World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Leader Wouter Van Besien
Founded 1982
Headquarters national secretariat
Sergeant De Bruynestraat 78–82 Anderlecht
Ideology Green politics
International affiliation Global Greens
European affiliation European Green Party
European Parliament group European Greens–European Free Alliance
Colours Green
Chamber of Representatives
Flemish Parliament
Brussels Parliament
European Parliament

Groen (Flemish party with a representation in the federal, regional or European parliament.

Its French-speaking equivalent is Ecolo; both parties maintain close relations with each other.

Party history

Before 1979

Many of the founders of political party Agalev came from or were inspired by the social movement Agalev. This movement was founded by the Jesuit Luc Versteylen, who had founded the environmental movement Agalev in the 1970s. Core values of this social movement were quiet, solidarity and soberness. This movement combined progressive Catholicism with environmentalism. It sought to spread environmental consciousness first on a small scale, but since 1973 it took action to protect the environment and promote environmental consciousness. In the 1974 and 1977 elections Agalev supported several candidates from traditional parties, these however soon forgot the promises they made. In 1977 the movement entered the elections in several municipalities not to gain seats, but to promote its ideals.


In reaction to these broken promises, a debate erupted within Agalev on whether to set up a political party or to remain independent of politics. In the same year the party contested several municipal elections to no avail. A national level Agalev Working Group was founded to coordinate the new party. It also set up a separate association that could enter in elections. It participated in the 1979 European elections. Although the party won 2.3% of the votes, it won no seats.

In the 1981 election the party won 4% of vote and two seats in the Chamber of Representatives and one in the Senate. Ecolo, the Walloon green party also won two seats in the Chamber and three seats in the Senate. The political party Agalev was officially founded in 1982. It remained separate of the social movement. Prominent members of the movement Agalev, such as founder Versteylen chose not to join the political party Agalev. In the municipal elections of 1982 the party performed particularly well winning more than 10% in several municipalities. In its first periods in parliament the party functioned as a protest party forcing the other parties to take more action against environmental pollution and Third World poverty. The party campaigned on specific environmental issues, such as local anti-nuclear energy protests.

The party won two additional seats in the 1985 elections, two additional seats in 1987 and one in 1991: in that year it won seven seats in parliament. Agalev had become a serious political partner for other parties. In 1992 Agalev was asked to support a constitutional change called the Sint-Michiels accords, which would make Belgium a federation. Agalev gave its support in exchange of a tax on bottles, the first ecotax in Belgium. In the 1995 the party campaigned on a clean hands theme, after a series of political scandals was revealed. The party however lost two seats.


In the 1999 elections Agalev and its Walloon sister party Ecolo performed exceptionally well. A scandal surrounding dioxine in for consumption chickens just before the elections, played an important role in the party's performance. The party won 7,0% of vote and nearly doubled its seats from 5 to 9. The Greens joined the first cabinet Verhofstadt. The cabinet further consisted of the liberal Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD) and Reformist Movement (MR) and the socialist Different Socialist Party (SP.A) and Parti Socialiste (PS). The cabinet was called Purple-Green cabinet or the Rainbow cabinet, because of the many political colours in the coalition. Agalev supplied two ministers, Magda Aelvoet who became vice-prime minister and minister for Public Health and the Environment, and Eddy Boutmans who became minister for Development Cooperation. The party also joined the Flemish Government, which was composed of the same Flemish parties Agalev, SP.A and VLD. Mieke Vogels became the Flemish minister for Wellbeing and Development Cooperation and Vera Dua became minister for Agriculture and the Environment.

On the national level, the greens, both Ecolo and Agalev were able to enact legislation on several key green issues: the cabinet decided to opt out of nuclear energy, it opened marriage to homosexuals, legalized several thousands of illegal foreigners, enacted an anti-discrimination law and promised to in time spend 0,7% of the national income on development aid. On the Flemish level organic agriculture was promoted, people with handicaps got personal budgets and a system of time credits was enacted to allow people to combine work, care and free time better. The party however faced several crises. Magda Aelvoet left the federal cabinet in August 2002 over a cabinet decision to trade arms with Nepal, which was at civil war at the time. She was replaced by Jef Tavernier. The Ecolo minister for mobility Isabelle Durant left the cabinet just before the elections over the issue of nighttime airplane flights over Brussels. Finally the party voted in favour of a new election law that enacted a 5% Election threshold in both the Senate and the Chamber.

