Italy and the anesthetization of consciences: if humanity becomes a crime

In this contribution, our blog coordinator explains the Italian situation, where it’s only propaganda that leads the political action. Former MEP now minister Salvini bans humanity and those who practice it

The building of consensus: by doing nothing and using weapons of mass distraction so that the people do not notice. Matteo Salvini and his way of doing politics is the most evident symbol of the decadence to which the political debate in Italy has deteriorated and how easy it is to create a leader in a country where voters are highly disappointed by the past. Berlusconi indicated the way but his problems with justice stopped him. Renzi succeeded only partially. Former MEP now Italian Interior Minister and Deputy Premier is – unfortunately-  the one who had better ride the wave.

Salvini did that so good as to have overshadowed the Five Stars Movement, government ally and first Italian party and made the Italians forget the fact that Lega not only did not win elections but it came third also beaten by the Democratic Party.

The media, but above all social media, are the best way to get people engaged. Salvini and his team know it well and so “live” on Facebook, quickly making it his chosen weapon of mass persuasion:  through them he has been able to convince an ever-larger part of voters and made mainstream his point of view on certain topics.

Italian Populists (1)Moreover, the average voter – the Italian, in particular – has a short memory.  Submerging them with words and images makes them happy; it takes little to make them forget, for example, that the same politician that went around with  “Padania is not Italy” t-shirts, conducting stadium choirs against the inhabitants of Naples, is now the one who screams  #primagliitaliani (“italiansfirst”).

The strategy is simple and can be summarized in a few simple concepts: never stop propaganda, create an enemy, direct the mass to a single thought, and delegitimize the contrary voices. Thanks to these tactics and, at the same time, to a meticulous construction of an image (fake) of  a ‘man close to the people’ (for example posting images of his own dinner on Twitter), Salvini has managed, like a good snake charmer, to take credit into a part of people.

There is nothing that cannot be useful to this purpose. Is Italy a Catholic country? So, he presents himself to the political meetings holding the Gospel and the Rosary and makes battles for the crucifix and the nativity scene in schools. Italy was an obstacle to Padania? Now the southerners are needed and so those to be fought are ‘others’: migrants –  ‘loafers and bearers of terrorism’ – and the NGOs that help them, Doctors without Borders (he calls them ‘deputy smugglers’), and even the Pope, who redirects the Catholic electorate towards the true Christian message.

The rest is done by a careful communication strategy aimed (also) at the construction and viralisation of ‘fake news’ through the echo chambers of Facebook and Twitter, and the constant evocation of phrases, attitudes and characters that refer to policies close to fascism or the extreme right; it’s good to put his ‘flag’ on those slices of nostalgic electorate that otherwise would hardly see their own representations in Parliament – if it gets you elected.

In this strategy it is, of course, essential to provide an altered perception of reality. The uncertain European management of migratory flows was, in this sense, an easy tool to by which to construct the narrative of a danger that does not actually exist. His  role as Interior Minister is helping him to reinforce this perception on the people.

This is happening through two measures launched by the Government of which he is a part. First of all, a decree called ‘security’ but one that actually realizes exactly the opposite: canceling all the projects for integration and removing the asylum seekers from the structures where they are housed.  Those people, by their very status, cannot be expelled, and so they are left without a place to stay, increasing the risk they become ‘irregulars’. The second provision: almost completely abolishing humanitarian protection, makes it impossible to renew their residence permit once it has expired. Two simple moves to create new irregularities, but they are presented to the population as a ‘fight against crime’. In the eyes of the people there will always be an ’emergency’. That soon will be ‘faced’ by shooting at sight, even against those who are unarmed, thanks to the law on self-defence that the Government is preparing to launch.

xenophobia_-_we_are_all_foreignersThere is no better way to increase consensus and bring out all the anger and indignation of the people than have the poor fighting amongst themselves. Even instrumentalizing the victims of the recent earthquake is fair game: “Before migrants, I have to deal with those who have been without a house for two years”, he hurries to say on Facebook and on TV. But the laws to remove the bureaucracy that block the reconstruction of the houses destroyed in those areas have remained an electoral promise. On the other hand, he will soon go to visit one of earthquake regions where, in February, there will be an election. “Buonista” (“Feel-good” in English) is  a term he use in a negative way, against those who think we need to continue to maintain humanity by considering migrants as people.

The anesthetization effect of the collective conscience is completed by the discrediting of all contrary voices: on the one hand, exploiting the traditional Italian habit of ‘bending’ public information to politics, with directors ‘aligned’ to the ideas of those who govern and, from another side, by removing space and resources from all those media that deal daily with the right to distort the distorted narration, evaluating theses with real data and fact checking.

