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ALDE CONGRESS INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS DELEGATES ELECTIONS: GET TO KNOW THE CANDIDATES/3

In this post we present Individual Members candidates for the upcoming delegate for next ALDE congress. Each one present itself and then answer to another common question. This is the third and last post about them

Read the first set of inteviews here

Read the second set of interviews here

Why you are running as candidate?

DanielJansen (The Netherlands): I am running for delegate so I can actively contribute. The well aligned and thought out input of us IMs will help ALDE in the strong and constructive guiding and steering position. This supports Europeans in making our society stronger in peace, respect, democracy and prosperity. We liberals and democrats have values that benefit all humanity. My personal gain is the connections with fellow IMs and the improvement of my skills. The role of a delegate is to be in service to IMs and represent us well.

Fabrizio Livi (Italy): I chose to run as a candidate, after some years as Alde Individual member, during which I took part in almost Congresses and meeting throughout Europe, just for the desire to be more active and pro-positive to the cause of liberalism and Europeanism. An understandable desire, isn’t it? Particularly in these dark days (and nights) when the idea of a united Europe is constantly brought into question.
For what it concerns me in particular, I have always been a fervent supporter of European Unity since my remote University days, where I earned a degree with a thesis on the European Parliament.
My job in the following years was focused on something completely different but I followed the events very closely. Now I think it’s time for me to act, as I did when I was in London for the #INtogether Libdem Remain Campaign. Time to act: In Alde. For Europe. For Freedom.

Wolf Achim Wiegand (Germany): I am running as for ALDE Party Congress 2018 delegate because I want to share my expertise of 2017. Do you remember? You, the Individual Members, have last year elected me alongside Amélie Pans Privé (Belgium) and Francesca Mercanti (Italy). We have been a great team! Our combined force made it possible to make a motion carried which I had introduced… Voting for me is choosing experience and competence.
Bear in mind: Congress is a complicated matter. No less than 65 national member parties are present from Portugal until Poland, from Sweden until Slovakia, Slovenia, or Sicily. To find a majority for our
resolutions means a lot of networking, promotion and hard work before and during Congress. We really must fight hard because we are a small bunch of delegates only.
My candidacy is based on three foundations: First: on my experience as your last year’s Congress delegate. Second: on my international activities as an ALDE Party Country Coordinator. Third: on my political activities on both local and national levels with Germany’s biggest liberal party FDP. I do know how to convince the other party delegates to follow our Individual Members’ line. And I would be proud to serve you again as one in the team of the elected IM delegates. Let’s push through our politics one more time! Please vote Wolf Achim WIEGAND.

How can we make liberal parties stronger to face this moment where Europe looks at nationalism?

Daniel Jansen (The Netherlands): For me,  ‘making liberal parties stronger’ means indirectly ‘having more votes and seats in Parliament’. Yes, we need the substantial number of seats but I want to add that stronger is also in implementing our values and being the inspirator for cooperation.
Stronger in this question on nationalism means that we also have care for what our fellow citizens, the nationalistic voters want: ‘more care for own people than for other people’. This desire makes sense from the viewpoint that in current society not everyone takes full responsibility for themselves and for the society. Therefore, for some it might feel that our money is used for people who do not contribute to our society, our children or our elderly.
The proposed action plan to make liberal parties stronger (but most of all to keep Europe peaceful) is divided in short term, mid-term and long term. Short term: show people that we actually care for their problems and their welfare (in housing, jobs, health-care, safety and education); show more willingness to act fair and though in protecting the European citizen in cases like for example: diesel-gate, mis-use of personal data on the internet, organizations who undermine our democracy and parts of the financial sector who take/took too much risks with people’s money,Mid-term: the (foreign) policy and trade is aimed at increasing respect and well-being for all. Being highly dedicated to a strong and effective United Nations. That we strongly support the policy that in all areas in Europe and worldwide there is sufficient prosperity. Provide each individual enough possibilities to fulfil their potential so that conflict is not an option. For the long term: we make ALDE stronger by investing in people. Investing in the development of wisdom, in using the head-heart balance in people’s lives and choices. Educating in cooperation, in aligning, in being aware of the effect of information and educating in pursuing goals. Increase the willingness of people to take full responsibility for their lives, to have compassion for others and to act fairly.

Fabrizio Livi (Italy):It’s no easy task fighting nationalism and populism today as they seem to gain momentum and consensus day by day. Most people are fascinated by their rhetoric speeches, which are unfailingly concentrated on the most basic desires of people as, for instance, security (i.e. the fear inspired by those who are different), unemployment, the desire of something new (whatever it may be) in a break with the past. Nevertheless, the solutions proposed are as easy to propose as impossible to keep. Or simply crazy, as to abandon the Euro.
Liberal parties should, first of all, demonstrate the emptiness of these deceitful promises, with facts, numbers and the provision of laws and treaties, without trying to run after them on their field with too much similar promises.

