PARIS (Reuters) – France’s green party saw a surge in support in Sunday’s European Parliament election, mirroring strong gains made by ecologist parties in Germany and Ireland, and hailed a “green wave” they said was sweeping the European Union.
Three exit polls showed the French greens — officially known as the European Ecologists and the Greens — placing third behind the far-right and President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party, winning about 13% of the vote.
If the projections are confirmed, the greens will have trounced the mainstream center-right and center-left parties, which have failed to recover from Macron’s redrawing of the political landscape in the 2017 presidential vote.
“We are witnessing a green European wave tonight that we are part of,” Yannick Jadot, leader of the French greens, told supporters. “The French sent us a clear message: They want ecology to be at the heart of our lives.”
With Germany’s Greens coming second behind Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party in the election, the Greens across the EU are expected to hold up to 70 seats in the 751-seat European Parliament, giving them significant clout.
The European elections have coincided with a wave of grassroots protests across Europe demanding action against climate change and pressing governments to cut carbon emissions.
Macron made climate politics a central plank of his party’s EU election campaign and has reached out to Green parties across the bloc as he seeks to construct a centrist alliance that he hopes will play a “kingmaker” role in the assembly, where no single group will have a majority.
An Elabe exit poll showed the French greens obtaining 13 seats in the European Parliament. They won 9% of the French vote in the last EU election in 2014.
Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Luke Baker