An even better way to do this is to change the law  that every year allocate money to newspapers, radio and television: in Italy pure publisher figures  don’t exist and media  are mostly owned by entrepreneurs in sectors others than publishing, so the Government helps the media. Salvini’s party (Lega) have joined with his ally M5S to fight against these allocations  and have just launched the law that will reduce in three years the allocation to zero; A provision that in addition to small regional newspapers, almost exclusively affects the media ‘dissidents’.

In the meantime, the measures included in the last financial law, in addition to taxing voluntary associations (especially penalizing those who assist the migrants) takes away money from growth, development and businesses, to finance some ‘spots’ measures as lowering retirement age, flat tax and so called ‘citizen income’, a sum of money for unemployed and those who earn less than 750 euros.

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Revolution and Democracy in Armenia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edgar Brutyan

Steering Committee replacement elections: get to know candidates/4

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

What is your motivation to run for the Steering Committee?

ALDE_IM /France South region Coordinator, specialized in European Law and Politics and International Politics, I lived 15 years immersed in the Swiss federalist political system, its direct democracy, its subsidiarity, its system of concord.

For me, ALDE- Individual Members is very close philosophically speaking of the Swiss political system of direct democracy.

The Steering Committee is a team of five people from different countries, each carrying the cultural richness of their country with common values, whose efficiency will have to be optimized for the European Elections campaign

I would like to bring my “faith” in team spirit from my years in Switzerland where the group takes precedence over individualism because of the spirit of mountain solidarity.

2° Next year, Europeans can vote in the European elections. What are your hopes and expectations for those elections?

In this campaign of the European elections which promises to be difficult for our political family, I wish to help to set up a coordination between the Steering Committee, the Regional and National ALDE-IM Coordinations, the direct Individual Members (with no national or regional Coordination), the candidates who will sit in the ALDE group of the European Parliament and, the ALDE Secretariat, to be able to fight together for our values. Individual members should be able to get involved in the election campaign, coordinated by the SC in the agreement with ALDE.

My ability to think and work in two different political systems almost the opposite of each other, one centralist, the other federal- direct democracy, should be able to help translate, to overcome difficulties of understanding , in order to coordinate our efforts for the promote of our values during the futur campaign.

The old European demons of nationalism (to be distinguished from the legitimate pride of being a citizen of a country) is on the lookout. The arguments put forward by the populists please many Europeans.

Socrates said: “Evil comes from the fact that man is mistaken about good”. Two world wars proved the consequences of this mistake, and the war of former Yugoslavia was yesterday.

I conclude with two quotations which, I think, sum up the spirit of ALDE-IM and ALDE by affirming with Aristotle : “politics is the art of commanding free men”, and, with Epictetus “Freedom is the independence of thought”.

Everyone on board for the European Elections campaign!

Steering Committee replacement elections: get to know the candidates/3

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

What is your motivation to run for the Steering Committee?

I have been a member of the ALDE Party IMS since 2013 and in one year actively through my position as a Delegate IMS to the ALDE Party Council and Delegate IMS at the last ALDE Congress in Madrid. I’m very grateful that you voted for me to represent us.

When I was 18, I wanted to commit myself to defend the European project through a liberal vision. I found the best place to debate and understand the issues at the European level within the IMS ALDE Party. Being the President of the Federation of Liberal Students in Wallonia and Brussels, I had much information from IMS all around Europe.

If you vote for me, my objective will be to ensure that all of the IMS coordinators receive the assistance needed, creating more joint events between countries and working closely with the Steering Committee and IMS to find new ways to still attract our IMS and new members with us. Obviously, I will fight like a liberal to be sure that our voice is listening by the ALDE Party with our Steering Committee.

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

We face a migration crisis, Brexit and populism is growing but as Guy Verhofstadt said “crises are challenges, not calamities”. Despite this, we are going to go through this, stand up and fight like liberals for the legacy of our founding fathers and the future of the European citizens.

I hope that we will convince everyone that the European Union project and ALDE Party are ready to take up other challenges like renewable energy, robotization and digitalization. I really want a more liberal and unite European Union ! It’s time to give us the opportunity to shape a better Europe.

Steering Committee replacement elections: get to know candidates/2

On Decemebr 5th we’ll have a new ALDE Individual Members Steering Committee election to replace Robert Schliessler. So we gave candidates another chance to present themselves. Here we are Daniel Jansen, Maurice Lagerwerf and Susanne Wunderer

What is your motivation to run for the Steering Committee?

