Even if at times delayed by the pandemic, Europeans are still voting when and where elections take place. And – especially in local elections – they are still overwhelmingly voting for Green parties.
We just need to think, for instance, of the Riga municipal election, with the biggest winner (Progresivie) a party with a clear ecological programme with climate change at the core, or the landslide victory of Greens in Nord-Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, electing Green mayors in major cities such as Wuppertal and Bonn. It is a sign that citizens want an ecological transition, and trust that Greens will be the one to bring it about.
It was crystalline clear for the French local elections that took place last June: what swept through the country was truly a historical Green Wave. Some of France’s major cities – from Bordeaux to Lyon, from Strasbourg to even Marseille, just to name a few – now have Greens at their helm. Thanks to competent and strong candidates, a clear and ambitious programme rooted in climate and social justice with a positive message, and, important as ever, the capacity to understand and speak to the territories, Europe Écologie-Les Verts has affirmed themselves as the leading voice in the French progressive arena. We could see this again in the most recent legislative by-elections, where Greens managed to elect enough Senators to form a new parliamentary group in the French senate.
And yet, these are not just a victory for the Green party itself: they are just as much a victory for all those citizens that are fighting daily for a just and sustainable society.
What at its core the Green Wave is, is this: the farmer going to trial because they stood up against the pesticide lobby; the young student taking to the streets every Friday with hundreds of thousands to protect for climate action, now!; the small business owner investing in green technology and sustainable modes of production; the commuter choosing public transport over company cars.
And now, more than ever, crisis is striking all of us: with the climate breakdown looming ever closer the more inaction spreads, the social and economic consequences of the health pandemic have brought insecurity for everyone, yet for some more than others. And Greens have proved capable of standing up for social justice as well, without which there can be no climate justice: now that the resilience of our public health systems (criminally underfunded) is on the line, now that we are gearing up for the worst period of recession and unemployment since the Great Depression, it is in our Green proposals and action that we can find solutions. It lies in a just transition that benefits all and takes care of the most vulnerable; it lies in strong social security, in making sure no one is left behind.
The Green Wave is there because citizens trust Greens not only to find solutions for a better world, but to make them happen.
And of course, alternatively there can be no trust for Green parties unless these parties prove capable of good governance and administration. We have seen so far a concentration of Green victories in western and northern Europe: the reasons are numerous and out of the scope of this article, but what is certain is that our aim as the European Green Party is now to strengthen the Green presence everywhere in Europe, especially in the south and in the east.
This is exactly our reason for being: bringing together Green parties from all over the continent in a mutual and beneficial relationship to foster exchanges and collaboration between parties.
We are currently in the national governments of six countries, as well as in innumerable regional and local administrations: by building links with all our Green elected representatives, we allow an exchange of best practices and lessons learnt among all member parties, from the strongest to the weakest: through the sharing of projects and initiatives in the most varied of fields, from energy and environment to economy, from labour to culture, Green parties can learn from each other and prepare to assume governing responsibilities.
Cooperation is also important for those representatives who sit in the opposition or are active in often difficult political and social contexts. Cooperation occurs by supporting a party’s election campaigns, by issuing messages via social media or petitions via tilt! (our online mobilisation network), as well as by organising local events on European and global issues.
It is only by putting all the ecologist and progressive forces together today that we will be able to initiate a real project of sustainable recovery from the terrible health and economic crisis that we are experiencing.
And this is the heart of the Green Wave: working all together for a better tomorrow, in a better world.
Evelyne Huytebroeck and Thomas Waitz are the co-chairs of the European Green Party