All posts by Liberal Words

(Re)forming the EU to continue the European project

In this contribution, Clive Sneddon from Scotland talks about the need to reform EU to make european project stronger, againsta populist and nationalist drift.

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 Clive Sneddon Bio

Clive Sneddon was political leader of North East Fife District Council from 1988-96, during which time he also served as Convener of the Rural Affairs Committee of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (1990-92), and was an alternate member of the first Committee of the Regions 1994-96.  He subsequently stood unsuccessfully for the European Parliament, and is currently the Convener of Angus & Mearns Liberal Democrats.  As a researcher in mediaeval French translation studies, he maintains active contacts with colleagues in France

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Fighting to remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum campaign, successfully in my part of Scotland, led me in 2017 to join ALDE as an individual member, and think about the future of the European project. Reading ALDE’s 1976 Stuttgart declaration led me to conclude that it had been too specific. More thought is necessary, about the final destination of the European project and what steps will get us there.

For me, the project was to make war unthinkable in Europe, by working together and thereby getting to know each other. If that is the aim, the EU has not done enough to bring the peoples of Europe together, and needs a new framework treaty for decision-making, not based on self-interested deals between member states.

The current treaties, including the doctrine of the acquis, are a stumbling block because they make sense only as building blocks to a United States of Europe. The example of the American Civil War shows that forming a big state does not of itself prevent wars, much less make them unthinkable. In the long run, working together and getting to know each other may make a United States of Europe seem a natural outcome, but at present public opinion across Europe is not convinced. What is needed is a framework treaty that allows working together to overcome citizens’ problems.

What specifically are these problems? Ever since the rise of market fundamentalism in the 1980s, governments across Europe have left social and economic problems to the market to solve. Worse, they have not done enough to enforce competition, so that the ‘market’ has delivered greater concentrations of power to big corporations. Citizens campaigned across Europe against the recent proposed TTIP treaty, because they saw it as selling out to big business. The EU has become part of the problem.

In 2016, the leave campaign promised to ‘take back control’, so that British citizens could deal with their own problems. This was very persuasive. Immigration was the most salient example of loss of control, but farmers and fishermen voted to abolish the policies imposed on the UK as a condition of entry, because they had not worked for them. Too many people felt excluded from prosperity and any prospects of improvement, while the Single Market allowed unscrupulous employers to undercut local people.

Firstly, we know that all European countries have similar problems, which their current national governments have spent decades not resolving. Secondly we have to recognise that helping each other across state borders increases the chances of national governments succeeding. Thirdly we have to create flexible arrangements in Europe so that we can all work together in our own way. To bring success, these points all require us to get to know each other better.

The first two points are about ensuring all citizens share in the prosperity from free trade and the Single Market. This will require Finance ministries to abandon market fundamentalism, a failure now as in the 1930s, and follow a more Keynesian approach. It may also require more use of land as a tax base, and Scandinavian-style laws on income distribution. Such policies enable a better functioning of capitalism and reduce the risk of economic and social exclusion producing nationalist and xenophobe responses.

For the third point, a framework treaty should encourage cooperation but not compel it, and include provision for a United States of Europe if the citizens of each federal state consent. A decision-making process based on democratic values and the rule of law would allow member states to cooperate on the issues they chose, with no veto on other states cooperating on other issues. The outcome would be a series of concentric circles, in which the outlying members cooperated on relatively few issues and the inner core on many more. If members help each other wherever possible, as is currently the case for study and research, citizens are more likely to appreciate and support the European project. With citizen support, and the ability to end policies that have not worked, the range of issues on which member states cooperate is likely to grow.

Finally, the mechanisms to achieve this would be the Commission making new proposals, enacted or not by the democratically elected European Parliament, and if enacted available to every member state to adopt or not as it saw fit. That means no Council of Ministers, because the national input would come from the national parliaments, and a set of willing volunteers for every European initiative. European laws would be interpreted by the European Court of Justice, whose interpretations would be taken into account by state Supreme Courts. Such a treaty might be flexible enough to get consent from the UK, and perhaps Norway and Switzerland.

 Clive Sneddon

 

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ALDE Individual Members Steering Comittee elections: candidates manifesto

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

ANDERS BASBØLL

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

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

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

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

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

STUART BONAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOFIA AFONSO FERREIRA

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEBASTIEN MARTIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BTR NAIDU

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Evenden Kenyon

BELGIUM ALDE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS COORDINATORS: CANDIDATES MANIFESTO

On April 13th United ALDE Individual Members will elect their new country coordinators. Here we are the presentations of the three candidates.

Jerome Roche

I was born in the centre of France and I have been living for more than twenty years in Belgium (in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels), where I learnt to speak the national languages and the functioning of the Belgian Institutions. I have also been working more than fifteen years on European affairs both inside and outside the European Institutions. In parallel, I studied liberalism as a political theory and having worked with entrepreneurs, I realised how difficult it is to enhance a risk-taking attitude among Europeans. For these reasons and many others, I decided to join the Open VLD in Belgium and the ALDE Party as an Individual Member.

I am aware that there are many reasons why you may have joined the ALDE Party as well. However, we can gather our efforts to design common principles and common goals for the future of the European project. In particular, I am looking forward to prepare together our contribution to the liberal manifesto for the next European Parliamentary elections.

I feel that liberals suffered from being to often identified with a “everything goes” point of view which resulted in weakening their influence. In the current context of populist drifts all over Europe, we must work on redesigning our core values on current challenges, from fostering economic growth to environmental, social and cultural policies.

In order to present a common set of proposals and concrete actions stemming from the Belgian Individual Members, I need to rely upon you ! If you elect me as your new Coordinator, I will propose the creation of a restricted Belgian Steering  group, each Member of it being responsible for a set of political priorities. You will of course be welcome to make you own suggestions on this matter. Partnership is the key to success to make our voice heard among the ALDE individual members, inside the ALDE Party and beyond…

Hope to hear from you soon, and hope that you will vote for me !

Sue Arundale

I am pleased to be a candidate for ALDE Country Co-ordinator for Belgium.
As an ordinary citizen, I am standing for election because I believe that someone needs to explain to other ordinary, perhaps disillusioned and frustrated citizens, why the European Union is the best solution we have for peace, prosperity and strong influence in an increasingly globalised world. Few elected politicians (with some notable exceptions) are doing this, so why not an ordinary, committed passionate European citizen like me who has lived through the ordeal of the Brexit referendum and remains totally committed to continuing the fight against such destructive and self harming behaviour in the future? I accept that the European Union and its institutions are not perfect, but I believe that we should improve what is not working effectively, through open dialogue and authentic politics, with leaders that are connected to voters. I think this role could strengthen the connection between citizens and leaders.

As a Union of Member States we are stronger together. Isolation is not an option. Our European values – our liberal values – show the way to a more tolerant, innovative and sustainable society. I would like to explore with other individual members how we can equip citizens with the best opportunities for education and personal development so that they can be independent and successful, at the same time accepting responsibility for protecting and supporting those citizens who cannot take care of themselves.

