The Future of Politics? The Effectiveness of Western European Green Parties in Creating Improved Environmental Quality

TitleThe Future of Politics? The Effectiveness of Western European Green Parties in Creating Improved Environmental Quality
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsCline, Matthew David
Academic DepartmentPolitical Science
Thesis AdvisorClinton, Richard
DegreeBaccalaureate of Arts in International Studies in Political Science
Number of Pages23
Date Published06/2001
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
Keywordscomparison, Environmental Quality, Germany, green political parties, Italy, United Kingdom

Based upon the research of Ronald Inglehart, this thesis first presents the rise of green political parties and environmental values in a context of value change. From this general change, this thesis attempts to explain why some countries have experienced greater environmental improvement than others have experienced.
Moving from the hypothesis that the level of support for green parties in a country is directly related to the level of improvement in environmental quality in that country, a methodological framework is established. The measure of green party support is determined by national election returns, and the measure of improved environmental quality is established as a "basket" of indicators, including air pollution, energy consumption, and road traffic volumes. Further, three countries are chosen for the comparison: Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom; these countries are chosen for their shared Western European heritage, their membership in the European Union, and their similar population density and per capita GDP.
Using this methodological framework, changes in the levels of the environmental indicators are compared against levels of support for green parties over a seven-year period (1990-1997). The results of this comparison contradict the original hypothesis: the level of support in a country for green parties does not seem to directly correlate to the level of improved environmental quality experienced by that country.
In conclusion, some alternative explanations for the divergent experiences of the countries concerning improved environmental quality are offered as suggestions for future research: different levels of public and private support for green research and development, issue-capture by major political parties, different electoral systems, and different levels of materialist and post-materialist values in the country.