All posts by Emanuele1975

+EUROPA, NO MORE SIGNATURES TO COLLECT: A GREAT VICTORY FOR LIBERALISM AND DEMOCRACY

In this contribution, our blog coordinator Emanuele Lombardini, talks about some important news regarding +Europa, the new liberal democratic and pro-European Italian movement: it will be allowed to compete in the next political elections thanks to a gesture of democracy made by a very different party.

Liberalism in Italy is still alive. Not that it had ever died, for heaven’s sake, but certainly the long absence from Parliament of a true party that expresses liberal democratic and pro-European values ​​has, over the years, contributed a lot to lowering the awareness among Italian people of the importance of the EU for national growth, giving space to populists and neo-fascist drifts.

In a press conference, former European Commissioner Emma Bonino, and one of the leaders of +Europa, announced the new pro-European, federalist and liberal democratic Italian movement will not anymore have to collect signatures and will be officially allowed to compete in the next election race.  The news has enormous importance for European and Italian Liberalism because Italian voters now have the chance to choose a really liberal democratic proposal, the only real opposition to the racist and populist drift that is slipping country into chaos.

This was made possible thanks to Bruno Tabacci, a politician whose roots are very far from Emma Bonino’s.  Tabacci is founder and leader of Centro Democratico, a small Catholic-inspired party born of one of the many splits of the ancient Democrazia Cristiana. During the same press conference Tabacci announced that Centro Democratico will  join +Europa. Tabacci’s party is already represented in the Italian Parliament after the 2013 elections (it gained a seat as part of “Italia Bene commune” coalition), and this fact gives +Europa the right to compete in the next electoral round. According to Italian law, all the parties present in the current parliament are automatically allowed to compete in the next one, whether they present themselves alone or together with a group of parties under a common symbol and name.

Centro Democratico and Tabacci therefore become the fourth member of + Europa, alongside Radicali Italiani, Forza Europa and political association Movimenta.

Bruno Tabacci’s decision has great importance because it recognises two important aspects: firstly that Italy absolutely needs a really liberal democratic and europeist party (Partito Liberale Italiano choose to join the centre right side, together with populists and nationalists) and secondly that it is important that each party has the same chances to compete. Tabacci said: “I want my gesture to be considered a contribution to democracy. I decided to make the symbol of my party available for +Europa to recover a dimension of freedom that I consider fundamental. If there had not been Emma Bonino’s list we would all have been poorer”. This decision was really a great message of democracy: even if Radicali and CD share some challenges and topics, they are very far apart in some other areas. It must be said that in the 2014 European elections Centro Democratico appeared alongside  liberal democratic movements in Italy: the white and orange CD symbol was within the one of “Scelta Europea con Guy Verhofstadt” and Tabacci was also one of the unlucky candidates on the same list. Tabacci himself took part in the last pro-European meeting that was held in Rome and of which Liberal Words wrote: “It’s time to take a step towards democracy. This is why I was there, at a pro-European gathering in Rome – he said – Our different points of view in some topics are not a problem”.

Tabacci is the only politician who took concrete action to save the chance to give Italian voters the chance to choose a pro-European proposal.  Other politicians, both in centre-left and in the centre-right side, only expressed words of appreciation for Emma Bonino, but none of them gave any real help to reduce or avoid the collection of signatures. It was only thanks to an amendment within the budget law, after a letter written by  Emma Bonino, Forza Europa leader Benedetto Della Vedova and Radicali Italiani secretary Riccardo Magi to premier Paolo Gentiloni, that +Europa obtained permission to reduce the required number of signatures to be collected from 50.000 to 25.000. So now, no more signatures are needed. But both Radicali Italiani and Forza will remain committed together to fight the new electoral law, a fight for democracy: other lists in fact do still have the trouble of collecting signatures.

European liberalism can therefore hope to have its representatives in the Italian government, which is certainly a big step forward compared to the past. But it’s only now that the real battle begins.  Many people in Italy believe that + Europe may be the real surprise of the upcoming elections and that it can also attract the votes of some disgruntled people who in the past had supported the Democratic Party, especially if +Europa presents itself alone, without allies.