The world is in trouble these days. The enormous divide between rich and poor is causing genuinehardship and despair and although it is unrealistic to create a world with perfect equality, I believe we should promote zero-tolerance of blatant greed and corruption, especially from our leaders. As I work in an industry that impacts all of us every day, one that is undergoing digital transformation, I believe that innovation is critical to Europe’s competitivity and also to the working and personal lives of citizens. That said, we should not destroy our planet in the process and innovation and growth should be sustainable. In particular, we need to deal with the over-consumption of materials and the problem of waste, which has reached catastrophic levels. In spite of arguments against climate change, from powerful companies and individuals with interests to protect, there is evidence that it is happening and this generation needs to take responsibility for the future state of the planet. This should not be at the expense of progress and economic strength, but the two should be compatible and we need to find ways of achieving a balance.

As Country Co-ordinator, I would serve with respect, commitmentand openness. In 2017, I became a Belgian citizen and want to represent other liberal Belgians. ALDE has offered an opportunity for citizens to engage directly with politics at EU level, via individual membership. I believe that these members, who by subscribing have shown ttheir interest in the work of the party, can take responsibility for the future of the EU and talk about the real problems and possible solutions. The “head in the sand” approach is not going to change anything and we can show initiative and spread the values of tolerance, inclusiveness, social and individual responsibility. We need to be courageous and speak truth to each other and truth to power. Common ground forms the basis of consensus and nation building, the opposite leads to division and allows the rise of populist parties that feed off anxiety and dissatisfaction.

As regards the Belgian political scene, this was a surprise to me 13 years ago when I arrived here, but now I am familiar with the “eternal compromise” that characterises our national politics. However, the apparent division between the various communities troubles me and I believe that – as at European level – we need to focus on what unites us. A small country will not maintain its influence at EU level by fracturing internally. I would like to see zero-tolerance of bigotry, whatever its nature, and a nation of individuals who embrace common values and traditions and a joint goal of building and maintaining a strong nation, at the heart of the EU, which is a gateway to the increasingly globaleconomy

Latifa  Aït-Baala

Europe is the future!
As a European citizen with a migrant and international background, citizenship and gender issues have always been at the heart of my concerns. After a master’s in Law at Pierre Mendès University (France), a DESS certificates in European and International Studies and a DEA certificates in gender studies (Switzerland), I had the chance to work for international and European organizations as well as the Belgium Senate or the Federal Parliament for liberals. I run for last European elections in Belgium as a liberal with Louis Michel (ALDE MEP).
I feel the necessity to commit myself for a stronger Europe, to build bridges between citizens in a moment where European democracy and liberal values are threatened by eurosceptism, populism drift, extremism and terrorism. The EU is a chance for European citizens and a model of peace for the world! The European market is vital for Belgium economy as it is for most of the EU-members. 72%
of Belgium exports are intra-EU and 63% of its imports are from EU Member States.
1) Role of Individual ALDE Members and of ALDE in general in this particular towards next EU elections, possible solution to populist drift There is a need to give confidence to our fellow citizens and boost European spirit in order to tackle populist drift. The EU-campaign should include a grass rooted base. Individual ALDE Members can play a key role in this matter. It’s time to give citizens the voice to shape the Europe they want.

– Promoting Europe with a positive lobby: Europe is not the problem. Europe is the solution. We will emphasize on the benefits of Europe for citizens and what would be the cost of a non-Europe.
– Promoting European citizenship: Strengthen relations between citizens, IMs, ALDE-Party, MEPs, ADLE-Cor European institutions and so on; Launch a campaign to promote European citizens living in Belgium to take part to local and European elections; Involve European liberal MEPs in Belgium; Build bridges with Belgium liberal parties and national liberal parties representations based in the country; Promote a political tutoring system for candidates to local and European elections

2) What will be your priorities if you will be elected ad Country coordinator
If elected as a national coordinator, these are my priorities for Belgium: I will work on the ground in order to strengthen the relations between the individual; Members and ALDE-party; I will get involved the greatest number of IMs promoting liberal ideas and increase members; Work on developing European spirit: promote 9th May celebrations at all levels, particularly in schools; Focus on women and youth in politics as well as promoting minority rights (LGBT, Trans); Plead for more democratization, Europeanisation and transnational lists for EU
elections.
3) Where to focus in belgian political scene and about the role of Liberals and Democrats in the next years
I wish to see Belgium liberals and democrats MEPs united in one political group as well as in ALDE-Party. United we stand strong!. In the next years, Liberals and Democrats should strengthen Europe’s place on the
international scene (speak with one voice, promote the European defense, promote the European energy market – Helios solar, shape a fair digital market offering opportunities for citizens,..)

United Kingdom: ALDE Individual Members coordinators: candidates manifesto

On April 13th United ALDE Individual Members will elect their new country coordinators. Here we are the presentation of the two candidates: David Talbot and Kevin Mc Namara

Brexit represents the most significant threat to face the United Kingdom in 70 years. It risks damaging the economy as trade deals collapse, bringing the NHS to its knees as its many overseas staff leave having been made to feel unwelcome by the treatment they receive from hardcore Brexit supporters and the right-wing press and, most significantly of all, destroying the UK as we know it. The current hard Brexit supporting government clings to power thanks to the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party but it is almost impossible to see a solution to what will become a border between the EU and a potentially economically hostile third country that meets the requirements of all sides in the Northern Ireland peace process, the UK and EU. While attention focuses on the Ireland border problem, equally contentious and harmful to the livelihoods of those it affects, is the border between Gibraltar and Spain. Resolving these issues, presents an opportunity for ALDE and its IMs to develop a stronger relationship with the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, both over this, and going forwards promoting a strong relationship between liberal democratic actors such as APNI, the Liberal Party of Gibraltar, the Liberal Democrats, and ALDE (and IMs).

This situation is made all the worse by the total lack of effective opposition in the Westminster parliament, the leader of the opposition is supporting a hard Brexit despite his party and voters being remain supporters and even the EU-loving Liberal Democrats say they recognise the results of the referendum which it is becoming increasing clear was subject to considerable external, and illegal influences. ALDE and its IMs have a key role to play in seeking to drive the ongoing shift in public opinion, influencing policy at the national level through our links with the Liberal Democrats, providing support to their campaign to give voters a chance to Exit from Brexit, and creating links with third-party campaigning organisations, such as Best for Britain, to maximise our chances of success.

While Brexit is unquestionably regrettable it, and the populist drift in the UK, is easily understood when you consider the impacts of austerity on communities around the country. Areas, many rural or relying on traditional industry, with the highest proportions of low-skilled work and poorest educational results have been hardest hit by this discredited policy. Despite saying they are creating an economy that works for everyone it does not feel that way too many. What is needed is to really make it happen, promoting truly liberal and democratic policies which really do work for everyone.

At the same time, it is absolutely critical we engage the millennials and  Generation Z in politics, and convince them it something they can make a difference to, not just something which is done to them. To this end, we can improve the way we engage on social media and using other digital channels – by engaging people online using policy forums, consultations, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook polls, and exploring other channels that are used by the younger generations. We would seek to involve people who are able to do this, and grow ALDE IMs in the UK from a passive membership towards becoming a movement.

Even as we move towards Brexit, we would still expect British ALDE IMs to be able to input into the policy platform that ALDE stands on in the 2019 European elections – for opportunities to be made for this to happen, either through policy forums here in the UK or through policy consultations.

If elected, as the Country Coordinators for UK IMs we would have five priorities:

1)   Stop Brexit!

2)   Create opportunities for members to be involved in policy-making, campaigning and consulting on what involvement in ALDE looks like beyond Brexit (if we are unsuccessful in overturning it).

3)   Work to ensure the IMs understand their place in European liberalism and how they can make the most of the opportunities that creates.

