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

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Italian populism and the art of propaganda: how to gain consensus without governing

In this contribution, our blog coordinator Emanuele Lombardini explain his point of view on the present crisis in Italy and the growing of populism in the country, in light of recent political events. It’s a bit longer than most entries on this blog but the  the topic deserves special attention, to allow non-Italians  to better understand the events.


All propaganda must be popular, adapting its level to the least intelligent of the individuals to whom it is directed. The larger the mass is to convince, the smaller the mental effort must be made. Their capacity to elaborate informations is very poor, as well as their memory”.

(J.Goebbels, The 11 propaganda principles, “Principle of Vulgarization”)

The best way to make sense to what is happening in the Italian political scenario since March 5th onwards, is to use the words of Joseph Gobbels, Third Reich Minister of Propaganda. Because it’s only propaganda that moves on the debate. Economic crisis, high unemployment rate, inability of governments to communicate the importance of being part of the EU to be competitive and the unexpected explosion in the numbers of migrants landed on Italian coasts, fueled anger and indignations in people, so populist forces only need to feed this desire for rebellion to gain consensus, without making any serious and concrete proposal.

Moreover, among M5S (Five Stars Movement) and Lega voters, besides people tired of institutions, there is also a part less educated and another part  little inclined to go beyond a search on Google. People only need simple solutions to complex problems, and this nothing better for populist forces.

Italian Constitution state that is the President of Republic that have the power to nominate Prime Minister and “on the indication of the latter”, all the Ministers. This was not the first time that President of Republic says ‘no’ to one of the name on the list, so it is usual to present him also some alternative names. But the institutional clash is exactly that 5 Stars Movement and Lega wanted to provoke from the beginning of this crisis.

They found help in a particularly poor electoral law, which only allow a grouping to govern if a single party of a coalition reach 40%. None of the three blocks achieved this result, so President Sergio Mattarella tried first to join M5S (most voted party) and center-right (most voted coalition). But the attempt failed on the request from M5S to dialogate only with Lega, without Forza Italia and ‘condemned’ Berlusconi. Then he tried to join M5S with Democratic Party (second most voted party) but also this attempt failed, because of a ‘suffered no’ from this latter party.

When, in order to avoid a new ‘techincal Monti-style government’ Berlusconi accepted to ‘step aside’, it officially started the populist alliance’s attempt to delegitimate the institutions we are watching to, which is functional to the only real project: to grow consensus and return to the vote as soon as possible, without getting their hands dirty with the responsibility of government, with the risk of losing voters.

Propaganda must limit itself to a small number of ideas and repeat them tirelessly, always present them under different perspectives, but always converging on the same concept. Without doubts or uncertainties. From here comes the phrase: “A lie repeated endlessly becomes the truth”.

(J.Goebbels, The 11 propaganda principles, “Principle of Orchestration”)

Never stop propaganda. This is only important thing for the Italian populist parties. And do it in their own way: small number of ideas, few simple concepts that indignant people have to assimilate and built the consensus around them.

So, there is the so-called ‘Government contract’: a mix of economical proposals without coverage, a parallel currency, a ‘far west –style’ justice and racial discriminations. And there is the battle, sought and wanted on the appointed Minister of Economy Paolo Savona, a highly regarded professor well known in Europe for his ‘Euro-Exit’ ideas. President Mattarella accepted a ‘non elected’ mostly unknown prime minister (jurist and professor Giuseppe Conte), and all the list of ministers they propose. Except for Savona. And that’s exactly they want to reach. For M5S and Lega was important to present this name without an alternative one to say: “Without Paolo Savona, we will not make government start” and go to the clash.

It was above all Lega Leader Matteo Salvini who wants the clash, even if he spoke of ‘dignity’: everything was functional to build a narrative that had only one great ‘all season’ enemy, to be used as a ‘non government alibi’ and if needed as lightning rod in case the ‘impossible government’ had started and failed in their ‘proposals’.

“It is necessary to adopt only one idea, one symbol. And above all, to identify the adversary in an enemy, in the sole responsible of all evils “

(J.Goebbels, The 11 propaganda principles, “The Unique Enemy”)

M5S and Lega leaders, Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, are well aware that it is impossible to get into the Government quickly through the change of the electoral law.

How to get out of the stall and gain consensus, then? Maximizing the tone of the fight, lowering even more the level of arguments and pointing to the belly of the voters (in example: video-harangues on facebook and tweets through which they call for a mass mobilitation), in a sort of massacre game and reduce as much as possible the number of real ‘competitors’. Then return to the vote as soon as possible. And if there is still not enough consensus, start again.

