All posts by Liberal Words

ALDE Council and Congress Delegates elections: Get to know candidates/4

From July 3rd  we’ll have congress and council delegate elections: as usual, we gave  candidates the chance to present themselves. Here we are a new  slot with three council candidates: Marie-Catherine Meyer,   Silvia Fernandez, Yves Robert  and one congress candidate,  Anja Fabiani

Why are you running as a candidate?

Marie-Catherine Meyer As a delegate I see my function as a double role: On the one hand it is very important to inform the IMs thoroughly and continuously about the decisions of the Council and the Congress and their justifications. And in the other direction: We need to do a field trip. Communication must go both ways. I have a wide-ranging experience: In addition to my membership in the FDP and the functions I have fulfilled there for many years – Local chairwoman FDP, Speaker for LGBT – I am strongly involved in En Marche Allemagne-Autriche, which is an excellent prerequisite for cooperation with the La Renaissance List. Some weeks ago, I had the pleasure to meet Dominique Riquet, who is now Vice president of renew Europe. In 2014 I was an EU candidate for the district of Düsseldorf and did the campaign on my own. Je suis une femme de terrain. „Woman of the field.”   I am a bridge builder, my dual citizenship has trained me in dialogue. Privately. Professionally. Politically.

Silvia Fernandez. I always say that the IMs are dear to my heart. They have always represented an outlet for many Europeans whose liberal ideas and thirst for equality, justice, solidarity and openness drives them to politics. The IMs are a very special platform that strives for the diversity of nationalities and cultures across Europe with, what I believe, is an immense potential, inside and outside of ALDE party.  We are currently living during a very big transformative moment, in both the European Parliament, and our Liberal family. And the Council is set to be one of the crucial parts in the process of finally forging this new alliance. Thus I would love to represent the IMs best interests and fundamental rights in the Council. I believe that as our membership grows, our voice and power should too. So I would like to help advance our agenda, and make sure we have real influence in the essential and structural matters – especially those that could affect us all in any way. 

Yves Robert  Today, IMs lack visibility within the Council’s bodies. We must rise to the challenge and work towards more recognition. As a Former Government Advisor, Special Advisor to Prime Minister, Advisor to Minister of Foreign Affairs, former European Programme Director, IM’s Coordinator for France, initiator of the White Paper for an IM’s reform, I believe I have the experience to represent you on the Council so that, together, we can build the future.

Anja Fabiani: First and foremost, because I am the only candidate from Eastern Europe / Western Balkan, which is a very strange situation, showing this part of Europe is left behind and I have addressed this topic by my engagement at Visegrad 8 Group in the frame of ALDE IMs.

Name one initiative or proposal you would like to see endorsed by the ALDE Congress?

Marie-Catherine Meyer I would like to resume the initiative of the last two years: The transnational lists. For me, this means a school of true European democracy. What we urgently need. The recent European elections have once again clearly shown that people still think and talk nationally. And that, unfortunately, many of the commitments to Europe are only lip service. The overarching view is lacking

Silvia Fernandez. Well, Transnational lists were incredibly close to being passed last Congress, in Madrid. It was also the year we were the closest to getting any resolution passed for us, the IMs. It remains a highly demanded matter among the IMs, so I would want for it to be endorsed at this Congress. 
 However, as I’m running for Council, I would like to point out a couple of proposals I would like to see pushed through: the possibility of obtaining a larger budget in proportion to our fees and the European funds. This would allow us to have more autonomy inside the party, and allocate better resources to our coordinators and to organise more transnational events. The second proposal I would insist on is related to our party’s possibility of enlargement. It is my belief that it is fundamental that this enlargement puts our core liberal values first, and follows a strong plan of action against corruption. We shouldn’t have member parties that do not comply with either our liberal and pro-European values, or the respect of transparency and solidarity. 

Yves Robert The Council’s objective is to define the Party’s broad political guidelines and manage ALDE’s membership, finances and internal organisation. We must be able to bring our word and our ideas to influence decisions, even with one vote on the 157 held by the Member Parties. We must not forget that we have as much weight as many countries (12) such as Hungary, Portugal, Georgia, and Cyprus. We must develop contacts, to make sure we are on the map. Acknowledging this is the challenge for the Council in October. Then at the Council of June 2020, we will have to introduce a strong idea that will be defined with you and the SC and so shape our Future.

Anja Fabiani: No doubt, the democratisation of Europe.

What role can individual members have to renew Europe?

Marie-Catherine Meyer It is all too easy to claim noble goals. Adorns one’s own person wonderfully.  I am more modest The IMs should work like some kind of think tank. Giving impetus, “remontée de terrain”.  Basic democracy at its best. Many people are turning away from traditional parties. This is a great opportunity for the ALDE IMs. But they also have to be seized and “fed”.

Silvia Fernandez. I believe that the Individual Members are already renewing Europe, and politics. We provide an outlet, and a ‘safety net’ for people that may not feel represented with the national parties of their countries; or they simply want to be closer to Europe, and the EU policy making. IMs challenge the traditional way of conceiving politics by challenging national parties and representatives, and gathering together in transnational and local events across Europe that, in a nutshell, represents a new era of politics. 

Yves Robert.It is essential to develop a close relationship with Renew Europe Group and work with our MPs to get our message across and to create joint events. I have taken the initiative to organize on 28 November a Transnational Meeting for IMs in the Parliament of Strasbourg, in order to meet our new Deputies. My close relations with the Parties in France, such as La République en Marche, AGIR, RADICAUX, UDI, as well as my distinction received from the European Parliament (European Citizen’s Award) will make this initiative easier.

