In Austria, the Green Party came fourth in European elections and is the fourth largest party in parliament. They recently entered government for the first time, forming a coalition with Sebastian Kurz’s conservative Austrian People’s Party.
The Green Party meanwhile came fourth in the UK during the European elections but won just a single seat in the country’s general election.
In France, “we’re talking about a municipal election where green issues especially in big cities are very prominent because we can talk about a carbon tax at the national level but many of the issues connected to environment like pollution are very local,” said Barroso.
What has changed to make the Greens more popular?
Increasingly, Europeans are paying attention to climate change, and in many European countries, the environment is becoming a more important topic that now people are voting on.
At least 94 per cent of citizens in EU member states said that protecting the environment is important to them while 91 per cent said that climate change is a serious problem in the EU, according to a Eurobarometer survey released in March.
“You can now see at the local level the real climate changes. I live in the mountains; I live at 1000 metres in the Alps. We used to have snow from November to March… and now it has been three or four winters where we had to shovel snow five or six times,” said Delbos-Corfield.
It’s the “same if you live next to the sea, you see the fish problem and the water problem…people are really seeing concretely what it means so they are feeling the danger much more.”
In France, there is “something happening in the national public space which has consequences in terms of being able to access local power for ecological candidates,” says Simon Persico, a researcher at SciencesPo Grenoble who specialises in environmentalist parties.
Persico said it’s possible that there will be electoral and regional “consequences” from the regional elections, explaining that cities such as Lyon have large budgets and wield political power.
Before newcomer Grégory Doucet was elected in Lyon, the former mayor was Gérard Collomb who was Macron’s interior minister from 2017 to 2018.
France’s local elections could be an “accelerator of transformation,” in Europe said Persico, changing them from a “peripheral or minor partner” into a party that “brings together a full spectrum of politics”.
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