PO2212 Issues in Contemporary European Politics

Week 9 Interest Group Politics: the Greens and the Peace Movements


The greens and peace movements have been chosen as case studies because


A definition from G Roberts & A Edwards A New Dictionary of Political Analysis (1991)

An interest group is 'an organised group which has as one of its principle purposes the exercise of influence on political institutions, in order to secure decisions favourable to the interests the group represents, or to discourage decisions being taken which would be unfavourable to those interests'.

Another definition of interest or pressure groups

'Organizations whose members act together to influence public policy in order to promote their common interest'.

Nelson's Political Science Glossary - http://polisci.nelson.com/glossary.html

And another

Pressure groups 'are formally constituted organizations which are designed at least partly to bring pressure to bear on government, civil service and other political institutions to achieve ends that they favour...The idea that pressure groups play a significant part in society is related to the concept of pluralism, since the political process is seen to result from a large number of often competing pressures.'

The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, 1994

New Social Movements

'Organized groups of people who come together for a common purpose in order to change some aspect of their situation. These new social movements (NSMs) are distinguished from interest groups, which represent a small group pursuing a narrow interest, and political movements, such as political parties which aim at social transformation through the political process. Examples of NSMs are ecological, feminist and black movements.'

The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, 1994

The source above goes on to say that NSMs have been identified in terms of four features


'The shift in values since the late 1940s from public order and material prosperity to self-fulfilment'.

Nelson's Political Science Glossary - http://polisci.nelson.com/glossary.html


A number of authors, for example Ronald Inglehart in 'The Nature of Value Change' in P Mair (ed) (1990) The West European Party System' say that the emergence of new social movements is a reflection of a generational shift in attitudes away from 'materialist' values (security and economic growth) to 'post-materialist' values (concern with quality of life issues).

The generation born after WW2 in industrialised countries were much more likely than their parents to espouse post-materialist values. This is the generation associated with the radicalism of the 1960s, the student movement and the new social movements (environmentalism and feminism in particular) of the 1970s

Other authors, for example K Brand writing in R Dalton & M Kuechler (1990) Challenging the Political Order points out that environmental movements, feminist movements and peace movements existed before WW2. The first two can be seen as reactions to periods of rapid industrialization and social change (for example in the late 1800s) and the third to international conflict (for example in the inter-war period).

M O'Neill (1997) Green Parties and Political Change in Contemporary Europe: New Politics, Old Predicaments sees the roots of the ecology movement of the 1970s in the student movement of the 1960s.

'Without the experience of student radicalism, in which a new generation of articulate and self confident radicals developed a persistent critique of the materialism of the staus quo and served an important political apprenticeship, the more organised, 'new politics' of protest would not have emerged as quickly as it did, or with the same impact.' (p. 7)

Tasks for Students

Make a chart of events since the 1960s which could have stimulated the growth of the environmental and peace movements.

The Environmental Movement

Michael Waller in 'The Ecology Issue in Eastern Europe: Protest and Movements' Journal of Communist Studies 5/3 1989 (p. 305) distinguishes between

Environmentalism which he defines as 'the protection of the natural environment' and

Ecologism which he says is 'a radical movement for a restructuring of society, in which a new attitude to finite natural resources is linked to a broader programme for social and political change.'

Waller outlines the very severe environmental problems that developed in eastern Europe, particularly in Northern Bohemia, Silesia & the South-West of GDR. There was considerable air and water pollution. The local brown coal was high in sulphur and governments were reluctant to buy western technology to filter emissions from chimneys.
He links this situation with the nature of communist government.

"The primacy of quantity over quality inherent in the system of central command planning and an obsession with economic growth have led to a disregard for controls and to a prodigal use of energy." (p. 304)

While some officially-sanctioned environmental groups and peace groups existed in Czechoslovakia, Hungary & Poland before the collapse of communism, there were many more autonomous ones. By 1985, the agenda of human rights organizations in these countries had broadened to include peace and ecology issues.

After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, Charter 77 (the dissident human rights group in Czechoslovakia) protested against the lack of reliable information on what had happened.

In East Germany, the 'Swords into Ploughshares' peace campaign started under the wing of the Evangelical Churches.

In Hungary, the proposal to dam the Danube led to the formation of the Danube Circle in September 1988 - there was a demonstration of 20-30,000 people in Budapest - this action did not stop Parliament voting for the project but continued popular pressure led to the eventual suspension of the project.

After the collapse of the communist government in Czechoslovakia, 83% of those polled in 1990 thought that improving the environment should be the government's top priority.
Environmentalists took top positions in the first post-communist government and the concept of sustainable development was enshrined in the country's constitution - Environmental Impact Assessments were also required for all major development projects.

But by 1999, polls showed that only one in 15 Czechs thought the environment should be the government's top priority - many have adopted western consumerist lifestyle.
Vaclav Klaus was Prime Minister of Czech Republic from 1992 to 1997 - saw the environment as an unnecessary luxury and environmentalism as a dangerous ideology like Marxism-Leninism. Now government gives more emphasis to environmental issues - partly as a result of conditions for entry to EU.

Central Europe Review Vol 1, No 25 13 December 1999 http://www.ce-review.org/99/25/beckmann25.html

Environmental protestors face many difficulties in the former Soviet Union.
According to Paul Rauber, writing in Sierra Nov, 2000, in Russia in 2000, Putin dissolved the Federal Forest Service and the State Committee on Environmental Protection - under pressure from large multinational and Russian corporations and the powerful ministries of Defense, Nuclear Energy, Natural Resources - 67 Russian and international environmental organizations have urged the World Bank to halt further loans to Russia until the Committee is reinstated.
Putin's government also harasses environmental organizations, accusing them of not paying taxes etc. - accused former naval officer and environmental whistleblower, Aleksandr Nikitin, of divulging state secrets when he wrote a report, using public sources, on the threat of radioactivity from Russia's aging fleet of nuclear submarines. He has been acquitted.

Greenpeace (http://www.greenpeace.org/) is an international environmental pressure group which was founded in 1971 to protest at nuclear tests in the Aleutian Islands.

According to The Macmillan Encyclopedia 2001 'it campaigns primarily against nuclear power, dumping nuclear waste, and commercial whaling. Its use of direct action has sometimes led to confrontation. In 1985 French saboteurs sank a Greenpeace vessel in New Zealand, killing one crew member.'

For material on Green parties, see

http://www.greens.org/europe.shtml and


and 'Meet your Greens' by Jann Bettinga In New Statesman 8/8/01

Bettinga includes the following details about the 5 main countries we study

France - Les Verts. Founded in 1984. Has 7/577 MPs and two ministers.
Web site http://www.les-verts.org

Germany - Bundnis 90/Die Grunen. Die Grunen was founded in 1980. The Greens have 47/668 MPs, three ministers, two ministers of state amd five parliamentary ministers of state.
Web site http://www.gruene.de

Russia - Ekologicheskaya Partiya (Kedr). Founded in 1992. Has 0/450 MPs.

Spain- Confederacion de los Verdes. Founded in 1984. Has 2/350 MPs and 1/259 senators.
Web site http://www.verdes.es

UK - Green Party in England and Wales. Founded in 1973 as "People". Has 0/659 MPs.
Web site http://www.greenparty.org.uk

For up to date information on environmental protest internationally, see

Earth Island Journal - http://www.earthisland.org/eijournal/journal.cfm

The Peace Movement

The most well-known peace movement in the UK is the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) - http://www.cnduk.org/
It was formed in 1958 and campaigned against nuclear weapons and against the doctrine of mutual deterrence. Every Easter, it held a peace march from the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston, Berkshire, to Trafalgar Square, London.
After the signing of the international nuclear test-ban treaty (1963), which partially banned nuclear tests, its membership fell and it became less active.