Anja Fabiani: We, Individul Members, are still not a political party, but a formation in political party (ALDE). Having asked myself, why am I doing it, the only answer is: because of political activism. Individual Members should be: political activists, adressing the most outstanding, urgent, crucial etc… situation, also by actions as demonstrations etc…. I would like to see Steering Committee not waiting on some nice function or job or playing politics by sharing different interests among European countries, but by organising protests, writing, engaging…

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ALDE Congress Delegates elections: Get to know candidates/3

From July 3rd we’ll have congress and council delegate elections: as usual, we gave  candidates the chance to present themselves. Here we are second slot with the other congress delegates:  Diana Severati, Timothy Asotie and Guillermo Passas Varo

Why you are running as a candidate?

Diana Severati, I joined ALDE as Individual Member because I strongly believe in the values of the open society, and being a member is, for me, an opportunity to be actively involved and have a say on party policy. Running as a candidate is, for me, a natural step in this experience, and I find the idea of representing the Individual Members at the congress a very exciting one. 

Timothy Asotie Alde is a platform where ideals are welcome and utilise, and i was motivated by Alde party because the party stands for liberalism and democracy. And with great joy, i choose to serve Alde Party where political ideals are put in place and socio-economic developmental goals are achieved. Their aims on the fight for freedom and equity, migrants consideration/inclusion, gender equality/right to choice and idea, e.t.c, actually encouraged me alot. The biggest political platform/coalition in Europe is bringing ideals together in helping the European economic growth and prosperity, as it also represent gender equality, freedom of speech, and migrants inclusion. I believe my theoretical knowledge and practical experience over the years as a political scientist, will not only enable me in analysing political issues but also discussing possibly solution/problem solving.

Guillermo Passas Varo This year is essential for the European liberal family. We’ve seen how our fraction in the European Parliament has grown up to 108 MEPs, but times of growth also represent times of uncertainty: many of us, IMs, fear that liberal values need to be vindicated in this time of convergence, and I’m committed to it. I came to this family many years ago, inspired by Guy Verhofstadt, who has been our spokesman for 11 years. He advocated for a more democratic Europe, for a brave liberalism, and Guy’s years have also been years of leadership of the liberal family within the EP fraction. Now, we’re stronger than ever, but at the same time we’ve stopped leading the way, thus we’ve got to speak out loud and clear for what we stand for. I stand for a more liberal and democratic Union: I want a Union where citizens are considered free and therefore responsible in a broad sense, not only in terms of civil rights, but most particularly in terms of political rights; for this, citizens must be able to directly participate in European politics, and this is something that is only possible within ALDE Party IMs.

Name one initiative or proposal you would like to see endorsed by the ALDE Congress?

Diana Severati, I believe that we should keep on working for a resolution on the creation of the transnational lists. Having transnational lists would allow candidates to focus on European issues, while freeing them from campaigning on topics mostly relevant for their regional circumscription – and citizens who want to bring their contribution to the European liberal project would be encouraged to join the ALDE Party as individual members, or an ALDE member party. Besides that, I would like to focus on the sustainability issue: promoting a rational and tech-based environmentalism opposed to an ideological view (e.g. Nimby syndrome, no major infrastructure projects, etc.) and on the strengthening of Europe-Africa cooperation, considering the primary role of the Mediterranean basin countries.

Timothy Asotie ALDE SHOULD HELP TO STRENGHTEN THE FIGHT FOR HUMAN RIGHT  ACROSS EUROPE, MOST ESPECIALLY ITALY”. It is called: JUSTICE FOR ALL.  The situation in my country (ITALY) is getting out of hand, and the violation for  human right is the other of the day. The socio-political orientation powered by some  desperate Italian politicians is really wrong and it’s causing societal conflict and  discomfort. Conflicts and war are now projected as political agenda by some Italian  politicians. Those that ought to speak or stand for the truth are now scared because  their lives is at risk and might even lost their source of income; (a teacher was  suspended from Italian school just because she speaks in support of human right, a  mayor who was taking to court for standing for human right, e.t.c)  Migrants are been molested and treated like slaves, and there is feelings for humanity  anymore. They risk their lives to escape from war and conflicts in search for freedom,  and the government are happy as they watch them die in the sea. I will be glad to see  Alde do more in Italy, “human right first”.

Guillermo Passas Varo Transnational lists, undoubtedly. I’m aware that we’ve tried this resolution three times, and it didn’t passed, but last year we almost get it approved. I believe that it didn’t pass because of the proximity of the European elections, also because of the vote against of one of our delegates. You may ask yourself why transnational lists are so important: they’re the only way we can openly advocate for political rights, because this would mean that MEPs would fight for the general instead of national interest. Being Individual members means to be committed to the enlargement of European citizens’ political rights, and I believe that this is the only way to do so. Apart from this, I’ll also support every initiative concerning liberal values: civil rights, minority rights (LGBTI, migrants, people with disabilities…), fight against climate change, European trade and investment comprehensive partnerships, a European Army, a common asylum and migration policy… I consider myself a liberal, both socially and economically, and I’ll act in accordance to my principles.

 What role can individual members have to renew Europe?

Diana Severati, As Individual Members we have the opportunity to be ambassador of ALDE values and campaigns through local and cross border events, to create networking opportunities and share insights,  and I also think that the collaboration with national member parties and vice versa, as stated in the resolution approved at the congress in Amsterdam,  is fundamental.  As Individual members we can have an important role of connectors and we can actively contribute to renew Europe with our ideas, together with member parties. 

