Prague is a very beautiful and historic city. Something about the Czech people seems to lead them to question traditional thinking and to express themselves openly through the arts. Many theatres and art shops in the core of Prague are intertwined with museums celebrating their history. On the Charles Bridge over the river Vltava, you can pay homage to medieval saints - or get your caricature done in seven minutes.
Greens around the world are willing to take on parties with old thinking. The Czech Greens, Strana zelenych have broken through in the Senate after having an absence of parliamentarians since 2010. Canadian Greens are well aware of the Green Tax Shift, where you ‘tax bads’ like oil and reduce taxes on things that you want to promote like jobs and income. Czech Greens were part of a previous coalition government from 2006 to 2010. They were able to able to bring about the first part of the equation – taxing coal in this case, in the hope of incentivizing efficiency. They were not able to bring in the second part, a reduction in personal income taxes. As a result, they lost their popularity and did not get re-elected in 2010. Having secured strategic coalitions in 2012, Strana zelenych were able to return to participation in national governance via the Senate.
Pavlina Pacakova, one of the staff of Strana zelenych noted “It is difficult to communicate your message when you don’t have the funds.” These are familiar words to Greens in North America (our thoughts are with our Green neighbours in the U.S. in anticipation of their election next week.) The coal lobbyists are very well funded and organized in the Czech Republic and they have the attention of the bigger parties. We could merely substitute the word ‘tarsands’ for coal and this would be the exact situation in Canada. In a testament to the creativity of the Czechs, those of us on the Athens Express found their T-shirts and slogans to be particularly inspired. Their clothing has amusing ‘laundry’ instructions:
Rough translation would be:
We don’t launder money; we are against corruption We don’t iron political mistakes; we are transparent We don’t use chemicals; we care about the environment We don’t change colour; we stick by our principles We don’t dry anything for ourselves; our financing is transparent
Strana zelenych wants clean air, clean water and clean politics or shall we say....'clean laundry'?
By Mark MacKenzie, President of the Green Party of Canada on the Athens Express train ride to the EGP autumn Council.
Other blog articles by Mark can be found on the European Greens website.