On 4 March, Italy will return to vote to elect new Members of Parliament. Eight ALDE individual members are candidates with the liberal-democratic list + Europa with Emma Bonino. In these interviews we present the first 4 of them. We asked three questions to all of them and one different, about some important topics for Italy and Europe.
How Italy votes. The new Italian voting system has two levels of elections. 37% of Members of Parliament in both Chambers are elected in a “Uninominale” (single name list) college: single parties or coalitions express one common name. One wins the seat, others lose. 61% of MPs – in both chambers – are elected in a “Plurinominale” (more names list) college: each single party proposes from 1 to 4 candidates. The higher the percentage of votes obtained, the higher will be the number of elected candidates. There is also a minimum percentage to be obtained to elect candidates. The remaining 2% of seats are for Italian candidates who live abroad.
Candidates we present today:
Born in Cantù, province of Como in 1974, president of Certi Diritti Association, LGBT Activist. Member of Radicali Italiani, former president of ALDE Individual Members. Candidate for Deputees Chamber at “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Lombardia 02.
Born in Foggia in 1973, she lives in Turin. Tresaurer of Radicali Italiani, ALDE Individual Member. Leader candidate for Deputees Chamber at “Uninominale” (Single name list) in Turin 02 and at “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Piemonte 1, Lazio 1, Campania 1, Campania 2
Born in Turin in 1969, journalist, editor in chief of political study on line magazine “Strade”, ALDE Individual Member and member of Radicali Italiani. Candidate for Senate at “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Piemonte 1, Piemonte 2, Lombardia 2, Lombardia 3, Lombardia 4.
Born in Milan 1976, she lives in Rome where she works as trainer and consutant in crowfunding sector. Member of Radicali Italiani and ALDE Individual Member. Candidate for Senate at “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Veneto 01, Veneto 02, Trentino Alto Adige 01, Friuli Venezia Giulia 01, Lazio 02, Lazio 03
You are running as a candidate with Più Europa/+Europa. What exactly does “More Europe” mean to you?
Yuri Guaiana I’ve been a Radical for all my life and I subscribe to all their liberal views, since individual freedom is at the core of my political identity – but +Europa goes beyond the Radicals. It’s a political project which makes Europe a priority for Italy. In these times of rampant Euroscepticism, we are the only party who dare to say that we need more Europe and that this is in our interest. Europe gave Italy more economic stability and more civil rights. To tackle migration, we need common European borders. We want a federal Europe where responsibilities are clear and people, not only nation states, count.
Sjlvia Manzi +Europa, in Italy – and not only in Italy – is a need. We are living through a period that will be studied in the history books if we don’t reverse the course. Next generations will ask themselves how we allowed the return of nationalism and populism. This is the reason why, even in a country with strong European tradition like Italy, we must reaffirm that the solution to our problems is not less Europe, but more rights, more democracy, more freedom and, therefore, more Europe.
Carmelo Palma. First, it means reversing the rhetoric of victimhood that many have towards the EU and reversing the decline of fiscal responsibility and financial stability in Italy as Europe has become the scapegoat for problems that have been caused in Rome.
The public debt, which has dug a chasm beneath the feet of future generations, has been the product of national political choices. The imbalances of our social security system arise from a parasitic use of the public budget as a means of “remuneration”. In Italy, the exchange vote was not legal, but taxpayers are paying the price of this sale.
The EU is the life boat keeping Italy afloat. Outside the Eurozone and without ECB support, we would not be able to refinance its public debt. +Europa means for us +Italy. Without the common market and without the four freedoms – the free movement of goods, capital, services and people – the Italian economy, with its export-oriented manufacturing vocation, would simply die.
Diana Severati Europe has guaranteed us peace, a free market, freedom of movement and opportunity for young people, such as Erasmus. We are saying yes to this Europe we have but More Europe means to me more liberty, more rights, more democracy, more growth, more sustainability, more union rights, more knowledge, more equity, and more jobs.
What is, in your opinion, the biggest problem Italy faces at the moment and what will your contribution with +Europa be?
Yuri Guaiana Italy faces a huge populist threat which can harm not only Italy but the EU itself. To fight it, we need to change many things starting from the relationship between the State and us citizens. For far to many years we have increased our public debt jeopardizing the future of young Italians. The disregard for them is shocking and that’s why populism and euro skepticism is high among the youngsters. We need to freeze public expenditures to contain the public debt and start reducing taxis, especially for free lancers who are the most vexed and the youngest workers. We need to do away with all the red tape that makes it harder to interact with the public administrator. We need to support more scientific research and technological development. In a nutshell, we need to create more opportunity, specially for young people.
Sjlvia Manzi Italy’s big problems are still those linked to the blocks of party power. We must not delude ourselves: even new movements, that define themselves as ’different’ have perfectly fitted to the ‘parties system’ and have become the new bishops of it. This is why those of us that become +Europa MPs will have as priority the respect for the rules, legality, and the rule of law.
Carmelo Palma The biggest problem is restoring a honesty to politics and creating a politics that recognizes and faces problems. If one thinks of treating a country with a lot of debt with even more debt is a good outcome, then it shows that our political culture is very debased and out of touch.
What we risk is a phenomenon of collective alienation, like the one that brought British voters to vote for Brexit, which will not put an extra pound in the pockets of families in the United Kingdom and risks taking it away in the medium and long term, much more than what they thought was extracted from them by Brussels.