4)   Find ways of engaging with 18-30 year olds and getting them interested in politics.

5)   Strengthen the relationship between ALDE, its IMs, the Liberal Democrats, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, and the Liberal Party of Gibraltar – one of friendship, political kinship and shared interests and history

+EUROPA LOSE THE FIGHT IN ITALY BUT GO AHEAD: “ROAD TO 2019 EU ELECTIONS”

In these article, our blog coordinator, Emanuele Lombardini, talks about  +Europa’s defeat in the Italian elections, and the new perspective for the liberal-democratic list; the project have a new stake: reach 4% in the next EU Elections.

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“We lost. But let’s move on.” The Italian political elections did not have a happy outcome for the liberal-democratic and pro-European +Europa list with Emma Bonino, who did not reach 3% of the votes, a target necessary to enter Parliament with a relevant  number of elected representatives.

The list only reached 2.6% at Deputy Chamber and 2.3 at Senate, thereby gaining only 4 seats: 3 of them thanks to Uninominale (Single name list) and one in  overseas constituencies.  Due to poor results and to the collapse of Democratic Party, with whom was +Europa allied, none of the ALDE Individual Members candidates were elected. So +Europa, with Emma Bonino, will be represented in the next Parliament by: Riccardo Magi (Italian Radicals secretary), Bruno Tabacci and Alessandro Fusacchia in the Deputy Chamber, with Emma Bonino at Senate. Due to the lack of members (minimum is 10), +Europa will not have its own group but need to amalgamate with others in the so-called Mixed Group.

Despite this defeat, in a press conference, +Europa leaders announced that the project continues, in view of  2019 European elections. Emma Bonino explains: “We have created +Europa to face the populist, nationalist and xenophobic wave, but unfortunately we didn’t realize that it was not a wave but a tsunami. We fought with all our strength and we lost, but the defeat in numbers doesn’t mean the defeat of the political project. Rather, the wave of populism, nationalism and sovereingty that is mounting in Italy, makes it increasingly necessary for the project to go ahead”.

Which way +Europa  with Emma Bonino will go ahead has not yet been decided, but the now former undersecretary, Benedetto Della Vedova, who was also defeated and will no longer sits in Parliament, has already outlined a possible scenario:  “This list was born with a specific purpose: give an equal and opposite response to the anti-European wave, one that is the same of Trump and Brexit, building an alternative agenda. In a very little time we have reached 2.6%, over 850000 votes, and these will be our new starting point. After the month of June we will evaluate in what form the project will go ahead. There are some options:  a Federative project, as was the UDF in France, with Valery Giscard d’Estaing or a completely new movement . So, we will build one movement or more than one, with some specific guidelines: pro-European, reformist, anti-nationalist, multilateralism, for international trade and international law.”  It also sets a target: “This project has the strength to grow and our goal is to reach 4% in the next European elections.” A comparable standpoint was also voiced by Riccardo Magi: “It is necessary to rebuild an alternative front to the sovereign one; let’s start from here.”

Bruno Tabacci, leader of Centro Democratico, one of the lists reunited under +Europa,  cites Adenauer: “Europe had been a dream of the few, it had become a reality of many; it will be a necessity for everyone. And besides, looking at the numbers of the individual countries, it is clear that there are no alternatives for Europe to be internationally competitive.”

A clear picture emerges out of all of this: it is mostly Italians who live and work outside Italy, especially in Europe, that understood the importance and the need for Italy to have a political and economic vision of their country, such as the one that +Europa describes.

Global figure assign to +Europa 5.63% of the votes among who lives abroad, and 8.16% in the specific college ‘Europe’ (fourth list after Democratic Party, Five stars Movement and United center-right). As such, this approach towards next EU elections seems to be the right one. It is enough to look at some results to realize this: +Europa reached 18% in The Netherlands, 16,55% in Ireland, 14,67% in Sweden; 13% in Spain; 12% in the United Kingdom, and exceeded 10% in many other countries.

Such figures ensured the election of one deputee, the newcomer Alessandro Fusacchia, who says: “We received votes especially from young adults and those in their teen, but during these weeks we did not just want to focus on them: we talked also with people who emigrated in the ’60s, even with those who no longer speak Italian. Clearly it is easier for us to turn to those who left Italy two or three years ago or in general to young Italians, but our project is for everyone”. As Benedetto Della Vedova well explained: “if we want a stronger Italy, we can only have it with a leading role in a stronger Europe “.

The path of + Europe, therefore, has just begun: “We had a moment of arrest, but now it is time to get up and start again,” +Europa leaders explain. Destination: Brussels 2019.

Emanuele Lombardini 

Quanto è dura la vita per un elettore italiano….

In this article Massimo Ricciuti ironically recounts a typical day of the average Italian voter during the election campaign. Politicians’ statements rage in every television, in every newspaper, every minute, in every situation of life. For many it is difficult to find their way in the avalanche of ​​declarations, looking for the only one that convinces. Fortunately, there is more Europe, which always brings good news….  A nice way to close with a smile the Italian election campaign.

Qualcuno si è mai chiesto quali possono essere i sentimenti di un tranquillo cittadino italiano improvvisamente travolto da uno Tzunami elettorale?

Provate a immaginarlo.

Sei stremato perché sei appena tornato a casa da una devastante giornata di lavoro oppure, peggio, sei arrabbiato nero perché non ce l’hai fatta a salire sul treno (il posto fisso, uno straccio di contratto a termine…) e sei senza lavoro (si sa, chi non ha santi in paradiso…).

Vorresti rilassarti. Speri di avere il tempo di stare un pochino con la tua famiglia, ammesso che abbia la fortuna di averne una. Insomma hai un gran bisogno di svuotare il cervello.

Ma c’è qualcosa che te lo impedisce. In fondo sei un bravo cittadino, ti senti partecipe di ciò che ti accade intorno. Allora non hai scampo. Per mesi la tua vita sarà sconvolta e le tue abitudini saltate in aria. Per non parlare delle amicizie, di sicuro qualche amico lo perderai per strada. E poi il tuo umore sarà perennemente pessimo. I tuoi nervi costantemente sulla corda. Avrai acceso la televisione e balzerai da un telegiornale all’altro come un folle. In più il tuo conto dal giornalaio sotto casa subirà un balzo impressionante.

Non ascolterai nessuno che non si chiami Salvini o Berlusconi. Ti toccherà spulciare ogni singola pagina dei dieci quotidiani che hai comprato, anche la Gazzetta dello Sport e Topolino, alla ricerca dell’ultima sparata di Di Maio. E poi dovrai stare attento a ogni fotografia di D’Alema per decriptarne il retro pensiero. Quando finalmente becchi una intervista tutta intera sul Tg1 in fondo già saprai che il tuo cervello già ha fatto partire un’ indagine per cogliere il sottotesto del personaggio di turno. Quando penserai di aver raccolto tutti gli elementi per tentare di comporre lo psicopuzzle uscirà sempre quell’Ansa che ti manderà tutto all’aria. Nel frattempo tua moglie ti chiede dolcemente cosa vorresti per cena, ma tu la mandi a quel paese perché ormai sei nel gioco e la politica ha contagiato anche te fino a succhiarti l’anima. Dici ai tuoi familiari cose che non avresti mai pensato di poter dire, anche perché, in fondo non le pensi, e se poi te lo rinfacceranno tu non te lo ricorderai neanche perché sei posseduto dalla campagna elettorale. Non sei più tu, ma sei solo un elettore in piena crisi di onnipotenza. Sei convinto che la tua vera e unica missione sia quella di anticipare le trame e i sarcasmi di Renzi. Così passi il tempo facendo girare il tuo cervello a mille.