The 2003 federal election formed a turning point for the party. The party was reduced to 2,6% of the vote, well below the 5% limit and the party lost its seats in the Chamber and Senate. In response to the election results the Flemish ministers Mieke Vogels and Vera Dua stepped down. They were replaced by Adelheid Byttebier and Ludo Sannen respectively. The party renewed is its political profile and made some important strategic decisions. Agalev would continue as an independent Flemish progressive Green party. The party congress rejected the proposal of Agalev-Limburg to form a federal cartel with the SP.A and Spirit. The party also ruled out any participation in the future Flemish Government. The party would allow provincial and municipal cartels. The party changed its name to Groen!. The party changed the function of political secretary to party president, bringing the party more in line with other Belgian parties. Vera Dua became the first party president. The decision to continue separately led to considerable upheaval within the party, several prominent members, such as Antwerpen councillor Fauzaya Talhaoui and Flemish minister Sannen left the party and joined either Spirit or SP.A. Sannen was replaced as minister by Tavernier.

Before the 2004 elections Dua announced that if the party was supported by less than 280.000 votes, the independent green political project would end. The party gained enough support to meet this limit, although it lost half of it seats in Flanders compared to the 2000 elections. The party won seats in every provincial district except Limburg, where the support to cooperate with SP.A and Spirit was greatest.

In the 10 June 2007 federal election, the party regained representation in both the Chamber and the Senate. It got 265,828 votes (4% of total) and four seats.

The regional (for Flemish Parliament) and European elections of June 2009 were generally devoted to promote the concept of a green economy as an answer to the national and global economic crisis. The results of the election were below the expected and stranded on a status quo. Chairwoman Mieke Vogels chose to give up her presidency and was succeeded by Wouter Van Besien in October 2009.

On 11 January the Party unveiled its new logo and announced the dropping of its trademark exclamation point from the end of the party's name, after 8 years of usage. The new party slogan is "Works for all" to highlight the party's desire to look after the needs of all of society, not just its traditional voter base.

2010 federal election

Electoral arrondissement Main candidate
Chamber of Representatives Antwerp Meyrem Almaci
Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde Tinne Van der Straeten
East Flanders Stefaan Van Hecke
Leuven Eva Brems
Limburg Toon Hermans
West Flanders Wouter De Vriendt
Senate Freya Piryns

Party chairperson

Name From To
1 Vera Dua 15 November 2003 10 November 2007
2 Mieke Vogels 10 November 2007 25 October 2009
3 Wouter Van Besien 25 October 2009 present


  • 1982–2003: Agalev
  • 2003–2012: Groen!
  • 2012–present: Groen

The party was founded as Agalev, which meant Anders Gaan Leven (English: to start living differently). This conveyed the green message that humans need to choose alternative lifestyles that are more sustainable. When the party registered at the election authority, it was forced to supply a meaning for each initial. The party thus ran under the name Anders Gaan Arbeiden, Leven, En Vrijen (English: going to work, live and have sex differently), improvised and not entirely serious, but legally correct.

After the 2003 election defeat the party renewed its political profile. This also involved a name change to Groen! (English: Green!). The name conveyed a closer alliance to the worldwide green movement with the word green and an independent and positive nature with exclamation mark.

In January 2012 the party underwent another name change by removing the exclamation mark from the end of its name.

Ideology and issues

As a traditional green party, the three core values of Agalev were ecology, peace and participatory democracy. In the early years the party specifically sought to overcome traditional cleavages (liberal-socialist, Catholic-secular and Flemish-Belgian). Since the 1980s the ideals of diversity and social justice have also taken a prominent role. The party now places itself explicitly in the left/progressive camp. In its current political program it connected these three values by the concept of quality of life.


In this table the election results of Agalev/Green! in House of Representatives, Senate and European elections is represented, as well as the results of regional elections for Flanders and Brussels. The party's political leadership is represented as well. If Green! was part of the governing federal coalition, then its minister is listed.

