Europe's Greens flying high

Previously in sixth place, the Greens are now the fourth strongest force in the European Parliament. The group will hold 69 seats - 17 more than in 2014. Roughly a third of voters under 30 voted green. Commentators predict that the green parties will soon gain even more influence.

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The Irish Times (IE) /

The political centre will go greener

The recent success of centre-left Green parties means that the political centre will have to reassess its stance, The Irish Times predicts:

“As these two worldviews - the one-world, Green perspective and the one-nation, nativist standpoint - confront each other, the political centre ground is assessing which way to jump. In the past few years, some parties of the centre-right allowed themselves to be dragged to the nativist right in order to combat the message from identity politics. ... In the next few years, the parties of the centre - still the most significant bloc in most countries - will most probably drop the sovereignty rhetoric and embrace the environmental movement more wholeheartedly.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Time to go transnational

After their good results - especially in Germany and France - the ball is now in the Green parties' court, business paper Les Echos writes:

“The European elections of May 2019 could represent a turning point. Voters became mobilised because they understood that saving the climate and our planet cannot be done merely on the national level. They want international environmental protection - starting off at the European level. The Green parties must now reach a consensus on how Europe should respond. If they succeed, they'll be the first to give the European Union the kind of transnational parties it so urgently needs.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Double protest

The Green's success can't simply be put down to concern about climate change, writes Bill Emmott, long-standing editor-in-chief of The Economist, in La Stampa:

“Particularly because before these elections there was no sign of a sudden passion for enviromental questions in France, Ireland, Germany or Britain. ... The merit of the Green parties is that they are all strongly European and left-oriented. And as they're outside government they can't be blamed for the economic recession after 2008, the migration crisis or other ills. So they stand for an ideal, non-radical protest movement, against traditional parties like the German Social Democrats and the British Labour Party, and against national populists.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Next time Generation Greta will vote

The Greens didn't fare as well in Greta Thunberg's home country as they did elsewhere. But climate change is still very much on the agenda, Aftonbladet notes:

“The Greens group in the European Parliament has grown by more than 20 seats. What's noteworthy is that Greta Thunberg did not speak out for any given party. What she does do, however, is exert a huge amount of pressure to get climate issues on the agenda. ... In 2022, when the next parliamentary elections in Sweden take place, she and many of her generation will be eligible to vote. That will affect all parties. Both those that actively deal with the climate crisis and those that do all they can to play down the threat.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

No future without young farmers

Dnevnik hopes someone in Slovenia will defend the agriculture bill currently under discussion there as vehemently as Ska Keller of the German Green Party defends bees:

“The Slovenians should put up a monument to Ska Keller and follow her lead. According to the draft bill, individuals and businesses in Slovenia will in future only be able to lease a maximum of 100 hectares of farmland. Too little, the large-scale farmers are shouting, fearing for their EU subsidies the likes of which small farmers can only dream of. In any case, the disastrous turnout for the EU elections in Slovenia [barely 29 percent] points to the fact that young farmers have different ideas to the big agricultural companies and that it's time their voices were heard. The future must belong to the young farmers - or else there'll be no future at all.”

Berliner Zeitung (DE) /

Eco party understood Europe best

This time round the European elections have really lived up to their name, the Berliner Zeitung writes in delight:

“For the first time these elections seem to have been understood as more than just an extension of national issues in the European political sphere. In Germany the Greens grasped this best of all, and were rewarded with well over 20 percent of the vote. These parties are on the way to becoming a modern European special interest group that is no longer merely content to benefit from the loss of interest in the established parties. The Greens have won support because they combine the ideas of cutting-edge technology with the preservation of natural resources, while appealing to young voters as acceptable representatives of a serious climate policy.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

Climate populism as a recipe for success

The Irish Independent explains why Green parties were able to make substantial gains in many states:

“Maybe the other political parties here have a lesson to learn from the Greens. That you can take the tools of populism and use them for good. The Greens were really the only party with a compelling story to tell in these elections, and, like Brexit, it was a narrative based on fear, anger, and indeed nostalgia. But above all, it was based on something that many political parties do not offer young people - hope for the future. And maybe that is how the forces of darkness will be beaten at their own game. With a bit of feeling.”

Politiken (DK) /

Nationalism won't be defeated with confrontation

Politiken calls on Europe's Greens to take a cautious approach to opposing nationalism:

“No matter how much their supporters have softened their calls for some kind of exit after the chaos in Britain, there is still wind in the nationalists' sails in big countries like France, Italy, Poland and Hungary. This is the new frontline in European politics: a green wave that sees European collaboration as a solution to climate problems against a nationalist wing that sees this collaboration as a problem. The challenge for the EU Parliament consists in preventing this from ending in a polarised conflict of interests, as it did in France.”