For Arms Limitation Treaties see - http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/

CND was again active from 1979 - 1984, protesting against the US deployment of US cruise missiles at Greenham Common. In 1980, European Nuclear Disarmament (END) was formed to protest at the stationing of US intermediate-range nuclear missiles in UK, Netherlands, Belgium, West Germany & Italy. END developed strong links with autonomous peace groups and dissident movements in Eastern Europe.

Other national peace campaigns concerned Trident in the UK, Spain's membership of NATO, US military bases in Greece.
France had its own nuclear weapons & no US missiles on its territory - peace protest there more muted, according to W Rudig (1988) 'Peace and Ecology Movements in Western Europe' West European Politics Vol 11.
Rudig says that the peace movement failed to block redeployment of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Western Europe and the movement declined from the mid-1980s.

In 1981, Women for Life on Earth marched from Wales to Greenham Common and then established a women's peace camp there (http://www.iwm.org.uk/online/greenham/) which lasted, despite enormous difficulties, for 20 years.

Other peace camps were set up in the UK (e.g. at Faslane - http://www.faslane.co.nr/ and in Italy.

CND and the broader peace movement in the UK campaigned against the Gulf War in 1991, the NATO bombing of Kosovo in 1999, the US bombing of Afghanistan in 2001 and the war against Iraq in 2003.

Tasks for Students

What is the campaigning value of peace camps?
Are they more effective than other methods, e.g. demonstrations?

Peace Movement Sites

Stop the War Coalition http://www.stopwar.org.uk/

Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation http://www.russfound.org/

Peace Protest Net http://pax.protest.net/

Le Mouvement de la Paix http://www.mvtpaix.org/
Le Mouvement de la Paix statement on the bombing of Kosovo http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/lemou.htm

Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg http://www.paxchristi.net/members/html/europe_overview.php?mo_id=49&mo_name=Soldiers%E2%80%99%20Mothers%20St.%20Petersburg

Paremos la guerra - Spanish anti-war site http://www.nodo50.org/paremoslaguerra/

Pax Humana http://www.paxhumana.info/en.php3

War Resisters' International http://www.wri-irg.org/

Women in Black http://www.womeninblack.net/

Anti-war Songs http://www.peace-not-war.org/

For more information/comment on peace movements internationally, see

Independent Media Centre http://uk.indymedia.org/

Guardian Special report on Anti-War Movement http://www.guardian.co.uk/antiwar/0,12809,879311,00.html

Institute for War and Peace Reporting http://www.iwpr.net/index.pl?top_aims.html

Deutsche Welle (German News Site) http://www.dw-world.de/english/0,3367,266,00.html

Peace Works: The Citizen's Role in Ending the Cold War by David Cortright http://www.fourthfreedom.org/Applications/cms.php?page_id=10&exp=1

The Anti-Nuclear Movement by Sanderson Beck http://www.san.beck.org/GPJ29-AntiNuclearProtests.html

General Observations

It may be stating the obvious to say that the visibility of the environmental and peace movements varies according to events in the world. This is partly due to particular events stimulating action by green and peace organisations and so increasing the news coverage they get, but it is also that some events generate widespread citizen concern and make the policies and actions of these movements seem more relevant.

For example, Environment News Service - http://www.ens-news.com/ -
reported in October 2001 that the events of September 11 in the USA are making people worried about the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to terrorist attack.
If an aircraft struck La Hague's irradiated fuel cooling ponds, the potential release of caesium-137 is 60 times the amount released in the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine according to a report by consultancy Wise-Paris.
According to New Scientist magazine, the potential caesium release from Sellafield in a similar incident would be 44 times that released from Chernobyl.

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Other Handouts: Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3 / Week 4 / Week 6 / Week 7 / Week 8 / Week 10 / Week 11

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