European Parliament in Brussels     Photo: Stephanie Lecocq, EPA via Politico

The European Parliamentary elections last Sunday yielded an increase from 52 to 71 seats for Green Party members, reflecting an overall trend that Europeans are growing increasingly concerned about the climate crisis, and making them the fourth largest voting block.  In particular countries, the results for Green Party members were even more impressive, with gains in seats in France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, and Belgium, Luxembourg, and Austria for their strongest showing ever.

Why This Matters:  The results demonstrate the growing concern of Europeans around climate change and the environment, which have been manifest by young people protesting the government’s failures to combat climate change.  Now the Green Party is in a position to broker power in the new Parliament. Any coalition or leader that wants Green support will have to “deliver on our three key principles: climate action, civil liberties, and social justice,” said Ska Keller, one of the European Greens’ two leading candidates for President of the European Commission, according to The Guardian.

Green Party Gains Broken Down:

  • The Green Party was strongest in Germany, where they finished second behind Angela Merkel’s center-right party, with almost 21% of the vote, which was almost twice their 2014 total.
  • The Greens intend to exert maximum pressure on climate policy, but according to The Guardian, will also push for “more social justice when it comes to who winds up footing the bill for the green transition.”
  • The Greens are actually a coalition of more than 30 national parties that comprise the European Green party, and they campaigned across national borders with a joint platform.

How They Did It:  Green Party leaders chalk their success up to three factors: Concern about climate change is increasing, the Green parties in Europe have proved to be capable of activating voters at the national and local levels, and progressive support for the left-center parties has declined in recent years.

Youth Movement:  According to The Washington Post, there was a definite surge in interest from young voters who wanted to replace the old-school parties for not doing enough with respect to the environment and climate change.

Who Lost: The traditional center-right and center-left coalition of parties, which no longer make up a majority of the Parliament, which is why they will need the Greens to make policy.

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