Irene Hahn-Fuhr, David Tischer
“The Greens remain an important player in European politics”. This is how Rebecca Harms, co-president of the European Parliament Group Greens/European Free Alliance, interpreted the results of the latest election to the European Parliament. This outcome was not self-evident before the elections, as the European voters got more and more polarized in times of crisis, and many of them asked for simple answers, which might be the main reason for the success of populist parties around Europe. But, as the results show, support for Green politics consolidated and, what is even more encouraging, not only in the Green “homelands” as Luxembourg, Germany or Sweden, but also in countries like Hungary or Croatia, where Green candidates have been elected into the European Parliament for the first time.
The set-up of the Greens in Europe looks as follows: the Green Parliamentary Group will hold 50 seats from 15 different countries with an proportion of 6.66% of the 751 seats in the new elected European parliament. What do these figures tell us with regard to the upcoming legislative period and how have the elections influenced the Green political landscape?
First of all, the Green movement is stronger than assumed before the elections and even despite the losses in Germany and France, the Greens remain a recognized power in the European Parliament, as the Green Parties in Austria , Luxembourg and Sweden improved their performance and some new parties, as the Croatian ORAH (https://www.orah.hr/) and the Hungarian LMP (http://english.lehetmas.hu/), joined the movement.
As a second result, the geographical distribution of the members of the Greens/EFA is getting broader: They now come from 15 different countries, and with Hungary and Croatia, it seems as if the Green idea also arrived in Middle- and Eastern European countries. In Poland the Green Party with 0.3 percent (Partia Zieloni) is still at the very beginning.
There is also a new challenge for the Greens on the European level: In the previous legislative periods, the group was very cohesive in their agenda. Following the recent elections, many new representatives of parties have joined the Green Parliamentary Group, and others who are not affiliated to a European party yet, are to be courted to join the Greens. In the German case, new seats for the “Pirates”, as well as the “Party for Animal Protection”, means that even national competitors might join the group. This wider spectrum is going to be a challenge for Green policy, but also holds great potential and will hopefully enrich the green spirit in Europe.
The last prospect reflects the general outcome of the elections. Due to the success of right-wing parties, the policy process might move towards a coalition of the two big parties, as neither a coalition of EPP, ALDE and GREENS, nor S&D, ALDE and GREENS would have a majority in the upcoming parliament. This also signifies that it will be more difficult for green topics to find their way onto the agenda and to convert “power of seats” into an actual political impact.
Finding a common strategy and creating a strong Green opposition in the European Parliament will be the next steps for European Greens, so they are able to rise to the challenges related to the TTIP and the Energy Union.