This is unusual enough to be noted: on Saturday, the general assembly of the Geneva Greens will not tolerate the presence of journalists. Very scalded by the media coverage aroused by the ban on meat for future elected officials in public, then, this week, by a new salvo, on milk this time, they chose to debate as a family.
Contacted, neither President Delphine Klopfenstein nor MP Sophie Desbiolles, who attacked Milk Day with an urgent written question to the Council of State, wished to answer our questions by Saturday. With or without media coverage, the debates could be heated. On the one hand, the hardliners who want to make the party a model of purity, and on the other pragmatists who believe that these fights do not solve ecological problems.
The general assembly must adopt the party’s 2023-2028 legislative program as well as the charter of candidates for the cantonal elections next year, a charter which had caused an outcry. The ban on meat in the name of exemplarity has indeed angered some, to the point that a petition resulted in a new vote. In the meantime, the presidency has worked to find a compromise, which revolves around the commitment to be consistent with the values of the programme.
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The program, precisely, what does it look like? Seventy pages, hundreds of points dealing with all possible themes, ranging from anti-racism to the environment, from LGBTQI+ issues to education, through taxation or agriculture. While energy and environmental issues are right on target, some topics are treated rather extremist. “Because this program was concocted by the various working groups, whose leaders are often lobbyists,” blows a deputy. Examples: the head of the teaching group is the president of the primary union (SPG). The tax manager is union secretary at Unia. In culture, we find a musician who had opposed the City of Music. Only the amendments will be discussed and possibly modified, everything else will pass without further ado.
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We know it well: a legislative program is not meant to be implemented as it is. But it represents a compass, an ideal towards which elected officials strive to tend with political proposals. Here is an anthology of what the Greens want for their canton.
In terms of food, the party proposes to significantly reduce animal products in canteens and restaurants controlled more or less by the state. Exit therefore the meat or the eggs for the sick of the hospital or the toddlers of the crèches. While Greens would like to ban the commercial breeding of “purebred” pets, they want to make it easier to admit animals into nursing homes or emergency shelters and encourage pet therapy. It would also be a question of prohibiting shows or entertainment which use live animals in places under control or subsidized by the State. And again “stop the acquisition of any clothing or accessory of animal origin by the State”. Will they recommend wearing Crocs for public servants? No more. Because a point of the program also mentions the prohibition of the use of plastic.
“A full-scale attack on agriculture and livestock”
They promise to act at the federal level to remove subsidies encouraging the consumption of animal products. As for the agricultural chapter, there is a lot of talk about arborization, family gardens and urban farms. “This program is a full-scale attack on agriculture and animal husbandry, believes Green MP François Lefort. What do we do with cows if we ban milk? How to eat local if there are no more peasants? Agriculture is already changing. For it to be more respectful of the environment, we must give it time and invest massively in consulting and research.”
To the catalog of wishes is added the halving of surface parking spaces; a temperature of 20°C in the accommodation; a decrease in living space per inhabitant – without anyone really knowing how they intend to proceed. At Geneva international airport, domestic flights would be canceled, as well as all destinations accessible in less than eight hours by train – which condemns Paris, Florence or Barcelona. Cointrin would be subject to a curfew from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. and taxes would be increased massively.
Thirty-two hours of work per week
If a party program reflects values more than pragmatic solutions, that of the Greens is very much free from the principle of reality. On work, for example, the desire is to aim for 32 hours a week, both in the public and in the private sector, but with a “worthy” salary. They identify the jobs of tomorrow in the field of care, recycling and repair, but also in the sharing of objects and services. Unsurprisingly, their catalog of social benefits would increase. How to finance all this? By increasing corporate taxation and wealth tax above 3 million francs and by taxing capital gains, in particular.
On gender and equality issues, the Greens, very advanced, offer dozens of avenues for improvement. Some of which, to say the least, are abstruse, such as “integrating gender across the board in the State budget”, conditioning the granting of subsidies on criteria of equality and inclusion or even balancing the amounts spent on services according to of the kind.
It is precisely on these questions as well as on antispecism that the atmosphere has become tense among Geneva ecologists, and even with the national party. “Any strategy is a loser on Saturday, fears an observer. If the extreme program passes, the party is likely to see members spinning again among the green liberals. Otherwise, the ultras will be angry.” An opinion that has already been refuted by the president, who sees no dissension. It remains to be seen whether this revolutionary program will be to the liking of the assembly.