Year Belgian Chamber Belgian Senate European Parliament Flemish Parliament Brussels Parliament Federal Cabinet Party president*
1979 0 0 0 n/a n/a extra-parliamentary unknown
1980 0 0 0 n/a n/a extra-parliamentary unknown
1981 2 1 0 n/a n/a opposition unknown
1982 2 1 0 n/a n/a opposition unknown
1983 2 1 0 n/a n/a opposition unknown
1984 2 1 1 n/a n/a opposition unknown
1985 4 2 1 n/a n/a opposition unknown
1986 4 2 1 n/a n/a opposition unknown
1987 6 3 1 n/a n/a opposition unknown
1988 6 3 1 n/a n/a opposition unknown
1989 6 3 1 na 1 opposition unknown
1990 6 3 1 na 1 opposition unknown
1991 7 5 1 na 1 opposition unknown
1992 7 5 1 na 1 opposition unknown
1993 7 5 1 na 1 opposition unknown
1994 7 5 1 na 1 opposition unknown
1995 5 1 1 7 0 opposition unknown
1996 5 1 1 7 0 opposition unknown
1997 5 1 1 7 0 opposition Jos Geysels
1998 5 1 1 7 0 opposition Jos Geysels
1999 9 3 2 12 1 Magda Aelvoet Jos Geysels
2000 9 3 2 12 1 Magda Aelvoet Jos Geysels
2001 9 3 2 12 1 Magda Aelvoet Jos Geysels
2002 9 3 2 12 1 Magda Aelvoet Jos Geysels
2003 0 0 2 12 1 extraparliamentary Dirk Holemans
2004 0 0 1 6 1 extraparliamentary Vera Dua
2005 0 0 1 6 1 extraparliamentary Vera Dua
2006 0 0 1 6 1 extraparliamentary Vera Dua
2007 4 1 1 6 1 opposition Vera Dua
2008 4 1 1 6 1 opposition Mieke Vogels
2009 4 1 1 7 2 opposition Mieke Vogels
2010 5 1 1 7 2 opposition Wouter Van Besien

Members of the European Parliament

After the 2004 European Parliament elections, the party has one representative in the European Parliament: Bart Staes. The Green! delegation is part of the European Greens–European Free Alliance-group in the European Parliament. Together with the two MEPs of the Dutch GreenLeft he forms one transnational delegation.

Municipal government

Green! participates in several municipal governments. The party is especially strong in university cities like Leuven and Ghent.


The support of Green! has strongly fluctuated recently. It draws most of its support from Flemish voters who do not feel bound to the strong social organizations and pillars. The party is strongest in urban areas with concentrated student populations like Ghent and Leuven.

Green!'s support is distributed in the following way between the electoral districts in the 2007 general election:

Province Votes (%) 2007 Result (seats) 2007 Votes (%) 2011 Result (seats) 2011
Antwerp 6.9% 1 7.7% 2
Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde 2.7% 1 4.1% 0
Leuven 8.2% 0 9.8% 1
Limburg 4.1% 0 4.8% 0
East Flanders 7.2% 1 7.4% 1
West Flanders 5.8% 1 6.3% 1

Election results

Federal Parliament (Federaal Parlement)

Election year Chamber of Representatives (Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers) Senate (Senaat) Government Notes
# of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
1977 2,435 0.0 3,270 0.1 in opposition
1978 5,556 0.1 Steady 0 in opposition
1981 138,575 2.3 Increase 2 121,016 2.0 Increase 1 in opposition
1985 226,758 3.7 Increase 2 229,206 3.8 Increase 1 in opposition
1987 275,437 4.5 Increase 2 299,049 4.9 Increase 1 in opposition
1991 299,550 4.9 Increase 1 314,360 5.1 Increase 2 in opposition
1995 269,058 4.4 Decrease 2 223,355 3.7 Decrease 4 in opposition
1999 434,449 7.0 Increase 4 438,931 7.1 Increase 2 in coalition
2003 162,205 2.5 3.9 Decrease 9 161,024 2.5 Decrease 3
2007 265,828 4.0 6.3 Increase 4 241,151 3.6 5.9 Increase 1 in opposition
2010 285,989 4.4 6.9 Increase 1 251,605 3.9 6.3 Steady 0 in opposition

Regional parliaments

Brussels Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
1989 4,821 1.1 (#12) in opposition
1995 3,906 1.0 (#11) Decrease 1 in opposition
1999 13,223 3.1 (#4) Steady 0 in opposition
In cartel with SP
2004 6,132 9.8 (#5) Increase 1 in opposition
2009 5,806 11.2 (#5) Increase 1 in coalition

Flemish Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
1995 267,155 7.1 (#6) in opposition
1999 451,361 11.6 (#5) Increase 5 in coalition
2004 308,898 7.6 (#5) Decrease 6 in opposition
2009 278,211 6.8 (#7) Increase 1 in opposition

European Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of electoral
college vote
# of
overall seats won
# of electoral
college seats won
1979 77,986 2.3 (#5)
1984 246,712 7.1 (#5) Increase 1
1989 446,539 12.2 (#4) Steady 0
1994 396,198 10.7 (#5) Steady 0
1999 464,042 12.0 (#6) Increase 1
2004 320,874 8.0 (#5) Decrease 1
2009 322,149 7.9 (#6) Steady 0

