The Green Party in Europe is asking anyone in the EU with an interest in Green policies to help choose their two leading candidates.
They are holding US-style primary elections and people over the age of 16 living in the EU can go online and cast their vote until the end of January.
At Sunday’s launch, the Greens presented the four contenders that have gained enough support from member parties and will be standing: Jose Bove, Rebecca Harms, Ska Keller and Monica Frassoni.
Monica Frassoni, from the Italian Green Party explained why they were opening up the voting: “Our main goal is not so much the competition between people. It is to go out there and mobilise not only our sympathizers but really citizens, to make them understand that the policy of Europe can change and we can make it better. And a lot of people don’t think that, they don’t have any ownership in Europe and this is what we want to give them back”.
The two winning candidates, one of whom must be a woman, will front the campaign for the elections in May.
One will be nominated as the party’s candidate for the European Commission presidency
The four contenders will take part in debates in cities across Europe and in online chatrooms.
Our correspondent in Brussels, Rudolph Herbert, said: “the start button has been pressed and around 200,000 members of the Green Party throughout Europe, as well as supporters and sympathizers, are invited to choose the top candidates of the party. This is more than just a basic democratic gesture. It is an attempt to make the gap between European institutions and the citizens of the continent at least a bit smaller.”