STRASBOURG (Reuters) - Despite an unprecedented surge in the recent European Parliament elections, the Greens were overlooked for the legislature’s presidency and indeed for any of the bloc’s other top jobs.
The Greens tapped into growing public concerns over global climate risks to win 74 seats in the European Union legislature - up from 52 and their best showing yet.
But a deal by the 28 EU leaders at a summit earlier this week saw all five top jobs go to other parties, including the parliament presidency to a socialist.
“This backroom stitch-up after days of talks is grotesque, it satisfies no one but party power games,” Ska Keller, co-leader of the Greens in parliament, said after days of wrangling among EU leaders over names for the biggest posts.
“After such a high turnout in the European elections and a real mandate for change, this is not what European citizens deserve,” she added in a statement on Tuesday.
Now the fourth-largest EU political grouping, the Greens had focussed on influencing policies on greenhouse emissions and rule of law rather than overtly chasing top jobs.
But they had an eye on at least one of the parliament presidency’s two-and-a-half-year terms.
Keller threw her hat in the ring, but came third after David Sassoli, an Italian socialist, who will preside over the legislature for the first term.
The centre-right will have the second term presidency of the five-year parliament session.
The Greens were unlikely candidates for any of the bloc’s other four major positions - but they could still get commissioner posts in the executive, and on Wednesday won two of 14 vice-presidencies of the parliament.
The Greens harbour hopes that the head of the climate and environment portfolio will be elevated to Commission vice-president standing with one of their own there, a parliament source told Reuters, though others view that as unlikely.
The Greens have pushed for faster cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as for influence over areas of trade, tax and rule of law. But vested interests in the energy, farming, auto and other sectors mean they will have to fight to translate climate activism into concrete policy changes.
Their support has surged alongside heightened youth activism, most notably from 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg.
The Greens are strongest in Germany, France and Britain, but support is limited in the former Soviet bloc nations and in southern Europe, where concerns over migration and the economy dwarf climate fears.
Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne