Greens eye second EU election wave

After several decades of being dismissed as idealists on the political fringes, the European Greens believe that they are positioned to take advantage of a political discourse dominated by energy and environmental policy. 

Following the so-called ‘green wave’ in the 2019 elections, where the Greens made significant gains and emerged as the third largest party group in the European Parliament – though several national parties fell short of their opinion poll ratings – this time the focus is on strengthening the Greens’ role as kingmakers in Brussels. 

“There is an urgent need to get prepared for 2024 to shape the next majority in the European Parliament,” Melanie Vogel, co-chair of the European Green party, told EURACTIV in Copenhagen where the party held its annual congress at the weekend. 

“The Green transition is the only project that can make people able to pay their bills,” Vogel, who is also a member of the French Senate, told delegates. 

Delegates believe that they are well placed with the next European elections set to be fought on their own political turf. By exposing the scale of Europe’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels and prompting hefty increases in consumer energy bills, the war in Ukraine has made energy policy one of the political issues that will be dominate the coming years.  

In her speech to delegates, Vogel made it clear that the Greens support the sanctions against Russia and military and economic support for Ukraine.  

“We hate war and we also hate weapons, and we want to live in a world without war or weapons. In theory that would be perfect but if there is one thing that characterises our political family it is that we don’t live in theory,” she said.

“We are part of a political camp that takes its responsibilities in the real world and not in theory.”

Military and defence policy has often been a divisive issue for Green parties in the past because of the tradition of pacifism that runs through their politics. 

However, in Copenhagen, speaker after speaker made clear that Green politicians are convinced of the need to arm and support Ukraine and are focused on the need to win the war against Russia.  

Danish Greens were the first to say that we must arm Ukraine, Pia Olsen Dyhr, leader of the Green Left party, which is currently part of talks to form a centre-left coalition government following November’s elections, told delegates. She added that 82% of her party’s supporters voted to scrap Denmark’s opt-outs from EU defence programmes in the referendum in March. 

During a discussion on the political implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the speakers were unanimous in agreeing that the war constituted an attack on European democracy and that it was right to provide military support and arms to Ukraine. 

That said, “the fact that we are deeply dependent on fossil fuels has enabled the likes of President Putin”. 

Greens are currently in government in seven of the 27 EU states and the pan-European party plans to make the claim that it is a pragmatic party of government at the heart of its campaign pitch.  

Again, this has been a traditional dividing line among Greens with a faction arguing that they should be an ‘anti-party’ that stands apart from government and parliamentary institutions as a counterweight to mainstream political parties. 

“We are the ones guaranteeing stability,” fellow co-chair Thomas Waitz, an MEP with the Austrian Green party, told EURACTIV. Waltz’s party is currently in coalition at national level with the centre-right ÖVP. 

“The biggest strength of the Greens is our political coherence. We will see a very ‘European’ campaign,” said Waitz. 

“We need to be at the centre of power…it shows that Greens know that they need to be in power even though it is the worst time for Greens to be in power. In some countries this is a real change in political culture,” added Vogel. 

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]


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