Category Archives: ALDE

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

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

Read the first set of inteviews here

Read the second set of interviews here

Why you are running as candidate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the first 4 interviews here

Why you are running for candidate?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why you are running for candidate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The rebirth of Liberalism in Ireland

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

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Ciarán Hehir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ciarán Hehir

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

ITALIAN POLITICAL ELECTIONS 2018, ALDE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS CANDIDATES: GET TO KNOW THEM/3

On 4 March, Italy will return to vote to elect  new Members of Parliament. Some ALDE individual members are candidates with the liberal-democratic list + Europa with Emma Bonino. In these interviews we present the last two of them. We asked three questions to all of them and one different, about some important topics for Italy and Europe.

How Italy votes. The new Italian voting system has two levels of elections. 37%  of Members of Parliament in both Chambers  are elected in a “Uninominale” (single name list) college: single parties or coalitions express one common name. One wins the seat, others lose. 61% of MPs – in both chambers – are elected in a “Plurinominale” (more names list) college: each single party proposes from 1 to 4 candidates. The higher the percentage of votes obtained, the higher will be the number of  elected candidates. There is also a minimum percentage to be obtained to elect candidates. The remaining  2% of seats are for Italian candidates who live abroad.

You can read first set of 4 interviews  here

You can read second set of 4 interviews here


Candidates we present today:

Marco Ferraro, born in Genova in 1975, lives outside Italy since 2003, before in Belgium, Morocco andTurkey, now in Ukraine where he works for the EU in the field of reforms relating to the rule of law and justice. He is  member of Radicali Italiani and ALDE Individual Member. He runs as a candidate for Deputees Chambers for  Europe Constituency.

Alessandro Massari, born in Rome in 1966 is the president of National Committee of Radicali Italiani. He is member of Legislative office of Deputees Chamber, journalist and ALDE Individual Member. He runs ad Candidate for Senate at Plurinominale (More name list) in Umbria.

You are running as a candidate with Più Europa/+Europa. What exactly does “More Europe” mean to you?

Marco Ferraro.  Più Europa”, more Europe, means that Europe is still the answer to most of Italy’s problems. Whether it is economic growth, immigration, international trade or international security, we think that Italy would only lose by leaving a European path. Italy was a founding member of the European Community, it has greatly benefitted from European integration, and it should continue along this path. Europe has today become a scapegoat used by populists and demagogues to harvest votes and media attention, but we need to reject this line of thought. We are here to show that Italians still understand the importance of Europe for their lives. We want to show that you can actually gather popular support, and votes, around a pro-European platform, rather than an anti-European one.

In these years of spreading anti-Europeism this is something that needs to be repeated and which we need to prove in practice and in actions in order for us to be reminded of it.

 Alessandro Massari: Italy was not yet a Republic and already, it has been imagined a free state in a united Europe. +Europa with Emma Bonino, for me and for Italy, means to restart – with decision, courage and foresight – the European project which has always been present in the Radical DNA. Italy had an important role in Europe’s Birth. The Ventotene Manifesto, edited by Rossi and Spinelli in 1941, which gave birth to EEC was signed in Rome in 1957. +Europa con Emma Bonino is a project that seeks to guarantee welfare in freedom, integration in safety, more rights for all and more safeguards for environment.  It is an instrument for promoting peace, prosperity and democracy, which is needed here and now, not only for Italy but all of Europe.

What is, in your opinion, the biggest problem Italy faces at the moment and what will your contribution with +Europa be?

Marco Ferraro:  At a very general level, Italy’s fundamental problem is the lack of mutual trust among the political actors who have a stake in determining our future. For example the political parties and the electorate: people who go to vote. “Social trust” is a public good, and we don’t have much of it in Italy. This is why the years of what we call the “Second Republic” have been so inconclusive in terms of reforms.

While this is not a particularly new analysis about the Italian society, we have been seeing a new element in recent years: the appearance of a kind of populism which is more aggressive and which is based on a more fundamental rejection of “mainstream” values. This means, to offer an example, that issues which once seemed settled and consensual, have been politicised: one is the issue of vaccinations. Surprisingly as it may seem, populist discourse in Italy is going well beyond economic claims but it is attacking what we used to consider uncontroversial issues, like science and medicine.

We came to the point where, in political debate, the objectivity of the scientific approach can be questioned very easily – and here we are not talking about a learnt discussion with scholars who might have read Jaspers or Latour: we are talking about arguments put forward with the soundness of pub-like talk. Of course this does not happen only on “hard” scientific facts relative to medicine, but it spreads very easily into “softer” fields like economics, and then politics and international security.

