On 4 March, Italy will return to vote to elect new Members of Parliament. Some ALDE individual members are candidates with the liberal-democratic list + Europa with Emma Bonino. In these interviews we present the second 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
Claudia Daniela Basta. Born in San Donà di Piave (province of Venezia) in 1976, she is a University Reasearcher and teacher, and lives in The Hague (The Neteherlands). Liberal, Radical in the dutch party D66, ALDE Individual Member. She runs as a candidate for Deputee Chambers for Europe Constituency.
Riccardo Lo Monaco, Born in Cagliari in 1976, liberal, radical, LGBT Activist, manager. Co -Founder of Forza Europa movement, ALDE IM Member. He runs as candidate for the “Plurinominale” (More names list) for the Senate in Sardegna 01 and Veneto 01. In Sardegna Constituency runs against Mario Adinolfi leader of anti-LGBT Moviment Il Popolo della Famiglia (Family People)
Antonio Stango. Born in Naples in 1957, he is a political scientist, writer, and editor and, since 2016, former president of the Italian league for Human Rights and now president of Italian Federation for Human Rights. He is in the board member of “Hands off Cain”, an Italian NGO with the mission of outlawing the death penalty globally. He is italian national coordinator of ALDE Individual Members and candidate for the Deputees Chamber for the “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Veneto 02.
Andreina Serena Romano. Born in Potenza in 1985. University researcher, works in business strategy, and innovation for SMEs and for the public sector. She was a former Member of Italia dei Valori (Italy of Value, former ALDE Member party) and is an ALDE Individual Member. She is a candidate for the Deputees Chamber for the “Plurinominale” (More names list) in Basilicata, where she is running against Vito De Filippo, the former Undersecretary to School and Instruction of the Democratic Party.
You are running as a candidate with Più Europa/+Europa. What exactly does “More Europe” mean to you?
Claudia Basta. More Europe points toward the direction that we radical liberals believe our country should orientate its development. Populism is rampant in Italy, and the narrative according to which the European Union is the source of Italy’s socio-economic stagnation has convinced many. More Europe’s intent is to contrast that narrative and let voters realize that less Europe means a definite collapse – more Europe, the hope of offering a better future to our citizens.
Riccardo Lo Monaco First of all, I think +Europa means taking everything good that European Union gives to all Member States. We need to look forward to United State of Europe. On the other hand, +Europa means more opportunities, more rights and, above all, more peace. Indeed, we can’t forget that we have been living in peace for more than 60 years. In the end, +Europa means Erasmus, which is a powerful way to built a unique identity
Antonio Stango Italy, which is among the six founding countries of the EU, has achieved a very high level of security and economic development, which in isolation would have been impossible. Moreover – and we must be proud of this – it was in Rome in 1950 that the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, to which all the States of the Council of Europe are obliged to comply, was signed. All the community mechanisms are a vital guarantee for us in the field of human rights as well as in the economy. Faced with the wave of incongruous accusations against Europe in recent years, due to a economic and social crisis, the message of “more Europe” shows us that we need to strengthen the federal structure and not “more duties, more nationalism, and less freedom of movement for people and goods”.
Andreina Serena Romano. +Europa means for Italy to believe in a federal project, united and aware of Europe. A concrete project of United States of Europe that could be a reason for growth for the country. Italy needs Europe, just as Europe needs Italy. We must not stand still and be moved by events. Italy must walk with other states facing all the challenges of the future. We must be aware of the possibilities and work constantly to make our economy flourish and shine with our productive, natural and social capacities. +Europa with Emma Bonino represents a possibility, a challenge and a reason to continue to hope for a more European Italy.0
What is, in your opinion, the biggest problem Italy faces at the moment and what will your contribution with +Europa be?
Claudia Basta. The biggest plague of and in Italy at present is what I regard as the grave cultural degradation that seems to affect large parts of the population. Were that not be the case, far-right parties like Lega, Fratelli d’Italia and CasaPound, and ‘clown parties’ like Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the Five Star Movement, would not have the consensus they clearly have. To be clear: the conservative right has its own history and legitimate political philosophical grounds, in Italy as in the rest of Europe, and I respect those grounds despite my liberalism. The point is the current far-right in Italy is a grotesque representation of that legacy. It is led by leaders who miss the cultural background and competencies required to set forward any credible political programme, sometimes even to express themselves in Italian correctly. Yet they form a consensus, flagging by so doing the mutual lack of critical thinking in far too many citizens – how can someone believe that Europe is our problem rather than our solution, or that immigrants are inherently a threat?
By promoting a stronger integration of Italy in Europe and vice versa, by stressing the importance of science, research & development, as the ‘DNA’ of our democracy, and by putting our women candidates Costanza Hermanin, Ersilia Vaudo, Roberta Talarico and Giulia Pastorella – all high-skilled professionals with a scientific background – at the forefront of our campaign, Più Europa aims at activating a cultural revolution. Politically conscious Italians abound, both in Italy and abroad – our challenge is involving them in our project.
Riccardo Lo Monaco First of all, we need to increase jobs. However, we can’t forget the huge public debt that overwhelms Italy. For this reason, on one hand we need a State that helps market competition and the private initiative. On the other hand, we need to cut the wastes that hit public costs. In this way we can invest on job.
Antonio Stango The complexity of international relations, including the risks of terrorism and war, the epochal challenge of migration, the transnationality of organized crime and the need for new forms of industrial and commercial competitiveness in a globalized world. These oblige us to joint responses from one strong European Union, while it would be dangerous to rely on individual solutions by 27 states. The development of strategies and methods for dealing with social problems within each country can benefit from European cooperation and the sharing of best practices in different fields. The elected representatives of +Europa, in addition to the specific skills that each will bring, and in a pragmatically liberal democratic and non-ideological vision, will have to maintain the full European integration method in all areas of their parliamentary activity.
Andreina Serena Romano. Unfortunately, at the moment, I think that Italy is facing many problems in many sectors. There is a great job to do and many sacrifices to come. I could list many points in the program but I would like to focus on a couple. Growth and the labour market are two key points in the +Europa programme and two hot topics in my campaign. From these two points there are a thousand themes that can solve many of the problems that we face. Rethinking industry and companies with more modern, innovative approaches helps us to create different production and commercial models that can keep up with the times. The contribution of research is essential for us to thrive and to differentiate ourselves. Competition should not be a taboo but the foundation of our economy. Not only for companies but also for consumers. We need to facilitate freelancers and remove barriers from young people creating businesses. By loosening these knots, we can start to speak a common language to the rest of the world, which continues to move forward as we watch. Think of the world of start-ups and the many problems of small and micro companies that make up the largest percentage of our economic fabric: we must remove the obstacles to their growth.
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?
Claudia Basta. Initially, I didn’t think I would run as a candidate. As member of ALDE and of the Dutch party D66, having lived in the Netherlands, I had enough to do and contribute to the European project already.
When Più Europa was born, back in November, what I did was simply to put myself at disposal of the respective European steering committee, led by our head-of-list for the lower chamber, Alessandro Fusacchia. I gave my availability to become a candidate, as many others, for helping the movement grow in Northern Europe more than for the true ambition to run, but Alessandro proposed me to be the first ‘Dutch’ candidate ever proposed by an Italian party in the Europe constituency, and I accepted with enthusiasm.
Riccardo Lo Monaco Italy does not have a political party that represents Europe and European ideas. This could be a risk for the European project. Unfortunately, many Italian leaders, even including Berlusconi, who says he supports United Europe, allies with the most xenophobic and nationalist political parties that have ever existed in Italy, such as Salvini and Meloni. I will always support human rights and civil liberties, such as LGBTI cause. These rights could be threatened by anti-European parties. 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.
Antonio Stango Transnational lists would be a positive step towards an accentuated federal dimension of the European Union, just as it was important in 1979 to start electing the members of the European Parliament by universal suffrage. I am sure that we will have to achieve this goal too. I have chosen to run as a candidate because I believe that all the energies and ideas of those who do not intend to give in to populism, sovereignism or abstention – three deadly risks to democracy, civil rights and socio-economic wellbeing – must converge towards the hope of effectively liberal democratic and federalist politics.
Andreina Serena Romano. I believe that the time has come for a new, more European, more compact and policy younger. New communication methods and new methods of approach to the voter. I have been an individual member of ALDE for many years, I started my journey in LYMEC and this has helped me a lot. Dealing with the politics of other countries is a starting point to improve and make ours more open. This is why I have always supported transnational lists, which have had a setback. It’s a way to rely on different cultures and thoughts, to discover how other European countries operate and how we can improve our political activities. It is time for a new political wind of right ideals, of real commitment and of security and loyalty. That’s why I chose to run as a candidate and put my face in the front row for the European project.
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?
Antonio Stango Italian politics has for decades been dominated by the contrast between the two “church parties” – the Christian Democrats and the Communist Party with strong traditions of Catholicism and Marxism respectively. Meanwhile, the minor secular parties, like Liberal Democrats, no other possibility of maneuvering it but supporting it, with variable results. The only exception were the Italian Social Movement which referred to the political elements of Fascism and which was considered “outside the constitutional arch” – a term referred to the parties who contributed to wrote the Italian Constitutional Chart after WWII, the Radical Party, which between 1976 and 1987 participated in the elections with the his own name and that he posed as an alternative to both the logic and the “historical compromise” between Christian Democrats and Communists, pursuing his own non-ideological objectives and seeking convergence on those.
The end of the PCI, which was the largest communist party in the Western world, together with the French one) after the collapse of the Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet reference, the extinction of the DC and other parties in the final crisis of the “First Republic” left space for Berlusconi’s Forza Italia; that initially appeared as a “mass liberal party”, and changed face, programs and practices according to the polls and allies of the moment. The phase that starts now could allow us, precisely because of the urgent need to counteract the new risks, to strengthen the role of a liberal democratic alternative party and make it more evident and incisive.
Andreina Serena Romano. This is a good question, difficult and impactful. The liberal democratic parties in Europe are strong, often form the government and are often fundamental in European political management. I believe the main problem is our difficulty in changing history and adapting ourselves. We have a strong attachment to conservative and Catholic thought, despite being a secular country. But this is a knot that we will dissolve with difficulty, even if with +Europa we are finally launching one true liberal democratic party that can lead us towards modernity.
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?
Claudia Basta. Più Europa’s candidates living in the UK, Davide Rubini (for the lower chamber) and Claudio Radaelli (for the Senate) are the brightest, most competent and most genuine ‘remainers’ that Italian voters are likely to meet in the course of this campaign. Respectively, a European Regulatory Affairs Manager and a European governance professor, they have explained to the many Italians who followed their campaign why they think Brexit is a political, economic, and identitarian disaster for the people living in the UK – regardless of whether they’re native British or not. Davide and Claudio embody outstandingly our pro-European political programme and the level at which we would like to take the debate on the European Union. Through them, and through the entire team created by Alessandro Fusacchia and Alberto Alemanno, our head-of-list at the Senate, we really are deploying the best minds and the most enthusiastic Italians possible for making the European Union “exiters-proof”.
Riccardo Lo Monaco +Europa should appeal to all Italians within European territory, stimulating them to vote for “Europe”. Of course, Italians in Great Britain should feel more than everyone this European feeling. For this reason, since Brexit, they should vote +Europa. We just need to reach them saying that we are in this election!
Kevin Mc Namara and Emanuele Lombardini