Emma Bonino is a widely respected politician and her battles have reached cross-party to create consensus among the various political affiliations. This is driving + Europa, that now seems much closer than before to reach 3% of voters, the minimum in order to elect their representatives in Parliament if they choose to go alone (while within a coalition it is sufficient to reach 1%) and that is why now the Democratic Party, until now very closed to discuss about an alliance,  reopened the dialogue in the search of a political agreement. The race to bring Europe back to the centre of Italian political debate has begun!

Emanuele Lombardini

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“+Europa”: the new italian Liberal-Democratic challenge against populism

In this contribution, ALDE Individual Member and relevant blog coordinator Emanuele Lombardini speaks about the birth of ‘+ Europa’, a new list promoted by former EU Commissioner Emma Bonino, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Benedetto Della Vedova, and the movement of Radicali Italiani. The list intends to constitute a common point of reference for Italian radical liberals, liberal-democrats and reformists alike. +Europa’s ambition is running for the political elections of 2018.

+Europa is an Italian liberal-democratic list which intends to offer an alternative to growing populism and represent the Italians voters who embrace the ambitious project of constructing the United States of Europe. Through +Europa, radical liberals and liberal-democrats are determined to regain the seats in the Italian Parliament that they have been missing for a long time. The promoters of +Europa are the historical leader of Radicali Italiani Emma Bonino, former EU Commissioner and former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Benedetto Della Vedova, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and founder of the pro- European Union movement ‘Forza Europa’; Andrea Mazziotti, current chairman of the Commission for Constitutional Affairs, formerly member of ‘Scelta Civica’ and now of ‘Civici e Innovatori; and, finally, the movement of Radicali Italiani led by secretary Riccardo Magi. On November 23rd, the presentation of +Europa, a list whose vision is eloquently conveyed by the ‘+E’ symbol with which it will compare on the voting papers, was held in Rome.

Riccardo Magi introduced the vision behind the list by explaining that “today’s distinctions are no longer between right and left, or between conservatives and reformists; but among those who believe that social and economic problems can be solved by closing within national borders and by resorting to neo-nationalism, and those who think that we must build an open society and re-launching the process of European integration.”. He went on to explain how the challenge implied in this vision is “fighting the clichés about Europe shared by most of Italian party leaders, according to which Europe is a ‘bad stepmother’.” Until those leaders will continue exploiting and disseminating these stereotypes, Magi concluded, “+Europa can only be and will remain an independent list. ” “The European Union is the only place where we want to stay”, added Emma Bonino, “since more Europe means more peace, more security, more rights, more growth, more culture, and more freedom.” She then reminded that the European Commission has always had solid arguments to criticize the management of Italian public finances, and that the ‘bonus policy’ promoted by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, as well as the agreement the current government made with Libya on migrants, were all serious mistakes. +Europa shall not be approached as the list of Radicali Italiani only though.  As Carmelo Palma, one of the early proponents of the list, explains, “The list represents all liberal-democratic, secular, pro-European Union and anti-populist Italian voters”. Those same voters were so far represented by a constellation of movements – like ‘Scelta Civica’ and ‘Fare per fermare il declino’ – who can now find, in +Europa, a common political platform.

One main obstacle to the parliamentary representation of +Europa exists though. The Italian electoral law requires, to any political movement not already represented in the Parliament, to collect a minimum number of validated signatures in each and all constituencies. For +Europa, this requirement comes down to collecting 50,000 signatures . That is why a campaign aimed at recruiting voters willing to undersign the list, as well as validating the signatures of others, was promptly launched by Radicali Italiani and by the several liberal associations that gravitate around +Europa. “It’s an uphill ride”, explains Carmelo Palma, “especially considering that due to the approval of the new electoral law in October 2017, all constituencies themselves shall be first formally constituted; only then, which means around mid-December, we could start with the collection of signatures. This means that we will have 45 days in total to collect 50,000 signatures throughout the whole country.” The stringency of this requirement has led Emma Bonino, Benedetto Della Vedova and Riccardo Magi to submit a formal request to Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni to lower the quota of signatures necessary for presenting +Europa among all other candidate-lists. Whilst Gentiloni’s position in regard is yet unknown, liberal activists continue to campaign for empowering +Europa to run at the next political elections.

Emanuele Lombardini