In this post we present Individual Members candidates for the upcoming delegate for next ALDE congress. Each one present itself and then answer to another common question. This is the second post about them
Read the first 4 interviews here
Why you are running for candidate?
Anders Basbøll (Denmark): As an Individual member it is a great honour to be able to contribute to ALDE policy making. This year is especially important, since we shall adopt our manifesto for the 2019 European Elections. I have contibuted to the process by joining 2 of ALDE’s expert forums on the manifesto – on defence in Warszawa (which I took a holiday to make) where I pointed out the need for the Parliament to be included in PESCO and on International Trade in København, where I made the point that free trade has value in itself, also when unsuccessful in mitigating climate change. On both occasions I tried to update you here on facebook. Last year I gave input to our delegates concerning amendments – this year I would like to fight for you as a delegate for our important messages.
I have co-written a resolution on Climate Change with Sju Thorup (thanks!) on the need to get all emissions under the ETS quota system (stop exemptions for agriculture, transportation and construction) – this is needed both in order to take our share in Europe,but also to let us do it as efficiently as possible. I have also contributed to a resolution from René Petersen (thanks!) on an ALDE primary for Spitzenkandidaten. What could be more important than saving our planet and creating a grassroot European democracy? In 2014 Parliament won a power struggle and chose th eCommission President. This time this could be challenged, but if Parliament prevails again it will be a well established procedure. It was the ”spitzenkandidaten” which made the difference. A primary is essential to strengthen it. I think it is very important that our delegates are ready to negotiate with the parties on whatever amendments can bring a Primary (or, should this fail, at least a clear yes to Spitzenkandidaten) through. I have experience from national congresses, but also from LYMEC congresses where I have been a delegate (and chaired one aswell).
Nadia Bennis (France): I was predisposed from birth to become a true European: French national, born and raised bilingual in Germany in an international environment, I graduated in European studies and international relations in the UK, including the typical Erasmus exchange, before embarking on a European journey in Brussels, working in political affairs for several years before finally adopting Madrid as my home. I could not really escape to learn and speak several languages, live with and adapt to different cultures, enjoying the amicability and cheerfulness of each country and uniting all these experiences which certainly shaped my personality, enabling me to feel at home wherever I am and make me contribute
to an intercultural exchange to bring us Europeans closer. Besides my passion for politics, I think that my multicultural background and great ability for intercultural exchange could be great assets to represent you at the Congress and work hand in hand with people from all over Europe.
Jude Deakin (United Kingdom): The primary motivation for me to stand for election as a delegate to the ALDE Congress, is my ability to provide a unique perspective on the disruptive impact of the Brexit vote on the United Kingdom and guidance on what it could be like for others, should their countries contemplate leaving.
On the morning of 24 June 2016 I woke up to the devastating news that my country had voted to leave the European Union. Although the European Union is not perfect, I believe it is far better for us to work together within it, than to try and effect change from outside of it. As one of the 48% who voted to remain, I felt a great sense of loss. I am a proud Liberal Democrat and I didn’t recognise my country anymore. Almost immediately after the announcement of the result, the mood within the UK shifted. There was less patience, less tolerance, less unity and increasing hatred, abuse and unrest.
That was the start of my ALDE IM journey; I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t give up my European identity without a fight. I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Congress in Warsaw and again in Amsterdam last year. Having the opportunity to talk and share ideas with like-minded people from across the 28 countries was wonderful and a real inspiration. These meetings gave me the strength and encouragement to carry on the fight, through talking to ‘remainers’, tweeting and posting pro-European items on social media, and attending protest marches in London, my next one being on the 23 rd June.
Silvia Fernandez (Spain): For a long time, I felt disappointed with national politics of my country. I didn’t feel as a party truly represented me at the time. I thought that instead of being completely passive, I should try and do something. And so I decided to study Law and Political Sciences, because I wanted to understand how decisions and policy are made, how institutions work – how the world works. Not long after, I found ALDE and the Individual Members. ‘I feel at home’, I thought. A bit over 3 years later, and the IMs are still dear to my heart.