Wolf Achim Wiegand (Germany): My advice as a European affairs journalist, blogger, politician and public relations expert is as follows:
Generally: do not underestimate the nationalists’ and populists’ ability to promote simple “solutions”. Their campaigns seem by a first view to be woodcut. But behind are concepts in a highly sophisticated manner. Nationalists and populists address fears, prejudices, and horror scenarios. We Liberals should counter that by the highest standards of campaign tools. And content wise we must promote fearlessly and clear-cut liberal values such as freedom, diversity and rule of law. Some more ideas:
1. Let us nonstop deliver our liberal messages – 24/7. We are the opposite of nationalism, we are the true European patriots!
2. Let us never try to bring our liberal standpoint in line with nationalistic paroles: voters tend to vote for the original and not for the copyist.
3. Let us self-confidentially promote international cooperation instead of narrowminded border building and let us be proud about the decades long peace we enjoy since the EU exists.
All in all: the European project certainly needs a restart, no doubt. But the sheer existence of the EU is by itself a huge positive step forward in mankind’s history. Let us be proud of this fact and communicate it again and again… I am a dedicated liberal European. And I am convinced that we can only overcome the current wave of destructiveness in European politics by 100% sticking to our positive message of liberty for everyone!

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ALDE CONGRESS INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS DELEGATES ELECTIONS: GET TO KNOW THE CANDIDATES/2

In this post we present Individual Members candidates for the upcoming delegate for next ALDE congress. Each one present itself and then answer to another common question. This is the second post about them

Read the first 4 interviews here

Why you are running for candidate?

 

Anders Basbøll (Denmark): As an Individual member it is a great honour to be able to contribute to ALDE policy making. This year is especially important, since we shall adopt our manifesto for the 2019 European Elections. I have contibuted to the process by joining 2 of ALDE’s expert forums on the manifesto – on defence in Warszawa (which I took a holiday to make) where I pointed out the need for the Parliament to be included in PESCO and on International Trade in København, where I made the point that free trade has value in itself, also when unsuccessful in mitigating climate change. On both occasions I tried to update you here on facebook. Last year I gave input to our delegates concerning amendments – this year I would like to fight for you as a delegate for our important messages.

I have co-written a resolution on Climate Change with Sju Thorup (thanks!) on the need to get all emissions under the ETS quota system (stop exemptions for agriculture, transportation and construction) – this is needed both in order to take our share in Europe,but also to let us do it as efficiently as possible. I have also contributed to a resolution from René Petersen (thanks!) on an ALDE primary for Spitzenkandidaten. What could be more important than saving our planet and creating a grassroot European democracy? In 2014 Parliament won a power struggle and chose th eCommission President. This time this could be challenged, but if Parliament prevails again it will be a well established procedure. It was the ”spitzenkandidaten” which made the difference. A primary is essential to strengthen it. I think it is very important that our delegates are ready to negotiate with the parties on whatever amendments can bring a Primary (or, should this fail, at least a clear yes to Spitzenkandidaten) through. I have experience from national congresses, but also from LYMEC congresses where I have been a delegate (and chaired one aswell).

Nadia Bennis (France): I was predisposed from birth to become a true European: French national, born and raised bilingual in Germany in an international environment, I graduated in European studies and international relations in the UK, including the typical Erasmus exchange, before embarking on a European journey in Brussels, working in political affairs for several years before finally adopting Madrid as my home. I could not really escape to learn and speak several languages, live with and adapt to different cultures, enjoying the amicability and cheerfulness of each country and uniting all these experiences which certainly shaped my personality, enabling me to feel at home wherever I am and make me contribute
to an intercultural exchange to bring us Europeans closer. Besides my passion for politics, I think that my multicultural background and great ability for intercultural exchange could be great assets to represent you at the Congress and work hand in hand with people from all over Europe.

Jude Deakin (United Kingdom):  The primary motivation for me to stand for election as a delegate to the ALDE Congress, is my ability to provide a unique perspective on the disruptive impact of the Brexit vote on the United Kingdom and guidance on what it could be like for others, should their countries contemplate leaving.
On the morning of 24 June 2016 I woke up to the devastating news that my country had voted to leave the European Union. Although the European Union is not perfect, I believe it is far better for us to work together within it, than to try and effect change from outside of it. As one of the 48% who voted to remain, I felt a great sense of loss. I am a proud Liberal Democrat and I didn’t recognise my country anymore. Almost immediately after the announcement of the result, the mood within the UK shifted. There was less patience, less tolerance, less unity and increasing hatred, abuse and unrest.
That was the start of my ALDE IM journey; I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t give up my European identity without a fight. I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Congress in Warsaw and again in Amsterdam last year. Having the opportunity to talk and share ideas with like-minded people from across the 28 countries was wonderful and a real inspiration. These meetings gave me the strength and encouragement to carry on the fight, through talking to ‘remainers’, tweeting and posting pro-European items on social media, and attending protest marches in London, my next one being on the 23 rd June.

Silvia Fernandez (Spain):  For a long time, I felt disappointed with national politics of my country. I didn’t feel as a party truly represented me at the time. I thought that instead of being completely passive, I should try and do something. And so I decided to study Law and Political Sciences, because I wanted to understand how decisions and policy are made, how institutions work – how the world works. Not long after, I found ALDE and the Individual Members. ‘I feel at home’, I thought. A bit over 3 years later, and the IMs are still dear to my heart.