Timothy Asotie The individual members have much to contribute in the Renew Europe initiative.  Individuals members are a set of professionals who in their individual ways are  successful in coordinating different projects from different socio-economic and political  perspectives. They are a set of people with great ideals that Alde Party needs to push  the European projects forward; politically and economically. Alde Individual Members  are both partisan and non partisan, but they come together to build the future of the European children and beyond.  The Individual members are expected to carry out the political values Alde Party in  renew Europe and make them their culture; “Transparency and Accountability”.

Guillermo Pasas Varo Individual Members are already a paradigm of a renewed Europe. We’re the vivid image of the need for democracy in the current European Union and the vindicating voice of European citizens. In order for Europe to be renewed, Individual Members must be heard, our positions taken into account and our organisation must move forward. This means that we’ve got to increase our autonomy, be more relevant within ALDE Party decision-making bodies and be taken into account by the rest of our political party.

ALDE Congress Delegates elections: Get to know candidates/2

From July 3rd  we’ll have congress and council delegate elections: as usual, we gave  candidates the chance to present themselves. Here we are second slot with Nadia Bennis, Anders Basboll and Hans Heiler Hammer (all for Congress)

Why you are running as a candidate?

Nadia Bennis. My multicultural background and great ability for intercultural exchange could be great assets to represent you at the Congress and work hand in hand with people from all over Europe. I had the honour of representing you last year at the Madrid Congress where I enjoyed the negotiations with all parties and supported the transnational lists.   As a French national, I grew up bilingual in an international environment in the French-German border region and hence I was exposed to various cultures and aware of how crucial the EU is for better cooperation and understanding. I benefited from Erasmus and studying in three different countries for both my MA and BA in European Studies and International Relations which enabled me to speak several languages fluently and to adapt to different environments rapidly, enjoying the hospitality and cheerfulness of each country and uniting all these experiences which certainly shaped my personality and are the engine for my passion for politics and the EU.

Anders Basboll. ALDE IM believes in a federal, European Democracy. Our party went a step backwards when we left the Spitzenkandidaten process. A federation, or a democracy, does not choose its leader in a closed meeting between leaders of member states. We need to stand with the other pro EU parties again on the Spitzenkandidaten, without accepting that the largest party necessarily shall have the Commission President. Leaving “Spitzenkandidaten” was also a tactical blunder. Imagine a Europe wide campaign, probably for Commissioner Vestager – who ended up as the unofficial ALDE candidate at the very end. #Fightlikealiberal should mean fighting elections, even if we risk loosing, instead of waiting for governments to give us what we want. That is not who we are! I have much experience with resolutions and congresses, from LYMEC/IFLRY and Danish Liberal Youth and later in “adult politics”, and I have participated in many ALDE events including congresses and Manifesto meetings. Not to mention my debate activity on ALDE IM facebook for years. I would like to serve you all as your delegate.

Hans Heiler Hammer: Last week, when I announced my candidacy as a delegate to the congress in Athens, it was because I have something on my heart that I believe I can contribute, in ALDE IM / RenewEurope

Name one initiative or proposal you would like to see endorsed by the ALDE Congress?

Nadia Bennis. Having worked for several years in policy issues, amongst others in the NGO sector and the European Parliament, my interests, but also my experience, are in the areas of environment, health and equal rights.  I would be very keen to see proposals in relation to efficient and innovative actions to fight climate change and to improve health and environmental conditions. In addition, I would very much welcome proposals that focus on actions to promote equal rights at all levels and efficient strategies to fight all types of discrimination.

Anders Basboll. I think the most important issue is climate change. We must fight it, and cleverly. Economists agree. There needs to be a price on carbon – either through a tax or a quota system. In some sense, we have a fine quota system in EU, but the price is too low, because agriculture, transportation and construction are exempted. We shall fight these special interests and include everything and lower the amount of quotas too. That is why I co-authored a resolution to this end last year. I think we should vote for such a resolution this year – and reach out to other delegations to pass it. No to conservative foot dragging, no to socialist subsidies – and yes to a liberal solution: strong regulation, but using market forces.

Hans Heiler Hammer: I will work for the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be accepted by all countries. It was adopted to protect the individual from abuse; it guarantees a number of fundamental human rights, and as a human being, and a Liberal member, I cannot sit silently reclining and watch, people like; journalist Ivan Golunov, being imprisoned and charged with no valid evidence; that several other journalists and freedom fighters are being imprisoned without cause in Ukraine and other countries; that homosexuals experience hatred and persecution in many countries.
We have a duty to speak and act.
When people flee from distress and persecution, and they knock on the doors of Europe, it is our duty to act. Over 20% of all immigrants, are now climate refugees.
If we do not respect human rights ourselves, we cannot expect others to do so. Therefore, the initiative with RenewEurope is very important. We have a duty to each other and to the global community, to do something. This will be my focus going forward, and therefore it is very important to me, to participate in the debates in Athens and to fight for the necessary resolutions to be adopted. Because we must have visions, hope, and will, to find solutions.

What role can individual members have to renew Europe?

Nadia Bennis. In my opinion, individual members are a crucial element to renew Europe because of the diversity, commitment and innovation they can contribute with. That is why I am running as a candidate in order to make our voice as individual members heard during the congress. I would be very honoured and grateful for the opportunity to represent you in Athens! Thank you in advance for your vote!

Anders Basboll. European Democracy starts with a European Public. We are living European Democracy when we discuss with each other, and we each contribute to making the dream of European democracy come true, when we tell friends, family, social media contacts and collegues that we are a proud member of a European Party. I think ALDE IM can both work as a meeting place for liberals in countries with no liberal party (maybe they even form one), as a place where liberals from different national liberal parties actually meet and talk (like in Denmark) and finally as a political home for people with grievances against their domestic liberal party(ies). There is a lot of sense in liberal policies and in the EU – but sometimes sense does not win the day. Passion is needed too. That is what ALDE IM have (also). And Freedom is beautyful!

Hans Eiler Hammer: The more members we have, the more we can do. Therefore, it is important that we get as many members as possible. As individual members, we can go together and make resolutions that we can commit politicians to! Here I will mention climate as an example.

ALDE Congress and Council Delegates elections: Get to know candidates/1

From July 3rd we’ll have congress and council delegate elections: as usual, we gave  candidates the chance to present themselves. Here we are first slot with Wolf Achim Wiegand (Congress and council), Matthias Strand (Council) and Matheus De Paula Costa (Congress)

Why you are running as a candidate?

Wolf Achim Wiegand: I have three mains reasons to run as a candidate. First: I am a fierce fighter for liberalism in Europe – and I want to continue my fight. The ALDE Party Individual Members are the right place to do so. Because I see us as the embryo of a coming trans-European liberal party. Second: The ALDE Party Council and the Congress are the only bodies where we as Individual Members can place our ideas. If we want to be heard our delegates have to act in a responsible but resolute manner. I have been an IM delegate twice and I have the experience to steer our delegation through stormy Congress waters. Third:  My background is: firstly, my profession as a journalist (see http://www.european.expert) which enables me to speak clearly and frankly. Secondly, I am commited as a liberal parliamentarian in Hamburg, a cosmopolitan German port city for maritime industry and trade. The combination of both backgrounds make sure that I can sensibly address issues and find solutions.

Mattias Strand: I chose to run as a candidate as I saw the need for a more political activism on LGBTQ issues. Europe is a great place to be open and free. But there are areas that remain questionable. One example is that laws in some countries still demand sterilization of the person that wants to go through a sex change operation. In the countries that now are being run buy conservative right-wing parties the LGBTQ communities are becoming more restricted, since the views on homosexuality from these parties are generally more biased in this issues. As a result of this, these governments tend to turn the other way when hate crimes are committed against the LGBTQ community. 72 of the UN member countries have laws against homosexuality. The sentence spans from fines to the death penalty. One of the countries that in latter times has implemented laws against homosexuality is Brunei; their constitutional laws have accepted the sharia law to stone homosexual persons and adulterers. In Russia, the LGBTQ advocate organizations are banned from publicly “propagating homosexuality”.     I could write an essay on this matter, and as there are more and more people around the world that have to suffer for their sexuality; that essay would never end. That’s why I am running for legate of both congress and council. My motto is: “A voice for everyone’s equal value. A voice for those who have been silenced.”  

Matheus De Paula Costa: Europe still has an organization based in national perceptions. What I admire the most about the Individual Members is this perception of Europe beyond the national. For me would be an honor to gain the trust and represent people who thinks like me in Athens.

Name one initiative or proposal you would like to see endorsed by the ALDE Congress?

Wolf Achim Wiegand: My dream would be to see the ALDE Party Congress to decide that we Individual Members officially become the European liberals’ political arm for contesting future European elections. This would mean a big step towards a more united and renewed Europe. Let us as liberals start to seek and to live progressive responses to isolationism, nationalism, and ignorance!

Mattias Strand: That the ALDE takes a deeper responsibility for the LGBTQ issues in Europe by implementing sanctions against countries that oppose the fundamental right to be free, open and safe from harm. This should also include all minorities within the EU.

Matheus De Paula Costa: I am the leader of the youth section (at my national party) and I am also focused on Human Rights and Environment. So, I would be very interested to see endorsements related to the future of the youth and respect for all. The EU has several interesting initiatives in practice ranging these fields, but I think we could do better. Related to Human Rights, for example, since the accession of Portugal to the EU we transformed from a conservative country to the ones which are more LGBTI-friendly in Europe. However, gay marriage, adoption, trans rights and protection of intersex people still isn’t a reality in several European countries. Also, I am a descendant of Europeans that migrated to Brazil, and my parents decided to come to Europe. I had this privilege to born and grow in a such diverse family and have more than one citizenship, contact more than one religion and ethnicity. But I know that there are a lot of people in Europe which are not being respected due to the place where they born or based in their ethnicity or religion. We need to change this. This is not our Europe, neither it is related to our Liberal values.

What role can individual members have to renew Europe?

Wolf Achim Wiegand: I want to ensure that the people of Europe carry Europe in their hearts. To achieve that, we Individual Members have to develop fresh proposals absent of traditional national party lines. Fulfilling this, we Individual Members could be the the pan-European avant-garde movement leading towards a continent of strength in peace.

Mattias Strand: As Liberals and Democrats are the fundamental guardians of a freedom, openness and democratic values, individual members have a great responsibility to act against all that defies these values. The role should be to increase and evolve the democratic possibilities of all individual members of our union: to adapt democracy to and for the future. Since individual members have access to all countries of Europe, the possibility to change becomes a lot easier. By a click on a mouse you can reach the whole world within seconds. This is what the future is all about: open and free conversations on matters that give results. As individuals we can change the world to be more liberal, democratic, open, and free. Every step will make a change and every step should be encouraged and not limited by regulations and principals. It´s a tough job but it’s a job that will gain our children the chance to be who ever they want to be, to love the person they themselves decide, without living in fear.