First step reached: Italy, probably will vote again in July, only 4 months after last elections:  none of the parties – not even the Democratic Party and +Europa  (albeit for different reasons) – will support the technical government that President Mattarella has now entrusted to a famous economist, Carlo Cottarelli, former International Monetary Fund official. He will therefore only remain in office at interim with limited tasks until next elections.

Uploading errors and faults to the opponent, responding to the attack with the attack. If you cannot deny bad news, invent new ones to distract “

(Joseph Goebbels, The 11 Principles of Propaganda, Transposition).

The only real winner of this game, unfortunately, is Matteo Salvini. The former MEP Parliament used the initial real M5S willing to govern (and their claimed inexperience, and multiform shape) to make them accept a right oriented ‘Government contract’ that distorted some of their principles and disturbed the ‘left oriented’ base Movement. More, Salvini is eroding Forza Italia spaces, and when Italy will return to vote, probably he will succeed in the objective of seeing Lega  consensus grow a lot.

And if M5S were to lose also some votes because of that ‘compromise’, then could be also possible that Lega becomes first Italian party.

This is why it is absolutely necessary that the liberal, pro-European and democratic forces – setting aside the differences – already join forces to build a real alternative to a drift that risks turning Italy into Venezuela rather than Hungary. Only in this way, with a dialogue around shared projects, can we really change Europe and lay the foundations for a re-start that gives Italy the leading role in the Union.

 

 

 

INTERVIEW ON IDENTITY POLITICS AND THE RISE OF THE PARTY ISLAM

In the debate surrounding immigration, integration, religious fanaticism and radicalism, all too often the debate is about the migrants, but not involving migrants. Today, Dr Sid Lukkassen discusses these topics with Manel Mselmi: a young woman of Tunisian origin who is active for Mouvement Réformateur in Belgium. She is currently a PhD candidate in environmental humanities, a talk show host and a blogger. Sid published several books on topics such as geopolitics, humanism, media analysis and the culture wars and, from 2010 – 2018, he was active as a city councillor (VVD)

Manel: I am happy to begin this discussion. An Islamic political party was recently created in Belgium. Hasn’t something similar happened in the Netherlands?

Sid: A few years ago, two MPs split off from the Labour Party (PvdA) and established DENK. The MPs were from a a Turkish background and the party is focused on migrant issues. I would not hesitate to call this identity politics. This party is on the rise, particularly in major cities.

Manel: I noticed that identity politics is also a theme in my municipality. Some years ago, a large share of cultural subsidies were used for a film festival that accentuated a particular migrant community, but the general cultural curriculum was ignored.

Sid: Did you speak out about it, at the time?

Manel: It bothered me because it was so one-sided: things like Western literature were ignored as a result. I could not escape the impression that Labour were doing this to win migrant votes. People from my community said that the left was doing to help migrants and that I, being of migrant descent, shouldn’t criticise. However, I pointed out that this approach only pushes migrants into a group identity; liberals should do the opposite and emphasize the opportunities and rights of individuals.

Sid: What you noticed back then, was the cocoon of identity politics being spun. The Party Islam is the butterfly that hatched from that cocoon.

Manel: At least now the left is forced to see what they have created, directly or indirectly. What bothers me is that we have no parties with real values at the core of their programs. In any case those values are so watered down that the main parties appear to be the same. By contrast, the Party Islam exudes a strong sense of identity that will appeal to many who feel spiritually and politically uprooted.

Sid: I guess we can say that the left never demanded integration as part of its message to the migrant voter. Instead, they wanted to tap into this electorate through migrant identitarian statements. For example, party programs written in foreign languages or by advocating policies with some Islamic accents here and there. But now, politically active Muslims realize that the left doesn’t offer a strong base for the future. The left – especially the cultural left – hasn’t done much to support traditional families. However, family is a core value of Islam. The left tries to tweak society, but Islam, especially when it becomes political, presents its own model of society.

Manel: That adds up with what I said before, that all the parties begin to look more alike, with the Party Islam then being a strong and demographically viable alternative. If this continues, we move to a state of society where the demographic question takes over the political sphere. Then, labels like ‘liberal’ or ‘social democratic’ will mean less and less in practice.

Sid: Do you consider yourself mostly as a politician, public intellectual or academic?

Manel: I may be a woman from a ‘minority’ background, but I feel mostly driven to defend the Western liberties. I never allowed any identitarian issue to hold me back in my career. Personally, I see you as a fellow relevant thinker on today’s debate on identity and Islam. You can be a successful politician, but your problem is that you are brave enough to be direct and straightforward when presenting your ideas. I can relate to how it would mean that one is sometimes criticised by their own community.

