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Green parties suffer in EU polls


The Green parties suffered major losses in EU elections, especially in France and Germany, hit by growing dissatisfaction with the bloc’s environmental pressures and voters’ shifting priorities.

They had achieved their best ever results in the last European Parliament elections five years ago, which were accompanied by massive demonstrations on climate change.

But the parties appeared to be the biggest losers in this year’s elections, with forecasts predicting they will be left with just 53 seats in parliament – down from a record 72 in 2019.

Germany’s Greens – part of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s beleaguered governing coalition – saw their support fall to just 12 percent, compared to 20.5 percent in 2019, according to preliminary results.

France’s main Green party, EELV, meanwhile, won just five percent of the vote, down from more than 13 percent, the results showed.

The party’s leading candidate, EU parliamentarian Marie Toussaint, admitted she was “unable to convince people outside our base”.

Toussaint said she underestimated “the power of lobbying and the cultural battle that is constantly being waged against us.”

However, there was also good news for environmentally friendly parties: they made gains in Sweden, while in the Netherlands a Green/Labor Alliance emerged victorious, leaving the far right behind.

– Changing priorities –

The loss of support comes against the backdrop of changing priorities for EU voters.

Environmental issues have fallen off the agenda and voters are now focusing on issues such as the EU’s struggling economy, after a period of record inflation, and security as wars rage in Ukraine and the Middle East.

There are also signs of growing frustration among voters at the expense of green transition measures, such as switching to electric vehicles and overhauling heating systems.

“Climate protection has entered people’s priority list, even among young people,” said German news channel Spiegel, trying to explain the losses suffered by the country’s Greens.

“War and the desire for peace are much more important, as are social issues, crime and immigration.”

Following their gains in the 2019 EU polls, the Green parties had helped push through a massive package of ‘Green Deal’ laws as warnings about the dire consequences of climate change mounted.

But far-right parties, which made big gains in the EU polls, seized on dissatisfaction with the policy.

Some analysts say the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) – which came out on top in the elections and remains the largest group in the EU parliament – ​​has tried to discredit the green agenda.

After watering down or rejecting several green laws over the past year, the EPP has openly called for a “pause” on any more such legislation to focus on keeping the EU economy competitive.

Most prominent in the fight against EU environmental legislation has been a wave of farmers’ protests across the bloc, fueled by anger over regulations perceived as excessive.

– Coalition pains –

Some Green parties have lost support after making concessions to join a coalition government, only to anger their base.

In Germany, for example, Greens accepted the reopening of coal-fired power stations in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as a postponement of the closure of the country’s last nuclear power plants.

But they have also sparked a backlash by defending climate policies, such as a law to reduce emissions from heating systems, which critics said would force homeowners to install expensive heat pumps.

Germany’s far-right party AfD, which made gains in the EU polls, was among those who used the anger to shore up its own support.

In France, Sandrine Rousseau, an EELV parliamentarian for Paris, expressed regret that the party had not agreed to a left-wing alliance for the elections, preferring to go it alone.

The voters had “held it against them,” she said.


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