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In Solidarity with Junge Grüne

Young people and youth wings are an integral element of Green parties across Europe. Greens are a political family that takes the needs and the aspirations of young people seriously, which is a key factor in Greens being recognised as a positive force by young people. In the general election in March 2017 in the Netherlands, GroenLinks was the most popular party among 18-24 year olds. A high support for Greens among youth can be observed in many other societies around Europe, precisely because of this recognition.

Young people also have a central role in developing and running Green parties and campaigns. It is a strength for Green parties that so many young people with experience in and links to social movements and civil society organisations have chosen to take part in Green politics, as these connections bring fresh perspectives, ideas and methods to party politics. Having young people in parliaments and at tables where decisions are made ensures that policies are relevant to the people they are supposed to affect. Not to forget the crucial role of young volunteers during campaigns, which is also an important form of engagement for young people who are looking for ways to change the directions of our societies. Young people are what makes Greens stand out and be the positive alternative that Europe so badly needs at the moment.

It is therefore with great concern that the Federation of Young European Greens notes that the Extended Executive Committee of Die Grünen - Die Grüne Alternative from Austria has taken a decision on the 24 March 2017 to expel the party youth wing Junge Grüne by the 31 March 2017, unless a list of conditions are met. Among these are that June Grüne ceases to support a students’ organisation not recognised by the party, and that Junge Grüne pledges support to the party in upcoming general and regional elections. Addressing a political conflict with an ultimatum that is designed to deprive the Green party youth wing of its funding goes against a very fundamental understanding that we have of how Green organisations should operate and resolve conflicts. Such threats send a terrifying signal to Green youth across Europe.

Junge Grüne, with its 4000 members across Austria, is one of the most active and skillful Member Organisations in the Federation of Young European Greens. Their members take active part in our activities, in organising our activities, and in running the Federation. Several former members of the Executive Committee of the Federation have had a background in Junge Grüne. The impact of Junge Grüne on developing the political thinking and the organisational skills of Green youth across Europe in previous years is immense.

All Green parties in Europe ought to foster an environment of openness and critical debate within their parties (including with their youth wings) as well as in society at large. Also political criticism towards the party itself must be tolerated. Furthermore, a prerequisite for a thriving Green movement is that Green parties respect the political and financial autonomy of Green youth wings.

In case the situation in Austria is not resolved by the 1 April 2017, Junge Grüne will lose all its federal funding for 2017. This would have catastrophic consequences on the operative capacities of one of Europe’s most vibrant Green youth organisations and therefore on the Federation of Young European Greens and the Green European family as a whole. We appeal to Die Grünen not to take irreversible measures and to engage in a reconciliation process with all parties involved.

There is no future for Green parties without young people.