Daniel Jansen: Hi, I want to work as SC member and contribute to us all. I don’t want to make it glamorous: supporting ALDE and ALDE Individual Members can be hard work but it is very worthwhile! It is a way of helping the prosperous and peaceful society. In the coming year there have to be campaigns organised and run, together with ALDE Party towards the European Elections. Also, we will work together with the members in organizing events and our congress. For me personally, I enjoy very much connecting with great people who have the guts to do the right thing for all generations to come.My management experience in work surroundings and in volunteer organisations is an asset for this role and period. I have worked with various people in semi-independent organisations. Supporting people so they get successful makes me happy. My dream is to develop a prosperous and peaceful Europe for the well-being of all humanity. The European Union – with all its experience and values – should be the example of cooperation, alignment and development in creating a safe and level playing field for citizens.

Maurice Lagerwerf: In daily life, I’m working for a global player in Horticultural Logistics and studying Online Marketing Management.  As of Since this month I am a civil counselor for D66, in my place of residence:  Ridderkerk, Netherlands. I would love to get to know all of you a bit better and give you the opportunity to learn to know me better as well. Please feel free to link with me on social.

Linkedin; facebook; Instagram

Susannne Wunderer. I am athe hands-on type of person, and liberalism has never needed the hands-on mentality more despearately than nowadays. Coming from the electronics industry, where I had the opportunity to gain international and leadership-experience as a CEO, I initiated a grassroots movement during my maternity leave, and came in touch with politics. From thereon I have been working in politics as a staff member;, I have experiencedknow all levels of political work – from municipal to regional, national and international. I worked in parliaments, was part of an parlamentarian investigation commission, and developed and ran election and other campaigns. Today, I am working as a political advisor and strategist (public affairs). Now I want to roll up my sleeves for ALDE Party IM.

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

Daniel Jansen Of course, I hope that ALDE parties will do well in all countries. My expectation is that more and more people come to their senses and say: ‘Hey, we are in this together. Let’s act in a decent way and if something needs to be improved let’s have a positive attitude towards it. We can do this. I can improve my life and we can improve each other’s lives.’ Our ALDE values matter!

Maurice Lagerwerf:  For the upcoming elections, I think we can make a strategic difference by joining forces and aligning the organizations within the ALDE group as a whole.  I consider this can be the key to reoach our goals, such as protecting the environment, further protecting human rights, and building an even stronger Europe within the near future.

Susanne Wunderer. Next year’‘s election will be crucial for the European Union. As a liberal, I hope to see a significant move away from nationalism, authoritarianism and xenophobia, and send a strengthening signal to cooperation, democracy and open-mindedness. I will put in all my expertise, my energy, and my experience to achieve this goal.

 

Steering Committee replacement election: get to know candidates/1

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

What is your motivation to run for the Steering Committee?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALDE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS STEERING COMITTEE CANDIDATES, GET TO KNOW THEM: SILVIA FERNANDEZ

Let’s get to know  Steering Comittee Elections candidates. Voting started on September 19th. We asked same two questions about electoral program and Liberals Democrats perspectives  to each of them. Now it’ s up to Silvia Fernandes from Spain.

 

With the rise of populist movements in Europe, liberals and democrats are faced with a new challenge. What are the best weapons to deal with them?

The rise of populism is definitely one of (if not) the biggest challenges of European Democracy of the 21st Century. Terrorist threats, economic distress, increased rate of unemployment, refugee crisis… are all issues that encompass the rise of the populist movement across Europe, namely right-wing. Despite being an heterogeneous group, they find common ground on two pillars: europhobia and anti-mass immigration.

The problem has very unfortunately been reinforced when national parties have adjusted their own policies to the ludicrous demands of the far-right in an attempt to not lose voters to these populist parties. Neither this or leaving them completely out of the decision making process in national parliaments or the European Parliament, where they have representation, has proven to succeed. This is merely because populist parties draw strength from playing the victim card, the oppressed minority who feels its identity and nationality is being gradually eroded by the Union. However, being anti-European makes most of them not so participative in the EP’s decision making process, thus there is no need for establishing a ‘cordon sanitaire’ – since this would be adding fuel to the fire.

I believe that the Liberals and Democrats should develop the best articulated and strongest speech that will challenge the right wing while remaining true to our liberal and democratic values. Populist movements have exploited insecurity and resentment and constructed a false narrative to position themselves as an alternative to already established parties. There is a need to come back strong, now more than ever when fear and anger are predominant in some member states; we need to fight back for European integration, freedom, and human rights.

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

It is my believe that citizens should be able to participate more directly in European politics. They should have the right to vote on their preferred candidate. Against what most of the right and populist parties have said, the creation of Transnational Lists would only strengthen EU democracy by bringing the EU closer to the citizens allowing for a more effective and tangible integration and consequently trust in the European institutions.

