STOCKHOLM • Green parties across the European Union scored big gains in European Parliament elections, tallies showed yesterday, with a desire to fight climate change being credited for the new wave of support which could make them kingmakers in Brussels.
In Germany, the Greens placed second for the first time in a nationwide poll with 20.5 per cent, overtaking the Social Democrats. The party was the largest in many of Germany's main cities including Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.
"It's a signal for more climate action," lead candidate Sven Giegold said.
In the upcoming EU Parliament, the Greens look set to form the fourth largest group. Their votes could be key since the two traditional main blocs of the conservative European People's Party (EPP) and the Socialists no longer have a combined majority.
Mr Bas Eickhout, a Dutch member of the Greens/EFA group and a co-candidate with Germany's Ska Keller to head the next European Commission, said the result "gives us the mandate and duty to drive change in Europe".
German conservative politician Manfred Weber, EPP leader in the outgoing legislature and lead candidate to head the commission, reached out yesterday to other parties, saying, "once the election campaign is over, the task for democrats is to sit down together".
In neighbouring France, the Europe Ecologie-Les Verts party placed third, while the Greens in Ireland were set to have representation in the EU Parliament after a 20-year absence.
In Finland, the Greens clinched a strong second place with 16 per cent of the votes to finish with two seats, up one. The party could also win a third seat - if and when Britain completes its departure from the bloc and the British seats are redistributed.
In Denmark, several parties with a green agenda scored gains, while the eurosceptic, anti-immigration Danish People's Party saw its support more than halved, losing three of its four seats.
In Sweden, the Greens lost two of their four seats to finish on 11.4 per cent, down compared to the 2014 EU vote.
Party co-leader Isabella Lovin, however, said the Greens had won back support after the hammering in last September's general election when the party scored just over 4 per cent after four years in government.
In Britain, the pro-EU Green Party finished fourth, ahead of the governing Conservative Party, after its ecological message combined well with its demand for a second referendum to try and keep Britain in the bloc.