Alla fine ingurgiti in un solo boccone la cena mentre la tua testa è altrove.

Sei convinto che in fondo ce la farai. Non senti tuoi figli chiedere alla mamma “Ma cosa ha papà?”. Sono cose che a te non riguardano, tu decidi i destini del mondo e dal tuo voto dipenderanno i destini di milioni di persone. Hai una responsabilità alla quale non ti puoi sottrarre. Ed è bene che faccia il tuo compito nel migliore dei modi. A te non è concesso sbagliare, tu sei un elettore!!!

Così, alla fine ti metti a letto.

Sei stremato, ma l’adrenalina continua a fare il suo mestiere. Sei giallastro, hai le occhiaie perchè anche stanotte non dormirai ma sveglierai tua moglie convinto di aver trovato la chiave di tutto.

Domani ti alzerai e accenderai la radio per sapere le ultime novità. In ufficio non parlerai d’altro, e inoltre studierai bene i tuoi colleghi per capire da che parte stanno. Eh! Bisogna stare attenti!

Alla fine della campagna elettorale, di solito, non sai più se hai vinto o perso. Ma sai che questa volta sarà diverso. Davvero diverso…. Allora contatti via Fb i tuoi amici di +Europa sperando che ti diano buone notizie.

Nel frattempo ti accorgi che a ogni campagna elettorale comprometti i rapporti con amici e parenti, e in più perdi dieci chili. Per essere un elettore serio bisogna avere la scorza dura.

Massimo Ricciuti

ITALIAN POLITICAL ELECTIONS 2018, ALDE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS CANDIDATES: GET TO KNOW THEM/3

On 4 March, Italy will return to vote to elect  new Members of Parliament. Some ALDE individual members are candidates with the liberal-democratic list + Europa with Emma Bonino. In these interviews we present the last two of them. We asked three questions to all of them and one different, about some important topics for Italy and Europe.

How Italy votes. The new Italian voting system has two levels of elections. 37%  of Members of Parliament in both Chambers  are elected in a “Uninominale” (single name list) college: single parties or coalitions express one common name. One wins the seat, others lose. 61% of MPs – in both chambers – are elected in a “Plurinominale” (more names list) college: each single party proposes from 1 to 4 candidates. The higher the percentage of votes obtained, the higher will be the number of  elected candidates. There is also a minimum percentage to be obtained to elect candidates. The remaining  2% of seats are for Italian candidates who live abroad.

You can read first set of 4 interviews  here

You can read second set of 4 interviews here


Candidates we present today:

Marco Ferraro, born in Genova in 1975, lives outside Italy since 2003, before in Belgium, Morocco andTurkey, now in Ukraine where he works for the EU in the field of reforms relating to the rule of law and justice. He is  member of Radicali Italiani and ALDE Individual Member. He runs as a candidate for Deputees Chambers for  Europe Constituency.

Alessandro Massari, born in Rome in 1966 is the president of National Committee of Radicali Italiani. He is member of Legislative office of Deputees Chamber, journalist and ALDE Individual Member. He runs ad Candidate for Senate at Plurinominale (More name list) in Umbria.

You are running as a candidate with Più Europa/+Europa. What exactly does “More Europe” mean to you?

Marco Ferraro.  Più Europa”, more Europe, means that Europe is still the answer to most of Italy’s problems. Whether it is economic growth, immigration, international trade or international security, we think that Italy would only lose by leaving a European path. Italy was a founding member of the European Community, it has greatly benefitted from European integration, and it should continue along this path. Europe has today become a scapegoat used by populists and demagogues to harvest votes and media attention, but we need to reject this line of thought. We are here to show that Italians still understand the importance of Europe for their lives. We want to show that you can actually gather popular support, and votes, around a pro-European platform, rather than an anti-European one.

In these years of spreading anti-Europeism this is something that needs to be repeated and which we need to prove in practice and in actions in order for us to be reminded of it.

 Alessandro Massari: Italy was not yet a Republic and already, it has been imagined a free state in a united Europe. +Europa with Emma Bonino, for me and for Italy, means to restart – with decision, courage and foresight – the European project which has always been present in the Radical DNA. Italy had an important role in Europe’s Birth. The Ventotene Manifesto, edited by Rossi and Spinelli in 1941, which gave birth to EEC was signed in Rome in 1957. +Europa con Emma Bonino is a project that seeks to guarantee welfare in freedom, integration in safety, more rights for all and more safeguards for environment.  It is an instrument for promoting peace, prosperity and democracy, which is needed here and now, not only for Italy but all of Europe.

What is, in your opinion, the biggest problem Italy faces at the moment and what will your contribution with +Europa be?

Marco Ferraro:  At a very general level, Italy’s fundamental problem is the lack of mutual trust among the political actors who have a stake in determining our future. For example the political parties and the electorate: people who go to vote. “Social trust” is a public good, and we don’t have much of it in Italy. This is why the years of what we call the “Second Republic” have been so inconclusive in terms of reforms.

While this is not a particularly new analysis about the Italian society, we have been seeing a new element in recent years: the appearance of a kind of populism which is more aggressive and which is based on a more fundamental rejection of “mainstream” values. This means, to offer an example, that issues which once seemed settled and consensual, have been politicised: one is the issue of vaccinations. Surprisingly as it may seem, populist discourse in Italy is going well beyond economic claims but it is attacking what we used to consider uncontroversial issues, like science and medicine.

We came to the point where, in political debate, the objectivity of the scientific approach can be questioned very easily – and here we are not talking about a learnt discussion with scholars who might have read Jaspers or Latour: we are talking about arguments put forward with the soundness of pub-like talk. Of course this does not happen only on “hard” scientific facts relative to medicine, but it spreads very easily into “softer” fields like economics, and then politics and international security.

Answering to this degeneration will require offering a message of hope and of trust in the future. And the message needs to come from a credible source. Più Europa is the right actor to do this. Emma Bonino is a guarantee of that: she is one of the most well known politicians in Italy and her story, like that of the “Radicali Italiani”, is an example of what we need: generosity in devoting oneself to others, coherence between words and actions, and courage in speaking the truth even when it is not popular.

Alessandro Massari: In my opinion, the biggest problem is the lack of intergenerational equity. The enormous public debt which Italy has accumulated causes loss of some rights for almost two generations, overwhelmed by poverty, insecurity in work, welfare for some. Italy’s Constitutional Chart provides that for each expense the means to deal with it must be identified but during the last 50 years, Italy has instead resorted to heavy debt.  The main problem is the failure to respect the rule of law, because rights have a price, and debt is not the right way to guarantee them. +Europa is way of securing more economic, social, political and civil growth. The new industrial revolution needs more digital infrastructures, more public services, less tax evasion and a more equal fiscal system. A ‘right’ justice, a universal model of welfare which could guarantee each worker and the work market that guarantees individual right to continuing education.  Beyond this, we need more democracy, more effective sovereignty in the hands of the citizen, thanks to the strengthening of direct democracy and referendums, which also utilizes digital technology. We can realize all these things only if we stop unproductive public expense,         eliminate the debt and all the money we lose in interest repayments. In this way, we will have more resources to invest in competitive businesses that provide jobs while guaranteeing, at the same time and for all, European unemployment benefit and a guaranteed minimum hourly wage.

