THE BLOG

Greens in Europe: Daring to Be Different

16/01/2014 12:32 GMT | Updated 17/03/2014 09:59 GMT

We Greens are proud of being different. We're proud that we highlighted the risks of climate change long before it became fashionable to do so, we're proud to have said 'no' to the war in the Iraq and we're proud to be standing with migrants whilst the political establishment attempts to blame them for a financial crisis they didn't cause.

In the run up to the European elections Greens are doing things differently by opening up politics in Brussels in a way that's never been tried before.

For this year's European elections the political groupings across the continent (made up of similar political parties from each EU country) are each putting forward a leading spokesperson. This person will represent the groups in an EU-wide TV debate and be the face of political campaigning in Brussels. Every political grouping is selecting leading candidates, but the Greens are unique in having an open primary for the selection of our candidates.

The rules are simple: To vote in the Primary you have to be a supporter of our values, you have to be 16 or over (yes 16 and 17 year olds can finally have a say in politics) and you need to be an EU citizen.

You then get to choose your 2 favourites (Greens don't want a single leader so we've gone for a co-leaders, of which at least one has to be a woman) to represent Greens as our top spokesperson in Brussels.

The Green candidates are inspirational (and international) bunch: Jose Bove, the French MEP famous for destroying a McDonalds franchise in protest at the chain's use of hormone-treated beef and the US policies on food imports, Ska Keller, a migration expert who speaks six languages and represents the Federation of Young European Greens, Rebecca Harms, current co-president of the Greens political group in in the European parliament and European Green party co-chair Monica Frassoni.

On Saturday, in central London, my colleague Jean Lambert MEP will chair a debate where you can get to know the candidates before voting for your favourites.

Greens know that politics in Brussels can feel distant at times, and we know that this internal election is only a small step towards opening things up. But we also know that the EU is vital in protecting our environment and guarding our rights at work. For anyone who shares Green values, and who wants the protection of our environment and the defence of human and workers' rights at the core of the EU, a vote in the Green primary gives you a chance to have your voice heard in Brussels.

This year every EU citizen gets their chance to vote in the European Parliament elections but before then you've got an opportunity to influence the pre-election debate. Whichever Green you choose you can rest assured you'll get a voice against the migrant blaming, banker loving status quo that's dominated European politics for too long.