Rethinking green parties : the emergence and electoral success of green parties in Austria, Britain and the Netherlands
The proliferation of green parties on the European political landscape in recent decades has prompted much debate concerning the explanation of their emergence and the factors considered to influence their varying levels of electoral success. This thesis critically examines a number of perspectives and concepts drawn from the sociological and political studies literatures which shed light on these two key issues. Through a comparison of green party politics in Austria, Britain and the Netherlands, the thesis challenges the assessment of those who maintain that the emergence and/or electoral success of green parties can be understood principally in terms of the theory of 'post-materialist' value change, or in terms of the shift to 'post-industrial' society. Drawing on contemporary studies of 'high-consequence' risks, it argues for an alternative approach to understanding the emergence of green parties which is rooted in processes of social and global environmental change that have taken place during the post-war period. The question of green party electoral success is examined by means of the organisation of a variety of political and institutional factors into four overarching themes: political state-institutional structures, electoral dealignment and political competition, modes of interest representation, and internal dynamics. It is contended that attention to each of these can yield important insights into the conditions which have impacted on the electoral significance of green parties in Austria, Britain and the Netherlands. The final part of the thesis develops a new, ecologically informed approach to the emergence of green parties based primarily upon a reworking and synthesis of themes explored in previous chapters.