ALDE Individual Members Steering Comittee elections: candidates manifesto

ALDE Individual Members are voting also to elect Steering Comitte Members. In this post, Elizabeth Evenden Kenyon asked to the candidates to present themselves with a manifesto. He we are tthe answers of five of them.

ANDERS BASBØLL

Fidesz is tapping into a wider European trend: the rise of identity-based politics.’ (The Economist, 5 April 2018) In a Europe where citizens are increasingly steered by nationalists to choose between ‘them’ (immigrants and migrants) and ‘us’, how would you utilise this Steering Committee position to help ALDE promote cohesion and inclusion in Europe?

I think the major problem with Fidesz is the lack of respect for basic democracy. OSCE: “The 8 April parliamentary elections were characterized by a pervasive overlap between state and ruling party resources,” and “the freedoms of the media and association have been restricted,” this is outrageous. I congratulated the Danish Conservative Party with its win in Hungary on social media, and suggest others could do likewise. It is revolting that Fidesz is tolerated and congratulated by the EPP. Democracy is not just for potential members to live up to, also for present members – and I will support measures against Hungary until free and fair elections are back. I think the restrictions and bias of media is partly behind the success of ”them”/”us”. To me, being liberal is about being colorblind. However, we shall not ignore real problems concerning immigration nor the very real benefits that immigration brings every day. More than any specific action by the SC,I think that having a successful IM that all of us create, makes more people get to know both facts but also policies in other member states – this can help to the spreading of best practices. And, obviously, any limitation on the free movement of EU citizens in the Union is unacceptable, and I think the IM could be a strong voice against border controls.I run to help create a stronger organisation with clearer internal rules and procedures to make sure all members can participate as fruitful as possible. This should create a better atmosphere and better argued positions in general. I think the SC can help with the sharing of information and experiences between countries, making it easier to make better campaigns – and I can imagine many local campaigns could be about tolerance – but I think local activities will have to start from local ideas and wishes, not from the SC.

‘Brexit means Brexit.’ (Teresa May) How might we help initiate in Europe a move away from (advisory) referenda, towards a more nuanced approach to public consultation on the future of European identity and relations?

I don’t see public consultations being an alternative to neither elections nor referenda.I am in favor of representative democracy, but sometimes, especially on sovereignty, a referendum is a good way to decide an issue. However, neither referenda nor Parliaments should be able to take Europe hostage. For instance, trade is clearly a European matter – Trade deals should not be signed by member states, only by the EU – it is a catastrophy, that the Canadian FTA was nearly stopped by the Wallonian Parliament – and the Ukraine FTA by Dutch voters (destructive regardless of method of voting).I think new treaties (at least on which issuies the EU will have competence) will continue to require unanimity, at least for a long time – but decisions on enlargement and procedures should be changed to some kind of qualified majority decisions.

Our lives are made up of moments of success and misfortune, worry and hope. Tell us something about your life experience that has given you insight or motivation, which you would bring to the role, to help steer us towards a brighter, stronger future?
My second child was born in the UK when we lived there. We were accepted as fellow citizens – BTW also when I was voting (Lib Dem) for the local council. Seeing the UK sleepwalking out of the Union is hurtful. This piece of art  made a strong impression – imagine telling a WW2 survivor that the boarders look like that now (and no country has invaded the others). We shall not be the generation that had free movement of humans, goods and ideas and threw it all away. I don’t say that we should only play defence – but I think we have to face the fact, that what we have, we could loose – we shall be ready to fight! We need to play offence too – for the completion of the single market on services, for a real common foreign, security and defence policy and for a Commission chosen by the Parliament (as in most member states) – this starts by defending the Spitzenkandidaten and make sure that all the voters know about them in 2019. I think we should work for a primary of the ALDE candidate where all members of all member parties and Individual Members shall have one vote each.

STUART BONAR

Fidesz is tapping into a wider European trend: the rise of identity-based politics.’ (The Economist, 5 April 2018) In a Europe where citizens are increasingly steered by nationalists to choose between ‘them’ (immigrants and migrants) and ‘us’, how would you utilise this Steering Committee position to help ALDE promote cohesion and inclusion in Europe?

This is a big challenge, and I think an ALDE steering committee member can do two things. The first thing is to encourage Individual Members (IMs) across Europe – individually and also through any liberal party they may be a part of in their home country – to engage with people newly arrived in their country, and with people from other groups in society that are pushed to the political margins too. Bring them into the political debate locally, encourage them to join ALDE and take part. Ultimately, the ALDE IM membership needs to be as diverse as the people of Europe are diverse.

The second action is to speak out. As liberals we must be brave and unapologetic about our values. Take the UK, for example, over 10,000 doctors in our National Health Service are nationals of EU Member States other than the UK, and 20,000 nurses too. For British liberals, we need to be vocal about the contribution that EU citizens from outside the UK make to our country. We liberals must meet fear with hope.

‘Brexit means Brexit.’ (Theresa May) How might we help initiate in Europe a move away from (advisory) referenda, towards a more nuanced approach to public consultation on the future of European identity and relations?