I would love to be a delegate for the IMs because I believe that they are a key member of the ALDE party. I believe that their voices should be heard as loud as the party members’ voices are. It would be an honour to represent and defend the IMs best interests and ideas at the upcoming congress in my home country. We have achieved much, and slowly but steady we are increasing our presence in the party, and in Europe. But we can only go forward. Europe needs more people like the IMs, people whose ideas are all about openness, transparency, tolerance, solidarity, and opportunities for everybody. I think we should strive for making an impact on Europe, now more than ever when our ‘home’ is facing so many challenges. And I would love to be a part of it.
Dimitris Mitrou (Greece): I am a new member from Greece, and I want to help the Αlde party IMs to share their ideas and proposals, with as many people as possible. I also want to help so that the upcoming Congress in Madrid, will be successful and productive.
I assure you of my commitment to the cause of uniting the European countries, in a strong and successful federation, which will be able to address the challenges of a new globalized economy,
in an era of intense social changes.
My candidacy will also give me the opportunity, to share views and opinions with the other candidates and IMs. I also stand for delegate, so I could learn more about the democratic functions of ALDE party, so I can have a personal view about how, this great political organization works. I am an engineer and an elected member of general assembly of Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE-TCG), and by representing engineers for many years, I have a pretty
good experience of forming resolutions and amendments, and I want to use this experience in order to help the synthesis of political opinions and proposals in ALDE party, towards the congress in Madrid.
Some of the issues that I think the ALDE party upcoming Congress must face, are the: aid to the Rule of Law and ensuring equality before the European treaties and laws, for all citizens in the EU.; removal of restrictions in education; fight against majoritarian issues in the exercise of executive power, in parliamentary work and in the function of trade unions; protection of minority rights, from discrimination in the name of the “established”; opinion of the majority; scientific rational approach in dealing with issues without a social historical background
Diana Severati (Italy): My name is Diana Severati, 41, European, Italian, born in Milan and living in Rome. When I was a student I was a member of AIESEC (and treasurer of the Rome Sapienza Local Committee), a student run organization founded in 1948, after World War II, by seven students from different European countries with the dream of building cross-cultural understanding across nations and to change the world. I love traveling. So strange, isn’t it? As a member of that organization in the late ‘90s I had the opportunity to participate to some meetings organized by UNOPS, UNDP and the Italian Cooperation for some decentralized cooperation programs like the PDHL Cuba and Tunisia.
I was a member of Fare per Fermare il Declino (Do to Stop the Decline), a political party running in the last European elections in the list (Scelta europea con Guy Verhofstadt (European Choice with Guy Verhofstadt) and Scelta Civica (Civic Choice) and Radicali Italiani. I have been a candidate for More Europe in the last political elections in Italy. I’m a member of Forza Europa and of the Rome local group of the Pulse of Europe initiative. I’m also the new elected Individual Members coordinator for the Central Italy region.
I would love to participate to the ALDE Party Congress works as a delegate, on behalf of the Individual Members, and to contribute to shaping our liberal and federal Europe, an open society based on economic freedom and civil rights.
I would love to participate to the ALDE Party Congress works as a delegate, on behalf of the Individual Members, and to contribute to shaping our liberal and federal Europe, an open society based on economic freedom and civil rights. Ibelieve that each individual could contribute to the betterment of the world and that we, Individual Members, should unleash our potential.
How can we make liberal parties stronger to face this moment where Europe looks at nationalism?
Anders Basbøll (Denmark): It is very important that people feel that they are stakeholders. That is why I will fight hard for the Spitzenkandidaten – and to open the process with a liberal primary, that all our members proudly can tell they have participated in. It shall not be ”Those people in Brussels”. It is us. I will also vote in favor of proposals where the Commission President can choose her commissioners. If that were to happen, it would be easier to vote against the EU government, without voting against the EU (just as for national elections, people vote for or against the government (not the state itself). The twin of nationalism is protectionism – which must be fought by again and again explaining the virtues of a free market economy – of all the miracles produced by human ideas and hard work, when allowed to flourish. And how trade makes everybody richer and make people in different countries or continents contribute to each other’s welfare instead of going to war over wealth.
Nadia Bennis (France): Unfortunately, we do not all have the same opinions and reflections upon Europe. Our ideal to have a peaceful, united nation of Europeans is facing increasingly an Eurosceptic view and a rise of nationalism. Whereas some consider globalisation as an opportunity, others see it as a threat, which is fuelling the nationalist, extreme-right wing and populist debate to which people
identify because it makes them feel safer in an era of economic instability and high unemployment rates across Europe.
