Building on their successes in France and Germany at the recent EU elections, the European Green Party is launching an offensive to strengthen representation in Eastern and Southern European countries, where they have no elected parliamentarians.
“Because we want a strong EU green party we need to contaminate the national parties,” said former MEP and co-spokesperson of the European Green Party, Monica Frassoni, during a briefing with journalists last week. “We are perfectly aware that we need good leadership on the ground as we will not be able to act as saviours,” she added.
Together with the Green group in the European Parliament and a newly-founded European political foundation, the European Green party has initiated a joint strategic plan aimed at consolidating and furthering expansion in countries where they have achieved positive results in recent elections, and building a credible green alternative in countries where they have been unsuccessful, especially in Italy, Spain and Poland.
According to Philippe Lamberts, the other co-spokesperson of the European Greens, the task is two-fold.
First and foremost, the aim is to boost organic growth in Eastern and Southern Europe, where the challenge is to put the Greens back on the radar screen.
Secondly, the party is seeking to boost its position in the European Parliament by developing more credible proposals on the economy and connecting with the business world to ultimately steal votes from the centrist parties.
“We know that our Green New Deal has innovative ideas that need to be mainstreamed in the political debate – we need a genuine contamination of green thoughts on the economy and climate change,” said Frassoni.
As well as eyeing Poland, Spain and Italy, the Greens are also eyeing smaller countries like Hungary, where the political movement has lost ground in recent years.
“Greens are irrelevant in these countries, which together have almost a third of the EU population. That means you’re not playing on a third of the field,” said Lamberts.
One common feature among these countries, explain the Greens’ spokespersons, is their catholic electorate. Greens in these countries need to carefully assess which issues they want to underline in their campaigns.
“Even if you consider gay marriage a serious issue, it might not be wise to identify it as your top priority if you want to gain catholic voters,” they added, underlining that messaging needs careful evaluation in these countries. Other catholic countries should learn from Ireland, where the Green party has gained ground.
Although the European Greens do not have a comprehensive game plan for every country, they hope to go for implementation in about six months and work consistently towards the 2014 elections.