You are already an Individual Member of ALDE Party. Don’t you think that’s enough to push for changes in European level?  What was your motivation to run as a candidate?

Marco Ferraro:  My motivation to run as a candidate is the desire to be part of the solution to the problems of our country; and the appreciation for the role that Emma Bonino and Radicali Italiani have had and continue to have in our society. Radicali Italiani are well known in Italy for having campaigned for civil rights in Italy in the past – on issues like divorce and abortion – and even today they are leading struggles that are fundamental for our living together. For example, the issue of granting Italian citizenship to the children of immigrants who are born and grow up in Italy. This is what we call “ius culturae” (citizenship by upbringing), but has wrongly and often been presented as “ius soli” (citizenship by place of birth).

Another personal reason, and a very strong one, is that I have been living outside of Italy, and for a long period in Turkey and Ukraine, and I have seen there the results of populist policies and propaganda. This gives me a perspective on what the future may hold for Italy if we don’t change course.

In relation to ALDE individual members; I have first joined it several years ago, as I saw and see it as a great opportunity for activism on a pan-European scale. Then I re-joined the ALDE individual members group as I was enthusiastic about Radical Italiani having joined ALDE in the meantime. I think that membeship of ALDE individual members and of a national political party can offer synergies and more opportunities for engagement.

 Alessandro Massari: I think EU has to be reformed. In 1996, I proposed to Marco Pannella, historical leader of Italian Radical Party, the idea of Trans-national lists as the Maastricht Treaty allowed them. Pannella was an Italian political giant known for his forward-looking and anticipatory visions.

I believe in Europe as a common homeland to live in law, freedom and equality, and I fear the rebirth of the Europe of homelands. In 1995, the time was not ripe but now I think it is. I regret that at next EU elections it is not possible to be candidates ourselves in trans-European lists but Brexit demonstrates to us that no rights and no institutions, no progress is forever if you do not commit yourselves to its maintenance and to feeding it.

Today the presentation of transnational lists is not only timely but also necessary. It must be realized Pan-European parties to realize a “light” Federal Europe.

As for my candidature, the reason is very simple: I always believed in the United States of Europe as starting point, not arrival one. In the last year with Radicali Italiani, I promoted with conviction the presentation of a pro-European list which includes not only Radicali Italiani, but everyone.

 Why, in your opinion, has a real liberal democratic culture in Italy struggled to emerge, while in the rest of Europe ALDE-affiliated parties have greater visibility?

 Alessandro Massari: In Italy, the combination of the liberal principle of individual rights with the democratic one of popular sovereignty has always been difficult. History demonstrates that both were most enunciated rather than respected. Independence wars left united Italy with a lot of debt. Historical right-wing politicians which led the country in these years represented elites, not ordinary people.  The transformation that destroyed the historical right, the end of the prohibition for Catholics to participate in political elections and the entry of popular forces into parliament were all determining factors for the rise of fascism, which looked at democracy as the evil to be treated with the nationalist dictatorship, centered on mass worship to the detriment of the individual. Republican parties – apart from Partito d’Azione – have been suffocated.  Only the Radical party was able to preserve a liberal democratic project in Italy, with referendums which made Italy more democratic, more modern, more right with enormous results. This despite a small number of MP electeds and despite attempts of obstruction by reactionary forces such as the Catholics, Stalinlists, collectivists.  I think today there is a space for liberal democracy, for a Europe of rights, and personal freedoms, federal but united in the differences. We can reform Italian institutions and be protagonists in the route towards United States of Europe.

With Italian people abroad being able to vote in this election, do you think +Europa should appeal directly to Italian people in Britain with Brexit looming? How will this happen?

Marco Ferraro. Più Europa is definitely reaching out to Italians who live in the UK; there are hundreds of thousands of them and London is a traditional destination city for many Italians who move to live abroad. Just in London there are about 250,000 Italians living there.

Più Europa has set up a committee in London – like similar ones in more that 50 cities across Europe – and several meetings have been carried out during the past weeks to reach out to the Italian communities there. Two of our candidates for the political elections, Davide Rubini and Claudio Radaelli, are themselves Italians who live and work in the UK. There is a strong interest among Italians in the UK for Più Europa, we are perceived as being different from other political parties, and specifically also in our understanding of the condition of the Italians who live outside Italy.

We don’t think there is a problem in the fact that many Italians chose to go to live and work abroad, we instead think that the problem is in the obstacles that Italy raises when and if they want to return back to Italy. We have put forward specific proposals in this regard, which aim exactly to remove these barriers: the proposals revolve around the idea that the Italian state shall take into account and recognise experiences and rights acquired by an individual during his or her  years spent abroad. This is to include the automatic recognition of degrees acquired abroad, professional qualifications, pension rights, and family rights acquired in another EU member state – this is of particular relevance for same-sex couples who marry in another country and have the legitimate expectation of still being married when they move back to Italy.

We therefore propose not some kind of cumbersome public policy supporting Italians abroad, we ask a simple thing, to give full application to the principle of the freedom of movement as foreseen by the European Union. I think that in any future Brexit deal, citizens’ rights shall be treated as a separate issue, they cannot be approached like the UK contributions to EU programmes or budget. I am convinced that this matters very much for preserving London as an international metropolis, one of the world’s capitals, and downgrading the rights of Europeans living there would be self-defeating for the UK.

Kevin Mc Namara and Emanuele Lombardini

ITALIAN POLITICAL ELECTIONS 2018, ALDE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS CANDIDATES: GET TO KNOW THEM/2

On 4 March, Italy will return to vote to elect  new Members of Parliament. Some ALDE individual members are candidates with the liberal-democratic list + Europa with Emma Bonino. In these interviews we present the second 4 of them. We asked three questions to all of them and one different, about some important topics for Italy and Europe.

How Italy votes. The new Italian voting system has two levels of elections. 37%  of Members of Parliament in both Chambers  are elected in a “Uninominale” (single name list) college: single parties or coalitions express one common name. One wins the seat, others lose. 61% of MPs – in both chambers – are elected in a “Plurinominale” (more names list) college: each single party proposes from 1 to 4 candidates. The higher the percentage of votes obtained, the higher will be the number of  elected candidates. There is also a minimum percentage to be obtained to elect candidates. The remaining  2% of seats are for Italian candidates who live abroad.

You can read here the first set of interviews


Candidates we present today

Claudia Daniela Basta. Born in San Donà di Piave (province of Venezia) in 1976, she is a University Reasearcher and teacher, and lives in The Hague (The Neteherlands). Liberal, Radical in the dutch party D66, ALDE Individual Member. She runs as a candidate for Deputee Chambers for  Europe Constituency.

Riccardo Lo Monaco, Born in Cagliari in 1976, liberal, radical, LGBT Activist, manager.  Co -Founder of Forza Europa movement, ALDE IM Member. He runs as candidate for the “Plurinominale” (More names list) for the Senate in Sardegna 01 and Veneto 01. In Sardegna Constituency runs against Mario Adinolfi leader of anti-LGBT Moviment Il Popolo della Famiglia (Family People)

Antonio Stango. Born in Naples in 1957, he is a political scientist, writer, and editor and, since 2016, former president of the Italian league for Human Rights and now president of  Italian Federation for Human Rights. He is in the board member of “Hands off Cain”, an Italian NGO with the mission of outlawing the death penalty globally. He is italian national coordinator of ALDE Individual Members and candidate for the Deputees Chamber for the “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Veneto 02.

