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Is the environment a post material or material issue?

New social movement activity was certainly a catalyst for the development of green parties in some countries. The broad coalition of environmental and leftist groups that formed the anti-nuclear movements of the 1970s and 1980s was particularly conducive to green party formation in Germany, France, Luxembourg and Finland, and in Austria and Sweden green parties emerged from referendum campaigns against nuclear power (Roots 1995b: 237). ‘Eco-pax’ coalitions between the environmental and the peace movements were also important, especially in Germany.

The radical principles of NSM activists left a strong imprint on some green parties, notably the German Greens, which informed their reluctance to work with mainstream parties, the preference for participatory, decentralized organizational structures and a willingness to use extra-parliamentary action to achieve their aims. Nevertheless, although undoubtedly influenced by the countercultural NSM milieu, green parties cannot be regarded as NSMs.

Just by contesting elections and operating within the political system, green parties set themselves clearly apart from the ideal-type NSM. Internal tensions over the extent to which green parties should engage with established political parties and institutions (see Chapter 5) are essentially about the degree of compromise, when the real compromise was the decision to form a party in the first place. Several green parties, notably in the UK, Ireland, and Sweden and throughout

Eastern Europe, are not rooted in the NSM milieu, which suggests that environmental concern may be qualitatively different from NSM concerns such as gender, race or peace (none of which has, with the odd exception, spawned its own political party). Most European green parties do attract support overwhelmingly from new middle-class voters.

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Academic studies and opinion polls show conclusively that, compared to supporters of other parties, green voters are younger, better educated, less likely to attend church and more likely to hold public sector and/or white-collar jobs (Muller-Rommel ¨ 1989, 1990; Richardson and 96 Green parties Roots 1995). A detailed picture emerges from Germany which, because of the success of Die Grunion, has been subjected to intensive analysis. Here

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