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Europe Écologie - Les Verts (Political party, France)


Last modified: 2020-07-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: europe écologie - les verts |
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Flag of EELV - Image by Ivan Sache, 25 March 2020

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Presentation of EELV

EELV (website) is a political movement structured on a cooperative network and a political party. The Agora, composed of 30 members of the cooperative network and 30 members of the political party, meets at least once a year to coordinate the actions of political ecology performed on the whole national territory.
EELV is member of the European Green Party and recognizes the principles edicted in the Charter of the Global Greens (text) adopted in April 2001 in Canberra and updated in Dakar (2012) and Liverpool (2017).
[EELV Statutes, June 2016]

EELV was established on 13 November 2010, succeeding Les Verts. This change was prompted by the success of the Europe Écologie list in the 2009 European Parliament election. The list, composed of members of Les Verts and of noted ecologist militants who did not want to join the party (the "cooperative network"), was the third most voted list (16.3% of the votes).

In the 2012 presidential election, Eva Joly, representing EELV, obtained 2.3% of the votes; in the general election that followed the election of François Hollande at the Presidency of the Republic, EELV set up an alliance with the Parti Socialiste, securing 17 Representatives, enough to have their own parliamentary group. The party had one minister (Cécile Duflot, Minister of Territorial and Housing Equality) in Jean-Marc Ayrault's first government and two (Cécile Duflot, Minister of Territorial and Housing Equality; Delphine Batho, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy) in the Jean-Marc Ayrault's second government. In 2014, EELV refused to support the new government led by Manuel Valls, which caused dissension within the party.
The poor result in the 2015 departmental (2% of the votes) and regional (6.8% of the votes) elections caused a financial and moral crisis in the party. Some leaders called for resuming support to the government while other sought an alliance with the left wing of the Parti Socialiste and the Front de Gauche. Several prominent members left the party, some of them entering the government. The parliamentary group of the National Assembly was dissolved in May 2016 after its last six members had registered with the Parti Socialiste's group.
In the 2017 presidential election, Yannick Jadot, the possible candidate of EELV, withdrew from the competition and called to vote for the candidate of the Parti Socialiste, Benoît Hamon. Éric Piolle, Mayor of Grenoble and the only ecologist mayor of a big town, supported Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of the extreme-leftist movement La France Insoumise. In the general election that followed the election of Emmanuel Macron, EELV lost all its seats at the National Assembly; Éric Alauzet, the only member of the party who had been reelected, without the official support of EELV but with the "neutral support" of La République en Marche (LREM, Macron's movement), registered with the LREM's group.

Ivan Sache, 25 March 2020

Flag of EELV

The flag of EELV (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) is green with the party's logo.
The logo combines elements of the logos of the two components of the party: the three yellow stars, used as an European symbol by Europe Écologie, and the sunflower, used by Les Verts. Here the sunflower looks more clearly like a sun.
[Laurence Vignes. 2013. Le(s) Vert(s) en politique. Étude symbolique et onomastique d'une couleur qui nomme un parti. Mots. Les langages du politique, 105]

Ivan Sache, 25 March 2020

Les Verts


Flag of Les Verts - Image by Ivan Sache, 25 March 2020

Political ecology emerged in France in the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the May 1968 events. Social movements, such as anti-nuclear movements and associations for the protection of nature and environment, progressively federated in the Réseau des Amis de la Terre (Network of the Friends of the Earth), established in 1971, which played a significant role in the connection between the associative and political spheres (1970-1973).
The first candidates labelled "ecologists" competed in the general elections in 1973. In 1974, René, Dumont (1904-2001), a retired professor of agricultural development at the Institut National Agronomique in Paris (now AgroParisTech), accepted the challenge to be candidate at the presidential election, which had scared all other potential ecologist candidates. In spite of the poor result (336,016 votes - 1.34%), Dumont has remained famous for his original campaign, headquartered in a barge moored in the Seine, Dumont traveled by train and joined the places of his meetings on a bicycle, promoting the "vélorution", and its premonitory themes, focused on sustainability and preservation of non renewable resources like freshwater. Now mains issues of international debates, these issues were not addressed by any other candidates, and had never been before.
[René Dumont. Campaign for the presidential election, 19 April 1974; Écoutez René Dumont, citoyen de la planète terre. Film by Bernard Baissat, 1992]

Among the several, mostly short-lived, movements defending political ecology, the Mouvement d'écologie politique (MEP - Movement of Political Ecology), founded in February 1980, became in November 1982 the first structured ecologist party in France, as Les Verts - Parti écologiste (The Greens - Ecologist Party). Another association, the Confédération écologiste (Ecologist Confederation), established in December 1981, became in February 1982 Les Verts - Confédération écologiste (The Greens - Ecologist Confederation). In January 1984, the two organizations merged to form Les Verts, confédération écologiste - parti écologiste, soon only known under its short name, Les Verts. This name was most probably borrowed from the German party Die Grünen (The Greens), established in 1980, and from the British Green Party, whose forerunner, the Green Alliance, was established in 1978. In France, the first occurrences of "vert" in a political sense are credited to René Dumont in Le Monde, 10 May 1974.

From 1984 to 1994, Les Verts competed in 20 elections. Antoine Waechter obtained 3.8% of the votes at the presidential election held in 1988. He maintained the party's orientation as "neither right neither left". Marie-Christine Blandin was elected President of Region Nord-Pas-de-Calais in 1992. In 1994, the General Assembly held in Lille abandoned the "neither right neither left" orientation. Waechter left the party to found the Mouvement écologiste indépendant.
Dominique Voynet obtained 3.32% of the votes in the presidential election held in 1995. She entered in 1997 the government led by Lionel Jospin (Parti socialiste), as the Ministry of Environment and Land Planning. Les Verts entered in March 2001 in the executive of the towns of Paris and Lyon.
Noël Mamère obtained 5.25% of the votes in the presidential election held in 2002. In the following general election, Les Verts secured only three seats, against six in the previous legislature. Dominique Voynet obtained only 1.57% of the votes in the presidential election held in 2007.
[Bruno Villalba. 1997. La genèse inachevée des verts. Vingtième Siècle, Revue d'Histoire 53, 85-97]

The flag of Les Verts (photo, photo, photo) was square, green with the party's emblem.
While blue is traditionally associated with rightist parties and red with the leftist parties, green had never been used before as a color by a French party.
On 2 July 1789, after the sack of the minister Necker by King Louis XVI, the young lawyer Camille Desmoulins (1760-1794) called in the gardens of the Royal Palace in Paris the patriots to raise against the "aristocratic plot". He asked the mob to choose the color of the revolt's cockade and was answered "green, as a symbol of hope". He immediately picked up a leaf from the closest tree and pinned it to his hat. Green ribbons were adopted as the symbol of the insurrection but soon dropped; the next morning, it was pointed out that green was the livery color of the hated Count of Artois, Louis XVI's brother (and subsequent King Charles X, 1824-1830).
In the 1980s, the 30 ecologist parties registered in European countries all had green logos; among them, 16 added yellow icons featuring the sun or a sunflower. The Danish party was the only one to use another flower, a dandelion. The use of the sun and of the heliotropic sunflower is directly connected to solar energy, pushed by ecologists as an alternative to nuclear energy.
[Laurence Vignes. 2013. Le(s) Vert(s) en politique. Étude symbolique et onomastique d'une couleur qui nomme un parti. Mots. Les langages du politique, 105]

Ivan Sache, 25 March 2020