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Greens secure ‘historic’ gains in French parliamentary poll

France’s Green party won 17 seats in the country’s general election Sunday, an unprecedented score that makes it prominent enough to form its own parliamentary group, giving it more clout in political decision-making.

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France’s Green party, Europe Ecologie-Les Verts, won 17 seats in the newly-elected French parliament, an unprecedented score for a party that has so far had a minor role in national politics.

“It is a first in the history of this republic,” Green senator Jean-Vincent Placé told FRANCE 24. “We have established a solid position to exert influence on public policies.”

Only four of its members were part of the previous national assembly, and its candidate in the presidential race, Eva Joly, won a mere 2.3% of the votes in May.

But the Greens were able to make major gains in the June legislative polls, thanks to agreements with the majority Socialist Party, whereby the Socialists promised not to field their own candidates in some 60 constituencies across the country in exchange for Green support elsewhere.

The power of a group

Now with 17 lawmakers, the ecologists are in a position to form their own parliamentary group – for which a minimum of 15 members, usually of the same political colour, are required. This will allow them to weigh in more heavily on political debates and policy-making.

Speaking time is allotted according to the numerical strength of parliamentary groups, as are powerful positions within commissions and executive boards.

Although the Socialists and their allies don’t need the environmentalists to enjoy a comfortable majority, the Greens intend to make good use of their new power. “I tell my Socialist friends that they may be in a position of power, but above all they should not take advantage of it,” Placé said.

The environmentalists have also made it into the government: Cécile Duflot, who was elected in Paris, is expected to let her substitute, Danièle Hoffman-Rispal, step in so that she can keep her position as minister of housing.

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