I would love to be a delegate for the IMs because I believe that they are a key member of the ALDE party. I believe that their voices should be heard as loud as the party members’ voices are. It would be an honour to represent and defend the IMs best interests and ideas at the upcoming congress in my home country. We have achieved much, and slowly but steady we are increasing our presence in the party, and in Europe. But we can only go forward. Europe needs more people like the IMs, people whose ideas are all about openness, transparency, tolerance, solidarity, and opportunities for everybody. I think we should strive for making an impact on Europe, now more than ever when our ‘home’ is facing so many challenges. And I would love to be a part of it.

Dimitris Mitrou (Greece): I am a new member from Greece, and I want to help the Αlde party IMs to share their ideas and proposals, with as many people as possible. I also want to help so that the upcoming Congress in Madrid, will be successful and productive.
I assure you of my commitment to the cause of uniting the European countries, in a strong and successful federation, which will be able to address the challenges of a new globalized economy,
in an era of intense social changes.
My candidacy will also give me the opportunity, to share views and opinions with the other candidates and IMs. I also stand for delegate, so I could learn more about the democratic functions of ALDE party, so I can have a personal view about how, this great political organization works. I am an engineer and an elected member of general assembly of Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE-TCG), and by representing engineers for many years, I have a pretty
good experience of forming resolutions and amendments, and I want to use this experience in order to help the synthesis of political opinions and proposals in ALDE party, towards the congress in Madrid.
Some of the issues that I think the ALDE party upcoming Congress must face, are the: aid to the Rule of Law and ensuring equality before the European treaties and laws, for all citizens in the EU.; removal of restrictions in education; fight against majoritarian issues in the exercise of executive power, in parliamentary work and in the function of trade unions; protection of minority rights, from discrimination in the name of the “established”; opinion of the majority; scientific rational approach in dealing with issues without a social historical background

Diana Severati (Italy): My name is Diana Severati, 41, European, Italian, born in Milan and living in Rome. When I was a student I was a  member of AIESEC (and treasurer of the Rome Sapienza Local Committee), a student run organization founded in 1948, after World War II, by seven students from different European countries with the dream of building cross-cultural understanding across nations and to change the world. I love traveling. So strange, isn’t it?  As a member of that organization in the late ‘90s I had the opportunity to participate to some meetings organized by UNOPS, UNDP and the Italian Cooperation for some decentralized cooperation programs like the PDHL Cuba and Tunisia.
I was a member of Fare per Fermare il Declino (Do to Stop the Decline), a political party running in the last European elections in the list (Scelta europea con Guy Verhofstadt (European Choice with Guy Verhofstadt) and  Scelta Civica (Civic Choice) and Radicali Italiani. I have been a candidate for More Europe in the last political elections in Italy. I’m a member of Forza Europa and of the Rome local group of the Pulse of Europe initiative. I’m also the new elected Individual Members coordinator for the Central Italy region.
I would love to participate to the ALDE Party Congress works as a delegate, on behalf of the Individual Members, and to contribute to shaping our liberal and federal Europe, an open society based on economic freedom and civil rights.
I would love to participate to the ALDE Party Congress works as a delegate, on behalf of the Individual Members, and to contribute to shaping our liberal and federal Europe, an open society based on economic freedom and civil rights. Ibelieve that each individual could contribute to the betterment of the world and that we, Individual Members, should unleash our potential.

How can we make liberal parties stronger to face this moment where Europe looks at nationalism?

Anders Basbøll (Denmark): It is very important that people feel that they are stakeholders. That is why I will fight hard for the Spitzenkandidaten – and to open the process with a liberal primary, that all our members proudly can tell they have participated in. It shall not be ”Those people in Brussels”. It is us. I will also vote in favor of proposals where the Commission President can choose her commissioners. If that were to happen, it would be easier to vote against the EU government, without voting against the EU (just as for national elections, people vote for or against the government (not the state itself). The twin of nationalism is protectionism – which must be fought by again and again explaining the virtues of a free market economy – of all the miracles produced by human ideas and hard work, when allowed to flourish. And how trade makes everybody richer and make people in different countries or continents contribute to each other’s welfare instead of going to war over wealth.

Nadia Bennis (France): Unfortunately, we do not all have the same opinions and reflections upon Europe. Our ideal to have a peaceful, united nation of Europeans is facing increasingly an Eurosceptic view and a rise of nationalism. Whereas some consider globalisation as an opportunity, others see it as a threat, which is fuelling the nationalist, extreme-right wing and populist debate to which people
identify because it makes them feel safer in an era of economic instability and high unemployment rates across Europe.
We are at a turning point where we need to take immediate action to reconcile EU citizens with the EU and manage efficiently the increase of nationalism. EU Member States need a stronger cooperation and share responsibilities in order  to be able to tackle issues such as immigration, climate change, threat of terrorism, education, pensions, international trade, etc. We need to boost employment, be more innovative, creative and promote international trade. European Liberals are stronger to face this time when Europe looks at nationalism because they can offer a realistic, innovative and international economic programme in line with promoting employment, security and the welfare of EU-citizens.

