Posted by / Monday 10 September 2018 / No comments

Six reasons why green parties cannot win elections in Africa

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Ever since green politics emerged on the political seen in the early 1970s as a reaction to the catastrophic levels to which the environment was being degraded, many ecologically inclined groups of individuals have crystallized themselves into thriving political parties. In Europe and the Americas, many green oriented parties have chalked political successes. In West Africa, however, the success of the green movement has not been as remarkable.

Though green activities can be found in many West African countries, only few of them can boast of a few seats in parliament every now and then. The Greens of Benin won three seats out of 83 in the 2003 general elections. Also in 2007, the Rally of the Ecologists of Senegal captured 1% of all popular votes and won 1 seat out of the 150 member parliament. In Nigeria, a green is yet to win a seat though a recent by-election in Bauchi State saw the Green Party of Nigeria clocking 33, 099 placing third after the two major parties. The question is whether green parties in West Africa can ever capture political power. This article is postulating that in the foreseeable future, the green parties in West African would not be able to take over the reins of political affairs in their respective countries and many reasons account for this stance.

Austerity conditions of Breton Woods institutions
Many countries in West Africa which depend on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have had to grapple with austerity measures prescribed by these Breton Woods institutions as conditions for granting loans and grants. As a result of the effects of these austerity measures on the bulk of the people, they have become more concerned about their immediate needs than issues concerning the negative effects of human activity on the environment.

Policy benefits are far-fetched
A typical green policy on transport includes a drastic reduction in the usage of private cars and the encouragement of public transport. This is expected to reduce the emission of dangerous vehicular exhaust fumes into the atmosphere since the traffic congestion is expected to reduce. It is also expected that traffic noise would reduce, stress levels would reduce and the quality of sleep would improve. Laudable as these may be, the average man in West Africa is waiting for the day he can afford a car so he can go for one. A green policy of this nature will certainly not appeal to him. A large chunk of the populace may not appreciate how the quality of the environment can positively affect life. The benefits are too far-fetched for them.

Perception of single-party issue
Many people all over the world still believe that green politics revolves only around environmentalism. This is buttressed by the fact that green movements aim at advocating for legislation that can help to effectively fight pollution and protect the environment from excessive exploitation. Few politicians believe they can develop comprehensive green policies to fight the social, economic and political system as it is today and be able to market it to win political power.

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Non-readiness of electorates
The level of poverty in West Africa, for the majority of the people is very high. In addition, many of the basic necessities of life are lacking or are inadequate. For electorates in this kind of condition, the issues of bread and butter and the provision of basic human needs are of more concern than any concern about the environment and its safety.

Dominance of major political parties
In many of the West African countries, there are major political parties with equal chances of taking over power. In most cases there are just two major parties, hardly does a third force party gather enough momentum to even ruffle the stranglehold of the traditional parties. The chances of a green party whose policies may be initially strange to the electorates come to power is next to zero. Even in advance democracies like in Sweden, the Green Party which was founded in 1981 only now has 25 seats in parliament after the 2014 elections. It was also in the same year that the party was able to enter government after forming an alliance with the Leftist Coalition.

Problem of funding
In many West African countries, there is no effective enforcement of political parties funding laws, so business men and women are able to fund political parties with the hope that when their preferred party comes to power, they can recoup their ‘investment’ through juicy contracts. Mostly, for these political financiers, their support is not based on getting a party into power to make the country better for the majority of the people. Their primary aim is to get richer, protect their business and expand their empire, if possible. They may not be willing to support a green oriented party since they are unlikely to win power in the immediate future.

For a green party to win any general elections in West Africa, that is going to take a long time to achieve and that will take a lot of hard work by committed people.

The major features of green politics

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