I give another example: we live in a country that in 2017 had a negative demographic balance – the relationship between births and deaths – of 180,000 individuals, the worst after that of the First World War, with the worst fertility rate in Europe of 1.2 children per woman of childbearing age. Yet we continue to consider immigration a problem when it is the only possible and immediate solution to the deterioration of the demographic structure of the population.
Diana Severati I think that the biggest problem Italy faces at the moment is public debt. Public debt is a real threat causing financial instability and market trust crisis.
+Europa proposes to freeze the nominal value of public debt for the next five years by cutting subsidies dangerous to the environment, main house subsidies and subsidies to businesses (especially in the agricolture and manufacture sectors). There are also the spending review lists by Carlo Cottarelli and Roberto Pierotti, ready to be implemented.
Making Italy free from public debt would allow the country to better face the European integration process.
You are already an Individual Member of ALDE Party. Don’t you think that’s enough to push for changes in European level? What was your motivation to run as a candidate?
Yuri Guaiana I am running as +Europa candidate precisely because I’m an individual member of ALDE Party, not despite it. Doing politics cannot be confined to one affiliation. I’m doing politics as a Human Rights activist, as an Individual Member of ALDE Party and as a candidate with +Europa. ALDE Party has been running a very effective campaign called #ValuesFirst. That’s for me what politics is about: study and work hard to enhance my liberal values and translate them into policies and laws. This campaign is another way to engage with people on crucial matters and fundamental values that today, more than ever, are at stake. If I am elected, I will help translate them into policies and laws within the institutions, but If I don’t I’ll keep doing politics and translate my values into polices and laws from outside the institutions. As Radicals, we are pretty good at that, as we showed with the laws on divorce, abortion and, more recently, on civil unions and living wills.
Sjlvia Manzi. It should certainly more courage. Apart from transnational lists idea, it is overall the election mode for MEPs that should be reformed in a way to allow a real closeness between elected and voters. This is what Europe needs more. I choose to run as a candidate to try to realize the Liberal European Federalist dream, chasing Altiero Spinelli and Marco Pannella (Italian radical leader ndr) tradition.
Carmelo Palma. I am member of a pro-European party, but I think the most promising prospect for the political consolidation of the Union is that of building pan-European parties. Without parties that think of themselves as Europeans, it will be difficult to imagine a European policy that is not a sum or an average of national policies. If we look at the great European political families, including ours, there are not only evident differences between the different national parties that compose them, but there is a substantial impossibility of thinking of the European as a truly unified political dimension. It is illusory to think of an EU that exceeds the states that compose it. But it is also illusory to think that the only level of political organization and representation is that of the state and that it is possible together to make a European policy. What led me to nominate myself? The awareness that, as Mitterand said, nationalism is war.
Diana Severati Individual Members are not a party themselves but their role is to activate the dialogue with existing member parties, trying also to influence them.
National parties, at the moment, are still needed and they should put United States of Europe on their agenda.
Being an ALDE IM, running as a candidate is an added value. Indeed, this is the reason why I decided to become a candidate. My goal is to defend the European project and all that means: rights, Erasmus, circulation and integration in order to create an unique identity within all Member States. In this way, Italy will be similar to other countries, such as France, Germany or Dutch, without being the Hungary with Orban.
Why, in your opinion, has a real liberal democratic culture in Italy struggled to emerge, while in the rest of Europe ALDE-affiliated parties have greater visibility?
Sjlvia Manzi Because varied and numerous liberal movements in Italy do not have the courage to unite – preferring to claim a more past without having competence and humility to look to the future. On the other hand, there remain some seemingly insurmountable differences, among ‘so called’ right wing liberals and ‘so called’ left wing liberals.
It’s time to overcome these differences: liberals and democrats, in my opinion, should be as liberal in economical topics as they are individual freedom strenuous defenders.
Carmelo Palma. Liberal Democratic parties in Italy have never emerged in the last century from a strongly minoritarian dimension. While, for many decades, they played a decisive role in the balance of government and today they are mostly extra-institutional forces, lacking sufficient electoral consistency to win seats and metamorphose into politically accredited interlocutors. I hope that +Europa can reverse this process. I do not delude myself that we can win the election, but I think we can bring back a force that is openly liberal democratic within institutions and at the heart of political discussion.
With Italian people abroad being able to vote in this election, do you think +Europa should appeal directly to Italian people in Britain with Brexit looming? How will this happen?
Yuri Guaiana +Europa does appeal to Italians living overseas. We have great candidates in all the overseas constituencies and the European one is obviously the most important. Many Italians left Italy – for the UK, but also for Spain and Germany – because there were no chances here for them. I’m talking about chances to find a job or, if they are LGBT, to marry the person they love, for instance. They know better than any other what the problems are in Italy and I’m confident they will support us. I don’t think Italians in the UK are any different to Italians in Spain, Germany or anywhere else, but they certainly know very well the problems that Brexit causes to the UK and to European citizens in the UK. I’m confident they will support our pro-European message
Diana Severati +Europa is directly appealing to Italian people living in the UK. We have candidates for Europe, Americas and Asia. For people living in London, a fundraising dinner with Benedetto Della Vedova will take place on the 19th of February.
Kevin Mc Namara and Emanuele Lombardini