Jude Deakin (United Kingdom):I believe it is vitally important for the citizens of Europe and the UK that we continue to have a voice and a seat at the European table. Please do not dismiss us completely because of this advisory referendum, within which both Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May didn’t have the courage to disregard, even though they were both ‘remainers’!
The understanding now, is that Brexit was voted for by many of the
disenfranchised lower paid workers and the unemployed, the families in need of good housing that felt disregarded, and the poorer sections of society that felt left behind. The leave campaigners primarily targeted these groups by exploiting
their fears through the use of false truths and rhetoric, proliferated by the media, blaming the country’s problems on the European Union. There were false promises of extra funding if we left that would alleviate these problems, a basis on which many people voted to leave. We need to work together to prevent this from happening again, through education and promotion of media literacy.
It has always been the liberal way to speak up for the vulnerable and less fortunate, but have we really been listening? The Brexit vote would suggest that we have not. The political landscape across Europe is shifting and it’s essential that the liberal parties across Europe now stand strong together, with openhearts and minds, taking action to truly engage with the disengaged.

Silvia Fernandez (Spain): The problem with nationalists and populists in general is that they believe that Europe is not working, that it is broken and they want to see it burn to the ground. Well, against that hard-line and dangerous attitude I believe there is only one thing we can do: stand together and fight.

Problems such as unemployment, the refugee crisis, sustainability, terrorism… are all trasversal and global issues that affect all Member States, and the Union as a whole. It would be irresponsible to even think that we shouldn’t tackle all these together. Populists do not have faith in the Union, and because of that we need to think of ways on how we can build a more efficient and more united Union. I think we might need to think outside the box and try to find ways on how to bring the EU closer to the people, how to make it more tangible and accessible to them. I believe this is the first step to regain the trust and confidence of the European citizens. It is not so much about using the power, but how we use it. Renew the use and engagement of Europe and liberal parties, with the people. Follow the politics of ‘hope’ and ‘optimism’ instead of the politics of ‘pessimism’.

Dimitris Mitriou (Greece):  We must spread our ideas about integration of Europe accessible, to as many as people as possible. We must also inform them about the basics of the European Union. How many European citizens know anything about concepts like “Acquis communautaire” and their rights? Informing the people about Europe, is the first step to build the European citizenship. I think that the concept of ALDE PARTY IMs, is all about engaging the European citizens in that political process.
At the same time liberal citizens and parties in Europe must also work together in order to protect ethnic or other minority rights, from discrimination in the name of the “established” opinion of the majority. Also, equality before the European laws for all citizens, is essential to fight the powers of isolationism, in the European Countries. There is a lot of work ahead for achieving this goal. I am
glad that I will cooperate with other ALDE party IMs, for this important cause!

Diana Severati (Italy): Far Right ethnonationalism and populism and are ever advancing in Europe. In Italy the Lega (League) and the Movimento Cinque Stelle (Five Stars Movement) has won the last political elections and have formed the so called “Government of Change” with an unrealistic and unrealizable program. Propaganda unfortunately works and the anti-EU parties often receive supports from Putin’s Russia. Liberal parties  should be able not only to make proposals but also to communicate them effectively: the should use positive messages and never stop spreading the values of the open society, more than ever. Instead of talking of competitors with negative words we should focus on contents and communicate them with the right and positive words. It is important to avoid to be perceived as an elite. To do so is necesssary to be present on the territory, to run local initiatives, to talk to people and to involve them. It takes time but it has to be done. We can’t let nationalism destroy Europe.

ALDE Congress Individual Members delegates elections: get to know the candidates

In this post we present Individual Members candidates for the upcoming delegate for next ALDE congress. Each one present itself and then answer to another common question. The post will be updated as the answers of the various candidates arrive.

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Why you are running for candidate?

CHRISTINA ANDERSSON (Sweden):  As a European citizen, I believe in a United Europe. I believe in true liberal values and freedom to create a sustainable community based on core values such as freedom of expression, free movement and dignity for all regardless of race, gender or ethnicity.Unfortunately, this is not what we see in today’s Europe where we have a democracy that has failed and therefore must be reviewed and reversed.We need a new common value base for preserving and creating peace, an confidence in humanity, and dedication and willingness to preserve our earth.We must learn how to listen, to mankind …. I do believe we have forgotten to really listen due to lack of time in a busy system.It is very important to find the core values again such as value for the family, respect for others to be able and to let people live in dignity across the globe and to make it possible.How to make it possible? I believe first and foremost we must reunite all the families who have/still are being divided apart with compulsion,which creates a void that is easily filled with hatred against humanity.

ROBERT CRANE (France): I have been an interculturalist since the age of six. At six, I saw the pain inflicted on the Japanese peasants by a well-meaning occupying U.S. Army. I realized that two peoples with different cultures can misunderstand and hurt each other unintentionally and even without realizing it. Starting then, I worked toward graduate degrees in three countries (U.S., U.K., and France) to acquire the skills to help people understand their own culture and those of others. I have now worked in some sixty different countries and with several aboriginal peoples and religions.
Thus, I believe that the very real issues which divide peoples and nations within the European Union can be reduced if not resolved by dialog and cultural understanding. I also feel that a stronger E.U. structure – perhaps federalism – would facilitate positive solutions to these problems. Similarly the positive effects of a strong liberal economy should be diffused across member nations and social groups.
Our values as Europeans vary. I lived in Hungary and saw that the values of Central Europe were not totally aligned with those of Western Europe. Yet certain fundamental values define us all within the E.U.. Democracy and human rights are among those values. As an Alde delegate, I would do my best to further these basic European values while taking into account our cultural differences.

MATHEUS DE PAULA COSTA (Portugal): I am running for candidate because I believe in Europe and in liberalism. Two years ago, I got shocked with Brexit, how in an increasingly globalized world people can choose an isolationist alternative? Although the European Union has some weaknesses, this is the most successful project of peace and prosperity in the world. So, instead of keeping seated in my studying chair for my degree in International Relations and then my MSc in International Economics and European Studies, I decided to use my knowledge and willingness to change the world to prevent the advancement of populists. I felt that was my obligation to do something to allow that, in the future, people with the same spirit and courage as the founding fathers of the EU materialize the perfect union that all Europeans dream about.

A Europe that is generous and open to people from all over the world. Where diversity and difference are not only existing but are respected. A place where everyone can dream of a better future. A present which we fight for a more sustainable society, allowing future generations to have access to nature and resources.

As I have stated in my motivation, I want to actively make sure that a message of diversity, inclusion, of a union for a better future, and opportunities for all Europeans has a voice during the Congress.

BIRGIT LENZ (Spain): My name is Birgit Lenz, 53 years, born in Germany, now living in Spain. My ancestors came from Poland and Chechia. By the education of my parents and the model of my grandmother I grew up with a pro-European standing. The union of the European states was above all for my grandmother the only correct answer to the crimes of the Nazi regime. As the campaign now „I wants Europe“ by the participant endowments under the patronage of Federal Presidents Joachim Gauck started, I was involved, of course.
On the 20th of April, 2013 we were Civil Ambassadors in the castle Bellevue to the Bellevue forum invited. Europe must be carried by his citizens, not by the politics.The citizen is the sovereign.

How can we make liberal parties stronger to face this moment where Europe looks at nationalism?

CHRISTINA ANDERSSON (Sweden): We are entering a new digital era where we must put this values as number one. There will be so much free time to spend due to the new technologies which will replace many jobs but also create many new opportunities. Therefore it is of most importance that we learn to live, to be creative and to use our skills.  And very important is to use our skills with good intentions, in a good way. I believe this is a huge challenge to the world but could wisely used, be one way to combat nationalism.

ROBERT CRANE (France): I hold two nationalities – American and French. As a result, I find myself confronted by both the Far Right tendencies of Trump’s America as well as the same trends in several countries here in Europe. Apparently the violence of the Second World War was not sufficient to drive home to us the dangers of extreme nationalism as exemplified by Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Tojo, and others. Let us pray that another war is not needed in the 21st century to stop these same forces.
As I mentioned, I have lived and worked in Central Europe and also worked in Russia and Ukraine. Clearly, the source of much Far Right propaganda and online manipulation comes from Russia. This behavior must be both stopped and countered. In the Visegrad nations (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic), countering the rightward shift is more difficult still since these countries are within the E.U.. The objection to Muslim immigration here is deep seated and stems from past invasion and war with the Ottoman Empire. However, history is no excuse, as the very formation of the E.U. to stop warfare in Western Europe illustrates. George Soros, my immediate boss in Hungary, has shown that democratic values can be fostered in this part of the world, even if he is currently vilified by the Orban government.
Finally, in Western Europe, the newly elected government in Italy is largely a visceral reaction to the lack of a coordinated E.U. policy toward immigration. The Italians have borne the brunt of it. On the other hand, the new Spanish government has accepted a boatload of recent immigrants and is likely to take more. Again, a coordinated policy by a stronger E.U. government is a fundamental step to resolving the major issues of both populism and immigration.

 

MATHEUS DE PAULA COSTA (Portugal): Thanks to my education and experience (I am Executive Secretary in an Asian Studies research center and Member of the National Council of Iniciativa Liberal (the Portuguese Liberal Party)), I have some ideas on how we can make parties stronger to address this problem.

First, transparency and citizen participation. People all over the world are tired of politicians who look elitist in the decision-making process. For so, they feel distant from decisions, and populists take advantage of this feeling of distance. In Portugal, it is very usual for populists to promote the idea that Brussels has a social distance from citizens, calling the EU a cold and undemocratic system which is unable to feel and solve problems of ordinary people. The decision-making in the EU is so complex that allows populists to spread these types of lies throughout Europe. Therefore, I think that liberal parties will be stronger if they talk with citizens and create alternatives to turn the decision-making process in the EU more understandable to citizens.
 
Another relevant task is to pave the way for citizens to be able to enjoy the Information Revolution which we are living. Populists have existed throughout history, and at all places, they grow in times of political, social, and economic changes. They have the same speech, come back to the past, by spreading lies as the past was more prosperous, peaceful and secure. They will only succeed if we fail to show to citizens that nationalism leads to poverty, lack of democracy and discrimination.  I think that we should actively combat their lies and make citizens overcome new challenges.