Elected politicians


Chamber of Representatives
Constituency Name Notes
Antwerp (province) Antwerp Meyrem Almaci
Antwerp (province) Antwerp Kristof Calvo
East Flanders East Flanders Stefaan Van Hecke
Flemish Brabant Leuven Eva Brems
West Flanders West Flanders Wouter De Vriendt
Type Name Notes
Directly elected Freya Piryns
Community Senator Mieke Vogels
European Parliament
Type Name Notes
Directly elected Bart Staes
Flemish Parliament
Type Name Notes
Antwerp (province) Antwerp Dirk Peeters
Antwerp (province) Antwerp Mieke Vogels also appointed as Community Senator
Brussels-Capital Region Brussels-Capital Region Luckas Van Der Taelen
East Flanders East Flanders Elisabeth Meuleman
East Flanders East Flanders Filip Watteeuw, replaced in January 2013 by Björn Rzoska
Flemish Brabant Flemish Brabant Hermes Sanctorum
West Flanders West Flanders Bart Caron

Provincial councilors

  • 2012 – 2018:
  1. Antwerp (province) Greet Bockx
  2. Antwerp (province) Tom Caals
  3. Antwerp (province) Koen Kerremans
  4. Antwerp (province) Diederik Vandendriessche
  5. Antwerp (province) Loes Van Cleemput
  6. Antwerp (province) Karin Van Hoffelen
  7. East Flanders Yasmina Beldjoudi
  8. East Flanders Inge De Bal
  9. East Flanders Elisabet Dooms
  10. East Flanders Jan Fiers
  11. East Flanders Rik Franck
  12. East Flanders Riet Gillis
  13. Flemish Brabant Stephan Boogaerts
  14. Flemish Brabant Luc Debraekeleer
  15. Flemish Brabant Luc Robijns
  16. Flemish Brabant Tie Roefs
  17. Flemish Brabant Sarah Sneyers
  18. Flemish Brabant Bernadette Stassens
  19. Flemish Brabant Erik Torbeyns
  20. West Flanders Alex Colpaert
  21. West Flanders Herman Lodewyckx
  22. West Flanders Gerda Schotte
  23. West Flanders Maarten Tavernier


Chamber of Representatives

  • 1987 – 1991 (6):
  1. Jozef Cuyvers
  2. Wilfried De Vlieghere
  3. Jos Geysels
  4. Hugo Van Dienderen
  5. Wilfried Van Durme
  6. Mieke Vogels
  • 1991 – 1995 (7):
  1. Magda Aelvoet (until 20 July 1994)Lodewijk Steenwegen
  2. Luc Barbé
  3. Wilfried De Vlieghere
  4. Vera Dua
  5. Jos Geysels
  6. Hugo Van Dienderen
  7. Mieke Vogels (until 11 January 1995)Peter Luyten
  • 1995 – 1999 (5):
  1. Frans Lozie
  2. Jef Tavernier
  3. Hugo Van Dienderen
  4. Lode Vanoost
  5. Joos Wauters
  • 1999 – 2003 (9):
  1. Eddy Boutmans (until 12 October 1999)Leen Laenens
  2. Anne-Mie Descheemaeker
  3. Kristien Grauwels
  4. Simonne Leen
  5. Fauzaya Talhaoui
  6. Jef Tavernier (until 28 August 2002)Liliane De Cock
  7. Peter Vanhoutte
  8. Lode Vanoost
  9. Joos Wauters
  • 2007 – 2010 (4):
  1. Antwerp (province) Meyrem Almaci
  2. West Flanders Wouter De Vriendt
  3. Brussels-Capital Region Tinne Van der Straeten
  4. East Flanders Stefaan Van Hecke
  • 2010 – 2014 (5):
  1. Antwerp (province) Meyrem Almaci
  2. Flemish Brabant Eva Brems
  3. Antwerp (province) Kristof Calvo
  4. West Flanders Wouter De Vriendt
  5. East Flanders Stefaan Van Hecke

Brussels Parliament

  • 1989 – 1995 (1):
  1. Dolf Cauwelier
  • 1999 – 2004 (1):
  1. Adelheid Byttebier (until 6 June 2003; replaced Mieke Vogels as Flemish minister)Anne Van Asbroeck (SP.A)
  • 2004 – 2009 (1):
  1. Adelheid Byttebier
  • 2009 – 2014 (2):
  1. Bruno De Lille (became Brussels-Capital Region state secretary)Elke Van den Brandt
  2. Annemie Maes