Matheus De Paula Costa:  We must persist. We must not fear. The extremists, either from the left or from the right, they do not stop a second to promote their hate speech (base on people’s differences or people’s positions on society). On social media, schools, workplace, streets and no matter where, they will spread lies about MNCs, technology or entrepreneurs, migrants or LGBTIs. We must do the same but defending our values of inclusion and tolerance. And we also need to be more involved, not waiting for others to do things for us, trying to make the difference everywhere.  We need to comeback to fight like a Liberal.

EU Elections: get to know some of +Europa italian candidates: Igor Boni and Giulia Pastorella

The ALDE Party IM coordinator for North-West Italy Francesco Condò  submitted some questions to the candidates of +Europa, the Italian liberal party, at the next European elections in the North-West Italy constituency. You can read the full interviews (in Italian) on the Facebook page of the North-West Italy ALDE Party IMs:

Today we publish the answers of Igor Boni and Giulia Pastorella.

Why did you choose to run for the European Parliament?
IGOR BONI  I have been active in politics down on the streets for over 30 years with the Radicals, fighting for civil and human rights, for the transparency of the institutions and for the United States of Europe. Running for the European Parliament for +Europa is the way to provide my contribution to the concrete building of an alternative to sovereigntists.

GIULIA PASTORELLA I want to give my contribution to strengthen and improve the European Union, which in my opinion is the only political project able to face the challenges of our times. As a young and committed pro-European woman, I hope that many voters will understand these elections are a crossroad: either the EU will continue to be a model of a just and sustainable society, or it will shift backwards and shrink into irrelevance.

In your opinion, how can we make the European Union closer to its citizens and more effective in responding to their needs?

IGOR BONI There is little perception of the benefits of being European citizens even though even ifin every dayeveryday life Europe helps us: we take the train in a station built with European funds, we eat vegetables produced thanks to the common agricultural policy, we attend training courses funded by Europe, we live in a better environment thanks to European directives. To increase the sense of belonging, I believe that it would be appropriate to introduce the direct election of the President of the European Commission.

GIULIA PASTORELLA +Europa has very specific ideas to really show how Europe can be rooted in its territories: a single European web portal to activate and carry out consultations, petitions and initiatives of European citizens; integrated cooperation and planning of local institutions for rural and urban areas coordinated at European level to relaunch sustainable development; financing instruments for the development and cohesion of non-urban and de-industrialised areas through infrastructures, innovative agriculture and building recovery; a plan of lifelong learning so that no one feels left behind. Another way to make Europe closer is through greater integration of public services, starting with ensuring true healthcare mobility within the Union, with minimum standards of care and better distribution of specialized excellence centers on EU territory.Which are the three priority areas in which the European institutions should do more with the powers that they have at present?

Which are the three priority areas in which the European Union should do more with the powers that its institutions have at present?

IGOR BONI I would say that the problem is to be found in the powers that Europe does not have today. This is the major damage I see. Common immigration policies would make it possible to manage the phenomenon without leaving it to the gut of the voters of the Mediterranean countries. A common foreign policy could give answers to the most serious present dossiers: Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela…

GIULIA PASTORELLA: First,  Immigration: approving the Dublin IV Regulation that is currently blocked in the Council of the EU. It would be a step forward in the management of migrants and asylum seekers flows, with a fair relocation mechanism based on GDP and population and criteria for family reunification.

Then,  Rights: as of today a full and equal European citizenship on individual rights issues has not been reached. The rights of a European citizen are currently not transferable to all the member states in the same way, e.g. marriages and adoptions for same-sex couples.

Last,  Innovation: a European public fund to support new and good business ideas by investing an amount equal to those granted to companies by venture capital and private equity funds and a better coordination and support of national Industry 4.0 plans.

If you will be elected to the European Parliament, which will be your priorities and what policies / sectors would you like to focus your work on?

IGOR BONI First of all, I would work on the European institutional reforms to open a process of federation, of direct election of the President, of concrete participation of citizens in the public decisions, of enhancement of the Parliament. Furthermore, I would also deal with the environment, that is the sector I have been working on and studying for over 30 years.

GIULIA PASTORELLA: My program is focused on three axes: a review of the EU structure in the areas of minor competence at present (defense, immigration, taxation). The EU must grow to promote a model of a just, innovative and sustainable society. Then, innovation. To keep pace with international players, the EU must have an industrial and economic policy focused on innovation and new technologies, ensuring that it is developed in an ethical and fair manner. Third, women and young people. As a young woman I know that more could be done to ensure full integration of women in the European economic and social life, especially in the technical-scientific field, and to make sure that being young is not penalizing in a society that looks more to its elders. So if I’ll be assigned to the ITRE, IMCO, LIBE or FEMM committees, I will pursue the themes of innovation for growth and new rights for more opportunities for young people.

The full interview to Igor Boni  is available in italian here.

The full interview to Giulia Pastorella is available (in italian) here 

 

Francesco Condò

European elections – now is the time to act!

Thalia Ntoka, Chair of the Steering Committee of ALDE Individual Members wrote this piece for Liberal Bullettin. We republish it on our blog

23-26 May 2019: save these dates in your calendar and go vote in the European elections.