Answering to this degeneration will require offering a message of hope and of trust in the future. And the message needs to come from a credible source. Più Europa is the right actor to do this. Emma Bonino is a guarantee of that: she is one of the most well known politicians in Italy and her story, like that of the “Radicali Italiani”, is an example of what we need: generosity in devoting oneself to others, coherence between words and actions, and courage in speaking the truth even when it is not popular.

Alessandro Massari: In my opinion, the biggest problem is the lack of intergenerational equity. The enormous public debt which Italy has accumulated causes loss of some rights for almost two generations, overwhelmed by poverty, insecurity in work, welfare for some. Italy’s Constitutional Chart provides that for each expense the means to deal with it must be identified but during the last 50 years, Italy has instead resorted to heavy debt.  The main problem is the failure to respect the rule of law, because rights have a price, and debt is not the right way to guarantee them. +Europa is way of securing more economic, social, political and civil growth. The new industrial revolution needs more digital infrastructures, more public services, less tax evasion and a more equal fiscal system. A ‘right’ justice, a universal model of welfare which could guarantee each worker and the work market that guarantees individual right to continuing education.  Beyond this, we need more democracy, more effective sovereignty in the hands of the citizen, thanks to the strengthening of direct democracy and referendums, which also utilizes digital technology. We can realize all these things only if we stop unproductive public expense,         eliminate the debt and all the money we lose in interest repayments. In this way, we will have more resources to invest in competitive businesses that provide jobs while guaranteeing, at the same time and for all, European unemployment benefit and a guaranteed minimum hourly wage.

You are already an Individual Member of ALDE Party. Don’t you think that’s enough to push for changes in European level?  What was your motivation to run as a candidate?

Marco Ferraro:  My motivation to run as a candidate is the desire to be part of the solution to the problems of our country; and the appreciation for the role that Emma Bonino and Radicali Italiani have had and continue to have in our society. Radicali Italiani are well known in Italy for having campaigned for civil rights in Italy in the past – on issues like divorce and abortion – and even today they are leading struggles that are fundamental for our living together. For example, the issue of granting Italian citizenship to the children of immigrants who are born and grow up in Italy. This is what we call “ius culturae” (citizenship by upbringing), but has wrongly and often been presented as “ius soli” (citizenship by place of birth).

Another personal reason, and a very strong one, is that I have been living outside of Italy, and for a long period in Turkey and Ukraine, and I have seen there the results of populist policies and propaganda. This gives me a perspective on what the future may hold for Italy if we don’t change course.

In relation to ALDE individual members; I have first joined it several years ago, as I saw and see it as a great opportunity for activism on a pan-European scale. Then I re-joined the ALDE individual members group as I was enthusiastic about Radical Italiani having joined ALDE in the meantime. I think that membeship of ALDE individual members and of a national political party can offer synergies and more opportunities for engagement.

 Alessandro Massari: I think EU has to be reformed. In 1996, I proposed to Marco Pannella, historical leader of Italian Radical Party, the idea of Trans-national lists as the Maastricht Treaty allowed them. Pannella was an Italian political giant known for his forward-looking and anticipatory visions.

I believe in Europe as a common homeland to live in law, freedom and equality, and I fear the rebirth of the Europe of homelands. In 1995, the time was not ripe but now I think it is. I regret that at next EU elections it is not possible to be candidates ourselves in trans-European lists but Brexit demonstrates to us that no rights and no institutions, no progress is forever if you do not commit yourselves to its maintenance and to feeding it.

Today the presentation of transnational lists is not only timely but also necessary. It must be realized Pan-European parties to realize a “light” Federal Europe.

As for my candidature, the reason is very simple: I always believed in the United States of Europe as starting point, not arrival one. In the last year with Radicali Italiani, I promoted with conviction the presentation of a pro-European list which includes not only Radicali Italiani, but everyone.

 Why, in your opinion, has a real liberal democratic culture in Italy struggled to emerge, while in the rest of Europe ALDE-affiliated parties have greater visibility?

 Alessandro Massari: In Italy, the combination of the liberal principle of individual rights with the democratic one of popular sovereignty has always been difficult. History demonstrates that both were most enunciated rather than respected. Independence wars left united Italy with a lot of debt. Historical right-wing politicians which led the country in these years represented elites, not ordinary people.  The transformation that destroyed the historical right, the end of the prohibition for Catholics to participate in political elections and the entry of popular forces into parliament were all determining factors for the rise of fascism, which looked at democracy as the evil to be treated with the nationalist dictatorship, centered on mass worship to the detriment of the individual. Republican parties – apart from Partito d’Azione – have been suffocated.  Only the Radical party was able to preserve a liberal democratic project in Italy, with referendums which made Italy more democratic, more modern, more right with enormous results. This despite a small number of MP electeds and despite attempts of obstruction by reactionary forces such as the Catholics, Stalinlists, collectivists.  I think today there is a space for liberal democracy, for a Europe of rights, and personal freedoms, federal but united in the differences. We can reform Italian institutions and be protagonists in the route towards United States of Europe.

