The legacy of the French Green Party has been nothing short of eventful these past few years. Known as Europe Écologie — Les Verts (EELV) in France, the party was virtually wiped out of the French National Assembly following the election of LREM candidate Emmanuel Macron in May 2017, leaving bleak prospects for future in the French political landscape.
However, the past year has seen the party considerably increase its visibility and representation in both the French and the European political scenes. Most notable perhaps was the outcome of the 2019 European Parliament election, when EELV scored 13% of the votes, ranking third behind the far-right party and Macron’s centre-right party. The results from this election went down in the French political history, departing from the traditional mainstream divide between the French right-wing party (Les Republicains, formerly known as the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire) and the left-wing party (Parti Socialiste). These electoral gains reflected a broader trend across the European Union giving more representation to Green Parties across the union in the Parliament.
The French municipal elections, held throughout June 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, provided further ground for a green wave in France. In fact, the party scored decisive electoral victories in many large cities throughout the country, including Strasbourg, Bordeaux, and Lyon. In addition, the Greens were also part of winning coalitions in the country’s two largest cities, Paris and Marseille. This represented an important new chapter in the party’s history, which had never controlled more than a few mid-sized towns in France.
EELV welcomed its incumbent National Secretary, Julien Bayou, back in November 2019. A Sciences Po alumni, Bayou was previously involved with French economics magazine Alternatives Économiques, and worked with the French Ministry of National Education as well as UNESCO. On his social media, Bayou has been particularly vocal regarding the working conditions of healthcare workers amid the pandemic, as well as teachers and educational staff following the recent beheading of Samuel Paty.
At the age of 40, Bayou is among the youngest figures in the current French political landscape. This was bolstered by overwhelming support from French youth and first-time voters among the European Parliament and French municipal elections. Given the large turnout at the climate walkouts organized across Europe and the world throughout 2019, there is hope for the future of the French Greens. In light of the party securing a noticeable electoral comeback in barely 3 years, the upcoming presidential election in May 2022 will undoubtedly provide more grounds for a green wave to become more and more attractive to young voters.