 Andreina Serena Romano. Born in Potenza in 1985. University researcher, works in business strategy, and innovation for SMEs and for the public sector. She was a former Member of Italia dei Valori (Italy of Value, former ALDE Member party) and is an ALDE Individual Member. She is a candidate for the Deputees Chamber for the “Plurinominale” (More names list) in Basilicata, where she is running against Vito De Filippo, the former Undersecretary to School and Instruction of the Democratic Party.

You are running as a candidate with Più Europa/+Europa. What exactly does “More Europe” mean to you?

Claudia Basta.  More Europe points toward the direction that we radical liberals believe our country should orientate its development. Populism is rampant in Italy, and the narrative according to which the European Union is the source of Italy’s socio-economic stagnation has convinced many. More Europe’s intent is to contrast that narrative and let voters realize that less Europe means a definite collapse – more Europe, the hope of offering a better future to our citizens.

Riccardo Lo Monaco First of all, I think +Europa means taking everything good that European Union gives to all Member States. We need to look forward to United State of Europe. On the other hand, +Europa means more opportunities, more rights and, above all, more peace. Indeed, we can’t forget that we have been living in peace for more than 60 years. In the end, +Europa means Erasmus, which is a powerful way to built a unique identity

Antonio Stango Italy, which is among the six founding countries of the EU, has achieved a very high level of security and economic development, which in isolation would have been impossible. Moreover – and we must be proud of this – it was in Rome in 1950 that the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, to which all the States of the Council of Europe are obliged to comply, was signed. All the community mechanisms are a vital guarantee for us in the field of human rights as well as in the economy. Faced with the wave of incongruous accusations against Europe in recent years, due to a economic and social crisis, the message of “more Europe” shows us that we need to strengthen the federal structure and not “more duties, more nationalism, and less freedom of movement for people and goods”.

Andreina Serena Romano. +Europa means for Italy to believe in a federal project, united and aware of Europe. A concrete project of United States of Europe that could be a reason for growth for the country. Italy needs Europe, just as Europe needs Italy. We must not stand still and be moved by events. Italy must walk with other states facing all the challenges of the future. We must be aware of the possibilities and work constantly to make our economy flourish and shine with our productive, natural and social capacities. +Europa with Emma Bonino represents a possibility, a challenge and a reason to continue to hope for a more European Italy.0

What is, in your opinion, the biggest problem Italy faces at the moment and what will your contribution with +Europa be?

Claudia Basta. The biggest plague of and in Italy at present is what I regard as the grave cultural degradation that seems to affect large parts of the population. Were that not be the case, far-right parties like Lega, Fratelli d’Italia and CasaPound, and ‘clown parties’ like Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the Five Star Movement, would not have the consensus they clearly have. To be clear: the conservative right has its own history and legitimate political philosophical grounds, in Italy as in the rest of Europe, and I respect those grounds despite my liberalism. The point is the current far-right in Italy is a grotesque representation of that legacy. It is led by leaders who miss the cultural background and competencies required to set forward any credible political programme, sometimes even to express themselves in Italian correctly. Yet they form a consensus, flagging by so doing the mutual lack of critical thinking in far too many citizens – how can someone believe that Europe is our problem rather than our solution, or that immigrants are inherently a threat?

By promoting a stronger integration of Italy in Europe and vice versa, by stressing the importance of science, research & development, as the ‘DNA’ of our democracy, and by putting our women candidates Costanza Hermanin, Ersilia Vaudo, Roberta Talarico and Giulia Pastorella – all high-skilled professionals with a scientific background – at the forefront of our campaign, Più Europa aims at activating a cultural revolution. Politically conscious Italians abound, both in Italy and abroad – our challenge is involving them in our project.

Riccardo Lo Monaco First of all, we need to increase jobs. However, we can’t forget the huge public debt that overwhelms Italy. For this reason, on one hand we need a State that helps market competition and the private initiative. On the other hand, we need to cut the wastes that hit public costs. In this way we can invest on job.

Antonio Stango  The complexity of international relations, including the risks of terrorism and war, the epochal challenge of migration, the transnationality of organized crime and the need for new forms of industrial and commercial competitiveness in a globalized world. These oblige us to joint responses from one strong European Union, while it would be dangerous to rely on individual solutions by 27 states. The development of strategies and methods for dealing with social problems within each country can benefit from European cooperation and the sharing of best practices in different fields. The elected representatives of +Europa, in addition to the specific skills that each will bring, and in a pragmatically liberal democratic and non-ideological vision, will have to maintain the full European integration method in all areas of their parliamentary activity.

Andreina Serena Romano. Unfortunately, at the moment, I think that Italy is facing many problems in many sectors. There is a great job to do and many sacrifices to come. I could list many points in the program but I would like to focus on a couple. Growth and the labour market are two key points in the +Europa programme and two hot topics in my campaign. From these two points there are a thousand themes that can solve many of the problems that we face. Rethinking industry and companies with more modern, innovative approaches helps us to create different production and commercial models that can keep up with the times. The contribution of research is essential for us to thrive and to differentiate ourselves. Competition should not be a taboo but the foundation of our economy. Not only for companies but also for consumers. We need to facilitate freelancers and remove barriers from young people creating businesses. By loosening these knots, we can start to speak a common language to the rest of the world, which continues to move forward as we watch. Think of the world of start-ups and the many problems of small and micro companies that make up the largest percentage of our economic fabric: we must remove the obstacles to their growth.

 You are already an Individual Member of ALDE Party. Don’t you think that’s enough to push for changes in European level?  What was your motivation to run as a candidate?

Claudia Basta. Initially, I didn’t think I would run as a candidate. As member of ALDE and of the Dutch party D66, having lived in the Netherlands, I had enough to do and contribute to the European project already.

When Più Europa was born, back in November, what I did was simply to put myself at disposal of the respective European steering committee, led by our head-of-list for the lower chamber, Alessandro Fusacchia. I gave my availability to become a candidate, as many others, for helping the movement grow in Northern Europe more than for the true ambition to run, but Alessandro proposed me to be the first ‘Dutch’ candidate ever proposed by an Italian party in the Europe constituency, and I accepted with enthusiasm.

Riccardo Lo Monaco Italy does not have a political party that represents Europe and European ideas. This could be a risk for the European project. Unfortunately, many Italian leaders, even including Berlusconi, who says he supports United Europe, allies with the most xenophobic and nationalist political parties that have ever existed in Italy, such as Salvini and Meloni. I will always support human rights and civil liberties, such as LGBTI cause. These rights could be threatened by anti-European parties. Indeed, this is the reason why I decided to become a candidate. My goal is to defend the European project and all that means: rights, Erasmus, circulation and integration in order to create an unique identity within all Member States. In this way, Italy will be similar to other countries, such as France, Germany or Dutch, without being the Hungary with Orban.

Antonio Stango  Transnational lists would be a positive step towards an accentuated federal dimension of the European Union, just as it was important in 1979 to start electing the members of the European Parliament by universal suffrage. I am sure that we will have to achieve this goal too. I have chosen to run as a candidate because I believe that all the energies and ideas of those who do not intend to give in to populism, sovereignism or abstention – three deadly risks to democracy, civil rights and socio-economic wellbeing – must converge towards the hope of effectively liberal democratic and federalist politics.

