The Greens – The Green Alternative

The Greens – The Green Alternative

Infobox Austrian_Political_Party
party_name = Die Grünen – Die Grüne Alternative
party_articletitle = The Greens – The Green Alternative
leader = Eva Glawischnig
foundation = 1993 ("Die Grünen")
1986 (Merger of "Vereinte Grüne Österreichs" and "Alternative Liste Österreich")
ideology = Green politics,
Social progressivism
position = Centre-left
international = Global Greens
european = European Green Party
europarl = European Greens - European Free Alliance
colours = Green
headquarters = Lindengasse 40
A-1071 Vienna
website = []

The Greens – The Green Alternative ( _de. Die Grünen – Die Grüne Alternative or "Die Grünen", also translated as Austrian Green Party) is a political party in the Austrian parliament.

The party was formed in 1986 with the name "Grüne Alternative", following the merger of the more conservative Green party "Vereinte Grüne Österreichs" (United Greens of Austria VGÖ, founded 1982) and the more progressive party "Alternative Liste Österreichs" (Alternative List Austria ALÖ, founded 1982). Since 1993, the party has carried the official name "Die Grünen – Die Grüne Alternative (Grüne)", but refers to itself in English as "Austrian Greens". There are still differences between the former members of the old Alternative and VGÖ factions within the party, which is reflected in the different opinions between the national party and the state parties.

Apart from ecological issues such as environmental protection, the Greens also campaign for the rights of minorities and advocate a socio-ecological ("ökosozial") tax reform. Their basic values according to their charter in 2001 are: "direct democracy, non-violence, ecology, solidarity, feminism and self-determination" [] . The majority of the issues that the Greens champion cater to an especially young, urban, and higher-educated class of voters.

The party is a member of the European Green Party.


While the Austrian Green movement began in 1978 with the successful campaign to prevent the opening of the nuclear power plant in Zwentendorf (which had been favoured by Bruno Kreisky's government), the Green Party was born in 1984 during the successful sit-in protests which prevented the Danube power plant at Hainburg from being built.

Federal level

In the 1986 Austrian parliamentary elections the Green Party started off with 4.82% of all votes cast and entered parliament with eight National Council mandates. In the early elections to National Council in 2002, the Green Party nationwide received 9.47% of votes, and won 17 mandates to the National Council. At that time, it was the highest number of votes garnered by any European Green party.

When the Greens took their seats in parliament for the first time, they chose to appear somewhat unconventional. They initially refused to adapt their behaviour to that of the other parties; an example of this is their refusal to elect a chairperson ("Klubobmann / Klubobfrau") and designated a puppet made out of straw instead. Delegates would appear in parliament dressed in casual wear like jeans and sneakers. World-wide attention was drawn when the Green delegate Andreas Wabl hoisted a swastika flag on the speakers podium in the Austrian parliament, protesting against then Federal President Kurt Waldheim.

After the national election in 2002, the Greens entered into preliminary negotiations about a possible coalition government with the conservative ÖVP. During negotiations, party leadership was accused of internally black-mailing skeptical members. Negotiations between the two parites were subsequently called off, after the results with the ÖVP were not sufficient. The Green youth organisation "Grünalternative Jugend" (Green Alternative Youth or GAJ) briefly occupied the rooms of the Green parliamentary club in the Austrian parliament building in protest.

In 2003 three Green federal counsellors formed their own club in the Upper House Federal Council ("Bundesrat") of Parliament.

After the 2006 elections the Greens gained 4 seats and ended up with 21 seats and became the 3rd largest party in Parliament however did not have enough mandates to form a coalition government with either the ÖVP or SPÖ and became the largest opposition party while the SPÖ and ÖVP formed a coalition government.

Chairpersons since 1986

The chart below shows a timeline of the Green chairpersons and the Chancellors of Austria. The left green bar shows all the chairpersons ("Bundessprecher", abbreviated as "CP") of the Green party, and the right bar shows the corresponding make-up of the Austrian government at that time. The red (SPÖ) and black (ÖVP) colours correspond to which party led the federal government ("Bundesregierung", abbreviated as "Govern."). The last names of the respective chancellors are shown, the Roman numeral stands for the cabinets.

