European Greens: between electoral defence and presidential power


With right-authoritarian forces on the one hand and liberal-progressive ones on the other, elections in 2024 will be fought in several major democracies, including in the European Union. Focussing on the latter, this article explores the electoral chances of the European Green Party (EGP) members, an umbrella organization for environmentalist-progressive forces.

Teaser Image Caption
Constitution of the 9th legislature of the European Parliament, in July 2019.


Check out our web dossier "The road to the 2024 European Parliament elections", featuring insights from the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung's offices and partners on the 2024 European Parliament elections, the next EU legislative term, and the "super election" year 2024 ✅🗳️🇪🇺

The European Green Party is the umbrella organization for environmentalist and progressive parties in Europe. Its legal status is that of a political party at the European level  (Europarty), and therefore it is recognized and partially funded by the European Union to support party democracy at the supranational level. While the EGP does not directly contest elections, its members do.

For the European Green Party, the electoral elephant in the room in 2024 is undoubtedly the European Parliament elections, which will take place between 6 and 9 June. The latest Europe Elects seat projection shows that the number of EGP parliamentarians is set to shrink from the current 54 (out of 705) to 33 (out of 720) seats, a decline particularly visible in Germany (from 21 to 13 seats) and France (from 11 to 7 seats). However, a historical comparison shows that these early campaign figures should be taken with a grain of salt: in December 2018, the Greens/EFA parliamentary group – which today, alongside the EGP, includes the European Pirate Party, parts of the European Free Alliance (EFA) and Volt – was projected to win 43 seats but finished with 75 during the 2019 EU election.

Northern Europe: a Green president in Finland?

At the national level, the electoral year in Europe will be kicked off by the presidential election in Finland, with a first round scheduled for 28 January and a likely run-off between the two frontrunners on 11 February. Presidential candidate Pekka Haavisto – who is currently polling in second place at about 22% – is running as nominally independent but is a long-time member of Finnish EGP member Vihreä liitto and has been endorsed by the party. With a large gap between Haavisto and third-placed candidates, he has a high chance of entering the second round; however, the other first-round frontrunner – centre-right candidate Alexander Stubb – is leading polling for the run-off by about 16 points.

Several local elections are set to be held in the United Kingdom on 2 May. Zoë Garbett, the Green Party of England and Wales mayoral candidate in London, is polling at around 9%.

This external content requires your consent. Please note our privacy policy.

video-thumbnailOpen external content on original site

Western Europe: unpopular governments set to hurt strong Greens

In Austria, the EGP member Die Grünen - Die Grüne Alternative has been the junior partner in the government coalition with the centre-right ÖVP (EPP) since 2019. The party’s polling figures have since declined by four points nationwide to about 9%. Besides the national parliamentary election scheduled to take place by autumn 2024, Vorarlberg and Styria also elect new regional parliaments. In parallel to the EU election, Belgium elects not only a new national parliament but also regional parliaments on 9 June. The De Croo government features the two EGP members, Ecolo (representing the Green Francophone community) and Groen (representing the Green Dutch-speaking community) as junior partners. While strong in the last elections, where both reached about 12% combined, they now expect minor losses as per current polls. Local elections are set to follow on 13 October. In Germany, EGP member Bündnis 90/Die Grünen is a junior partner in the incumbent national government. While the national parliamentary elections need to be reheld in some Berlin districts on 11 February, no major effect on the 2021 result is expected. Regional parliamentary elections will take place in Saxony (1 September), Thuringia (1 September) and Brandenburg (22 September), where the party is currently part of the state government.

Switzerland is set to hold a series of regional elections (direct government and parliamentary) in Aargau, Basle-City, Schwytz, Shaffhouse, St. Gall, Thurgovia and Uri. Grüne/Les Vert.e.s, which represents the EGP in the country, will have to show that it can halt the electoral decline in these elections as the party lost 3.4 points in the most recent national parliamentary election.

In Ireland, the Green Party is set to contest local elections as a national government junior coalition partner; however, it may struggle to match its strongest result in the previous 2019 local election (5.6%).

Central-Eastern Europe: a difficult terrain for the Greens

The European Greens are set to remain a marginal force in Central-Eastern Europe. Romania holds direct presidential elections in the fall; the country is represented by the president in the European Council, a position currently held by centre-right Klaus Iohannis, who is not eligible for re-election. A national parliament is set to take place as well before the end of this year. The Romanian EGP chapter, Partidul Verde, won only 0.4% in the last national parliamentary election (2020) and has been rocked by recent internal conflict. The EGP member in Croatia, Zelena alternativa - ORaH, is equally unlikely to play a significant role in the national parliamentary election in the summer or during the presidential election in the winter. The new national parliament will elect the position of the prime minister, who represents Croatia in the European Council. The incumbent is centre-right HDZ (EPP) politician Andrej Plenković. In Czechia, regional parliamentary and partial upper house national parliamentary elections are set to be held in the fall. EGP member Zelení - Strana zelených is only a marginal force. The same goes for EGP member Zieloni in Poland, where regional parliamentary and local elections are set to be held before the end of the year.

