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Danish green party frustrated over sluggish European election result

The weekend’s European parliament elections saw a ‘green wave’ of strong performances by environmentalist parties across the continent, but Denmark’s Alternative failed to secure enough votes to gain a seat.

Danish green party frustrated over sluggish European election result
Alternative leader Uffe Elbæk at the Climate March in Copenhagen on May 25th. Photo: Philip Davali / Ritzau Scanpix

Running in the EU election for the first time, the environmentalist Alternative party achieved a 3.1 percent share of Denmark’s total votes.

Alternative’s leader Uffe Elbæk said he was “frustrated” at the outcome of the European election for his party, adding that the fact that it was their debut in the EU vote had been a disadvantage.

Rasmus Nordqvist, Alternative’s lead candidate for the EU parliament elections, agreed with that assessment.

“It was close, but not quite enough. We knew it was ambitious and would be difficult for a young party like us,” Nordqvist wrote on social media.

The lead candidate is also running in Denmark’s June 5th general election.

Elbæk told newspaper BT that he felt Alternative may have “won itself to death” after its breakout performance at the 2015 general election, when it took 4.8 percent of the vote and 9 seats in its election debut.

The party’s platform may also have come to resemble that of traditional pro-EU Danish parties who have more recently sought to prioritize the climate crisis and been rewarded by voters.

In Copenhagen, Alternative gained seven percent of votes in the European election, but its national share was just 3.4 percent. Only one Danish party – libertarians Liberal Alliance – fared worse.

Meanwhile, green parties in France, Germany and the United Kingdom all performed strongly in Sunday’s vote.

Projected results have the grouping of green parties in the European parliament increasing their share by 19 seats to 69 of the parliament’s 751 seats, making it the fourth-largest group.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

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