BIRGIT LENZ (Spain): Europe is at the moment in a difficult situation. We as a liberal party had to show to the citizens of Europe, that only Europe is the answer. We need more Europe not less. We have to change the direction. The points bellow show some possibilities.
Employee’s generosity Every employee has the right to move freely within the United States of Europe and to work. All graduation and occupational ends are accepted, because they are on one level. Hence, every employee or independent makes the identical remuneration.
Social system There is a social system in Europe and the contributions are graded after income, but are identical otherwise. Employees and independent, as well as officials should deposit at this system equally.
Culture The regions within the United States of Europe have different cultural circumstances. These are the respective treasures of a region and must be protected. They are the true wealth of the United States of Europe if one refrains sometimes from the people.
The person in himself is in the foreground, all other has to submit to him. The dignity of the person is untouchable. The protection of children and weak is the duty every of fellow citizen. Every child is the child of everybody and stands under his protection.
Politics of Prices and Income Because everybody has the identical prerau’s settlements in the United States of
Europe, there also are the identical prices and incomes everywhere. All citizens must be able to live with their income.
Society The society of the United States of Europe exerts itself for the people of this world. It is open for the interests of the other continents.
I think, only the liberal movements are able to stop the nationalism in Europe.

The rebirth of Liberalism in Ireland

In this contribution, Ciarán Hehir, ALDE Individual Member, twenty one years old and entering his final year of my Politics and International Relations degree in the University of Limerick, talks about the rebirth of Liberalism in his Country.

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Ciarán Hehir

Two weeks ago, the Irish people were asked to vote in a referendum to remove an article ensuring a ban on abortion that had been added to the constitution thirty-five years ago. In those thirty-five years, it had caused countless women nothing short of trauma and shame. The referendum had followed another momentous vote, only two years ago, when the people legalised same-sex marriage.

These changes, monumental considering Ireland’s past, are a result of the rebirth of liberalism in the country. Liberalism, mainly economic, was first born in the 1980’s depression and while its legacy is questioned after the financial and banking crises that rocked the country in the late 2000s, it no doubt transformed Ireland from one of western Europe’s poorest countries into a modern, advanced country with a rapidly growing economy. Today, social liberalism has replaced the oppression of social conservatism that had ruled the Republic since its inception.

To talk of Irish conservatism is to talk of the Irish Catholic Church. The Church became the institution most associated with Irish nationalism and when Ireland achieved independence from the United Kingdom, it became the bedrock of political, social and economic life of the new state. Ireland was a theocracy in all but name, having exchanged the King for the Pope.

The crushing oppression of this Church-sponsored conservatism is still being felt to this day. From the stories of women who were held captive in the Magdalene Laundries – the last of which closed in 1992 – and subjected to forced labour to the censorship imposed by the Censorship of Publications Board, which still exists, and which established by the Committee on Evil Literature in 1922 to prevent the decay of public morality by ‘obscene’ foreign literature.

Social liberalism briefly shone through the darkness of Irish society in the 1970s with the Supreme Court ruling that a ban on contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy. This ruling, coupled with the recent Roe v. Wade ruling in the United States, fuelled fears that an activist Supreme Court was beginning to undo the conservative regime. To combat this, Article 40.3.3., or as it is today more popularly known as the Eighth Amendment, was inserted into the constitution resulting in a total ban on abortion on Irish soil.

However, by the 1990s numerous scandals rocked the Catholic Church and its authority over Ireland began to wane. Rights to information and travel for abortion were won as was a tightly fought referendum on divorce as a result. The repeal of the Eighth Amendment has definitively removed the idea that Ireland remains a small conservative country on the fringe of Europe. The referendum has transformed Ireland into a truly modern, secular, tolerant society finally at parity with its European peers. The definitive nature of the vote has also energised campaigns to remove other archaic clauses in the constitution such as blasphemy and the place of the woman in the home.

Through liberalism, Ireland has finally matured enough to face the mistakes of its past but also mature enough to address them. The central tenets of liberalism – freedom, liberty and tolerance – are alive and well in Ireland at a time when many are turning away from these in favour of protectionism, nationalism and mutual suspicion.

Ireland can now help lead the way to fight for liberal values against these spectres for a more free, liberal Europe and world.

Ciarán Hehir

Spain, european patriotism and autonomous communities

In this piece,  ALDE IM Spain Coordinator,  Miguel Angel Sepulveda, considers the situation of liberalism in his country, and the presence of nationalism in the Autonomous Communities.

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Please note that this piece represents the personal views and opinions of Miguel Angel Sepulveda (ALDE IM Spain Coordinator)

INTRO

We are one year away from the European polls. They will also coincide with autonomous regions and municipal elections, which will be an indicator (again) of the local and national agenda, not of the wider European one. Spain have only a recent liberal political tradition, and that is one of the reasons of the rising of the phenomenon of nationalism in our country, irrespective of whether the Spanish, Basque, Andalusian or Catalan adjectives are used. We, as convinced European liberals, must set a clear distinction between patriotism and nationalism, bringing the idea of the European Union closer to the way in which citizens perceive patriotic ideals.