Andreina Serena Romano. I believe that the time has come for a new, more European, more compact and policy younger. New communication methods and new methods of approach to the voter. I have been an individual member of ALDE for many years, I started my journey in LYMEC and this has helped me a lot. Dealing with the politics of other countries is a starting point to improve and make ours more open. This is why I have always supported transnational lists, which have had a setback. It’s a way to rely on different cultures and thoughts, to discover how other European countries operate and how we can improve our political activities. It is time for a new political wind of right ideals, of real commitment and of security and loyalty. That’s why I chose to run as a candidate and put my face in the front row for the European project.

Why, in your opinion, has a real liberal democratic culture in Italy struggled to emerge, while in the rest of Europe ALDE-affiliated parties have greater visibility?

Antonio Stango  Italian politics has for decades been dominated by the contrast between the two “church parties” – the Christian Democrats and the Communist Party with strong traditions of Catholicism and Marxism respectively. Meanwhile, the minor secular parties, like Liberal Democrats, no other possibility of maneuvering it but supporting it, with variable results. The only exception were the Italian Social Movement which referred to the political elements of Fascism and which was considered “outside the constitutional arch” – a term referred to the parties who contributed to wrote the Italian Constitutional Chart after WWII, the Radical Party, which between 1976 and 1987 participated in the elections with the his own name and that he posed as an alternative to both the logic and the “historical compromise” between Christian Democrats and Communists, pursuing his own non-ideological objectives and seeking convergence on those.

The end of the PCI, which was the largest communist party in the Western world, together with the French one) after the collapse of the Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet reference, the extinction of the DC and other parties in the final crisis of the “First Republic” left space for Berlusconi’s Forza Italia; that initially appeared as a “mass liberal party”, and changed face, programs and practices according to the polls and allies of the moment. The phase that starts now could allow us, precisely because of the urgent need to counteract the new risks, to strengthen the role of a liberal democratic alternative party and make it more evident and incisive.

Andreina Serena Romano. This is a good question, difficult and impactful. The liberal democratic parties in Europe are strong, often form the government and are often fundamental in European political management. I believe the main problem is our difficulty in changing history and adapting ourselves. We have a strong attachment to conservative and Catholic thought, despite being a secular country. But this is a knot that we will dissolve with difficulty, even if with +Europa we are finally launching one true liberal democratic party that can lead us towards modernity.

With Italian people abroad being able to vote in this election, do you think +Europa should appeal directly to Italian people in Britain with Brexit looming? How will this happen?

Claudia Basta. Più Europa’s candidates living in the UK, Davide Rubini (for the lower chamber) and Claudio Radaelli (for the Senate) are the brightest, most competent and most genuine ‘remainers’ that Italian voters are likely to meet in the course of this campaign. Respectively, a European Regulatory Affairs Manager and a European governance professor, they have explained to the many Italians who followed their campaign why they think Brexit is a political, economic, and  identitarian disaster for the people living in the UK – regardless of whether they’re native British or not. Davide and Claudio embody outstandingly our pro-European political programme and the level at which we would like to take the debate on the European Union. Through them, and through the entire team created by Alessandro Fusacchia and Alberto Alemanno, our head-of-list at the Senate, we really are deploying the best minds and the most enthusiastic Italians possible for making the European Union “exiters-proof”.

Riccardo Lo Monaco +Europa should appeal to all Italians within European territory, stimulating them to vote for “Europe”. Of course, Italians in Great Britain should feel more than everyone this European feeling. For this reason, since Brexit, they should vote +Europa. We just need to reach them saying that we are in this election!

Kevin Mc Namara and Emanuele Lombardini

Italian political elections 2018, ALDE Individual members candidates: get to know them/1

On 4 March, Italy will return to vote to elect  new Members of Parliament. Eight ALDE individual members are candidates with the liberal-democratic list + Europa with Emma Bonino. In these interviews we present the first 4 of them. We asked three questions to all of them and one different, about some important topics for Italy and Europe.

How Italy votes. The new Italian voting system has two levels of elections. 37%  of Members of Parliament in both Chambers  are elected in a “Uninominale” (single name list) college: single parties or coalitions express one common name. One wins the seat, others lose. 61% of MPs – in both chambers – are elected in a “Plurinominale” (more names list) college: each single party proposes from 1 to 4 candidates. The higher the percentage of votes obtained, the higher will be the number of  elected candidates. There is also a minimum percentage to be obtained to elect candidates. The remaining  2% of seats are for Italian candidates who live abroad.

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Candidates we present today:

YURI GUAIANA

Born in Cantù, province of Como in 1974, president of Certi Diritti Association, LGBT Activist. Member of Radicali Italiani, former president of ALDE Individual Members. Candidate for Deputees Chamber at  “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Lombardia 02.

SJLVIA MANZI

Born in Foggia in 1973, she lives in Turin. Tresaurer of Radicali Italiani, ALDE Individual Member. Leader candidate for Deputees Chamber at “Uninominale” (Single name list) in Turin 02 and at  “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Piemonte 1, Lazio 1, Campania 1, Campania 2

CARMELO PALMA

Born in Turin in 1969, journalist, editor in  chief of political study on line magazine “Strade”, ALDE Individual Member and member of Radicali Italiani. Candidate for Senate at  “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Piemonte 1, Piemonte 2, Lombardia 2, Lombardia 3, Lombardia 4.

DIANA SEVERATI

Born in Milan 1976, she lives in Rome where she works as trainer and consutant in crowfunding sector. Member of Radicali Italiani and ALDE Individual Member. Candidate for Senate at  “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Veneto 01, Veneto 02, Trentino Alto Adige 01, Friuli Venezia Giulia 01, Lazio 02, Lazio 03

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You are running as a candidate with Più Europa/+Europa. What exactly does “More Europe” mean to you?

Yuri Guaiana I’ve been a Radical for all my life and I subscribe to all their liberal views, since individual freedom is at the core of my political identity – but +Europa goes beyond the Radicals. It’s a political project which makes Europe a priority for Italy. In these times of rampant Euroscepticism, we are the only party who dare to say that we need more Europe and that this is in our interest. Europe gave Italy more economic stability and more civil rights. To tackle migration, we need common European borders. We want a federal Europe where responsibilities are clear and people, not only nation states, count.

Sjlvia Manzi +Europa, in Italy – and not only in Italy – is a need. We are living through a period that will be studied in the history books if we don’t reverse the course. Next generations will ask themselves how we allowed the return of nationalism and populism. This is the reason why, even in a country with strong European tradition like Italy, we must reaffirm that the solution to our problems is not less Europe, but more rights, more democracy, more freedom and, therefore, more Europe.

Carmelo Palma. First, it means reversing the rhetoric of victimhood that many have towards the EU and reversing the decline of fiscal responsibility and financial stability in Italy as Europe has become the scapegoat for problems that have been caused in Rome.

The public debt, which has dug a chasm beneath the feet of future generations, has been the product of national political choices. The imbalances of our social security system arise from a parasitic use of the public budget as a means of “remuneration”. In Italy, the exchange vote was not legal, but taxpayers are paying the price of this sale.

The EU is the life boat keeping Italy afloat. Outside the Eurozone and without ECB support, we would not be able to refinance its public debt. +Europa means for us +Italy. Without the common market and without the four freedoms – the free movement of goods, capital, services and people – the Italian economy, with its export-oriented manufacturing vocation, would simply die.

