Members of the Turkish Green Party under a banner reading, "Stop the nuclear bid! We are not asleep!" Photo via Yeşil Gazete.
Above a drab Istanbul alleyway, a bright banner proclaims, "Turn your face to the sun!" over an image of a field of sunflowers -- the symbol of Turkey's young Green Party, or Yeşiller Partisi -- signaling the location of the local party headquarters. Though far from achieving the mainstream success their sister parties enjoy in France and Germany, for example, the country's Yeşiller, or Greens, are shaking things up with their anti-nuke advocacy, democracy promotion, and ambitious vision of a downsized Istanbul.Green Party History
The forerunners of the Greens had some early successes, notably stopping construction of a hotel at a sea turtle nesting area near the Aegean town of Dalyan, the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review writes in a weekend profile of the party's past, present, and future. But like other social movements in Turkey, would-be party organizers were set back by the 1980 military coup and the disbanding of political parties and crackdown on opposition groups and nongovernmental organizations that went along with it. The first Turkish Green Party finally formed in 1988, but was closed down by the courts just six years later.
Like a seed that had laid dormant before blossoming, the Greens officially reformed in June 2008, re-emerging at a time when an environmental group in Turkey needs to concern itself not just with protecting nature, but also with addressing the global financial crisis and domestic issues of democracy, poverty, and human rights. Their platform for the next election will focus on "Green New Deal"-type proposals to boost the economy and decrease unemployment while fighting climate change and environmental destruction.
No Nukes Campaign
The group has made a splash recently with a campaign that gathered some 300,000 signatures in favor of Turkey ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, which the country's parliament did in February. A 24-hour anti-nuke protest, organized under the slogan "We are awake to nuclear energy," also drew attention. In part due to environmental activists, the Turkish government's aim to build the country's first nuclear power plant remains unfulfilled. The Greens are also working with the international 350.org campaign to reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million and plan to join in the Oct. 24 day of climate action.
Imagining a Smaller, Healthier Istanbul
Though the Greens currently have no official voice in government, party leaders hope to gain parliamentary representation within two terms. And that's not the only big plan they have cooking. For most people, it's hard to imagine crowded, traffic-clogged, polluted Istanbul as an eco-metropolis, but that's exactly what the Greens envision for the future, co-spokesperson Dilaver Demirağ told the Daily News:
We foresee a smaller city where you may eat organic vegetables that grow locally, [one that] has homes that do not produce waste, but instead conserve energy, and [where] public transportation is primary. Also, renewable energy from nature is important. We want a city with reduced poverty through just policies and a balanced economic and social structure. We want a city where the urban and the rural complete each other, where differences are reduced.
Sounds like he's talkin' 'bout a real revolution -- one that can't come too soon. Via: "The Greens Are Coming," Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review
More about global Green Party groups:
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Ontario Election Update: Green Party Policies
Green Party Leader Bicycles Between Cities
UK Green Party on The Vista Landfill Effect
Canada: Green Party Kept Out of TV Debates