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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le parti écologiste en pleine crise de mutation

by Lionel Venturini

French Greens In the Throes Of Mutation

Translated Sunday 29 September 2013, by Isabelle Métral

Europe Écologie-les Verts ‘s parliamentary conference ended last Thursday without the party’s relations to the Socialist Party being clearly defined, even though the proposed budget for 2014 and pension reform are looming large.

From our special correspondent in Angers

“Never has ecology been so well received in our country.” In the group’s parliamentary conference in Angers last Thursday, its president in the Senate Jean-Vincent Placé tried to turn the page on Noël Mamère’s resignation: the Gironde deputy, who remains a member of the group in the Senate, is now presented as having cut a lonely figure in the party for a long while.

And yet, according to Morbihan Senator Joël Labbé, “the issues (he raises) are real enough,” and EELV is “going through growing pains. (…) We have only been able to push this government’s ecological policy an inch at a time, but in no way have we given up our ambition.” But Hauts-de-Seine senator André Gattolin calls this a time of “crisis and mutation” in a party that is now well stocked in parliamentary collaborators and is expected to take a stance on every issue. The essence of the problem, as he sees it, is that the 12,0000 members the party claims remain divided between “the die-hard ecologists” and “the militants of the social left”. “There are quite a few contradictory demands, which makes it quite difficult to set up a collective,” he adds. On top of that, a new generation of forty-year-old public figures has emerged, that are pushing the sixty-year-old and above (like Noël Mamère) towards the exit.

Thursday’s conference – held behind closed doors – has not been enough for the party’s deputies and senators to reach an agreement on the pension reform bill (to be discussed in the national Assembly on October the 7th). Significantly, there has been no consensus against the rise in the wage-earners’ social contribution the bill proposes. With its focus on “green taxation”, the Greens’ global proposal comes up against the Socialist Party’s main concern, namely “fiscal exasperation”. “In Germany,” André Gattolin points out, “the Grünen fumbled the tax question out of a desire to gain in credibility, and the result was that whereas polls gave them at 22% two years ago, they’ve dropped to 8.4% in this year’s general election.”

“To retrieve the original inspiration” is the common aim proposed in two recent motions for the oncoming November conference, one under the leadership of [1] Eva Joly, the other from a group of prominent figures like Alain Lepietz or Euro-deputy Karima Delli. The motion they support aims at challenging “the Greens’ participation in government” and “reviving the party’s links with the social movement” and “with the hopes the foundation of the party raised.”

All controversial issues, these!

[1Translator’s note: former presidential candidate

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