We are at a turning point where we need to take immediate action to reconcile EU citizens with the EU and manage efficiently the increase of nationalism. EU Member States need a stronger cooperation and share responsibilities in order to be able to tackle issues such as immigration, climate change, threat of terrorism, education, pensions, international trade, etc. We need to boost employment, be more innovative, creative and promote international trade. European Liberals are stronger to face this time when Europe looks at nationalism because they can offer a realistic, innovative and international economic programme in line with promoting employment, security and the welfare of EU-citizens.
Jude Deakin (United Kingdom):I believe it is vitally important for the citizens of Europe and the UK that we continue to have a voice and a seat at the European table. Please do not dismiss us completely because of this advisory referendum, within which both Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May didn’t have the courage to disregard, even though they were both ‘remainers’!
The understanding now, is that Brexit was voted for by many of the
disenfranchised lower paid workers and the unemployed, the families in need of good housing that felt disregarded, and the poorer sections of society that felt left behind. The leave campaigners primarily targeted these groups by exploiting
their fears through the use of false truths and rhetoric, proliferated by the media, blaming the country’s problems on the European Union. There were false promises of extra funding if we left that would alleviate these problems, a basis on which many people voted to leave. We need to work together to prevent this from happening again, through education and promotion of media literacy.
It has always been the liberal way to speak up for the vulnerable and less fortunate, but have we really been listening? The Brexit vote would suggest that we have not. The political landscape across Europe is shifting and it’s essential that the liberal parties across Europe now stand strong together, with openhearts and minds, taking action to truly engage with the disengaged.
Silvia Fernandez (Spain): The problem with nationalists and populists in general is that they believe that Europe is not working, that it is broken and they want to see it burn to the ground. Well, against that hard-line and dangerous attitude I believe there is only one thing we can do: stand together and fight.
Problems such as unemployment, the refugee crisis, sustainability, terrorism… are all trasversal and global issues that affect all Member States, and the Union as a whole. It would be irresponsible to even think that we shouldn’t tackle all these together. Populists do not have faith in the Union, and because of that we need to think of ways on how we can build a more efficient and more united Union. I think we might need to think outside the box and try to find ways on how to bring the EU closer to the people, how to make it more tangible and accessible to them. I believe this is the first step to regain the trust and confidence of the European citizens. It is not so much about using the power, but how we use it. Renew the use and engagement of Europe and liberal parties, with the people. Follow the politics of ‘hope’ and ‘optimism’ instead of the politics of ‘pessimism’.
Dimitris Mitriou (Greece): We must spread our ideas about integration of Europe accessible, to as many as people as possible. We must also inform them about the basics of the European Union. How many European citizens know anything about concepts like “Acquis communautaire” and their rights? Informing the people about Europe, is the first step to build the European citizenship. I think that the concept of ALDE PARTY IMs, is all about engaging the European citizens in that political process.
At the same time liberal citizens and parties in Europe must also work together in order to protect ethnic or other minority rights, from discrimination in the name of the “established” opinion of the majority. Also, equality before the European laws for all citizens, is essential to fight the powers of isolationism, in the European Countries. There is a lot of work ahead for achieving this goal. I am
glad that I will cooperate with other ALDE party IMs, for this important cause!
Diana Severati (Italy): Far Right ethnonationalism and populism and are ever advancing in Europe. In Italy the Lega (League) and the Movimento Cinque Stelle (Five Stars Movement) has won the last political elections and have formed the so called “Government of Change” with an unrealistic and unrealizable program. Propaganda unfortunately works and the anti-EU parties often receive supports from Putin’s Russia. Liberal parties should be able not only to make proposals but also to communicate them effectively: the should use positive messages and never stop spreading the values of the open society, more than ever. Instead of talking of competitors with negative words we should focus on contents and communicate them with the right and positive words. It is important to avoid to be perceived as an elite. To do so is necesssary to be present on the territory, to run local initiatives, to talk to people and to involve them. It takes time but it has to be done. We can’t let nationalism destroy Europe.