Europe: Greens Surge, Older Parties Erode, Far Right Also Gains

Note: The European Parliament elections saw a major decline for traditional parties and a rise in support for the Green Party and populist parties. Greens won 71 seats up from 52 in the previous election. The Greens won nine of Germany’s ten largest cities. The Greens finished third in France and second in Finland while tripling their vote in Ireland and doubling their vote in the United Kingdom. The Green Wave seems to have been driven by the climate crisis and the inadequate action taken by traditional parties. Ska Keller, one of the European Greens’ to lead candidates for the post of European Commission president, said that any parliamentary group that wanted Green support would have to “deliver on our three key principles: climate action, civil liberties and social justice”

In the United States members of the Green Party have also focused a major part of their agenda on the climate crisis. The Green New Deal, which is becoming a popular issue for many Democrats, originated with the Green Party. Howie Hawkins, who is considering running for the Green Party nomination for president was the first person to run on a fully thought out Green New Deal. See Howie Hawkins.US.  Since then more than 65 Green candidates have run on the issue and Jill Stein in both her presidential campaigns also focused on the issue. Hawkins is urging an ecosocialist Green New Deal and criticizing the Democrats for watering down the issue in ways that will not confront the climate crisis.

The environment is one of the four key pillars of the Green Party of the United States along with Peace, Democracy and Social Justice. KZ

Green parties made stunning gains in the European Elections, due to the strength of many younger voters, the grass roots insurgency of ecological school strikes and marches, and the tenacity of Green Party activists.

The older mainstream parties, both center-right and social democratic, received a mix of drubbing demotions and eroding support.

The far right nationalists also made gains, notably in France and Italy. The far right also gained less dramatically in Germany. See below for stories describing the election results.

There are lessons here not only for European Greens and socialists, but for class conscious popular resistance in the United States. Any left party that is not also a party of ecosocialism deserves the dustbin of history. As for the Green Party of the United States, some harsh home truths are in order.

The Green Party of the United States has a solid program of peace, economic democracy, and ecological sanity. Howie Hawkins is a fine representative of the strongly socialist wing of this party, and deserves support as a presidential candidate.

However, the Green Party must put its house in order. At the national level, there must be living wages for working members who have the job of getting the message out to the public and staffing the bigger campaigns. Donated labor can go only so far, and in electoral politics amateurism is fatal.

2020 will be a critical year for the Democratic Party, because a growing sector of young socialists will be making the effort to break the death grip of the old guard in the DNC and the DCCC. Some of the reformers will soon be bribed and recruited as party functionaries. Others will carry on trying to reform the party from within. And others will finally split to the independent left. Therefore keep the bridges of communication open.

Already, Joe Biden stands out as the very incarnation of reflexive and regressive “centrism.” He offers only one dumb drumbeat response when asked to outline actual public policies: “Defeat Trump.” Not inspiring and more importantly not strategic. Especially since career politicians of the Democratic Party labored mightily, if unwittingly, to put Trump in power. Through their crass careerism, their phony populism, and above all their corporate loyalties.

The European Elections also underscore a generational divide in politics. This does not mean that simply being young guarantees sympathy with either standard social democracy or with explicit democratic socialism. On the contrary, class loyalties also count among the young, and one European commenter noted that Macron’s base is a coalition of “hipsters and the bourgeoisie.”

People in their fifties and sixties, with a lifetime of vote by rote habits, will not easily become rebels in the voting booth. But this does not mean breaking communication with them, only being focused in our attempts to reinvent democracy from the ground up. Dismissing the whole realm of electoral politics is a dead end.

We are in the middle of a long protracted struggle involving dual power. The power of insurgent and class conscious social movements every day of the year is ours already. Then we also have the power of using strategic voting, and demanding  electoral reforms such as abolition of the Electoral College, proportional representation, and instant run off voting. We cannot wish away the obstacles, but this is a good working rule: Over, under and around.

More information:

European Election results: surprise surge for Green parties, France 24

Germany: The environment was the number one issue of concern for Germans, France 24.

European elections: youth vote credited for rise of green parties, France 24

UK: Conservative Party Gets Slammed, Gains for Farage, Gains for Greens, France 24

European Elections: Marine le Pen’s far-right party wins big in EU Parliament, France 24

French far right shows renewed strength in blow for Macron, France 24

Italy: “We’ve seen an inversion of the power balance” France 24

Far-right League becomes Italy’s largest party, after 5 Star’s support slumps in EU poll, France 24

How were the EU elections for Italy, France and Germany? Our panel responds, The Guardian