Qingzhi Huan is professor of comparative politics at Research Institute of Marxism, Peking University, and School of Political Science and Public Administration, Shandong University, China. His main research areas are environmental politics, European politics and left politics. He was a Harvard-Yenching Visiting Scholar of 2002/2003 at Harvard University and a Humboldt Research Fellow of 2005/2006 at the Mannheim University. He is the author of International Comparison on Environmental Politics (2007) and A Comparative Study on European Green Parties (2000).
Currently, he is a visiting professor at the FFU, working on a project: ‘The European Greens as a Euro-party: Taking the case of the 2009 EP elections’ which is supported by Humboldt Foundation. As a follow-up project of ‘the Europeanising Greens in an evolving European democracy: roles and limitations conducted between 2005 and 2006 at the MEZS, the main theoretical assumptions remain unchanged: accompanying with an increasingly integrated and established European economic and political governance, there would be an evolving European democracy, especially a Euro-party system composed by some Euro-parties, and the conventional theory of democracy after some revisions can be applied to analyse a supranational polity like the EU. Taking these assumptions as a basis, these projects choose the European Green Party (EGP) or the European Greens as an example to investigate whether or to what extent the forging of Euro-parties really matters in the context of the EU’s democratic transformation as many students argue.
The major findings from the 2005/2006 Project are that, 1) by the end of the EP’s fifth term, the EGP has developed into a European party with a distinctive but “normal” ideology, a relatively well-organized organization structure, and a quite professional and cooperative parliamentary participation, and accordingly it has reshaped itself dramatically and comprehensively compared with its early years in the EU politics; 2) the EGP’s contribution to an EU democracy, however, is extremely limited, in other words, ‘Europeanisation’ of the EGP thus far appears more like a process of adapting to the current rules of the EU, rather than a process of reorienting the EU polity to a democracy.
Obviously, further study is needed to better explain this ‘paradoxical’ phenomenon, and this necessity constitutes the starting-point for this Project. On the one hand, we need to take in account the rapidly changing political and economic environment in which the Euro-parties including the EGP live. The great difficulties in ratifying the constitution-style European treaties for the member states have clearly shown that it would probably be a longer march than expected for the EU to move towards a democratic polity, though there is no sign/reason for the EU to give up this ‘Grand Dream’. On the other, we need to pay more attention to the up-to-date development of the EGP since its foundation as a Euro-party in 2004. Although its member parties are experiencing a relatively unsuccessful time in national politics than one decade ago, the EGP is operating quite smoothly and growing up quickly. With these new considerations and methodological improvements, the Applicant believes, 2009 EP elections is an appropriate case to shed more light on the question which is under discussion, namely, the roles and limitations of the Euro-parties including the EGP in promoting the EU’s democratic transformation.
As a case study project, the Applicant will focus upon three aspects concerning the EGP in the context of 2009 EP elections: 1) to further examine the EGP’s programmatic and organizational adjustments since its formal foundation in 2004, especially its capacity building as a Euro-party and the improving power relationship between the EGP and its members parties. 2) to describe the electoral campaigns and performances of the EGP as a Euro-party by paying special attention to the EGP’s electoral mobilization activities in the new EU member countries, or whether the governing position of the Greens in national governments is a more influential factor. 3) to draw a judgement whether or not there is any substantial improvements with the EGP’s political profile as a Euro-party as well as its political functions.