Professionalization of Green parties? Analyzing and explaining changes in the external political approach of the Dutch political party Groenlinks

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There is a relatively small body of research regarding the ideological and organizational changes of Green parties. What has been lacking so far is an analysis of the way Green parties present themselves to the outside world, which is especially interesting because it can be expected to strongly influence the image of these parties. The project shows that the Dutch Green party ‘GroenLinks’ has become more professional regarding their ‘external political approach’ – regarding ideological, organizational as well as strategic presentation – during their 20 years of existence. This research project challenges the core idea of the so-called ‘threshold-approach’, that major organizational changes appear when a party is getting into government. What turns out to be at least as interesting is the ‘anticipatory’ adaptations parties go through once they have formulated government participation as an important party goal. Until now, scholars have felt that Green parties are transforming, but they have not been able to point at the core of the changes that have taken place. Organizational and ideological changes have been investigated separately, whereas in the case of Green parties organization and ideology are closely interrelated. In this thesis it is argued that the external political approach of GroenLinks, which used to be a typical New Left Green party but that lacks governmental experience, has become more professional, due to initiatives of various within-party actors who often responded to developments outside the party. The fact that government participation became the major party goal of GroenLinks strengthened and accelerated this process. As a result, GroenLinks has lost some of its uniqueness as a New Left Green Party. The study confirms the expectation that that Green parties are adopting a more ‘professional’ external political approach: it is the way GroenLinks presents itself that has undergone quite strong transformations.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen