European Green Wave – Webinar With Reinhard Butikofer
In this year’s European elections, Greens parties saw a surge in support, lifting their representation in the European Parliament from 50 to 75 MEPs. Greens now account for 10% of the representatives, making them the fourth largest bloc after the centre right, the social democrats and the liberals, and ahead of the far right.
Last night, European Greens co-chair and MEP, Reinhard Butikofer, joined us in a webinar to discuss what is going on in Europe.
In an informative presentation, he explained how European elections are in fact separate coordinated elections, with separate campaigns and systems, in each of the 28 member states.
The Greens parties presented a united approach, but ran different campaigns, seeing big swings with outstanding results mainly in northern and western Europe (Germany, Belgium and the Nordic states most of all), while still struggling to get toe holds in the south and east.
The Greens went into these elections on a clear platform of “solidarity, solidity and sustainability”, set out in detail in a uniform manifesto.
European unity, equity and climate action were at the heart of the campaign, and high on the political agenda, thanks to the Fridays For Future climate strikes, Brexit, the refugee crisis, and the rise of the far right.
In this context, both the centre right and social democrats saw their support slump, because they lacked clarity in their positions on these issues. The Greens became the clear polar opposite to the far right, garnering strong support even in countries (such as Austria and Sweden) where they did badly in recent national elections.
While Reinhard talked of the success of town hall meetings and good video content, it seems as though the big difference in electoral success between European and Australian Greens is more to do with political context and favourable electoral systems, perhaps, rather than campaigning style. That said, clear, bold, and well-understood political goals have been important in the Greens’ strength in northern and western Europe.