ImageSize = width:450 height:500PlotArea = width:400 height:440 left:50 bottom:50

DateFormat = yyyyPeriod = from:1986 till:2008TimeAxis = orientation:verticalScaleMajor = unit:year increment:2 start:1986

# there is no automatic collision detection,
# so shift texts up or down manually to avoid overlap

Colors= id:Grüne value:green

Define $dx = 25 # shift text to right side of barDefine $dy = -4 # adjust height

PlotData= width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:S shift:($dx,$dy)


color:Grüne from:1986 till:1988 text:Freda Meissner-Blau from:1988 till:1992 text:Johannes Voggenhuber from:1992 till:1994 text:Peter Pilz from:1994 till:1995 text:Madeleine Petrovic from:1995 till:1997 text:Christoph Chorherr from:1997 till:2008 text:Alexander Van der Bellen from:2008 till:end text:Eva Glawischnig


color:SPÖ from:1986 till:1987 text:Vranitzky I from:1987 till:1990 text:Vranitzky II from:1990 till:1994 text:Vranitzky III from:1994 till:1996 text:Vranitzky IV from:1996 till:1997 text:Vranitzky V from:1997 till:2000 text:Klima from:2007 till:end text:Gusenbauer I

color:ÖVP from:2000 till:2003 text:Schüssel I from:2003 till:2007 text:Schüssel II

Parliamentary election results

1 Combined result of ALÖ and VGÖ


The [ Viennese Greens] started candidating in the Vienna "Gemeinderat" (municipal council or state assembly) in 1983 and were able to enter in 1991. Over the years they have been able to continually gather support. A lot of support has been coming from former Liberal Forum voters, after the liberals failed to enter any legislature. The traditional strongholds in Vienna for the Greens are the districts of Neubau (2005: 43.26%), Josefstadt (32.26%), Alsergrund (29.43%), Mariahilf (28.97%) and Wieden (25.14%).

In the 2001 "Gemeinderat" elections, the Greens were able to win the majority of a district for the first time. In the district of Neubau they won 32.55% and were able to nominate the "Bezirksvorsteher" (mayor of the district). The results of 2001 also allowed the Viennese Greens to nominate Stefan Schennach as federal councilor to the Upper House of Parliament ("Bundesrat"). But despite the strong gains, the Greens were not able to enter into a coalition government with the SPÖ, since the social-democrats were able to win an absolute majority.

The European Parliament election, 2004 were the best for the Viennese Greens so far. From the total tally, they received 22%, which put them ahead of the christian-democratic ÖVP and placed them on second position behind the SPÖ (37.7%). In Neubau the Greens received 41%. They were also able to win first place in the districts of Wieden, Mariahilf, Josefstadt and Alsergrund.

In the 2005 "Gemeinderat" elections, the Greens were able to win votes, but missed their target of becoming the second most powerful party and ended up on fourth place, right behind the right-wing FPÖ. Because of the different weighing by districts, the Greens received 14 mandates, one more than the FPÖ. They were also able to place another city-councillor. In the districts, the party was able to consolidate their holding on Neubau, as well as win the majority of votes in Josefstadt. With that, the Greens were able to nominate a second Green district-mayor. The second place was won in the districts of Leopoldstadt, Margareten, Mariahilf, Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus and Alsergrund.

The Green delegates to the Viennese "Gemeinderat" or "Landtag" as of 2006 were: Maria Vassilakou (club-chairlady ["Klubobfrau"] ), Waltraut Antonov, Heidi Cammerlander, Christoph Chorherr, Sabine Gretner, Susanne Jerusalem, Alev Korun, Rüdiger Maresch, Martin Margulies, Sigrid Pilz, Ingrid Puller, Marie Ringler, Marco Schreuder, Claudia Sommer-Smolik. The two city-councillors are David Ellensohn and Monika Vana.

The results of the Viennese "Gemeinderat" elections:1 ran as Alternative Liste Wien (ALW)


In 2004 the Greens had about 3,000 members nation-wide, although at present there are no uniform regulations for membership. Apart from the members, the Greens rely on a large number of volunteers. The party used to function on the principles of basis democracy ("Basisdemokratie") and rotation principle ("Rotationsprinzip"), but this was stopped in the course of the time. The last basic-democratic element is the "Urabstimmung", which is a vote on any issue that can be initiated with the petition of at least 100 members. As of 2003 however, no such vote has taken place.

The highest body is the "Bundeskongress" (Federal Congress), which convenes at least once a year. All state organisations send delegates, also the immigrants-organisation is allowed to send delegates as "the tenth Austrian state". The Federal Congress decides the electoral lists for the National Council elections or elections to the European parliament. The congress also elects the federal spokesperson ("BundesprecherIn"). The congress also decides the party program and sets the party guidelines.

The "Bundesvorstand" (Federal Board of Trustees) has in the last few years developed itself into the actual decision-making centre. It meets at least once a week, mostly on Tuesdays, and determines the guidelines of the daily politics. The board also has decides over the party finances.The extended federal board of trustees ("Erweiterter Bundesvorstand") consists of a smaller number of delegates from each state and meets at least once a month. It takes care of the implementation of the party-guidelines, which were set by the party congress. It also chooses the representatives of the party spokesperson.

The state organisations ("Landesorganisationen") are for their most part organised similarly: There are state meetings, which sometimes convene as a members meeting or a delegates meeting. Similar to the Federal Board of Trustees, there are the State Board of Trustees ("Landesvorstände"). The party charter also allows for each state group to hold a vote on basic issues as well that affect the whole party.

