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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

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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.

ALDE Individual Members Council Candidates, get to know them: Thalia Ntoka

Get to know ALDE Individual Members  Council Elections candidates. Voting started on September 19th. We asked same two questions about electoral program and Liberals Democrats perspectives  to each of them. Now it’s up to Thaleia Ntoka from Greece.

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?

In recent years a new movement has been established not only in Europe but also unexpectedly in the USA.  It includes figures from all political parties and there is no difference whether they come from left or right, the result is the same. Citizens are divided, hate is rising, and a false agenda is highlighted as “the good one”.

What caused the rise of populism? There are a lot of theories, with the inequality to be given as the most common explanation. Fear is another theory that earns ground with its supporters to feel more and more distant since according to them the political establishment does not care about their needs, ignores them and even hates them. Some people believe that populism is a trend and will go away the same way it appeared.

I am afraid this is not true and unfortunately while we, under shock or surprise are watching terrible things happen around us, populism will grow, and populist parties will keep becoming stronger. There is no certain recipe to fight populism and we should not fight it by using its own dangerous weapons.

What we could do is to share an alternative vision. We should try to win its supporters and make them feel safe again. We should persuade those who feel threatened that Europe will not lose because of the immigrants. That we could live all together and despite our differences, our common future can be bright.

We should also not forget that our politicians carry their own mistakes and failures. Just accusing or ignoring populist movements, the problems will just become worse. A pan-European campaign against populism would help those in need to understand our vision. Our politicians should start thinking of ways to create an anti-populism movement related to progress and stability.

Populism is about emotions such as “our country, our safety” so it is time to have something similar but with the good emotions, which will include all of us, no matter where we come from.

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?

Transnational lists would help liberal democrats to get more votes and better results. Also, they give voters more power and they strengthen the democratic procedures. In my opinion, we should also try to help our national liberal parties to become stronger, support all those qualified and increase our presence on the national and European level.  By working in two levels, we can achieve better results.

ALDE Individual Members Steering Comittee Candidates, get to know them: Charalampos Karapanos

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!

 

ALDE Individual Members Council Candidates, get to know them: Yves Robert

Let’s get to know also  ALDE Individual Members Elections candidates. Voting starts on September 19th. We asked same two questions about electoral program and Liberals Democras perspectives  to each of them. Now it’s up to Yves Robert from France

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?

As an Individual Member, and specifically a National Coordinator, we have firstly to develop a strong relationship the ALDE Member Parties in each country. ALDE IM is not an organization against Parties – we must work with them. Secondly, we must develop the Individual Members Network. The unique word today in politics is “citizen”, not party. Everybody speaks “citizen”. ALDE Party understood this for a long time by creating “Individual Members”.  For each of us, each Citizen is a part of Europe, and Europe is a part of us.

The best way to stop the populism is to discuss with people day per day and explain and explain again. The best response to populism in each country is to develop discussions with citizens. Not easy, it’s background work. We have to organize events including our Member Parties and other members of the liberal family such as French parties like La Republique En Marche and MoDem, work to obtain the widest media coverage, once again is a background work.

As delegates, we have to be in touch with all Council Members to insist that politics is about fighting poverty and inequality – the mothers of populism. I believe with my experiences of international negotiator as Diplomat to be the best to be your ambassador.

 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?

Definitely, yes. This is the request of the Individual Members (vote last July); Individual Members want support transnational lists for the 2024 European Elections – with 23% of voters, it’s their first request. What a shame that the European Parliament has ruled out this opportunity for next year. Today, we must send a signal to citizens: if we want a real European Parliament, we must forget national lists, and more than that all Europeans Citizens must votes on the same day in all Member States on transnational lists.

As delegates, we must be in touch with all Council Members. To insist and give the best arguments to them to promote in Council the principle and work in every country to impose the “transnational lists” is one of weapons against populist movements and give the image that European Parliament with strongly responsibilities is the most important organ of the European Structure, elected by citizens for citizens.

ALDE Individual Members Steering Comittee Candidates, get to know them: Anders Basboll

Blog activity restart after summer. Let’s get to know  Steering Comittee Elections candidates. Voting starts on September 19th. We asked same two questions about electoral program and Liberals Democras perspectives  to each of them

Let’s start with Anders Basboll from Denmark

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?

The answer is Donald Trump! Just a few years back it was mainstream to reject trade in Europe – for one reason or another – due to the fear of low environmental standards, bullying partners and other bogeymen.

Now we have the good fortune that these points are now being made by the least popular US president in memory. We see that tariffs and barriers hurt the ones putting them up – due to today’s integrated supply chains, which is new, and the old, often forgotten point, that we are all not just producers, we are also consumers – and more expensive imports hurt, especially the poor. Not only tariffs, but also red tape and barriers to entry in professions are hurting the poor. The fight against cosy monopolies is pro market and pro the poor. It is simply not true that free markets only benefit the rich – they benefit the poor too, perhaps even more.

Europe is built on the four freedoms – we shall never give up on free movement of people, capital, goods, and services. It has made Europe a better place. We shall never stop telling the good stories – of cheap and wonderful goods from Europe, of the skilled immigrants who work in our countries, of our compatriots learning new skills in other EU countries and, frankly, we need to show everybody that we have control over our external borders. Otherwise, we shall lose, to populism, the invisibility of the internal borders that have benefitted us all for so long.

Likewise, we should have a common refugee policy including a way to distribute refugees between member states. The current situation where states with 200 million inhabitants discuss 200 refugees for weeks give both the impression that refugees are an unbelievable burden destroying our societies and that we have lost control over our borders.

Finally, and obviously, we never judge people on gender, race, religious affiliation or sexuality. Europe is “united in diversity” and we liberals love it!

 Liberals and democrats have not had the same political strength across Europe. Do you think, looking to the next EU Elections, we have to work towards LibDem transnational lists

Liberals do not have great presence everywhere. I find it crucial that we do have an offering where liberal parties are thin on the ground. I think we already do, in providing a platform where liberals can meet – we should prioritise this. Who knows, maybe local liberal movements will be born?

I think it is important that these members can get as close to MEPs as possible. Last year, the idea of backing groups for MEP’s were mentioned at the congress which I haven’t heard of since, but a way for the ideas of all our members to reach our MEPs should be a major priority. We must do all we can to make it reality. Incidentally, access to MEPs could also be a major inducement for members of ALDE member parties also to join ALDE IM.

Most liberal parties have only a couple of MEPs. It would be wonderful if their ideas could reach the whole liberal group. Liberals and democrats cannot make transnational lists ourselves but – should they be implemented, we should contest them.