The Nature of Green Politics

published on September 13, 2008

 

On being elected leader of the Greens in England and Wales last week, MEP Caroline Lucas stated: “There is a huge number of people out there who want to hear our message and we want to get better at getting it across. I want to get our message out about social justice. Everyone knows we are the party of the environment. What fewer people know is that if you are looking for the real progressive force in British politics today, it is the Green party”.

During the March 2008 general election, the PN took on board most of AD’s environmental policies. The MLP is now taking on board AD’s campaign on civil rights: divorce, gay rights, local council voting at age 16. AD’s campaign on rent reform has borne fruit. A consensus seems to be developing around AD’s electoral proposal on the energy surcharge: having a low or no charge for basic use and a high charge for excessive users.

An impressive contribution by a political party which has not yet made it to Parliament!

It is to early to state whether the PN and/or the MLP are trying to be greener than the greens. The emerging interest of the PN and the MLP in Green politics is positive as, in fact, this is coalition building by the back door!

It is to be borne in mind that Green parties are not restricted to environmental issues although, as stated by Ms Lucas, the environment is that area of politics with which Greens are mostly associated.

The Charter of The Global Greens, approved in Canberra in 2001, in fact identifies six principles forming the basis of Green politics: ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, non-violence, sustainability and respect for diversity. Viewed together, they form the basis of Green politics. All six are enshrined in the policy positions taken locally by AD.

Humankind is part of the natural world. We must respect all the other species forming part of this world. All forms of life are to be valued as all belong to the same natural world. This signifies that we must learn to live within the ecological and resource limits of planet earth and that we must ensure fulfilling the basic duty to respect biodiversity and life-support systems. Where we have little or no knowledge we must be cautious and tread carefully, thereby ensuring that we do not prejudice present and future generations. Basic to the achievement of social justice is the equitable distribution of resources. Social and environmental justice are thus intertwined.

Green parties the world over are firm believers in subsidiarity. AD will by the time of publication of this article have made public its proposals for a reform of local government. AD will argue for a strengthening of local government in Malta through devolution of additional responsibilities, clearer funding rules, Green tendering procedures at a local level and the need to introduce a referendum to decide on development projects having a significant impact on the locality.

The Greens respect diversity. Diversity of opinion. Ethical pluralism. Diversity in gender orientation. This has to be reflected in everyday politics. Hence, the Greens stand up against homophobia and support the right of gays and lesbians to be treated as equal persons of our community to which they too contribute through their daily toil.

The Greens favour divorce in contrast to those who believe in the theocratic powers of the state of imposing the beliefs of a section of the community on the rest. Those who believe in the indissolubility of marriage have a right to freely practise their beliefs. However, they have no right to impose their beliefs on the rest of the country. The state in Malta is still theocratic in this respect. It is about time that the winds of change open up the doors of ethical pluralism. Divorce has been recognised in Malta since 1975 but only for those who have the financial means to proceed to a foreign jurisdiction.

The effects of the March 2008 electoral campaign will take some time to sink into the psyche of the Maltese voter. It is not just about electoral promises which will not be fulfilled. Nor about scandals such as the Mistra one or the reversal of dubious pre-electoral decisions such as that on the development at Transfiguration Avenue in Lija. Voters are realising that the major parties avoided issues in March but subsequently had to face them. The shipyards debacle is a case in point wherein government intransigence had to give way to a civil society insistence on dialogue. Common sense eventually prevailed.

In the months ahead, the Greens in Malta will continue to face the issues and present to the public the progressive options which lie ahead.

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