French green parties merge ahead of presidential poll

AFP/Frank Perry

France’s two largest green parties are to merge Saturday at a special congress in the country’s second-largest city, Lyon. Political stars such as Euro-MP Daniel Cohn-Bendit, activist José Bové and former magistrate Eva Joly will be present for the marriage of Les Verts (the Greens) and Europe Ecologie.


The fusion makes official an alliance which has already won major electoral advances for the ecological movement.

In last year’s European elections joint lists won 16 per cent of the vote, while in regional elections this year they won 12.2 per cent.

And the new grouping can boast some established political reputations – Cohn-Bendit was 1968’s best-known student leader before becoming an MEP and Bové has worldwide notoriety for anti-MacDonald’s commando operations.

Joly, who was born Gro Eva Farseth in Norway, was a proactive examining magistrate whose inquiries into the Elf petrol company dubious behaviour in Africa inspired Claude Chabrol’s film L’Ivresse du pouvoir (Comedy of Power). She is tipped to be the party’s presidential candidate in 2012.

The Greens, who are to the left of the main opposition Socialists but have often formed alliances with them, have existed for three decades.

Europe Ecologie is a looser formation which has emerged recently.

Some of its members, including Cohn-Bendit’s brother, Gabriel, have refused to go to Lyon, claiming that the “marriage” has left some smaller green groups jilted and has anchored Europe Ecologie firmly on the left.

But Joly, who won a prize for political humour this year for her declaration “I know [IMF chief and Socialist presidential hopeful] Dominique Strauss-Kahn well, I brought him in for questioning once”, is impressed that 85 per cent of the Greens voted for the merger.

“The Greens are a movement which has existed for 30 years. It’s not easy to get married at such an advanced age,” she told a television interviewer.

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