Before sharing information on ‘how’ and ‘who’, let’s remind ourselves that 2019 can become our year. If not from the perspective of dynamics, then definitely from the basis that the result of these European elections will probably change the way we live.

It is true that people are not interested in the European elections. They seem boring – more than 700 new (and some old) faces will relocate for five years, will get high salaries, will disappear from their countries for a long time, will vote for some legislation we do not understand and five years later, many of them will come back, probably asking for your vote. So, what is the point?

We belong in Europe. For many, Europe is just an idea or a place with boundaries that occasionally change whilst our rights and obligations strictly remain inside the country we live in. This is the biggest myth populists use to convince someone that Europe is just a geographic area with no other function or point.

But let’s first have a look at some facts and then decide whether European elections mean anything at all.

 We have the freedom to travel, live and work everywhere – select one of the EU Member States, and there you are! You think it’s the national parliaments which achieved that? Wrong!

Thanks to Europe, around 500 million people can cross the borders easily and travel without fear. Our common market works no matter what populists say and recently, data became accessible free of roaming charges, so thank you Europe

Do you think that the Single Market is not a European achievement? Well, think again! We now cherish the biggest Single Market in the world when it comes to goods and services. You like a camera and want to purchase it but can’t find it in your country? Go ahead and buy it from Germany, there is no import tax. Big companies work better, millions of employees relocate all the time with no issue, so thank Europe again!

 Many of us don’t really know what wars or border controls are, and if we take a look at the history, we should be thankful for that. It is Europe that managed to create one of the most democratic and peaceful regions in the world and that gave us the ability to not just feel but actually live in freedom.

Are you aware of the Paris Agreement? No matter what climate change deniers say, climate change is here and thanks to the policies of the European Union, we can reduce CO2 emissions to protect our planet and the generations to come. Only recently, an EU strategy on reducing plastic use by 2030 was adopted.

There are many other achievements, of course, but also many challenges.

Brexit, migration, youth unemployment and data privacy issues have recently harmed the trust many have in the European project, but think of how much worse off things could be if there was no common voice or strategy.

As ALDE Individual Members, we are not just seeking for answers but solutions, which will keep Europe and our future safe.

We know how difficult it is to build communities and share our values, but we also know this is not time lost, and we must make up ground the best we can. The time for this has come!

With less than a month to go before the European elections, it is time to become more active than ever. Thankfully, all of us can take action. You can start small by telling your friends to join and support liberal ideas. You can organise events and share the message on why these elections are so important. You can use social media for the right cause, by spreading the message all over Europe. You can get involved in the ALDE Party’s electoral campaign. You can write articles or become vloggers.

Whatever you do, do not stay silent. Do not leave the ground to those who hate Europe, as they are many and they live where we live. We can do better and must show that liberalism is not just an idea but a way of life.

I won’t tell you who to support, you know better, so go and make the right choice for the future of Europe.

On 26 May I will personally celebrate, not only for my birthday, but I will dedicate this special day to you, to us, to Europe!

Thalia Ntoka

Outside influence on the Euro-sceptic Populists

In this contribution, Yves de Rosee describes the climbing of Bannon’s populist vision of society in Europe and how liberalism is the antidote 

The Populists

As for any word in “…ism”, there is no single definition or interpretation for “Populism”. The word obviously comes from “people”. It is not a political philosophy, as populists can come from the left or the right of the political spectrum. What unites the populists is that they seek to appeal by playing on the fears of people, their anxiety or anger, and propose simplistic solutions to complex problems. Today’s populism is best described as a political approach that poses ‘the people’ as a group against their ‘elites’ or ‘establishment’ in the areas of culture, justice, business, economics, politics and media. The elites are viewed and portrayed as placing their own interests above the interests of the people, thus becoming enemies of the people. The elites are supposed to be active behind the scene, as a ‘deep state’ entrenched in a ‘swamp’ that need to be ‘drained’ so that the ‘will of the people’ can be implemented. This has become the common vocabulary of populists.

A society that feels threatened or insecure in its identity, culture, economic development is quick to conclude that their elected representatives do not serve its people, and need to be removed or replaced by others, who will establish a new order, outside the prevailing norms. Existing or would-be politicians with a good ear for this anger of the people are as quick to respond with easy solutions. The archetype of these opportunists in recent times is Donald Trump. But Trump could not have reached the Presidency of the United States without an intellectual mentor able to articulate the grief of the people, and the easy road to reach the new order. The name of this mentor is Steve Bannon, a well-known figure in all populist parties across the globe, and who has set his sight on the EU, and its next Parliament.

It is thus worth looking deeper at the Trump-Bannon duo.

Trump and Steve Bannon

Trump is not a thinker – by his own admission, he is not even a reader, just a “dealer”. He has never been faithful in his party affiliations. As he said: “You’d be shocked if I said that in many cases I probably identify more as a Democrat” … “Look, I’m a Republican. I’m a very conservative guy in many respects—I guess in most respects” …  “I’ve actually been an activist Democrat and Republican.”

Trump invented or at least popularized the now famous expression ‘fake news’ that he accuses everyone in sight of using against him. However, it is Trump himself who is the King of Fake News: according to the Washington Post Fact Checker database, barely two years after becoming President, Trump has made 8,158 false or misleading claims! He averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. But he hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year, almost triple the pace!

Trump, who started his electoral campaign with less than 5% of the possible votes became a successful populist candidate under the guidance of Steve Bannon. His messages, methods and tactics are being copied in Europe.