Independently in the National Council there also exists a Green National Council Club (faction), which can independently specify its guidelines. In the last years however an increasing fusion of the work between party and its club was noticeable. Michaela Sburny, successor of Franz Raft since June 2004 as federal executive manager of the Greens, was allowed to keep her National Council mandate. This means she is allowed to hold two offices at the same time, something that was frowned upon by the Greens previously.

There are different Green or Greenish organisations within the party and associated with it. These include:
* The " [ Grünen Andersrum] " is the gay-, lesbian and transgender organisation, which is organised differently from state to state, and exists in all states except Vorarlberg and Burgenland. In Vienna, the " [ Grünen Andersrum] " are a part of the party itself.
* The "Grünen SeniorInnen" ( [ DGS] ) is the organisation for senior citizens. It was founded on March 9, 2001 in Vienna. The DGS fights for a policy more friendly to senior citizens and their right to lead an active, fulfilling and self-determined life.
* The "Initiative Grüne MigrantInnen" ( [ IGM] ) is the Green group for immigrants in Austria. Their demands are a facilitation of integration into life in Austria, equal rights and equal opportunities, fight against racism and other issues concerning migrants.
* The "Grüne und Alternative Studierende" ( [ GRAS] ) is a separate party which candidates in the elections for the Austrian National Union of Students ("Österreichische HochschülerInnenschaft" – [ ÖH] ). There they are the biggest faction, together with the Socialist Students of Austria ("Verband Sozialistischer StudentInnen Österreichs" – [ VSStÖ] ) they form the executive committee of the Austrian National Union for Students.
* The "Grünalternative Jugend" ( [ GAJ] ) is the youth organisation of the Green party. The GAJ existed since the 1990s. It is a member of the Federation of Young European Greens ( [ FYEG] ). The GAJ sees itself rather as extreme left. The organisation is subdivided into smaller groups for each state.
* The "Grüne Frauenorganisation" is the organisation for women. As of 2005, it does not exist yet in every state. []
* "ECO Students" is a Green student's organisation, which currently only exists in Styria.
* The " [ Grüne Wirtschaft] " is the Green economic organisation and runs in the elections for the Economic Parliament of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber ("Wirtschaftskammer Österreich" – [ WKÖ] ).
* The "Alternative und Unabhängige GewerkschafterInnen" ( [ AUGE/UG] ) is the Green labour union. It runs in the elections for the labour parliament of the Austrian Labour Chamber ("Arbeiterkammer" – [ AK] ).

The education and training of new Green politicians is done by the "Grüne Bildungswerkstatt" (, which is an independent voluntary association. The "Grüne Bildungswerkstatt" is financed by the republic, as regulated by Austrian law for the equal treatment of all parliamentary parties.

Prominent members

Among the most notable founding members and mentors are or were Professor Alexander Tollmann, the painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the late actor Herbert Fux, the mayor of Steyregg Josef Buchner (the first Green mayor in Austria – in 1987 excluded from the Green parliamentary club), Freda Meissner-Blau and Günther Nenning, with Nobel prize laureate Konrad Lorenz supporting the 1984 protests at Hainburg.

Today, Green politicians include (in alphabetical order)

* Rudolf Anschober (State councillor of Upper Austria)
* Thomas Blimlinger (Mayor of the Viennese district Neubau)
* Dieter Brosz (MP (Member of the lower house National Council), spokesman for education)
* Christoph Chorherr (Member of the state assembly of Vienna)
* Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek (MP, federal spokeswoman)
* Ulrike Lunacek (MP, spokeswoman for foreign policy)
* Karl Oellinger (MP, deputy federal speaker)
* Madeleine Petrovic (Club chairlady of the Lower Austrian Greens)
* Peter Pilz (MP, spokesman for defence)
* Johannes Rauch, (Club chairman and state speaker for Vorarlberg)
* Marie Ringler, (Member of the Viennese state assembly, spokeswoman for culture and technology)
* Michaela Sburny (MP, Spokeswoman for the economy, Federal Executive Manager of the party)
* Therezija Stoisits (MP, spokeswoman for minorities)
* Ingrid Lechner Sonnek (Club chairlady of the Styrian Greens)
* Alexander Van der Bellen (former Federal Speaker, club chairman in the National Council)
* Maria Vassilakou (Club chairlady of the Viennese Greens)
* George Willi (Club chairman and state speaker for the Tyrol)

Members of the European Parliament

* Mercedes Echerer (MEP from 1999 - 2004)
* Eva Lichtenberger (MEP since 2004, member of the Austrian national convention)
* Johannes Voggenhuber (MEP since 1995, Member of the European Convention, member of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union)

See also

*Green party
*Green politics
*List of environmental organizations

External links

* [ Die Grünen] - official website (in German)
* [ Austrian Greens in the European Parliament]
* [ Die Grünen Austria at European Greens]
* [ The Green Parties] Country Studies - Austria

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