Sid: Politics is a snaky business, and moving up in politics has more to do with in-crowd networking than with developing original ideas. Many politicians seem not to care about that. They are formed by decades of peace and prosperity, and cannot see the real danger of a society becoming dysfunctional.

Manel: Sometimes I am disappointed because democracy can be very vulnerable. I do believe strongly in Western values but it is complicated – we are in an ideological war. It’s strong but also risky that you address these concerns in a direct manner.

Sid: I am confident that my direct style will reach people, even if it takes time. People will hear me better once the system of the current elite begins to crumble. This could be quite fast given that they [the elite] ignore constructive criticism, as you’ve noticed.

Manel: We have to raise awareness among young people about the need to be engaged in politics and fight against extremist parties. Secularism and individual liberties need to be preserved.

Sid: In that sense, you and I have something in common with the Party Islam. Meaning that we try to build awareness and political influence not from the top – as the top tends not to listen – but from the bottom.

Manel: We need truly driven people for this political challenge: convinced and determined ones to build networks.

Sid: It is the only way. From my activities in the media, academic world and by being an elected representative for eight years, my impression is that if you go knock at the gates of the elites to give report from society and to tell them the story from the streets, then you will be portrayed as a ‘racist’.

Manel: This is definitely true. But they forget that values, once you lose them, are hard to grow back as a basis for society. In any case our media activities are a good step to create awareness. Following from this, migrants stop to trust the left parties and they begin to see how they have been used.

Sid: DENK attacks and shames the migrants who are active for other political parties. By doing this, they seek to unify the migrant community as one solid political block. They try to distance those other politically active migrants from that group. But if their aim succeeds, then there is always the chance that all the other blocks will team up against them, since the migrant vote at that point won’t benefit any other party.

Manel: Things will get more polarized from now. Whatever happens – I am glad to share these thoughts with you and to develop our ideas. I feel that I am not alone in this struggle, and hope that our discussion will inspire other young intellectuals.

To conclude, a critique of the identitarian left is often perceived as being disrespectful towards minorities and as violating their rights. The left fears that such criticism leads to ‘second rate citizens’, but they cannot argue with demography; nor can they play their victimhood status trump card when the critical voices come from the minorities themselves, who have experienced what political Islam means in their countries of origin. The left thus generally avoids this debate, as engaging in it could jeopardize their morally superior status.

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

 

Italian Alde Individual Members Country Coordinators: candidates manifesto

Italian ALDE Individual Members are voting also to elect Country Coordinators. In this post, we asked asked to the candidates to present themselves with a manifesto. He we are the answers, we received them  from foue of eight candidates

ANDREINA SERENA ROMANO

As for the poor result of +Europa in last italian elections,  how to restart to buiild a liberal-democratic italian house, who can be a firm and alternative voice to to fight the populist drift?

First of all it is essential to get rid of the political thought that we Italians are used to. We live in a moment of great instability and distrust, what people expect is positivity and solutions. From here we must start, following the many liberal European examples, to build a liberal democratic home that can make the difference.

What we need to focus on is a new wave of ideas that totally deviates from what has been done up until now: in the names, in the diaries, in the programmes.

The perspective of a declared anti-EU Government risk to isolate Italy in European policies, and next year’s EU Election could deliver a similar situation, not also in Italy. What could be the role of the Alde and the liberal-democratic and radical forces?

Alde should open itself to more popular initiatives: this means for me to get closer to people and tell them about the objectives and responses of the EU in these years. We need to talk, talk more constantly, only in this way can we explain how important Europe is for all of us and for our growth. You probably need to do it with a more “pop” and less formal apportion, moving away from long days on difficult issues but making the learning process easier and usable.

What are the priorities to be addressed in South Constituency,  on which you will work in case of election?

The South of Italy at this moment is experiencing a small quiet revolution. A moment of refusal. And he revealed it in these last elections. It is essential to open up to more people, especially coming to small local circuits. We have to look not only to great electoral challenges, but also to the smaller challenges. just so we can get closer to more people. This I would like to imagine for the South, a constant path that sees ALDE always alongside people.

CARLO D’APRILE

As for the poor result of +Europa in last italian elections,  how to restart to buiild a liberal-democratic italian house, who can be a firm and alternative voice to to fight the populist drift?

