The European Green Party has chosen experienced members of the European Parliament to lead their campaign for the upcoming elections.
The European Green party has selected Terry Reintke and Bas Eickhout as their top candidates for the upcoming June elections. Recent polls indicate that the party may experience a decrease in their number of seats.
Surrounded by green flags displaying the term “bravery”, the two Members of the European Parliament, chosen by representatives at a meeting in Lyon on Saturday, declared that they would resist the rise of the extreme right and advocate for a fairer and environmentally-conscious Europe.
Reintke, a Member of the European Parliament from Germany, received 55% of the vote for the top female candidate position. She expressed her goal to prioritize social justice in the election campaign, stating, “I desire for us to engage with individuals whom we have not yet reached.”
Eickhout, a member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands, received 57% of the votes for the runner-up position. He expressed his desire to counteract the influence of far-right ideologies. “We will defend democracy, confront fascism, and promote a better future for all.”
In the 2019 elections, the Greens gained significant public backing due to student-led protests for environmental action and a UN report highlighting the need for countries to reach net zero emissions by 2050 in order to prevent the planet from warming by 1.5°C (2.7°F). However, with the rise of far-right parties and a decline in support in major countries like Germany, the Greens are anticipating a decrease in their representation in the European parliament.
Eickhout and Reintke, who have served as MEPs since 2009 and 2014 respectively, informed the Guardian that they anticipate surpassing the polls, but acknowledged that it would be a more challenging feat compared to the previous election.
“Despite facing challenges and opposition towards green policies, we are determined to persevere,” stated Reintke, age 36 and co-president of the Green group in parliament.
“It will pose a greater challenge,” stated Eickhout, a 47-year-old who serves as vice-chair for the European parliament’s environment committee. However, he added that criticisms from conservative and far-right groups do not necessarily have negative effects. “The most damaging thing that can occur during a campaign is being disregarded.”
The Green party’s main concern is whether they would back Ursula von der Leyen, the leader of the European Green Deal and a prominent figure in the centre-right European People’s Party, if she were to run for another term as commission president. While the candidates did not specify their demands for support, Eickhout made it clear that abandoning the Green Deal would not be acceptable.
Eickhout stated that the Green Deal was a significant step forward in prioritizing the environment in politics. However, although the industry has acknowledged the need for change, politicians are failing to take action, causing Eickhout to become angry.
The nominees also stated their intention to find a balance between involving their loyal followers and promoting the positive impacts of their policies to potential new supporters. In nations where the Greens are a part of the ruling coalition, environmental advocates have frequently expressed disappointment with concessions made to larger political allies.
Reintke stated that activists do not oppose compromise, but rather, they reject unfair compromises. She acknowledged that even after negotiations, the Greens would need to persuade voters that being part of a compromise and making decisions with others is more beneficial than remaining on the sidelines with the right ideology but lacking influence on policies.
Reintke and Eickhout emerged victorious against Benedetta Scuderi, an Italian representative from the Young European Greens, and Elīna Pinto, the lead candidate for the Latvian Progressives party. During the congress, the candidates focused more on their individual traits and experiences rather than their contrasting policies.
Reintke noted that the Greens must involve disaffected communities without resorting to the strategies of extremist groups. He stated, “They thrive on this unfocused anger and have no intention of addressing the issues at hand.”
“I am determined to tackle the issue of anger and channel it into productive actions. Additionally, I am also addressing the prevalent apathy and exploring ways to transform it into a force for good. These are challenges that I am ready to tackle in the upcoming election.”