Joined by Solange Fernex and Henri Jenn in 1973, Waechter participated in the beginnings of one of the first environmental political movements in France: Ecology and Survival (Écologie et Survie). He was also a member of the Ecological Movement founded in after the 1974 presidential candidacy of René Dumont. Beginning with their inception in 1984, Waechter was one of four national spokespeople for the Greens.
Waechter was the face of the l'écologie n'est pas à marier campaign that helped his followers win a majority in the general meeting of the Greens in 1986. This movement within the Greens reaffirmed the strict autonomy as well as ideological and electoral independence following entreaties by the "left of the left" led by Yves Cochet. Because of this intra-party support, Waechter was one of the most influential figures in the Green Party until his departure in 1994. He was also the Green candidate in the presidential election of 1988, receiving 3.78% of the vote in the first round, ranking behind André Lajoinie (French Communist Party) and before Peter Juquin (splinter of the French Communist Party).
In March 1989 he became a municipal councillor in Mulhouse. At the same time, Waechter’s 1988 campaign manager, Jean-Louis Vidal, became the first Green elected in Paris, illustrating the Greens were viable in major cities. Three months later, in June 1989, the list Waechter led for European elections obtained 10.8% of the vote (1,922,945 votes) and 9 seats, the best result ever obtained by the Greens in EP elections until 2009. He then became a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). In March 1992, the Greens and Ecology Generation (led by Brice Lalonde) each obtained about 7% of the vote, and Waechter became a councillor in the Alsace Regional Council.
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