Let’s get to know Steering Comittee Elections candidates. Voting started on September 19th. We asked same two questions about electoral program and Liberals Democras perspectives to each of them. Now it’ s Charalampos Karpanos from Greece turn.
With the rise of populist movements in Europe, liberals and democrats are faced with a new challenge. What are the best weapons to deal with them?
Populism is a monstrous creature which feeds on the fears and ignorance of issues concerning, among others, the European Union, liberalism and a quality democracy. What can we do as ALDE IMs?
I think we should turn a page and accept what we are doing today in a great way, we should now for example focus in on everyday life matters all around Europe, in each Member State and across the EU generally. We are a political party. We should now concentrate on what we can do as a party to open ourselves up to society and see how the European Union can play a more liberal and democratic role in many, various problems in our towns, villages and cities in the EU by bringing them to the political fore.
We must deal with everyday problems and must come closer to citizens in local communities – especially in Member States which are in the most danger of populism, and we can organise this because we have the advantage of fellow party members all around Europe. This cannot be done only from Headquarters or from social media. We are an innovative party and what we have is more than great, but ALDE should prove the message of its existence. In this direction is the invitation from the Steering Committee to the members to organize events across borders.
We are here, and we are people from society caring for our fellow citizens. We are here, and we should pay attention to the rights of the LGBT, the right to access education, the right to a natural environment et cetera, across Member States, and open the agenda to citizens. Let us travel to see the real condition of camps across Europe and talk to the refugees and the citizens there. There are so many ways to explain, make it clear and get closer to society. Workshops can be organized in local communities and private gatherings. We even have members in villages in the high mountains, we can use face to face contact, in organized events, of fellow citizens of local communities, seminars at national and pan-European levels for party members who are willing to give themselves up for this purpose and are in need of educating themselves on the know-how and the tools they can use to share the truth and the message of our principles and the benefits of a federal EU. How can we fight populism if we do not get out of our armchairs, get organised and try to prove what is right?
A great number of European citizens don’t even understand the basics of how the European Union works, or what is it, or why it is, or their rights and they only know some of their obligations but distorted the way some populists presented to them. I share my life between Greece, Germany and Denmark and there are so many EU workers from other EU states. I have found not more than few who know they can vote for in local council elections and the European elections as permanent inhabitants of the country of EU they live and work. So, for me, there is only a one way road to the fight against populism, to make our existence well known and honestly approach people in our local communities activating all our members just to say: “Hey! We are here! And we are here doing this, this and that and EU is this, this and that.” And ask them, so that we can feel and learn maybe something we don’t already know, report and put it in our agenda. Simple words, honest words and all for liberty and dignity and we will be appreciated, and populism will have no place to take root.
Please let me say one last thing: ALDE IMs should try to run more joint events, an even closer cooperation with LYMEC, and in local societies more so. With honesty, methodical working and with excitement and experience, as our weapons, we should not be afraid of anything, especially of the brittle, as based and structured on lies and fear, populism.
Liberals and democrats have not had the same political strength across Europe. Do you think, looking to the next EU Elections, we should work towards transnational lists?
I totally believe that what we should focus in on is to give to the European elections a real European dimension. What I mean is that in many cases European elections are second-order elections and people sometimes protest vote about national level politics. Transnational lists are the way “we lift our democracy to a continental scale” and I’m totally in favor of them. I think we need to look for the long-term benefit at the level of European Union, not to make a small-scale policy on such issues. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to empower and enlarge national parties, but I’m sure that one does not preclude the other. I believe it is time to work towards a liberal democrat transnational lists for the European elections and if there is a legal loop, it should be immediately fixed. At this moment, ALDE IMs should also play a great role and we should activate ourselves to this direction. Let’s do it! Let’s make our Europe great! Let’s make it liberal and bright!