A Green wave washes over Europe
Call it “the Greta Thunberg effect,” said Pernilla Ericson. The teenage Swedish climate change activist has traveled all over Europe in the past year and inspired young students across the Continent to join her “Fridays for Future” protests. Now we’re seeing the political results. In the European Parliament elections, right-wing populist parties surged as expected. But the real story was the rise of the Green Party. In Germany, 33 percent of voters ages 18 to 29—and nearly 21 percent of all voters—cast ballots for the Greens. In France, the party grew to become the country’s third largest, with 13 percent, while in Ireland it took 15 percent. Here in Thunberg’s native Sweden, the Greens won only two of the country’s 21 seats in the European Parliament, but that’s because they had a lot of environmentalist competition. All the parties of the left and center “battled during the campaign to portray themselves as the country’s strongest green voice.” That’s a reflection of Thunberg’s influence. She didn’t endorse any party, but she did “push with enormous force to get the climate issue on the agenda.” And remember—the 16-year-old and the youngsters she leads can’t even vote yet. But they’ll be eligible in 2022, when Sweden holds its next parliamentary elections. Then all parties will have to reckon with her generation.