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We are one year away from the Spanish vote within the European polls on 26 May 2019. Looking to that day, all political parties are beginning to show signs of pre-campaign activity but, at least in the case of Spain, not for the light blue ballot, used to vote for the European Parliament, but for the white and light purple ballots, corresponding to the autonomous and municipal elections, respectively, that will also be held that day.

Europe is trying to get closer to the citizens, especially since the beginning of the economic crisis, which also resulted in a crisis of institutions and values, but that is still perceived as very distant by the citizens. In the last European elections in 2014, in Spain the focus was on the national agenda, also where white ballots associated with the Congress of Deputies were used; this time everything suggests that the vote will be more focused on the autonomous and local level. In short, whether they are held on their own or along with other elections, the the messages coming from these electoral campaigns never manage to either adopt the European perspective or give these elections the importance they truly deserve.

Furthermore, Spain  only have a recent liberal political tradition. At least if it is understood as a vision of humanity and society based on the affirmation of the human personal condition; on individual freedom as the foundation of social and political freedom. The phenomenon of nationalism in our country has been, and is, clear evidence of this, regardless of whether the Spanish, Basque, Andalusian or Catalan adjectives are used. Because wearing the colours of a flag, showing them in complements or just flying the actual flag, and singing or humming the anthem of your region or your country, can be considered nationalism or patriotism depending exclusively on what it represents to whomever takes such action. The gesture itself carries no weight. The same applies to those watching. So what is the difference? Patriotism is the bond created with your homeland, an entity that represents all of us through the civic principles and the institutions that define it. Nationalism, however, is loyalty to the group to which you belong, with whom you envisage a common origin or language, regardless of the values they represent. Therefore, the more daily and tangible the territorial entity is, the more difficult it is to separate the attachment to these values from the feelings and emotions for what surrounds us and their people.

This is our reality and, in view of this situation, we, as convinced European liberals, must work to move the idea of the European Union away from state sovereignty and nationalism, and devote all our efforts to bring the idea of the European Union closer to the citizens themselves,  collectively and individually, since European values are always relatively close but inevitably distant for what they represent: patriotic ideals to aspire to, a Europea as Homeland where we recognize ourselves. Nationalism has no part in – and can only be destructive too –  our European Union.

Miguel Angel Sepulveda

AN OPEN LETTER TO FELLOW LIBERALS

In this contribution, Anja Fabiani, ALDE Individual Member and former president of Liberal Democracy of Slovenia describes the liberal situation in her country, just two days before political elections of June 3rd.

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More than a year ago I was elected as a president of Liberal Democracy of Slovenia – LDS. My aim was to reconstitute liberal party with rich history in Slovenia and to contribute to the development of liberal democracy in Slovenia. Under the play of circumstances I had to resign shortly after.

I believe in liberal democracy, part of me was always a dissident. I listened to punk with the generations who departed from communism and the totalitarian system of Ex- Yugoslavia. Punk was part of our protest, I was of the opposition in the times when the others were position. I am liberal democrat today in Slovenia, where there is no longer popular to be a liberal democrat. I am an individual.

I understand people who today defend the red star in Slovenia, from the point of view of rebellion.

I do not defend the red star, but I do not want right wing parties. Soon we will have elections in Slovenia. Polarisation seems to get more intense.

“Slovenia, our land”, was a slogan of our independence. I am from the family of foreigners. I am only partly Slovenian by nationality. I am an Italian aristocrat and Hungarian Gipsy, among others. Is it possible to tolerate?

I believe in liberal values, in the path of middle, of ratio and understanding. I do not like political extremes. But I like acceptance of differences, all differences. Understanding of Individual and his / her personal fortune. Also individual fortunes of people innocently killed in Slovenia after Second World War. Is it possible to understand such a stance? Is it possible to tolerate?

What does it mean, to be a litmus paper for tolerance? Are litmus papers for tolerance LGBT+ rights? Too many times I have seen lifted eyebrow: “Yes, I am progressive, but gays and lesbians… they exaggerate.” You know, what does it mean?

Are litmus papers for tolerance rights of immigrants? The more political the question gets the more we have to defend them. Because immigrants cannot be allowed to become political weapon.

The weakest members of society cannot be a political weapon. Quite the opposite; exactly trampling on them show the germs of neo- Nazism, of neo- fascism. This is the very core which should be stopped immediately.

I believe in liberal democracy which could be renewed in the spirit of true freedom, true solidarity, understanding of different cultures and social stratums. In non-ideological liberal democracy. In liberal democracy, based on development and science, always corrected by ethics. In liberal democracy, which does not exclude any faith beliefs, but is critical to the abuse of religion. I believe in liberal democracy of marginal groups. I believe in liberal democracy which does not prevent, but enable. Which does not discriminate. Which does not close the borders. Which does not make political capital out of poverty and humiliation. I believe in human liberal democracy, which is able to put barriers to expansion and has a common sense of healthy self- criticism. And more and more I believe in renewal.