European Parliament

  • 1984 – 1989 (1):
  1. Paul Staes
  • 1989 – 1994 (1):
  1. Paul Staes
  • 1994 – 1999 (1):
  1. Magda Aelvoet
  • 1999 – 2004 (2):
  1. Patsy Sörensen
  2. Bart Staes (left Spirit for Groen! in July 2002)
  3. Luckas Vander Taelen (until 2002)Jan Dhaene (left Groen! for SP.A in January 2004)
  • 2004 – 2009 (1):
  1. Bart Staes
  • 2009 – 2014 (1):
  1. Bart Staes

Flemish Parliament

  • 1995 – 1999 (7):
  1. East Flanders Vera Dua
  2. Antwerp (province) Jos Geysels
  3. Antwerp (province) Johan Malcorps
  4. Limburg (Belgium) Ludo Sannen
  5. East Flanders Jos Stassen
  6. Antwerp (province) Ria Van Den Heuvel
  7. Flemish Brabant Cecile Verwimp
  • 1999 – 2004 (12):
  1. Flemish Brabant Magda Aelvoet (until 12 July 1999; became federal minister)Ann De Martelaer
  2. West Flanders Veerle Declercq
  3. Antwerp (province) Jos Geysels
  4. Flemish Brabant Eloi Glorieux
  5. East Flanders Dirk Holemans
  6. Antwerp (province) Johan Malcorps
  7. West Flanders Frans Ramon
  8. Limburg (Belgium) Ludo Sannen (until 26 May 2003; replaced Vera Dua as Flemish minister)Flor Ory (until 17 February 2004) → Ludo Sannen
  9. East Flanders Jos Stassen
  10. Antwerp (province) Ria Van Den Heuvel
  11. Antwerp (province) Jo Vermeulen
  12. East Flanders Vera Dua (became Flemish minister)Isabel Vertriest (until 26 May 2003) → Vera Dua
  • 2004 – 2009 (6):
  1. Antwerp (province) Rudi Daems
  2. East Flanders Vera Dua
  3. Flemish Brabant Eloi Glorieux
  4. East Flanders Jos Stassen
  5. West Flanders Jef Tavernier
  6. Antwerp (province) Mieke Vogels
  • 2009 – 2014 (7):
  1. West Flanders Bart Caron
  2. East Flanders Elisabeth Meuleman
  3. Antwerp (province) Dirk Peeters
  4. Flemish Brabant Hermes Sanctorum
  5. Brussels-Capital Region Luckas Vander Taelen
  6. Antwerp (province) Mieke Vogels
  7. East Flanders Filip Watteeuw (until 31 December 2012)

Provincial councilors

  • 2006 – 2012:
  1. Antwerp (province) Rita Boden
  2. Antwerp (province) Ethel Brits
  3. Antwerp (province) Tom Caals
  4. Antwerp (province) Diederik Vandendriessche


Organizational structure

The highest organ of Green is the party congress, which is open to all members. The party has a relatively decentralized organization with strong municipal branches and a relatively small national organization. For a long time the party did not have a party president who set out the political strategy, but a party secretary with far less power. In 2003 the party changed this situation.

In contrast to other parties, Green MPs face relatively strong regulation: the party does not allow multiple offices per person, while it is traditional for Belgian MPs to be both mayor of municipality and federal MP for instance; furthermore MPs are not allowed to run for more than two terms; to ensure gender equality every second candidate on the party list has to be female; finally a high percentage of the income of MPs is taxed by the party.

By Belgian standards Green has relatively few members, ranging from 2,000 to 6,500. This is only about 1% of the Green voters. Generally Belgian parties have about 10% of their voter base as members.

The party's youth organization, Young Green (earlier Young Agalev), grew out of local groups of young Groen members, active since the late eighties and early nineties. These local groups started coordinated action in 1996. In 1998 Jong Groen was officially founded.

International organisations

Green is a member of the European Green Party and the Global Greens. The party hosted the founding congress of the European Federation of Green Parties.

Relationships to social organisations

Green is ideologically and historically linked to the environmental movement Agalev, which was founded by the Jesuit Luc Versteylen. The party and the social movement are separate entities. Green still has strong contacts with environmental organizations. It has not developed a pillar of social organizations around it as other parties have.

Relationships to other parties

The party has relatively good relations with the SP.A-SPIRIT cartel. It was asked to join them in 2003, but it refused. Furthermore, the party has maintained good relations with its Walloon sister party, Ecolo.

International comparison

Internationally, Groen is comparable to the larger European Green parties, especially the German Alliance '90/The Greens, which has also been in government, although more successfully.

See also

Sustainable development portal
Environment portal
Ecology portal

External links

  • Groen (Green)
  • Dossier Groen!—collection of news articles and video fragments at (in Dutch)
  • Dossier Groen!—collection of newspaper articles and their results in the 2004 elections at De Standaard (in Dutch)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.