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In Belgium, they both have almost the same ideas. They want to stop nuclear power plants in 2025 and change to renewable energy , promote public transport, affordable health care for everyone,...

Is the difference where you live between socialists and the green party bigger or not?

Sometimes I tend to believe they're the same (but they are not). What is the greatest difference between both ideologies?


Edit: I don't really know how to make my question stackexchange proof, but i'll give it another try:

Socialism is about social justice, solidarity and equality and ecologism is about sustainable living. They're not really the same thing. One can be rich and the other not, they're not equal as to socialism, but maybe they have a sustainable way of living their lives.

On the other hand, the parties in Belgium who represent these ideologies have (almost) the same ideas. For me that's strange. They have another goal, but the same plans and ideas.

Do the socialists and greens in other countries (in the EU) have more diverse proposals or aren't there currently sensible differences between european socialist and green parties?


I'm member of the Flemish Green party "Groen" in Belgium. Both the Flemish socialists and French speaking socialist party in Wallonnia are related to numerous scandals related to mandates and attendance fees and other things. I do not want to be a member of such a movement. Other than that, I struggle to explain to people why I'm not a member of the socialist party instead of the green party.

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    Hi and welcome. I'm not sure this is a good fit for the site. It invites a lot of diverse answers with no way to judge between them. Read our tour and maybe we can figure out how to get what you want within this format. – user9389 Jan 19 '18 at 23:31
  • Explain that, all other things on the party platforms being equal, you chose that party with what seemed to be the least amount of scandal, since if elected they'd be more likely to base their actions on that platform, rather than being loyal to some hidden agenda. – agc Jan 20 '18 at 5:54
  • I think you should focus either on the current parties or on the ideologies. These are not the same question, and we prefer to focus on one thing at a time here. I think you want to focus more on the current state of those parties. Also, I left the backstory on, but it is not really what the site is about. – user5751924 Jan 20 '18 at 8:59
  • This question is too broad. The title question asked European. The answer is very different between, say, Sweden or France or The Netherlands or the United Kingdom or Russia. – gerrit Jan 20 '18 at 15:47
  • I hope it's better now? – Rian Jan 22 '18 at 20:00
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Since you are basing your question on the situation in your own country and asking about other European countries, I see that this question has as many valid answers as there are European countries (because evidently the situation varies quite a lot within Europe). I will answer this question based on the political dimensions of Finland.

The next figure is from an article (https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-7919930) by the Finnish broadcasting company. It shows positioning of all the candidates of the elections (2015) to the Finnish Parliament (probably based on some questionnaire filled by the candidates).

enter image description here

The y-axis is from conservative to liberal (konservatiivi-liberaali) and x-axis from political left to political right (vasemmisto-oikeisto). The parties are in different colors and I will try translate the party abbreviations in the bottom:

  • Kesk. = Centre party
  • Vihr. = Greens League
  • KD = Christian Democrats
  • Kok. = National Coalition Party
  • PS. = Finns Party
  • RKP = Swedish People's Party of Finland
  • SDP. = Social Democratic Party
  • Vas. = Left Alliance

In Finland there is essentially one green and two leftist/socialist parties. The three parties we should concentrate here are the Green League (light green), the Social Democratic party (bright red) and the Left Alliance (dark red). We can see from the figure that the both leftist parties are clearly on the left side of the map, but so is the green party. The average green candidate would seem to lean as left as the average social democrat candidate, but not as left as the average Left Alliance candidate. Nevertheless the spread of green candidates in the political left-right spectrum is large and a formidable group of green candidates are politically quite right leaning. Also the greens differentiate from the two left parties by being clearly more liberal.

  • Can you translate "Vasemmisto-Oikeisto", so that we can understand what the first axis is representing ? – Evargalo Jan 23 '18 at 9:22
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    Yes I clarified the explanation of the axes. – Communisty Jan 23 '18 at 11:24
  • conbservative to liberal is the same as political left to right (at least in US terms) Can you explain what the ranges are – Mark Jan 23 '18 at 18:52
  • @Mark I'm aware that the terms mean different things on the two sides of the Atlantic. I was trying to google for a compact translation between the US and the EU, but I couldn't find anything comprehensive. Wouldn't that suffice already for a whole question here? – Communisty Jan 24 '18 at 8:26
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    @Communisty here comes eric to the rescue. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/23780/… – CptEric Jan 24 '18 at 9:25
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Yes, there are differences that depend both on country and on the European political group these parties belong to. For your example notice that the Belgium Socialist party is a member of Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) (currently the second largest in the European Parliament hemicycle). The party you support, Groen, is a member of Greens-European Free Alliance (EFA) (which typically has roughly 70% of agreement in the parliament with S&D, see table below).

There is another large European Green Politics group called the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL). Together with the centrists Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), these parties form the European left to center side of the spectrum.

enter image description here

Even between EFA and GUE-NGL there are subtle but important differences. For example GUE-NGL is seen (although more and more less so) as soft-eurosceptic (S&D is definitely Pro-European) . EFA is seen more as center-left party, as opposed to the GUE-NGL clear left. All of them, one way or another, support the typical issues (environmentalism, nonviolence, social justice and grassroots democracy) of green politics. And to a big extent so do all the parties up to the center (ALDE).

These differences can be seen pragmatically. For example the following table gives figures for the level of cooperation between each group (how many times they vote with a group, and how many times they vote against) for the Fifth and Sixth Parliaments (where 0% = never votes with, 100% = always votes with).

Party cooperation in the EU

Historically Socialist (as in Social-Democracy) parties and Communist (as in State Socialism, albeit the democratic version of it) parties in the EU nations are old. The Green parties are recent, and typically a mixture of young people from different political backgrounds (the great majority from the left to center side of the spectrum) that advocate issues that are largely seen as less important in the more established parties (immigrant rights, gender equality, gay rights, drug legalization, and so on, and so forth).

If you want to further explore the macro differences between EU national parties check this interactive plot by Alexandre Afonso (data available also). One example with parties from Belgium, UK, and Germany (I choose the other two countries just so there's an international comparison) is this:

plot for macro policy in national parties from Europe

Notice that the Socialist Party and the Greens in Belgium are in fact very similar. But in the UK the difference is far more significative (I'm comparing it with the Labour party).

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