Steve Bannon was born in 1953 to a Catholic, pro-Democrat family. He has 3 university degrees, of which one is an MBA from Harvard. He was a US Naval Officer; an investment banker at Goldman Sachs; a researcher in the Biosphere 2 project; the founder of the Government Accountability Institute; the producer and director of 18 films and documentaries; the CEO of Breitbart News, an online right-wing media website. Most noteworthy, Breitbart was financed by the US billionaire Robert Mercer, a computer scientist and early developer in artificial intelligence and co-CEO of  the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, as well as majority shareholder of Cambridge Analytica, the big data consulting firm, which illegally supported Nigel Farage and the Brexit side of the UK referendum on EU membership. Bannon was thus very well connected with money, power and the old and new media.

Bannon met Trump early in the Republican primaries in 2015 at the Breitbart talk show he was hosting. He joined the campaign of Trump after leaving that of the better-known candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz because he thought Trump was more radically different from all other Republican candidates to implement his vision for changing society. Trump quickly made him the CEO of his campaign, which ended in a surprise victory.

Bannon’s vision of society

Bannon’s vision of American and Western society is anchored in the generational theory of two American historians (William Strauss and Neil Howe), known also as the Fourth Turning. According to the theory (dismissed by many scholars), world events unfold in predictable cycles of roughly 80 years each that can be divided into four chapters, or turnings: growth, maturation, entropy (degeneration) and destruction.  As the theory goes, western societies have experienced the same patterns for centuries, as naturally and necessarily as the four seasons.

Bannon believes that western societies are currently in the degeneration phase, in a period of momentous crisis, when the identity of the nation is at stake, and that radical change must take place, that includes, in his own words, the “destruction of the administrative state”.

According to Bannon, western societies faces three major threats for their survival: (i) Judeo-Christianity is threatened by Islam; (ii) national identity is threatened by immigration; (iii) capitalism is threatened as undermined by government regulations and social policies. Those threats and their radical remedies are all encapsulated in the Inaugural Address of Trump at his inauguration as President on 20 January 2017. The address itself – spelling out Bannon’s vision – is radical in its tone and historical perspective, as the future is presented as having no continuity with the past; instead there is clean break between two eras, the before- and after-Trump eras. Here are a few relevant excerpts: “January 20 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again… This American carnage stops right here and stops right now… From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

Bannon as icon for European populists – His rise and fall

Bannon’s career reached its peak when Trump made him his Chief Strategist and elevated him to the National Security Council. He became all-powerful and legendary when he was photographed in his office in the White House with a white board on which his political agenda was translated into a bullet point for each policy goal. He also became an inspirational leader for right-wingers across the world when he was featured on the cover of TIME magazine in February 2017, with the sole title ‘the Great Manipulator’.

That particular TIME issue was also the undoing of Bannon in Trump’s orbit, as the President could not tolerate in his inner circle someone who enjoyed being compared to Trump, or even viewed as the “real” president.

After being fired by Trump in August 2017, Bannon continued his crusade for a new order at the international level, especially in Europe, intent on disrupting the EU from within – starting with Brexit and throwing his support behind Nigel Farage and other Leavers. Returning to Breitbart, he reinforced its office in London, but failed to open offices in Paris and Germany.

The “Movement” in Brussels

Bannon had this idea of creating a super-group of “like-minded” Eurosceptics or right-wing parties that he would actively support with central source of polling, messaging advice, data targeting and think tank research. It has not yet materialised as there is an inherent contradiction in the promotion of nationalism through an international alliance. Nationalist parties are not “like-minded” at all in critical areas, such as the role of the state in general, social policy, economic policy, data protection, etc. Bannon is not withdrawing from this dream, but scaling it back. Along with Mischael Modrikamen (Head of the People Party in Belgium) and Matteo Salvini (Head of La Ligua in Italy), he created ‘The Movement’ – a populist bloc aiming to win at the next election for the European Parliament as many seats as possible in order to shift the balance of power towards the implementation of the bloc’s new, but limited, European dream of sealing Europe’s frontiers.

If over 20 right wing parties have indicated an interest in joining The Movement, only three have done so, demonstrating the waning influence of Bannon as an international populist leader. However, his original message of a post-global liberal order based on intolerance and closed societies is being sustained by the deep well of discontent across many European countries, as demonstrated by the gilets jaunes in France, which Bannon compares to the Tea Party movement in the US around 2008.

Liberalism as the antidote

Liberalism was defined by The Economist in its issue of 15 September 2018 as “a universal commitment to individual dignity, open markets, limited government and faith in human progress brought about by debate and reform”.

That should be the best antidote to the current populism. It is not a given. We should all work for it.

Revolution and Democracy in Armenia

In this contribution, Edgar Brutyan, ALDE Internship, talks about political elections in Armenia and the new chapter of Armenian’s people story

2018 year is an important year for Armenians after the pacific “velvet” revolution, which brought democracy and faith into their political institutions.

On December 9th 2018, Armenia experienced its first experience of fully democratic parliamentary election. This election was more than just a simple ballot but a whole new hope for the population to get rid of the existing corrupt system and to face a free and democratic future. It was predicted that the leader of the Velvet revolution Nokol Pashinyan and his party would win the election, and indeed the party obtained 70.4% of the votes. The second party in the parliament with 8.3% was Prosperous Armenia, the party of Gagik Tsarukyan, a well-established oligarch. The third party in the parliament is Bright Armenia, a liberal and pro-European party led by Edmon Marukyan. The Republican party is the big loser of the election with just 4.7% of the votes, not only leaving the majority but being ousted completely.