One of the main reasons to create Transnational Lists is that the current system fails to respect the principle of degressive proportionality established in the treaties. Therefore, it is not representative of the actual EU diversity portrayed by the 27 Member States. By establishing Transnational Lists, we would be allowing European political parties to act as genuine parties and focus on real European matters instead of national ones during European elections. Moreover, member states that currently are underrepresented such as Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands would have a real proportionate number of seats in the European Parliament. An adequate reallocation of seats would ultimately give ALDE member parties more weight across Europe and in the European Parliament challenging the EPP and populist parties.

Having said that, I would not jump the gun and fight for them for the 2019 elections. Essentially because the complexity of the development of the Transnational Lists due to the disparities in requirements and legal challenges across the 27 member states is grand. Thus, I feel that the time for Transnational Lists is the 2024 elections. This would give us enough time to fashion an effective democratic and proportionate system. For better or for worse, Brexit has given us the opportunity to reform Europe towards a more democratic and open Union. Let’s make the most of it.

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

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

With the rise of populist movements in Europe, liberals and democrats are faced with a new challenge. What are the best weapons to deal with them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get to know  Steering Comittee Elections candidates. Voting started on September 19th. We asked same two questions about electoral program and Liberals Democras perspectives  to each of them. Now it’ s Charalampos Karpanos from Greece turn.

With the rise of populist movements in Europe, liberals and democrats are faced with a new challenge. What are the best weapons to deal with them?

Populism is a monstrous creature which feeds on the fears and ignorance of issues concerning, among others, the European Union, liberalism and a quality democracy. What can we do as ALDE IMs?

I think we should turn a page and accept what we are doing today in a great way, we should now for example focus in on everyday life matters all around Europe, in each Member State and across the EU generally.  We are a political party. We should now concentrate on what we can do as a party to open ourselves up to society and see how the European Union can play a more liberal and democratic role in many, various problems in our towns, villages and cities in the EU by bringing them to the political fore.

We must deal with everyday problems and must come closer to citizens in local communities – especially in Member States which are in the most danger of populism, and we can organise this because we have the advantage of fellow party members all around Europe. This cannot be done only from Headquarters or from social media. We are an innovative party and what we have is more than great, but ALDE should prove the message of its existence. In this direction is the invitation from the Steering Committee to the members to organize events across borders.

We are here, and we are people from society caring for our fellow citizens. We are here, and we should pay attention to the rights of the LGBT, the right to access education, the right to a natural environment et cetera, across Member States, and open the agenda to citizens. Let us travel to see the real condition of camps across Europe and talk to the refugees and the citizens there. There are so many ways to explain, make it clear and get closer to society. Workshops can be organized in local communities and private gatherings. We even have members in villages in the high mountains, we can use face to face contact, in organized events, of fellow citizens of local communities, seminars at national and pan-European levels for party members who are willing to give themselves up for this purpose and are in need of educating themselves on the know-how and the tools they can use to share the truth and the message of our principles and the benefits of a federal EU. How can we fight populism if we do not get out of our armchairs, get organised and try to prove what is right?

A great number of European citizens don’t even understand the basics of how the European Union works, or what is it, or why it is, or their rights and they only know some of their obligations but distorted the way some populists presented to them. I share my life between Greece, Germany and Denmark and there are so many EU workers from other EU states. I have found not more than few who know they can vote for in local council elections and the European elections as permanent inhabitants of the country of EU they live and work. So, for me, there is only a one way road to the fight against populism, to make our existence well known and honestly approach people in our local communities activating all our members just to say: “Hey! We are here! And we are here doing this, this and that and EU is this, this and that.” And ask them, so that we can feel and learn maybe something we don’t already know, report and put it in our agenda. Simple words, honest words and all for liberty and dignity and we will be appreciated, and populism will have no place to take root.

Please let me say one last thing: ALDE IMs should try to run more joint events, an even closer cooperation with LYMEC, and in local societies more so. With honesty, methodical working and with excitement and experience, as our weapons, we should not be afraid of anything, especially of the brittle, as based and structured on lies and fear, populism.

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

I totally believe that what we should focus in on is to give to the European elections a real European dimension. What I mean is that in many cases European elections are second-order elections and people sometimes protest vote about national level politics. Transnational lists are the way “we lift our democracy to a continental scale” and I’m totally in favor of them. I think we need to look for the long-term benefit at the level of European Union, not to make a small-scale policy on such issues. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to empower and enlarge national parties, but I’m sure that one does not preclude the other. I believe it is time to work towards a liberal democrat transnational lists for the European elections and if there is a legal loop, it should be immediately fixed. At this moment, ALDE IMs should also play a great role and we should activate ourselves to this direction. Let’s do it! Let’s make our Europe great! Let’s make it liberal and bright!