Although the election’s result were  not positive for the +Europa  list I’m strongly convinced that only a movement like this could carry on the idea of building a liberal party in a basically Eurosceptic country. The outcome was not totally satisfying due to different reasons:

– +Europa was born officially only 1½ month before the elections. Therefore, we as supporters had not enough time to spread the liberal and pro-european message among the electorate.

– +Europa was ally of Democratic Party, led by Matteo Renzi, a figure that was considered by the average of the people as one of the cause of Italy’s economic situation;

– The circulation of fake-news throughout in social media spread the idea that the European Union and its institutions are not only useless, but even people’s enemy. In the following days we’ll join the first assembly of the Europhile movement called “Forza Europa”, whose goal is to make the foundation of “+Europa” completely possible, with an approved charter, defined roles and responsibility and a shared political programme. I don’t know yet if this project will see the light of day, but I think that only a political movement or party, with liberal and pro-european values, can be the right answer to populism.

The perspective of a declared anti-EU Government risk to isolate Italy in European policies, and next year’s EU Election could deliver a similar situation, not also in Italy. What could be the role of the Alde and the liberal-democratic and radical forces?

In these rounds of consultations with the main Italian political parties, the president of the republic Mattarella made clear that the new Italian government will have to respect and protect Italy’s role in the EU. After the elections Di Maio (M5S) said that in case of a government led by M5S “Italy will remain NATO’s ally and will stay both in the EU and in the Eurozone”. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I think that, even if a government between M5S and Lega will be arranged, it will be not as eurosceptic as we feared.

Moreover, if we consider the opinion polls for the European election, the voting intentions of ALDE members reached a record high. In a post-ideological era, people are searching for new faces and new ideas. And I’m sure that in many European countries (like Spain’s Ciudadanos ) many ALDE-party members will satisfy this need.

ALDE should collaborate and communicate not only with its members but also with those political parties that contains liberal idea in order to build a solid “liberal people’s house”. To do this, ALDE should for example talk with all political parties here in Italy that submitted liberal values in their political program,  either in the left for the pro-Europeanism or in the right for the tax cut.

What are the priorities to be addressed in your Constituency,  on which you will work in case of election?

My main activities will be to:

-Create a network: I’m member of the local committee of the – not yet officially founded – political party “+Europa”. In these months we’re trying to create a network of pro-european movements in order to organize meeting between the members of the associations and to share our different idea of Europe and liberal values.

In the same way the first thing I’d do is to get in touch with all ALDE Coordinators and IM of my area, meet them and discuss with them the best way to create events.

–  Organizing events: the goal of the first step is to achieve also events having as main topic Europe and its liberal values. These events would be an opportunity to let people who share the same ideas debate and study together. Furthermore, I’m convinced that this kind of meeting will bring involved people closer to ALDE and it will consequently increase the number of IMs.

FRANCESCO CONDO’

The result of the last Italian elections is part of a more generalized populist trend that affects all Europe. This trend has historical dimensions, since it has already changed the Zeitgeist, the spirit of our age, and risks reversing the path towards the open society that the Western countries have followed in the last decades.

In Italy as in the rest of the EU, populism is a consequence of a widespread sense of insecurity and fear that we can reduce to two main points:

1.      Insecurity related to personal safety: this kind of insecurity is mainly due to the attitude of the media, that usually prefer to report crime news in a sensationalistic way rather than on the basis of facts and figures (which show that in Italy violent crime has steadily decreased over recent years). In addition, this insecurity is fed by the rhetoric of the “invasion”, entailing an emergency and securitarian approach to migrations, rather than a structural and multidimensional one.

From this point of view, ALDE and the liberal-democratic forces should try to contrast catastrophism with facts and should base their communication on the positive effects that further European integration may have on security (e.g. through the exchange of best practices and by sharing intelligence services, anti-terrorism investigative police, border police, immigration policies).

2.      Economic insecurity resulting from the crisis of the recent years: two recent papers (this one  and this other one) show how populism is fuelled by economic insecurity and how much the vote for populist parties increased in the Eurozone regions where the impact of Chinese competition has been stronger. Therefore it is essential that the liberal democrats, now perceived as an expression of the elites of the main urban centres, try to root their presence:

a.       in the peripheral areas most affected by the crisis, where we should encourage a reconversion of the industrial and job environment of these areas. This is a very difficult task, because populist proposals are simpler and more easily understandable, but going back to the status quo ante countering globalization and free trade is not a solution that works.

b.      In the most productive and industrial areas: the liberal democratic forces should talk with the entrepreneurs and seek solutions to ensure that the institutions (from the European to the local level) don’t prevent but facilitate business.