With Italian people abroad being able to vote in this election, do you think +Europa should appeal directly to Italian people in Britain with Brexit looming? How will this happen?

Marco Ferraro. Più Europa is definitely reaching out to Italians who live in the UK; there are hundreds of thousands of them and London is a traditional destination city for many Italians who move to live abroad. Just in London there are about 250,000 Italians living there.

Più Europa has set up a committee in London – like similar ones in more that 50 cities across Europe – and several meetings have been carried out during the past weeks to reach out to the Italian communities there. Two of our candidates for the political elections, Davide Rubini and Claudio Radaelli, are themselves Italians who live and work in the UK. There is a strong interest among Italians in the UK for Più Europa, we are perceived as being different from other political parties, and specifically also in our understanding of the condition of the Italians who live outside Italy.

We don’t think there is a problem in the fact that many Italians chose to go to live and work abroad, we instead think that the problem is in the obstacles that Italy raises when and if they want to return back to Italy. We have put forward specific proposals in this regard, which aim exactly to remove these barriers: the proposals revolve around the idea that the Italian state shall take into account and recognise experiences and rights acquired by an individual during his or her  years spent abroad. This is to include the automatic recognition of degrees acquired abroad, professional qualifications, pension rights, and family rights acquired in another EU member state – this is of particular relevance for same-sex couples who marry in another country and have the legitimate expectation of still being married when they move back to Italy.

We therefore propose not some kind of cumbersome public policy supporting Italians abroad, we ask a simple thing, to give full application to the principle of the freedom of movement as foreseen by the European Union. I think that in any future Brexit deal, citizens’ rights shall be treated as a separate issue, they cannot be approached like the UK contributions to EU programmes or budget. I am convinced that this matters very much for preserving London as an international metropolis, one of the world’s capitals, and downgrading the rights of Europeans living there would be self-defeating for the UK.

Kevin Mc Namara and Emanuele Lombardini

ITALIAN POLITICAL ELECTIONS 2018, ALDE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS CANDIDATES: GET TO KNOW THEM/2

On 4 March, Italy will return to vote to elect  new Members of Parliament. Some ALDE individual members are candidates with the liberal-democratic list + Europa with Emma Bonino. In these interviews we present the second 4 of them. We asked three questions to all of them and one different, about some important topics for Italy and Europe.

How Italy votes. The new Italian voting system has two levels of elections. 37%  of Members of Parliament in both Chambers  are elected in a “Uninominale” (single name list) college: single parties or coalitions express one common name. One wins the seat, others lose. 61% of MPs – in both chambers – are elected in a “Plurinominale” (more names list) college: each single party proposes from 1 to 4 candidates. The higher the percentage of votes obtained, the higher will be the number of  elected candidates. There is also a minimum percentage to be obtained to elect candidates. The remaining  2% of seats are for Italian candidates who live abroad.

You can read here the first set of interviews


Candidates we present today

Claudia Daniela Basta. Born in San Donà di Piave (province of Venezia) in 1976, she is a University Reasearcher and teacher, and lives in The Hague (The Neteherlands). Liberal, Radical in the dutch party D66, ALDE Individual Member. She runs as a candidate for Deputee Chambers for  Europe Constituency.

Riccardo Lo Monaco, Born in Cagliari in 1976, liberal, radical, LGBT Activist, manager.  Co -Founder of Forza Europa movement, ALDE IM Member. He runs as candidate for the “Plurinominale” (More names list) for the Senate in Sardegna 01 and Veneto 01. In Sardegna Constituency runs against Mario Adinolfi leader of anti-LGBT Moviment Il Popolo della Famiglia (Family People)

Antonio Stango. Born in Naples in 1957, he is a political scientist, writer, and editor and, since 2016, former president of the Italian league for Human Rights and now president of  Italian Federation for Human Rights. He is in the board member of “Hands off Cain”, an Italian NGO with the mission of outlawing the death penalty globally. He is italian national coordinator of ALDE Individual Members and candidate for the Deputees Chamber for the “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Veneto 02.

