The parliamentary elections in Europe have a surprise winner but it will take time for many, particularly in the U.S. Congress, to digest its impact. The new force in the European Union is that of the Greens, protagonists of an electoral triumph in Germany where they won more than 20 percent of the vote. This outcome made them the second party in Germany. They also did well in France where they positioned themselves as the third party with 12.8 percent of the vote just below the two major parties led by the rightist Marine Le Pen and President Macron. It is a stunning result in that the traditional powerhouses of the Republicans and Socialists barely garnered 6%. The good news now is that the Greens are available to be part of the majority that will lead Europe over the next five years. But they have already warned that they are not ready to sign a “blank check” but demand substantial changes in the policies of the union. In brief, a European “green wave” is rushing over the stagnant waters of the European nomenklatura.
The youthful brigade of insurgent Democrats who are pushing the Green New Deal in the U.S. Congress will undoubtedly take heart that the European Greens have emerged as a political force and particularly over the fact that their European counterparts have listed three main objectives for their future participation in the Parliament: climate, civil liberties and social justice. The European Greens have been adamant that climate is their primary preoccupation: “We will push for action over the climate because further waiting will bring a disaster,” said Ska Keller, a Green candidate for the chairmanship of the European Commission.
The “green wave” has swept almost all the northern countries of Western Europe, from Ireland (where the Green Party rises from 5 to 15% of the vote) to Finland, where it reached a new height at 16%. Italy proved to be an exception due to the lack of a true political green movement, but principally for the national obsession over the migrant crisis. Above all, the silver lining of the European elections is that a large number of young voters have chosen the Greens no longer as a movement but as a real party capable of looking at the future with a distinct outlook. Among the movers and shakers of the green advance, one must recognize the impact of the global strike of May 24 that brought over a million and a half students to the squares of 1,600 cities around the world, a striking phenomenon that the American press ignored. The net result is that the new European parliament will comprise 69 Green seats, a jump of 20 over the line up in 2014.
The question that will engage the keen interest of young Democrats in Congress is whether the European Greens will come to the new parliament with practical solutions able to avert the climate catastrophe. Much depends on the possibility that European legislators may be capable of drafting legislation that will require embracing a strategy of compromise that is woefully missing in the American capitol. One thing is sure, that the European legislators will eschew market-driven approaches. The Greens, in particular, are to be counted among those forces that will oppose the anti-European, extremist and xenophobic movements. It will take time to find out what they mean by “standing for the European project.” Nonetheless, it is heartening that the European Greens have taken a solid position in favor of the European unification process. The deficiencies and the mistakes that are charged to the European bureaucracy have created conditions that led to the euro-skepticism that feeds the illiberal democracies of Central and Eastern Europe and populist parties such as the Italian Lega that in turn exploits an anachronistic nationalism. The Greens are like a breath of fresh air. Let us hope that they will work toward making the European Union a true multi-level democracy.