When its four candidates for European elections were unveiled in November, the European Green Party showcased its contenders with an air of optimism. By the time the victors were declared two months later, however, that enthusiasm had deflated. Even the winners, Franziska Keller and Jose Bove, were hardly in a celebratory mood. Barely more than 22,000 EU citizens used the Green mobilization experiment, “Green Primary,” from which the two top Green candidates were selected from four to represent the Greens in the upcoming European elections. With a total of 375 million voters across the EU, the paltry participation numbers were a flop. The Greens had originally set to mobilize 100,000 participants – a far cry from actual turnout.
“With the ‘Green Primary’ we recognized an important trend, and we implemented it,” Reinhard Bütikofer, head of the European Greens, said of the grassroots project. “We wanted to reduce the growing gap between citizens and political institutions, and we succeeded.”
Indeed, the concept of online nominations sounded progressive. For three months, EU citizens older than 16 had the opportunity to visit the online platform and select which candidates should represent the Greens in European Parliament. A simple mouse-click confirmed that participants supported the Greens cause. No party membership required, no polls – just politics for everyone from the comfort of home.