Europe Ecologie – The Greens (EELV). Greens have been contesting elections in France since 1974. Greens were principally a minor force until 1993, however, when ecologist parties tried to create a ‘third pole’ for the legislative elections that year, gaining 11.0% of the vote, but failing to win a single seat due to France’s two round electoral system. The largest green party, Les Verts joined the plural left after that, becoming a part of the French government between 1997 and 2002.
Les Verts were always a rather minor component of the French left, however until the arrival on the scene of Franco-German Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a former MEP for the German Greens, and a former student leader during the famous May 1968 French New Left protests. Cohn-Bendit assembled a coalition of parties and civil society groups around the Greens, including regionalist groups, such as the Party of the Corsican Nation, and members of civil society such as the Norwegian-French magistrate Eva Joly and the far-left ‘alter-globalisation’ activist and former Presidential candidate Jose Bove.
The coalition was the huge success of the 2009 European elections, winning 16.3% of the vote, placing a strong third and, after the Lisbon Treaty redistribution, winning one more seat than the Socialists.
The coalition again performed strongly in the 2010 regional elections and then began a merger into a formal political party – the EELV.
Cohn-Bendit became co-president of the European Green Party-European Free Alliance group, and the EELV is the largest party in that group. Cohn-Bendit is a European federalist and the coalition in general is also federalist. Cohn-Bendit is the co-chair of the federalist Spinelli Group of MEPs.
However the party ran Eva Joly for the Presidency in 2012. Joly is well liked in France, but is not a good politician and her campaign faltered and was eclipsed on the left by the Left Front’s Melechon, and on its right by the Socialist Party’s Hollande, winning only 2.3% of the vote. However the party had previously negotiated a good deal with the Socialists in the run-up to the legislative elections, the deal was controversial in Socialist circles as it ceded 60 constituencies to the EELV, including a few safe seats. It thus received 18 seats, its best ever, despite an unimpressive 5.5% vote share.
The EELV’s ideology is, broadly, fairly typically Green stuff, but the party is perhaps more left-leaning than most Green parties, and it has far-left members. The party is currently a demanding and unhappy member of the incumbent government, which it occasionally threatens to withdraw from. If it does so the government will retain its majority.
The party’s MEP, Jose Bove, a former Independent candidate for the French Presidency in 2007, who won 1.3% of the vote, is European Green Party’s co-candidate for President of the Commission this year, having been chosen in an online primary. Bove is a former ‘alter-globalisation’ activist. Alter-globalisation is a French movement based around ‘altering’ the structure of globalisation rather than outright opposition. Bove was considered to be part of the far-left during his run.
The Party of the Corsican Nation , an autonomist left-wing Corsican nationalist party won a single seat on the Europe Ecologie list in 2009.
As the largest component of the European Green Party, holding a leadership position, the EELV is one of the driving forces behind the Green/European Free Alliance group, in which only the German Greens also have more than 3 seats. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the EELV is very loyal to the group, with 99.3% loyalty, the fourth highest loyalty to the group.