Aleksander Pociej, Head of the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said at a meeting with reporters, that PACE has observed every election in Armenia since 1995. He said: “Despite the complex electoral system and reported instances of intimidation via social media, the recurring electoral irregularities which tainted many elections in the past were absent. It is up to Armenia’s elected representatives to launch legal reforms to consolidate the democratic process in the country.” Peter Osusky, Special Co-ordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission said: “Democracy cannot proceed without trust, so I am pleased that broad public trust was the central characteristic of this election.”

Since the end of the Soviet Union, the smallest country of the Caucasus suffered from 27 years of post-transitional corrupted policies. The Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), who was using the power of corruption to achieve its goals, ruled the country. Corruption was everywhere: in the national institutions, in the health and the judicial systems etc. The RPA used corruption to be manipulate the outcome of the elections; busses were used to transport people and to force them to vote for the RPA or even in exchange of money. By 2017, 25.7% of the population lived below the poverty line due to oligarchs monopolizing the country’s economy.

The two parties that want to bring more openness, transparency and democracy in the country now compose the majority in Armenian parliament. They both want to bring freedom, enhance rule of law and promote civil rights. However, they will face many challenges, as everything needs to be rebuilt. Moving away from the former regime of the Republicans will not be an easy task. Another difficulty to face is Russia – how will they react to these pro-European, anti-oligarch parties ruling what they consider their vassal state? There is an important factor as well: Pahinyan. He has the support of a huge part of the population, we saw him uniting 300.000 people in 1 hour in the streets of Yerevan, and he is popular because of the great and democratic changes that he is bringing in the country. We need to hope he will not turn populist.

Armenia is starting a new chapter; and only time will tell if this leads to a happy ending, yet hopes are quite high.

Edgar Brutyan

Steering Committee replacement election: get to know candidates/1

On Decemebr 5th we’ll have a new ALDE Individual Members Steering Committee election to replace Robert Schliessler. So we gave candidates another chance to present themselves. Here we are Anders Basboll from Denmark

What is your motivation to run for the Steering Committee?

Some political problems cross national boarders. They demand European solutions. We are blessed to have the EU. The Union is at its best, when fully democratic. Maybe democracy needs a people. The ALDE IMs are  helping to create exactly that, bringing like minded people together to work on ideas. I want the ALDE IMs to facilitate these discussions better, and I think we have a golden opportunity with candidates for Parliament who wants votes and later new idealistic Parliamentarians to try to get our members connected to MEP’s. Imagine IM groups discussing specific subjects shadowing Committees of the EP.

Imagine such a group giving input directly to the liberal members – like local party groups talking to their local municipal councillor. This would be exciting for our members and it would be valuable to MEP’s (just remember all those talented, knowledgeable people we have!). Meeting other IM’s at events is a real pleasure (that I have had on a few occations) but that is the icing on the cake. The cake itself, is the online discussions we have on facebook, and what we can have in working groups. Imagine a person telling co-workers in France that she just discussed an issue with one of our MEP’s,who is a Lithuanian – that is our sword against populism – bringing Europe together in a liberal and democratic way.

Next year, Europeans can vote in the European elections. What are your hopes and expectations for those elections?

Obviously I hope for ALDE to do well and there is a chance we can finish second – Europe really needs a strong liberal voice – for open markets, open (internal) boarders and open minds. And of cause for free trade – if somebody doubts the value of liberals, look at the trade deals negotiated under Commissioner Malmström. I hope more people will realise that their national parties are part of European parties and I wish for ALDE parties to use the ALDE brand. I was sad to see ALDE give in to Macron on the Spitzenkandidaten. To me spitzenkandidaten does not mean that the largest party wins, but that whoever can get a majority in EP wins. I hope, when the dust settles and we have a result, that ALDE will recognise the right of the majority to get its Commission President – hopefully being part of such a majority, but even if not, being gracious in defeat and then a fierce but fair opposition.

Open Letter about ALDE international members and their role in political initiatives

Francesca Mercanti,  former Alde IMs National Coordinator Italy and now on + Europa National Board (the New Italian liberal democrat movement), wrote an open letter about Individual Members role on ALDE Party

In the last weeks, during and after the ALDE Party congress, the Individual Members faced several issues- discussed in social media yet- regarding their role and their future in ALDE Party.

We are concerned of the lack of democracy and representation, and I often see members accusing the Steering Committee to be of being responsible forof it.

I think the SC suffers of a not well-defined role and powers. They should represent us, but they are missing in every ALDE Party event or political initiative.

It’s a pity because of the increasing number of IM’s, is increasing as well as their genuine will to be part of the European and liberal policy making. Unfortunately, all those problems are reflected in their behavior: not only there are they blocked from participating but also from acting with a sense of responsibility. This is especially true for delegates, elected by IMs to support their resolutions and positions. It’s important vital to stress the point that individual members are a very important part of ALDE like the other parties or associations- as Lymec for instance- and they should be more involved in the policy making.

The transnational level can have a role in the next immediate future when the all the national parties will have to face the challenge of nationalism in each country.

Being an individual member in a liberal party is, first of all, being a liberal.

I ask everybody to keep in mind how the individual sense of responsibility is the ground where a liberal strength grows, and I call the ALDE Party Secretariat to offer the SC all the support they need for becoming a real decisional board working to represent all of us.

It’s a time to be united to fight for a more liberal Europe.