The Greens – The Green Alternative, are Austria’s Green Party. The party was founded in 1984 as the merger of two competing Green parties which had ran in 1983, one more left-wing and one more centre-right.
The party on its foundation had a strong anti-establishment edge. Party MPs would turn up to parliament in trainers and jeans rather than suits, and when informed that the then strictly non-hierarchical party had to appoint a leader due to parliamentary rules they built a man out of straw and designated that their leader.
The party, like most Western European Green parties, is fundamentally a centre-left party with a strong culturally liberal profile. As well as the environment key issues include the rights of minorities, grassroots democracy, non-violence and feminism. Originally anti-European, the party has become more pro-European in recent years.
The party’s base is in young, highly educated, urban voters. In direct contrast to the FPÖ, the Greens are the most popular party with young women, winning 27% of the vote amongst women under 29 in 2013. The Austrian Greens are one of the strongest Green parties in Europe.
The Greens have never entered government at the federal level, though they have ministers in several states. There were also some brief negotiations around entering government with the ÖVP following the 2002 election, but this proved extremely controversial in the party, with the youth wing occupying their parliamentary rooms. It has sometimes been suggested that the governing grand coalition be expanded to include the Greens. The party has generally been on a slow upward trajectory since 1995, gaining a small but notable number of seats in every election since then bar 2008 (when they lost 1). Between 2006 and 2008 they formed the largest opposition party.
The Greens are a member of the European Green Party (within The Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA). Voting with their group 99.6% of the time, the Austrian Greens are an exceptionally loyal party, the third most loyal in the Green/EFA group.