In Slovakia, liberal President Zuzana Čaputová has often been seen as a counterweight to the authoritarian tendencies of Prime Minister Robert Fico. However, Čaputová announced in June 2023 that she will not seek re-election. A Green candidate to replace her is unlikely to emerge as Slovakia has no EGP representation.

Hungary holds local and regional elections, including mayoral elections for Budapest, on 9 June. Elections in Hungary are free but not fair, given that most of the media are under the control of the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán or his supporters. Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony, who is a member of the Hungarian EGP member Párbeszéd - A Zöldek Pártja but was supported by a broad centrist electoral alliance in the last local election (which also included LMP - Magyarország Zöld Pártja, the second EGP member in Hungary), has been one of the few important counterweights to Orbán.

Southern Europe: no direct access to power

A snap national parliamentary election is scheduled for 10 March in Portugal. The vote will ultimately determine a new prime minister and European Council member as incumbent centre-left António Costa is not running for re-election. The EGP has three members in the country, of which all are currently in opposition: Pessoas-Animais-Natureza/PAN, LIVRE and Partido Ecologista Os Verdes. The latter has been running with the Communists in the Coligação Democrática Unitária (CDU) electoral alliance since 1987. Recent polls show the CDU at a record low of 3% (down 1% compared to 2022), while both LIVRE and PAN poll at 2%. Additionally, a new regional parliament will be elected in the Azores on 4 February.

Italy will see regional elections (parliamentary and executive) in Abruzzo (10 March), Basilicata (in or around February), Piedmont (in or around May), Sardinia (25 February) and Umbria (in or around September). The Basque Autonomous Community (summer or before) and Galicia (18 February) in Spain will also hold regional parliamentary elections.

With no members in the national parliament, the EGP member in Malta, ADPD, has little chance of winning the upcoming indirect April presidential election. Local elections in the capital Valletta and the rest of the country are set to be held on 8 June. San Marino will hold indirect head of state elections in March and September, as well as national parliamentary elections in the winter of 2024 and 2025, but no EGP member is registered in the country.

For the first time, Cyprus holds direct regional executive elections on 9 June, but expectations for a strong performance for EGP member Kínima Oikológon - Synergasía Politón (KOSP) remain low after losing one of its three national parliamentarians to Volt Europa.

In the EU’s waiting room: crucial elections in several EU accession candidates

Moldova holds presidential elections in the fall. Centre-right incumbent Maia Sandu has been strategically positioning her country towards EU and NATO accession since taking office in 2020. Moldova’s EGP member, Partidul Verde Ecologist, won less than 0.1% in the last parliamentary election. North Macedonia is set to hold national parliamentary and presidential elections in the first half of the year. The EGP member Demokratska obnova na Makedonija is only a marginal force, which – thanks to an alliance with the centre-left SDSM party – holds one out of 123 seats in the national parliament. Georgia holds presidential and national parliamentary elections in the second half of 2024. The Adjara regional parliament will also be newly elected. The EGP member Sakartvelo's mtsvaneta partia received 0.1% in the last parliamentary election and thus holds no seat in the national parliament. Local elections will be held in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 6 October, but no EGP member is present in the country.

The authoritarian East: Greens face lack of free and fair electoral competition

Belarus is set to elect a new national parliament on 25 February. Historically a fall event, elections have been consecutively pushed into the winter – something authoritarian President Aleksandr Lukashenko probably welcomes, as outdoor conditions make mass protests against falsified results unpalatable. The Belarusian chapter of the European Greens, Belaruskaâ partyâ Zâlënyâ was formally dissolved by the regime in 2023. The EGP member in Russia, Zelenaya Rossia, faces similar obstacles as the authorities have excluded promising opposition candidates who have not yet been jailed from the 17 March presidential election ballot. Regional parliamentary and executive elections are also set to be scheduled for 8 September.

Türkiye (EGP member: Yeşil Sol Parti, which renamed to Halkların Eşitlik ve Demokrasi Partisi but is not listed as such on the EGP’s website) holds local elections, including in Ankara and Istanbul on 31 March. While political oppression is not as pervasive as in e.g. Russia, campaigns are not fair given that, for example, almost all media are now under the control of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or his allies. Due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine (EGP member: Partija Zelenykh Ukrainy), it is unclear if the presidential elections scheduled for 31 March can be conducted.

Sections of this article were reviewed by Europe Elects country experts: Adrian Elimian, Andrei Miclea (Romania), Antonio Modeo (Italy, San Marino), Eoghan Kelly (Ireland), Gert Armand Valgerist (Lithuania), Jakub Rogowiecki (Poland), Jan Jakob Langer (Georgia, Germany), Julien Mathias (Portugal), Julius Lehtinen (Finland), Li Zhi Rieken, Matías Pino (Spain), Mihail Murgashanski (Croatia, North Macedonia), Mingo Garscha (Austria, EU projection), Nassreddin Taibi (Belgium), Nasha Gagnebin (Switzerland), Polychronis Karampalas (Greece), Rithwik Narendra (Iceland), Roman Broszkowski (Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Yiorgos Kakouris (Cyprus).

The views and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union.