It’s a slightly old story, but the European Green Party, the umbrella party for all Green parties across the continent, have condemned the Mexican Greens for their position on the death penalty, and opened the possibility of Mexico’s Green Party being expelled from the Global Greens.
In February, controversy broke out within the Global Greens when the Mexican Greens announced that they would support the introduction of the death penalty for kidnappers and rapists who kill their victims:
Violent murders linked to organized crime – in particular the drug trade – are soaring in Mexico with nearly 6,000 people killed last year, double the number for 2007. As a result, Mexico’s tiny Green Party has decided to campaign for the reintroduction of the death penalty. The Green Party in Mexico is pressing for the death penalty for kidnappers who torture, mutilate or murder their victims. If this measure is adopted by the country’s legislators, it would reverse a 2005 decision to formally scrap capital punishment. It has been almost 50 years since anyone was executed in Mexico. More than 5,600 people were killed by drug traffickers in Mexico last year and analysts say Mexico is now the most dangerous country in the world for kidnapping.
The European Green Party, the most successful continental Greens federation and the only one formally constituted as a party, has condemned the Mexican Green Party (or PVEM) for this position, and have called on the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas to expel PVEM:
EGP Co-Spokesperson Ulrike Lunacek said that “the Mexican Green Party’s position following an exchange of correspondence between us is abundantly clear and the EGP has no option but to not consider the PVEM a member of the Green political family any longer. This is not a matter of a difference of opinion on policy options; it is a matter of basic principles. The PVEM is fully aware that the rejection of the death penalty is enshrined in the Charter of the Global Greens voted at the 1st Global Greens Congress in Canberra in 2001.
EGP Co-Spokesperson Philippe Lamberts said that “the withdrawal of recognition of the PVEM as a Green Party under our common Charter is a logical consequence of the action taken by them in their attempt to re-introduce the death penalty into Mexican law. The PVEM has put itself outside the broad and diverse family of the Global Greens by acting in breach of a basic value which we all share. The rejection of the death penalty is shared by all Green Parties also in countries where it is still in force. The PVEM has made itself an unacceptable exception and accordingly we do not consider it as part of the Green political family any more.
Formally, the Mexican Green Party belongs to the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas. The EGP will ask that Federation to act accordingly.
PVEM has responded by harking back to colonial days and comparing their position to those European Greens who supported the war in Kosovo:
“We’re not worried about being recognized by Europe, because the Europeans haven’t decided what happens in Mexico for 200 years,” the PVEM said in a press release, which also claimed that fellow parties in the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas support their position.
The PVEM demanded more respect from Europe, noting its opposition to the Kosovo war in 1999, which was backed by some European green parties. “We respected their position then,” the PVEM release noted.
The Global Greens Charter, which was signed in Canberra by Greens parties from all over the world, including PVEM, clearly states that the death penalty is opposed:
6.10 Demand that the death penalty be abolished worldwide.
It seems particularly bizarre that PVEM has come out for the death penalty in a country where, unlike their neigbours to the north, there appears to be a general consensus against the death penalty, with the major parties steadfastly opposed to the idea.
The Global Greens is structured according to four regional federations covering six continents: the European Green Party, which also functions as a political party in European Parliament elections; the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas; the African Greens Network and the Asia-Pacific Greens Network. Membership of the Global Greens is determined by these federations. In the Americas, the Global Greens is dominated by Latin America, with very weak Green parties in Canada and the US, and I really don’t know if opinions on the death penalty are felt so strongly amongst Green parties in South America as they are in Europe.
It’s a fascinating case study in transnational politics (as opposed to international politics). The party label “Green” has become very popular around the world, and unlike many other generic party names (“social democratic”, “democratic”, “liberal”) it has largely been used by parties with similar agendas. But the further you get away from rich western democracies and environmental policy, the similarities begin to break down. The debates which are similar in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and Western Europe tend to not fit in places like Latin America and Eastern Europe, let alone Africa. Friends of mine attended the Global Young Greens meeting in Nairobi in 2007, and it was obvious that views about the role of women and gays in society varied dramatically between the European and Australian delegates on one side and the African delegates on the other.
So is it possible to really bridge the divide between rich, developed countries and poorer developing countries when their political issues and political environment are so dramatically varied? The European Parliament has demonstrated that, over time, political convergence has brought about convergence between political parties, which is gradually developing a common party system across a continent (although it is still a long way away). It’s fascinating to consider.