The Green party have had a good year, whilst support of the main parties has shrunk. What challenges does the party face in 2015?
2014 may be remembered as the year of UKIP to many commentators, but it was also the year of the Greens. Sidelined by UKIP’s success in winning the European parliament elections, many will be unaware of the Greens’ successes. The party secured one new MEP this year, taking their total to three. They have also outpolled the Liberal Democrats in recent polls, with YouGov having its first week where the party have consistently out-performed Nick Clegg’s party.
The party has also seen a dramatic increase in members this year. Overall, 2014 was a fantastic year for the party.
However, 2015 could go just as well - or better - depending how the situation unravels. The party is working on ‘12 seats’ and is likely to hold their current MP, Caroline Lucas, in Brighton and Pavillion. Even increasing their number of MPs by one would be a success under the first past the post system which distorts the support of smaller parties.
And even if the party cannot increase its number of MPs, a dramatic increase in vote share will show that the party is going places. Beating the Liberal Democrats into fifth place, as some polls as suggested could happen, would be an important step for the party.
The Greens are growing, and 2015 is likely to show a similar trend. The Green party has doubled in membership size to almost 28,000 this year alone. One of the party’s challenges next year are stopping a Labour retaliation, reportedly led by Sadiq Khan, to stop Labour supporters drifting to the Greens. Whilst this shows that the party has a challenge on its hands, it also shows that they are being taken seriously and are taking voters from the Labour party.
Additionally, if the 2015 produces a parliament where an EU in/out referendum is on the cards the Greens will need to promote the benefits of the EU. The party supports a referendum, but is strongly in favour of remaining in the EU.
Speaking before a Commons vote, Caroline Lucas said this of the EU:
"A referendum would allow the space for that debate about the future of the Union to occur, and to ensure that the goals of the European project really are in the best interests of EU citizens."
The debate on the EU could be very important next year and the Green's stance is worth noting. They favour a referendum but support the EU, so their position could be very important next year in the event of a hung parliament if they gain a few more seats.
Overall, 2014 was a good year for the Greens. Next year will present new challenges, but could 2015 be an even better year for the party?
Will the party manage to hold onto its only MP? Can the Greens make further gains in 2015?