Europe’s green parties have made major gains across the continent in this week’s EU elections in a “Green wave”, according to preliminary results released on Sunday evening.
In Germany Die Grünen jumped into second place with 20 per cent, solidly beating the historically dominant social democrats – while in France Les Verts came from nowhere to pull off a surprise third place behind Emmanuel Macron’s outfit.
Exit polls out of Ireland also show its Green Party surging, particularly in Dublin, while preliminary results in the French-speaking and bilingual parts of Belgium show Les Ecolos well up and potentially coming first in Europe’s capital.
Greens also surged into second place in Finland ahead of the social democrats, and unexpectedly appear to have won seats in Portugal despite no pollster registering significant support for their party.
Gains for the parties, which are generally pro-EU, environmentalist, and left-leaning, appear to have mostly been concentrated in urban areas and amongst younger voters.
An exit poll in France had Les Verts topping the votes of the 18-24 age group with 22 per cent, well ahead of the other parties. In Germany, the same age group showed 34 per cent voting Green – with the next largest party, Angela Merkel’s CDU, on 11 per cent.
Early EU-wide projections suggest the Greens could be on course to form a parliamentary group about equal in size to Matteo Salvini’s new far-right outfit –though it is too early to tell whether that will be borne out.
Ska Keller, a German Green MEP and co-convenor of the Green group in the European parliament, said she was "very happy about the result", adding:
“For us it's a big task and a great responsibility to now put [voters'] trust into concrete action to concrete climate protection, into promotion of the social Europe, as well as democracy in the rule of law - here into practice in the European parliament.
“It's fantastic to see that the trust has been given to us and this is not a thing of just one country, but we can really see it all over the European Union from the results that we already know, of course: that the Green Wave has really spread all over Europe. That, for us is a very fantastic result."
Philippe Lamberts, the other co-convenor of the group told reporters: “We can see that with an uptick in nationalism and populism, that to forge a stable European union the Greens are going to be indispensable."
He added: “We have begun to see that all of our competitors are beginning to speak about ecological policies and Green policies and so things have changed
“You all know that when citizens have a choice they often if not always opt for the original option and not any copycats.”
In the UK the Greens, who currently have three MEPs, hope to retain their seats and win more off the back of a pro-EU and pro-second referendum campaign.
The gains for the ecologists come amid anti-climate change protests across Europe, including student strikes hitting schools.