The UK’s 2016 EU referendum is the best possible advertisement against referendums. Vast amounts of money and time that could be spent productively on improving the lives of British people is instead being wasted on delivering a policy that the politicians themselves know will make the UK poorer and weaker. At the same time, a great many people (myself included) are increasingly angry and vocal about the fact that we are to be stripped – against our will – of an EU citizenship that is a vital part of our identity.

We need to keep pointing to Britain’s damaging Brexit experience as an example of why we need to discuss and debate European identity and how we relate to one another as Europeans. These problems arise when issues are not addressed openly.

Additionally, ALDE IMs should be encouraged to promote within their own national liberal parties and also within their own communities more discussion about EU initiatives and “big picture” questions about the future of Europe. We need to inject the EU into mainstream political discussions that take place around Europe. The idea of pan-European parties, like ALDE, that have individual membership are one way of helping to achieve that in the long term.

Our lives are made up of moments of success and misfortune, worry and hope. Tell us something about your life experience that has given you insight or motivation, which you would bring to the role, to help steer us towards a brighter, stronger future?

I started to learn Swedish a few years ago. I love the country, admire its values, so I thought I’d learn its language. I liked the idea that after a few years I could possibly move my work and my life to Sweden too.That plan, sketchy as it is, was crushed by the narrow vote by the UK to leave the EU. Brexit will strip me of a freedom of movement that I have had for my entire adult life. I was asked in the referendum if I wanted to keep those freedoms and I answered: “yes”. Nonetheless, I am scheduled to be stripped of them in the near future.

More than that, I will be stripped of my EU citizenship too. It is a vital part of my identity, and yet it will soon be torn from my hands. All of this is totally against my will. I campaigned for months, in all weathers and all across the country, for the UK to remain in the EU. Brexit pains me deeply.

I intend to make a last-ditch attempt to move across the Channel before the end of the transition phase to see if I can secure at least some rights before the door is slammed shut. But I will do so ill-prepared and not at a time of my choosing.

All of that has been a searing experience for me. And it has driven me not only to commit to stay engaged in European issues, but it drives me to want to fight to ensure that our liberal, open values continue to grow and flourish. Being an ALDE IM is an important part of that.

SOFIA AFONSO FERREIRA

‘Fidesz is tapping into a wider European trend: the rise of identity-based politics.’ (The Economist, 5 April 2018) In a Europe where citizens are increasingly steered by nationalists to choose between ‘them’ (immigrants and migrants) and ‘us’, how would you utilise this Steering Committee position to help ALDE promote cohesion and inclusion in Europe?

Fidesz is just a part of a major problem. The only solution to fight the increasingly nationalists and populist partys is… information. Give people the right information and numbers, what we really need to know about the emigration issue in Europe. It’s a priority and duty for every liberal to do that work.

‘Brexit means Brexit.’ (Teresa May) How might we help initiate in Europe a move away from (advisory) referenda, towards a more nuanced approach to public consultation on the future of European identity and relations?

I strongly believe in representative democracy and referenda is part of that. Even if sometimes we don’t like or agree with the result. Brexit is a reality, we need to learn e think about what happened and work together to prevent more disintegration in Europe.

Our lives are made up of moments of success and misfortune, worry and hope. Tell us something about your life experience that has given you insight or motivation, which you would bring to the role, to help steer us towards a brighter, stronger future?

I’m the founder of Democracia21 in Portugal, a civil movement that is collecting signatures to become a party this year. I believe it’s important to defend our political agenda as we don’t have a liberal party for decades in my country. I’m fighting to do a strong liberal project and create a bridge with UE, being a Steering Committee member will help me to do that and increase the number of IM’s in Portugal and in UE with portuguese emigrants.

SEBASTIEN MARTIN

Fidesz is tapping into a wider European trend: the rise of identity-based politics.’ (The Economist, 5 April 2018) In a Europe where citizens are increasingly steered by nationalists to choose between ‘them’ (immigrants and migrants) and ‘us’, how would you utilise this Steering Committee position to help ALDE promote cohesion and inclusion in Europe?

It would be a mistake to simply brush off nationalist movements as being just temporary anomalies, incomprehensible events that will disappear naturally with the passage of time and the application of reason. First, nationalism feeds off from fears, and those fears shall be clearly acknowledged, if not addressed. For example, progress shall be made to establish common rules to curb social dumping and tax evasion; to set-up a real European Defense Union against external threats; and have a decent and coherent European migration policy.

But nationalism also comes from the need – which we all have – to belong to a group and feel part of a community. The feeling to belong to a larger European community is shared today by specific groups and younger generations, but certainly not by all citizens. ALDE must continue to defend a European identity and we must continue to promote it as Individual Members.

We will have several opportunities to do exactly that this year: our resolutions can defend initiatives to spread a European vision and, through them, a European identity (for example, trans-nationalists). But probably the most important opportunity will be the clear (re-)statement of our values in the party manifesto that we are already preparing for the 2019 EP elections.

