This is the MD’s first instalment of a series, that presents argumentations for why students of Maastricht could choose to vote for certain European Parties at the European Elections 23rd-26th May. We do this because we want to contribute to creating a common European public discourse. Most political conversations happen within the national realm, and we want to expand this. The arguments presented in this series are the writers’ alone, but can help readers to articulate an informed opinion by engaging with a (non-)opposing opinion. To that end, the MD will publish opinions in favour of multiple different parties. So, if you do not agree with the opinion here; great! Other parties will be represented in due time.
In many ways, I am a typical student of the Western world. I care about the environment, social and economic justice, and am generally opposed to the SystemTM. I don’t mind fitting this stereotype, and overall, I am a pretty lefty guy. Also, I will vote Green at the end of May. I would never vote for my national Green Party in Germany, but on the European level, it’s different. Here’s why.
It is safe to say that the global Green movement is as diverse as it gets. While united in their emphasis on environmental change and social justice, Green parties differ over how to best achieve their goals and how far left they place on the conventional political spectrum. In the Netherlands, for example, the GroenLinks Party is openly siding with socialist points of view, while in Germany, the Greens accept market-based mechanisms to battle Climate change and are often labelled “Green conservatives”. Personally, I value taming the free-market, wealth re-distribution and welfare policies the most, and usually, the Greens do not really represent these values as much as other parties.
Nonetheless, they have the right talking points for me. In their 2019 election manifesto, they announce meaningful measures to combat climate change, the fight against austerity policies and economic inequality, and a more ethical foreign policy regarding cooperating with dictators and arms sales. Furthermore, they professed to a more unified European federation. The truth is that in most regards, (centre-)leftist and Green parties do not really differ on so many issues on the European level.
However, the Greens are more useful in the European Parliament.
Ask yourself this: What is the European Union really good for? What is the European Parliament actually useful for (if you actually want to read an explanation, click here!)? The answer is regulation. The EU taken together has the world’s largest consumer market. So far, the European economic traditions foresaw a sort of managed capitalism. Both business freedom is maintained, but consumer protection, taxation and other regulations also have their place in order to ward off the free market’s inequality- and competition-spurring side-effects. Environmental policies can fairly easily be imposed on EU-Member States by Brussels.
The European Parliament is not that powerful. All EU-legislation is also shaped by the Council of Ministers and European Commission, making the Parliament just one major player out three.
Nonetheless, all regulations must be adhered to by nation-states, and must pass a Parliamentary vote. Additionally, the Parliament can amend every law that passes through it. Thus, it can make important additions and changes that better reflect the elected parties’ philosophies.
Therefore, would the Greens be a stronger power in the next Elections, they could ensure that every single EU law includes a clause that foresees environmental protection.
What’s more is that environmental regulations are more potent and effective, than, for example, wealth distributing ones. No EU regulation can solve the problem of income inequality within the EU. But regulations can change the use of plastic, the maximum levels for city pollution, the allowed amount of CO2 emissions, … This is why I vote Green over Leftist.
Simon studies European Studies at UM, and heads UNSA’s Journal. This article is his own opinion, and he hopes to provoke meaningful discussion. If you want to respond in any way, maybe even write a counter-opinion, write him at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need a strategic argument: In all likelihood, the Parliament’s strongest parties will be the conservative EPP, the social-democratic S&D, and then the liberals, ALDE, in third place. Still, to me, it is important that the fourth biggest power is not a Eurosceptic one.
No, a Green European Parliament won’t solve Europe’s climate problem. But it will make sure that every single EU law has an environmental imprint. The EU has the great potential to become the world’s first economic behemoth that is both economically successful, and environmentally-conscious. The Parliament must pass laws, that reflect this ambition.
Stay tuned for arguments that promote the other parties!
The most important thing is to vote; here are seven reasons why.
REMINDER that the opinions presented in this series are the writer’s alone. They do not reflect the Maastricht Diplomat’s or UNSA’s views.