It is certainly not easy to foresee where we, Young European Greens, will be ten years ahead. The very nature of this moment, which we hope to be taught to the future generations as an inflexion point in the history of humankind, makes it difficult to know what the global situation in the world will be in 2020. Definitely, the consequences of the actions taken now to answer the triple crisis (economic, ecologic and social), will have started to show their impact by then.
The outcome of the Climate agreement in Copenhagen this year will hopefully set the necessary targets to effectively combat climate change in the upcoming future, and therefore in the next decade we will be witnesses of our ability to act responsibly for the sake of the planet. In order to achieve that we need a global paradigm shift so that worldwide political (and economical) leaders understand that the economic system must be at service of people’s needs and realistically framed within the biological system that our planet offers. In other words, if political leaders act sensibly in ten years according to global reality and needs, public opinion will then hold the speech we, the Greens, are defending already since some years ago.
Indeed, the sad reality is that we are always ten years ahead in analysing the challenges of our world and proposing solutions to duly face them. We are then often labeled as idealists or utopists who do not understand the complex reality of the world, and accused of blocking progress of the society. However, it is just then a matter of time that facts speak by themselves and a majority of this society is pulled to defend the arguments we defended a decade ago. It happened with the existence of Climate Change and the need to drastically reduce GHG emissions, for instance, and we can see that it is already happening with the increasing opposition to use nuclear energy and the extended fears towards GMOs. What during years we have been blamed for, years later becomes as the most obvious element of common sense, but then any acknowledgment to greens for being the ones bringing it forward is prevented, with other political families trying to take political profit out of it; this has been so far the fate of the greens, anticipating the path for a true progress sustainable both on the ecological and social field, and then waiting for others to realize about the wisdom of our recipes and often trying to take the glory for it. Moreover, in the case of the current multiple crisis, it will be even more complicated, since the whole system –a system where social success is measured according the level of consumption- needs to be challenged. Therefore it will be difficult, yet we hope that finally society will realize that we live in an exhausted, non-sustainable socioeconomic system and thus other lifestyle patterns are necessary.
However, it is important to reflect on why do greens manage to have such a clear vision ahead of the panorama and an advanced thought in time. And I think we can underscore a crucial one, which is the influence that their youth movements play in the ideological renewal of the parties, something that is not usual in other political families. Indeed, young green organizations are the best tool Greens have to keep being true grassroots parties, able to read the demands of social movements and bringing them into political decision-making spaces. It is actually from this praxis of “a foot on the street and the other in the institutions”, seeking the perfect symbiosis between these two spheres, that greens do offer a different –more advanced- political point of view beyond the classical ongoing political dynamics (and this is probably the reason why it takes much more time for other spheres of the society and political spaces to follow it, sadly).
And it is concerning this whole concept of the double presence at institutional and non-institutional level where I see a step beyond for young greens ten years ahead, culminating a process that has already started. Indeed, so far young greens had been an inestimable tool to keep a foot on the street and even for critical thought and further thinking. However, youth representatives -and young greens had not been an exception so far– were very seldom elected at institutional level. Actually, in our family this had even extra complication, since green parties are young ones which emerged from democratic and pacifist youth movements such as May 68, and that generation responsible for this wind of change at that time was the one to lead the movement until these days; in a certain way, they kept considering themselves the ‘young greens’, reluctant to handover this place to new generations. The consequence has been that for many years in general there were not genuine young green voices, coming from the new political culture, represented in institutional bodies.
However, we are watching a trend of change in these organizational behaviors. Greens have been, as well in this, pioneers in identifying the disaffection of youth towards politics, partly because they do not feel themselves represented by the current political establishment. Therefore, European green parties have understood that there is an urgent need to incorporate the new way of doing politics into institutions; otherwise there is a risk to miss a whole generation of active politized citizens. This would mean also missing leaders for tomorrow green politics, which would be against the concept of organizational perdurability. Hence, this long-term necessity for structural sustainability and ideological upgrading as well as the proven contribution of new ways of doing politics at the present days, has generated a positive atmosphere for increasing young greens access to positions of responsibility within green parties and obtaining seats in institutions.
The recent election of Ska Keller and Jan-Philip Albrecht as Members of the European Parliament shows this aim within the European Greens. But not also: at a party level, the position of Secretary General of Panu Laturi in Vihreät (Finnish Green Party) or that of Malte Spitz in the board of die Bündnis 90/Die Günen(German Greens) shows how new ways of doing politics can contribute to daily political strategy of parties at the highest level. This is a proof that young greens are not only the future, but also the present.
Therefore, my vision for ten years ahead is that there will be a big presence of young greens in the institutions. First, because there will be an increased awareness within societies that greens are the most sensible option as were are the only ones who are able to read the reality and its challenges properly and on time; this must be directly translated into higher vote percentages and more seats. Secondly, because party structures will require more and more the involvement of young greens in order to help reading actual realities and sharpening policies, and this must in turn translate also in more presence of young candidates in eligible positions, to become the eyes and voice also in parliaments, city councils and –why not?-, governments at all levels. And actually I am convinced that by then a young green coming from FYEG will have already followed the steps of Gerard Onesta, a founding member of the Federation, becoming vicepresident of the European Parliament.