The party was founded as a popular movement, and thus retains the descriptor liitto, "league". Initially, there was much resistance within the movement against the founding of a political party, motivated by Maurice Duverger's notion that movements inevitably degenerate into oligarchies when they create a formal organization. The party still especially stresses openness and democratic decision-making.
The first two parliamentary representatives were elected even before the registration, in the elections of 1983. These were the first independent representatives in the Finnish parliament. In 1987 the number of seats rose to four, and in 1991 to ten. In the 1995 election the Green League received a total of nine seats (out of 200), joined the coalition-cabinet led by the Social Democrats, and Pekka Haavisto became the minister of Environment and Development Aid, thus becoming the first green minister in Europe. The Green League received 7.3% of the vote, and gained two additional seats in 1999, raising the total to 11. The Greens continued in the next coalition-cabinet, but resigned in protest on May 26, 2002, after the cabinet's decision to allow the construction of a new nuclear plant was accepted in the parliament. In 2003 the Green League received 8.0% of the vote, giving a total of 14 seats. They increased their seats to 15 in 2007 when they received 8.5%.
At the local level, Greens are an important factor in the largest cities of Finland. In the local election of 2000 the Greens had 7.7% of the vote. In Helsinki (the capital) the Greens became the 2nd largest party with 23.5% of the vote. In several other cities the Greens achieved the position of the 3rd largest party. Its weak spot is the rural countryside, particularly municipalities experiencing strong outward migration.
The Federation of Green Youth and Students is the Green League's youth organisation.
Vihreä liitto is no longer a protest party, nor an alternative movement. The party has found its political home at the centre-left with a political agenda based on green politics. Nevertheless, many Green candidates in the elections reject classification as "left" or "right". Economic opinions of the members range between left and right.
In the party program, the Green League has criticized both the market economy and socialism, because Greens think that neither system cares about the environment, developing countries or future generations but, instead, concentrates too much on economic growth. Major principles in the party program are environmental protection, participatory democracy and social justice.
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