Mentioning business brings me to the topic of the ALDE IM strategy and in particular to the mission that was submitted to our vote. I totally support all the points of the mission, but when I read the first drafts few months ago I didn’t realize that there is a missing bullet: the mission doesn’t mention the role of enterprises as engine of the economy and main driver for the creation of jobs and wealth. I hope that in the near future there will be room to add such a point.

Carrying on the work on the strategy together with the Steering Committee will be one of my priorities (from the internal point of view) if I am elected as coordinator of the IMs in North-Western Italy. In this regard, we might also discuss the tools to implement the strategy, including the convenience that ALDE IM local chapters may be organized as local associations (I still do not have a clear opinion in this regard). I would also like to work at the setting up of thematic groups with ALDE IMs of other regions and countries, in order to make more effective the contribution of the individual membership within ALDE.

GIOVANNI IANNELLO LEONE

 

4 march 2018 is gone and 23-26 may 2019 is coming. +Europa can be a new start only if Italian LibDems want it, but we need to go further than +Europa. We don’t need a parliamentary group separated from citizens and from a stable political activism. We need a modern and effective party for LibDems and allies. We need a new LiberalDemocratic party that brings together the various trends that enriches liberalism, the various stories and the common future of the Italian Liberal Democrats. We must work for this and ALDE IM can be very useful for that.
About my goals: proselytism, organisation, internal communications and starting to build ALDE Party-IM as political membership of a pan-European Party. Close collaboration among Italian and European coordinators is necessary. We can’t wait more time. Europe can collapse in a short while and we need EU as a large area of liberty, democracy and common citizenship, as well as a greener, fairer Europe that struggles for knowledge diffusion as a new citizens universal right.

FRANCESCO FRANCO

+ Europa was born only at the end of January 2018, very close to italian election so I think that with 900000 votes received and 4 MP elected we have to consider this not as a disappointing result but an extraordinary one! Where to go or start again?  From the request of the people for fresh air. In my opinion, + Europa have not emphasized enough the fact that its candidates were not, and are not, political professionals. ALDE has to do the same thing: taking inspiration from En marche, a small group of volunteers who spend time on their computer to learn about the problems of ordinary people. In additioncommunication have to be simple, even when we talk about complex problems and not immediately intuitive solutions. We have a lot to learn from communicators such as Grillo and Salvini: they use a simple language, easy to understand to common people. Or we may think to Jesus, another formidable communicator: he use parables, so we can use examples.

In order to prevent the creation of an anti-European majority in the European Parliament at the next EU elections, the role of ALDE should be to exercise a maieutic leadership of action on the M5S (which, like Zelig, is magmatic and takes the form of  various parties). It’s necessary to ensure that future MEPs join ALDE Group: Guy up. (Guy Verhofstadt had shown considerable foresight when a few months ago he managed to convince M5S ask for ALDE membership, a pity that such farsightedness was lacking for other liberal groups.

Not only in my constituency, but across the indivual membership, the priority should be to keep the forces in training even collecting the necessary signatures for  civil rights defence and initiatives, such the ICE one about art  7 of treaty which allows the illiberal democracies (such as Poland and Hungary) to be excluded from the right to vote in the European institutions.

ALDE Individual Members Steering Comittee elections: candidates manifesto

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

ANDERS BASBØLL

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

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

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

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

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

STUART BONAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOFIA AFONSO FERREIRA

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEBASTIEN MARTIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BTR NAIDU

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Evenden Kenyon

BELGIUM ALDE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS COORDINATORS: CANDIDATES MANIFESTO

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

Jerome Roche

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

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

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

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

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

Sue Arundale

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

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

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

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

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

Latifa  Aït-Baala

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

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

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

United Kingdom: ALDE Individual Members coordinators: candidates manifesto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1)   Stop Brexit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The list only reached 2.6% at Deputy Chamber and 2.3 at Senate, thereby gaining only 4 seats: 3 of them thanks to Uninominale (Single name list) and one in  overseas constituencies.  Due to poor results and to the collapse of Democratic Party, with whom was +Europa allied, none of the ALDE Individual Members candidates were elected. So +Europa, with Emma Bonino, will be represented in the next Parliament by: Riccardo Magi (Italian Radicals secretary), Bruno Tabacci and Alessandro Fusacchia in the Deputy Chamber, with Emma Bonino at Senate. Due to the lack of members (minimum is 20 and 10), +Europa will not have its own group but need to amalgamate with others in the so-called Mixed Group.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emanuele Lombardini