Ludo Sannen (until 26 May 2003; replaced Vera Dua as Flemish minister)Flor Ory (until 17 February 2004) → Ludo Sannen
  9. Jos Stassen
  10. Ria Van Den Heuvel
  11. Jo Vermeulen
  12. Vera Dua (became Flemish minister)Isabel Vertriest (until 26 May 2003) → Vera Dua
  • 2004 – 2009 (6):
  1. Rudi Daems
  2. Vera Dua
  3. Eloi Glorieux
  4. Jos Stassen
  5. Jef Tavernier
  6. Mieke Vogels
  • 2009 – 2014 (7):
  1. Bart Caron
  2. Elisabeth Meuleman
  3. Dirk Peeters
  4. Hermes Sanctorum
  5. Luckas Vander Taelen
  6. Mieke Vogels
  7. Filip Watteeuw (until 31 December 2012)

Provincial councilors

  • 2006 – 2012:
  1. Rita Boden
  2. Ethel Brits
  3. Tom Caals
  4. Diederik Vandendriessche

Organization

Organizational structure

The highest organ of Green is the party president who set out the political strategy, but a party secretary with far less power. In 2003 the party changed this situation.

In contrast to other parties, Green MPs face relatively strong regulation: the party does not allow multiple offices per person, while it is traditional for Belgian MPs to be both mayor of municipality and federal MP for instance; furthermore MPs are not allowed to run for more than two terms; to ensure gender equality every second candidate on the party list has to be female; finally a high percentage of the income of MPs is taxed by the party.

By Belgian standards Green has relatively few members, ranging from 2,000 to 6,500. This is only about 1% of the Green voters. Generally Belgian parties have about 10% of their voter base as members.

The party's youth organization, Young Green (earlier Young Agalev), grew out of local groups of young Groen members, active since the late eighties and early nineties. These local groups started coordinated action in 1996. In 1998 Jong Groen was officially founded.

International organisations

Green is a member of the European Green Party and the Global Greens. The party hosted the founding congress of the European Federation of Green Parties.

Relationships to social organisations

Green is ideologically and historically linked to the environmental movement Agalev, which was founded by the Jesuit pillar of social organizations around it as other parties have.

Relationships to other parties

The party has relatively good relations with the SP.A-SPIRIT cartel. It was asked to join them in 2003, but it refused. Furthermore, the party has maintained good relations with its Walloon sister party, Ecolo.

International comparison

Internationally, Groen is comparable to the larger European Green parties, especially the German Alliance '90/The Greens, which has also been in government, although more successfully.

See also

References

  1. ^
  2. ^

External links

  • Groen (Green)
  • Dossier Groen!—collection of news articles and video fragments at VRTnieuws.net (in Dutch)
  • Dossier Groen!—collection of newspaper articles and their results in the 2004 elections at De Standaard (in Dutch)
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