Securing 12 per cent of the national vote at the EU elections, the Green Party has experienced its best results since 1989 – with more Greens elected to the European Parliament than ever before.
As Britons went to the polls on Thursday (23 May), projections looked promising, and after the rest of the European nations had voted the results were in, with seven seats in England going to the Green Party – more than double its previous number.
The Party’s co-leader Jonathan Bartley commented: “The result of this election, with 12 per cent of the vote, a tally of more than two million, shows huge support for our message of ‘yes to Europe, no to climate change’.
“To beat the Tory Party in a national election for the first time is just the icing on the cake.”
In London, the South East and the South West, Greens retained seats, with long-standing MEP Molly Scott Cato re-elected in the South West. Greens were also elected for the first time in the Eastern, North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber regions.
Green MEPs elected in 2019
West Midlands: Ellie Chowns
North West: Gina Dowding
Yorkshire and the Humber: Magid Magid
Eastern: Catherine Rowett
South East: Alexandra Phillips
London: Scott Ainslie
South West: Molly Scott Cato
Ellie Chowns, newly-elected MEP and first ever Green representative for the West Midlands, described the result as “a brilliant vote of confidence in the Greens.” She added: “Winning a seat in the West Midlands is just fantastic. I’m going to be doing all I can to use this position to fight for a People’s Vote and make the case for staying in Europe. I’m really excited to be heading off to Brussels tomorrow to meet the rest of the Green Group. Together we’re going to fight energetically and passionately for the bold action we need to tackle the climate crisis!”
A third seat for the Greens!!! 🍾— The Green Party (@TheGreenParty) 26 May 2019
A week ago winning in the West Midlands would have been unthinkable.
But the #GreenWave has delivered the fantastic @ellie_chowns as our first ever Green MEP in the region! 💚 #EuropeanElectionResults pic.twitter.com/sSrXtUuKw7
Looking closer at how individual towns and cities voted, the Green Party saw particular success in Bristol, Norwich and Brighton and Hove, where it received the most votes of all parties, while in Sheffield, Cambridge and Oxford Greens came second. Overall across the UK, Greens came in fourth place, ahead of the Conservative Party – the first time Greens have beaten the Tories in a national election.
Sian Berry, co-leader, said: “We’ll be sending a wonderful team of people to Brussels who’ll be working for the transformation of our society so that it delivers the promise of a social Europe, one that cares for and supports its people, while living within the physical limits of our one fragile planet.”
Case for People’s Vote now ‘overwhelming’
Support for the Green Party was undoubtedly influenced by the spectre of Brexit, which has been the driving force behind many candidates’ election campaigns. Votes for Remain parties totalled more than those for the Brexit Party and UKIP, despite the highest number of seats being gained by the Brexit Party. “Giving the people the final say over the country’s direction is now clearly the only way forward, the way to draw a line under the Brexit chaos,” commented Berry.
“We are in a state of political crisis in the UK. But to understand that we need to look at the causes of the anger and frustration in Leave majority areas, Westminster austerity, our archaic Victorian voting system, and the concentration of power in London. We have to be tough on Brexit and the causes of Brexit.
“And we have to turn our focus to addressing the climate emergency, our social crisis that sees millions insecure and uncertain they’ll be able to feed and house themselves, the damage done to the NHS by privatisation and underfunding and the many problems in our education system.”
"Our MEPs will continue with their Green colleagues from across the continent to stand against toxic populism.”
Berry noted that a common comment from voters during the campaign period was that “they were choosing to vote for [the Greens] as the ‘anti-Farage party’.
“The people – more than two million-strong – who voted for the Greens sent a very clear message of opposition to Nigel Farage and all that he stands for. Our MEPs will continue with their Green colleagues from across the continent to stand against this toxic populism.
“The good news is that it failed to make many of the predicted advances across the continent in these elections, and in many places was pushed back. Some are suggesting that we have reached ‘peak populism’.”
UK Greens join European surge
The Green success in the UK was replicated across the rest of the EU, where the Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA) group received 9.2 per cent of the vote across all 28 member states, increasing its number of MEPs from 50 in 2014 to 69 this time around.
Significant successes were recorded in Germany and France, the two largest economies in the EU besides the UK. Die Grünen won 20.5 per cent of the vote and 21 MEPs in Germany to beat the centre-left SPD to second place behind the Christian Democrats, while Europe Écologie-Les Verts won 13.47 per cent of the vote in France to finish in third, returning 12 MEPs.
Other notable results came from Denmark, where the Green parties Socialistisk Folkeparti and ‘Enhedslisten, de Rød-Grønne’, won 13.2 per cent and 5.5 per cent of the vote respectively, adding a combined three MEPs, and Austria, where Die Grünen – Die Grüne Alternative won 14 per cent of the vote and elected two MEPs. In Ireland, the Green Party won 15 per cent of the vote, with candidate Ciaran Cuffe topping the Dublin vote with 23 per cent.
Commenting on the results, Ska Keller, President of the Greens/EFA group and leading candidate for the European Green Party, said: "The Green Wave has swept across Europe. We want to thank everyone who has voted for change and climate action. Green parties have exceeded expectations in countries such as Germany, France, Ireland, Denmark, Finland and Austria and will play an ever more important role in shaping the political debate across Europe over the coming years. This trust given to us by voters is both a task and a responsibility to put green policies into action."
The Green success across Europe comes amid increased focus on climate change in recent months, and leading political figures across Europe have indicated that the election results have provided a clear message on the climate emergency.
Udo Bullmann, leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, admitted that the group had underestimated climate change as an issue, while French Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe acknowledged “the message about the ecological emergency”. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said: “It’s a very clear message from the public that they want us to do more”.