Slovenia needs such liberal democracy. Italy needs such liberal democracy. Balkan needs such liberal democracy. The one, who does not see changing society, is blind. This is smart liberalism; adapting to the context of society. And people will understand.

I believe in Europe.

I have just returned from Latin America. I was not a tourist. I was one of them; I wanted to feel how their lives are. More than felt I have experienced their poverty, misery, stamped dignity, but defying in pride; despite. I was in the heart of demonstration. I went out of comfort zone.

When turning back to Europe, I was ashamed. Ashamed of all privileges, which we have and are not aware of. I cannot be ashamed to be born on this beautiful continent; but I could do more in awareness rising of its worth and by trying to help underprivileged Others.

I believe in European liberal democracy. Refreshed, young, human, peaceful, solidary, and non-ideological. I believe it could blossom in Slovenia, in cooperation with other neighbouring countries, also with Balkan. It is minimal path from populism to the more dangerous politics. Slovenes from Primorska, together with Croats from Istria, led first resistance in Europe against fascism.

I believe in such values. And I will still walk on the brink, if necessary. Because it is easier to defeat the precipice, there on the brink.

Anja Fabiani

Liberal Values – a review based on Liberal International’s Manifestos

In this contribution, Tiago Dias from Portugal start from Liberal International Manifestos during the years to analyze what really being Liberal means, An interesting review about what being Liberal really means.

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Last weekend I was at a national political meeting in in Portugal. There I could reflect on the Liberal Values that drive me to participate politically, which in turn has led me to write an article about them.

In a simple approach, political parties can be said to be groups of people with a common set of values and vision for society. And, although subject to variants and hardly inexhaustive,, one can name a list of few of these by way of example. They could include Primacy of the Individual and fundamental rights, Market Economics, Individual liberty, Equity, Environmentalism and International Cooperation, which are important topics for discussion.

Primacy of the Individual and their Rights means that Liberals understand the human beings are endowed with fundamental rights, which it is the State’s function to defend by social contract, such as physical and psychological integrity, civil rights, free association, public opinion and expression, as well as private property.

A comprehensive set of rights, freedoms, and responsibilities allows for the pluralism of beliefs and ideas, as well as the diversity in backgrounds, that nourish this richness of difference without distinction based on gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, disability, or any other personal or social condition.

Andorra Liberal Manifesto of 2017

Liberty means that Liberals cherish the idea that an individual person can choose. It is the cornerstone of human happiness and of a community’s well-being, and includes the choice of conscience and religion, the choice to do as one whishes with his property, the liberty of expression, and the liberty of choosing a career or professional path. It is not only a state of non-coercion by law or prejudice but also a state of capability to choose.

We believe that the conditions of individual liberty include the rule of law, equal access to a full and varied education, freedom of speech, association, and access to information, equal rights and opportunities for women and men, tolerance of diversity, social inclusion, the promotion of private enterprise and of opportunities for employment

Oxford Manifesto 1997

Environment means that Liberals are well preoccupied with the degradation of natural systems due to human living. While standing for liberty and market economics, they are aware that deregulation and anarchy can lead to irreversible damages that negatively diminish human health and welfare. Nevertheless, this never becomes a sacralization of Nature or other life forms which are not human:

Liberals reject laissez-faire exploitation of nature and, bearing in mind that man alone can take responsibility for the future of our planet, reject the view of those who put equal value on the lives of human beings and other living things.

Helsinki declaration on the Environment

Market Economy means that Liberals do not give way to a form of anarcho-capitalism or a form of socialist planned reform. They fight for places where all consumers can benefit from competition among different players for better and less expensive products, as well as those where producers can benefit from the needs and wishes of people.

22. The link which exists for liberals between a social market economy and liberal democracy also implies a constant battle against monopolies, cartels, restrictive trusts, restrictive practices and so-called “dominant positions”, open or disguised, private or public, except for cases authorised by law for justified and defined social needs.

-Liberal Appeal of Rome 1981

Equity means that Liberals are in favour of a fair and economically strong society. For, though social, natural and economic circumstances at birth are unequal, everyone should have access to a path that gives them possibility, by will and effort, to pursue their dreams and happiness. This implies both access to education and health services for young people and protection from unemployment and opportunity for entrepreneurship in adulthood.

11. We believe that a substantial part of the increased wealth available should be used to promote equality of opportunity, both for individuals and for nations all over the world. 13. It also requires the provision of the best possible educational facilities, physical as well as intellectual, humanist as well as technical, for everyone, irrespective of birth or means.

-Liberal Declaration of Oxford 1967

Cooperation and Peace means that Liberals are especially committed to compromises that involve all nations in mutual gains, and see peace as the most fundamental need between nations. For it is only when political agents put aside national political interests which shield interest groups that people can live in a prosperous world without disasters of war, destruction and untimely death.

War can be abolished and world peace and economic prosperity restored only if all nations fulfil the following conditions:

a) Loyal adherence to a world organisation of all nations, great and small, under the same law and equity, and with power to enforce strict observance of all international obligations freely entered into;

b) Respect for the right of every nation to enjoy the essential human liberties;

-Oxford Manifesto – 1947

Tiago Dias

(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

 

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,..)