Diana Severati Europe has guaranteed us peace, a free market, freedom of movement and opportunity for young people, such as Erasmus. We are saying yes to this Europe we have but More Europe means to me more liberty, more rights, more democracy, more growth, more sustainability,  more union rights, more knowledge, more equity, and more jobs.

What is, in your opinion, the biggest problem Italy faces at the moment and what will your contribution with +Europa be?

Yuri Guaiana Italy faces a huge populist threat which can harm not only Italy but the EU itself. To fight it, we need to change many things starting from the relationship between the State and us citizens. For far to many years we have increased our public debt jeopardizing the future of young Italians. The disregard for them is shocking and that’s why populism and euro skepticism is high among the youngsters. We need to freeze public expenditures to contain the public debt and start reducing taxis, especially for free lancers who are the most vexed and the youngest workers. We need to do away with all the red tape that makes it harder to interact with the public administrator. We need to support more scientific  research and technological development. In a nutshell, we need to create more opportunity, specially for young people.

Sjlvia Manzi Italy’s big problems are still those linked to the blocks of party power. We must not delude ourselves: even new movements, that define themselves as ’different’ have perfectly fitted to the ‘parties system’ and have become the new bishops of it. This is why those of us that become +Europa MPs will have as priority the respect for the rules, legality, and the rule of law.

Carmelo Palma The biggest problem is restoring a honesty to politics and creating a politics that recognizes and faces problems. If one thinks of treating a country with a lot of debt with even more debt is a good outcome, then it shows that our political culture is very debased and out of touch.

What we risk is a phenomenon of collective alienation, like the one that brought British voters to vote for Brexit, which will not put an extra pound in the pockets of families in the United Kingdom and risks taking it away in the medium and long term, much more than what they thought was extracted from them by Brussels.

I give another example: we live in a country that in 2017 had a negative demographic balance – the relationship between births and deaths – of 180,000 individuals, the worst after that of the First World War, with the worst fertility rate in Europe of 1.2 children per woman of childbearing age. Yet we continue to consider immigration a problem when it is the only possible and immediate solution to the deterioration of the demographic structure of the population.

Diana Severati I think that the biggest problem Italy faces at the moment is public debt. Public debt is a real threat causing financial instability and market trust crisis.

+Europa proposes to freeze the nominal value of public debt for the next five years by cutting subsidies dangerous to the environment, main house subsidies and subsidies to businesses  (especially in the agricolture and manufacture sectors). There are also the spending review lists by Carlo Cottarelli and Roberto Pierotti, ready to be implemented.

Making Italy free from public debt would allow the country to better face the European integration process.

You are already an Individual Member of ALDE Party. Don’t you think that’s enough to push for changes in European level?  What was your motivation to run as a candidate?

Yuri Guaiana I am running as +Europa candidate precisely because I’m an individual member of ALDE Party, not despite it. Doing politics cannot be confined to one affiliation. I’m doing politics as a Human Rights activist, as an Individual Member of ALDE Party and as a candidate with +Europa. ALDE Party has been running a very effective campaign called #ValuesFirst. That’s for me what politics is about: study and work hard to enhance my liberal values and translate them into policies and laws. This campaign is another way to engage with people on crucial matters and fundamental values that today, more than ever, are at stake. If I am elected, I will help translate them into policies and laws within the institutions, but If I don’t I’ll keep doing politics and translate my values into polices and laws from outside the institutions. As Radicals, we are pretty good at that, as we showed with the laws on divorce, abortion and, more recently, on civil unions and living wills.

Sjlvia Manzi. It should certainly more courage. Apart from transnational lists idea, it is overall the election mode for MEPs that should be reformed in a way to allow a real closeness between elected and voters. This is what Europe needs more. I choose to run as a candidate to try to realize the Liberal European Federalist dream, chasing Altiero Spinelli and Marco Pannella (Italian radical leader ndr) tradition.

Carmelo Palma. I am member of a pro-European party, but I think the most promising prospect for the political consolidation of the Union is that of building pan-European parties. Without parties that think of themselves as Europeans, it will be difficult to imagine a European policy that is not a sum or an average of national policies. If we look at the great European political families, including ours, there are not only evident differences between the different national parties that compose them, but there is a substantial impossibility of thinking of the European as a truly unified political dimension. It is illusory to think of an EU that exceeds the states that compose it. But it is also illusory to think that the only level of political organization and representation is that of the state and that it is possible together to make a European policy. What led me to nominate myself? The awareness that, as Mitterand said, nationalism is war.

Diana Severati Individual Members are not a party themselves but their role is to activate the dialogue with existing member parties, trying also to influence them.

National parties, at the moment, are still needed and they should put United States of Europe on their agenda.

Being an ALDE IM, running as a candidate is an added value. Indeed, this is the reason why I decided to become a candidate. My goal is to defend the European project and all that means: rights, Erasmus, circulation and integration in order to create an unique identity within all Member States. In this way, Italy will be similar to other countries, such as France, Germany or Dutch, without being the Hungary with Orban.

Why, in your opinion, has a real liberal democratic culture in Italy struggled to emerge, while in the rest of Europe ALDE-affiliated parties have greater visibility?

Sjlvia Manzi Because varied and numerous liberal movements in Italy do not have the courage to unite  – preferring to claim a more past without having competence and humility to look to the future. On the other hand, there remain some seemingly insurmountable differences, among ‘so called’ right wing liberals and ‘so called’ left wing liberals.

It’s time to overcome these differences: liberals and democrats, in my opinion, should be as liberal in economical topics as they are individual freedom strenuous defenders.

Carmelo Palma. Liberal Democratic parties in Italy have never emerged in the last century from a strongly minoritarian dimension. While, for many decades, they played a decisive role in the balance of government and today they are mostly extra-institutional forces, lacking sufficient electoral consistency to win seats and metamorphose into politically accredited interlocutors. I hope that +Europa can reverse this process. I do not delude myself that we can win the election, but I think we can bring back a force that is openly liberal democratic within institutions and at the heart of political discussion.

With Italian people abroad being able to vote in this election, do you think +Europa should appeal directly to Italian people in Britain with Brexit looming? How will this happen?

Yuri Guaiana +Europa does appeal to Italians living overseas. We have great candidates in all the overseas constituencies and the European one is obviously the most important. Many Italians left Italy – for the UK, but also for Spain and Germany – because there were no chances here for them. I’m talking about chances to find a job or, if they are LGBT, to marry the person they love, for instance. They know better than any other what the problems are in Italy and I’m confident they will support us. I don’t think Italians in the UK are any different to Italians in Spain, Germany or anywhere else, but they certainly know very well the problems that Brexit causes to the UK and to European citizens in the UK. I’m confident they will support our pro-European message

Diana Severati +Europa is directly appealing to Italian people living in the UK. We have candidates for Europe, Americas and Asia. For people living in London, a fundraising dinner with Benedetto Della Vedova will take place on the 19th of February.

Kevin Mc Namara and Emanuele Lombardini

 

Video interview with italian undersecretary at the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs Benedetto Della Vedova

In this video interview made by our blog coordinator Emanuele Lombardini, the Italian undersecretary at the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs Benedetto Della Vedova, also one of the founders of the liberal democratic list + Europa, talks about the need to bring back Europe at the center of the Italian political debate and of the  role of the EU for a real Italian growth

Interview was made during an electoral event organized in Terni, middle of Italy, by + Europa.  Italian language, english subtitles.