‘Brexit means Brexit.’ (Teresa May) How might we help initiate in Europe a move away from (advisory) referenda, towards a more nuanced approach to public consultation on the future of European identity and relations?

Let me be clear on this: referenda are not bad in themselves; only the political intent behind them can be. Brexit has been possible due to a massive misinformation campaign organized by mischievous politicians who, as soon as they had recovered their senses following the surprise of their own “success”, refused to take any responsibility for it (Farage standing down from UKIP; Johnson declining to become PM). Unfortunately, this odious strategy only met a very weak – if not totally absent – campaign from those who were supposed to be its most vehement and visible adversaries.

Besides referenda, some other forms of public consultations already exist, which use we shall probably promote and encourage more openly. As an example, let me mention the “European citizens’ initiative”, which allows European citizens to force the European Commission to take action (more information can be found here).

More generally, it’s important to improve the EU’s communication as to what it does, and show citizens more clearly what it brings in their daily life (as a very concrete if not trivial example, think about ending data roaming in the EU!). It’s equally important to reject the debate which reduces the EU to a mere budgetary debate, an opposition between “net payers” and “net receivers”, and show all the gains that the Union brings to the continent – starting with something that, maybe, we take too much for granted: peace.

Finally, education is key. As proposed by the Parti Radical in France, I’m a firm supporter of civic courses at school, explaining the values underpinning our free societies; the role of national and European institutions; the importance of democracy, separation of powers and the rule of law (which some European countries seem to have forgotten recently…).

Our lives are made up of moments of success and misfortune, worry and hope. Tell us something about your life experience that has given you insight or motivation, which you would bring to the role, to help steer us towards a brighter, stronger future?

I somehow feel a bit embarrassed to admit that I feel quite lucky in my life! With enough patience, I have had the opportunity to try what I wanted to try, and lived the experiences I wanted to live. Along the way, I have made fantastic friends, worked alongside inspiring colleagues, and benefited from the support of a great family.

Nevertheless, I find some comfort in thinking that luck, while always necessary, cannot explain everything. Qualities such as curiosity, discipline, and determination shall count too; as the ability to work well in a group, accept criticism and not being afraid to fail. If elected, that’s those qualities which I will bring to the Steering Committee. In any case, supported by motivated people like you and our great community, I feel encouraged to continue our fight for a fairer and freer world.

BTR NAIDU

Fidesz is tapping into a wider European trend: the rise of identity-based politics.’ (The Economist, 5 April 2018) In a Europe where citizens are increasingly steered by nationalists to choose between ‘them’ (immigrants and migrants) and ‘us’, how would you utilise this Steering Committee position to help ALDE promote cohesion and inclusion in Europe?

A common border needs a common defense.   This has been a major problem for the immigrant problem in 2015 which also gave raise to nationalism and identity-based politics.  There should have been direct involvement of EU member states to deal with the crisis in Hungary so that it is also visible to the citizens locally.  A stronger and more integrated Europe is what is needed to address such issues in future.  Common army, United states of Europe and European citizenship are some of the policies which will make Europe more cohesive as well make people feel more integrated / involved.

‘Brexit means Brexit.’ (Teresa May) How might we help initiate in Europe a move away from (advisory) referenda, towards a more nuanced approach to public consultation on the future of European identity and relations?

In case of Brexit, it was sad to see that the decision to leave EU was given in the hands of common people.  Though it was done in very democratic way, it is too much for a common man to understand the benefits of an open border.  For most of them, an open border mean they could travel without needing to apply for a visa whereas it is much more than that.  It affects the lives of people on daily basis.  I strongly feel that people of Europe should also have been given the chance to answer if they want Britain to leave Europe or not.   When a decision of a country to join EU is done in a collective way, a decision to leave EU should also have been done in a similar way.  An European Identity in terms of European citizenship is a solution so that such things does not repeat again and such future issues are unanimously addressed by United Europe rather than an individual member state alone.

Our lives are made up of moments of success and misfortune, worry and hope. Tell us something about your life experience that has given you insight or motivation, which you would bring to the role, to help steer us towards a brighter, stronger future?

I come from a very middle class family in India where the society, family and traditions are more valued over wealth and status.  As a young man I made my mind that i have to  do something useful to the society and leave my footprints behind in the hearts of people.  After travelling many cities in India and few in abroad, I started materializing my thoughts by setting up a company through which employment is generated and the employees could give a better life to their families.  Today the company provides around 25 families a decent livelihood.   My next carrier shift brings me to Europe.  The political landscape of Europe is very different from that of India.  It is more open, democratic, debated and continuously evolving.   It was truly inspiring and could not stop myself but to get involved.  India which has 29 states, has 22 official but nearly 1652 different spoken languages, has been successful in keeping them united for over 60+ years.  My experience brings mix of two continents and gives an out of the box approach to the local issues.  This will be my unique contribution to a brighter and stronger Europe.

Elizabeth Evenden Kenyon

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