 Andreina Serena Romano. Born in Potenza in 1985. University researcher, works in business strategy, and innovation for SMEs and for the public sector. She was a former Member of Italia dei Valori (Italy of Value, former ALDE Member party) and is an ALDE Individual Member. She is a candidate for the Deputees Chamber for the “Plurinominale” (More names list) in Basilicata, where she is running against Vito De Filippo, the former Undersecretary to School and Instruction of the Democratic Party.

You are running as a candidate with Più Europa/+Europa. What exactly does “More Europe” mean to you?

Claudia Basta.  More Europe points toward the direction that we radical liberals believe our country should orientate its development. Populism is rampant in Italy, and the narrative according to which the European Union is the source of Italy’s socio-economic stagnation has convinced many. More Europe’s intent is to contrast that narrative and let voters realize that less Europe means a definite collapse – more Europe, the hope of offering a better future to our citizens.

Riccardo Lo Monaco First of all, I think +Europa means taking everything good that European Union gives to all Member States. We need to look forward to United State of Europe. On the other hand, +Europa means more opportunities, more rights and, above all, more peace. Indeed, we can’t forget that we have been living in peace for more than 60 years. In the end, +Europa means Erasmus, which is a powerful way to built a unique identity

Antonio Stango Italy, which is among the six founding countries of the EU, has achieved a very high level of security and economic development, which in isolation would have been impossible. Moreover – and we must be proud of this – it was in Rome in 1950 that the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, to which all the States of the Council of Europe are obliged to comply, was signed. All the community mechanisms are a vital guarantee for us in the field of human rights as well as in the economy. Faced with the wave of incongruous accusations against Europe in recent years, due to a economic and social crisis, the message of “more Europe” shows us that we need to strengthen the federal structure and not “more duties, more nationalism, and less freedom of movement for people and goods”.

Andreina Serena Romano. +Europa means for Italy to believe in a federal project, united and aware of Europe. A concrete project of United States of Europe that could be a reason for growth for the country. Italy needs Europe, just as Europe needs Italy. We must not stand still and be moved by events. Italy must walk with other states facing all the challenges of the future. We must be aware of the possibilities and work constantly to make our economy flourish and shine with our productive, natural and social capacities. +Europa with Emma Bonino represents a possibility, a challenge and a reason to continue to hope for a more European Italy.0

What is, in your opinion, the biggest problem Italy faces at the moment and what will your contribution with +Europa be?

Claudia Basta. The biggest plague of and in Italy at present is what I regard as the grave cultural degradation that seems to affect large parts of the population. Were that not be the case, far-right parties like Lega, Fratelli d’Italia and CasaPound, and ‘clown parties’ like Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the Five Star Movement, would not have the consensus they clearly have. To be clear: the conservative right has its own history and legitimate political philosophical grounds, in Italy as in the rest of Europe, and I respect those grounds despite my liberalism. The point is the current far-right in Italy is a grotesque representation of that legacy. It is led by leaders who miss the cultural background and competencies required to set forward any credible political programme, sometimes even to express themselves in Italian correctly. Yet they form a consensus, flagging by so doing the mutual lack of critical thinking in far too many citizens – how can someone believe that Europe is our problem rather than our solution, or that immigrants are inherently a threat?

By promoting a stronger integration of Italy in Europe and vice versa, by stressing the importance of science, research & development, as the ‘DNA’ of our democracy, and by putting our women candidates Costanza Hermanin, Ersilia Vaudo, Roberta Talarico and Giulia Pastorella – all high-skilled professionals with a scientific background – at the forefront of our campaign, Più Europa aims at activating a cultural revolution. Politically conscious Italians abound, both in Italy and abroad – our challenge is involving them in our project.

Riccardo Lo Monaco First of all, we need to increase jobs. However, we can’t forget the huge public debt that overwhelms Italy. For this reason, on one hand we need a State that helps market competition and the private initiative. On the other hand, we need to cut the wastes that hit public costs. In this way we can invest on job.

Antonio Stango  The complexity of international relations, including the risks of terrorism and war, the epochal challenge of migration, the transnationality of organized crime and the need for new forms of industrial and commercial competitiveness in a globalized world. These oblige us to joint responses from one strong European Union, while it would be dangerous to rely on individual solutions by 27 states. The development of strategies and methods for dealing with social problems within each country can benefit from European cooperation and the sharing of best practices in different fields. The elected representatives of +Europa, in addition to the specific skills that each will bring, and in a pragmatically liberal democratic and non-ideological vision, will have to maintain the full European integration method in all areas of their parliamentary activity.

Andreina Serena Romano. Unfortunately, at the moment, I think that Italy is facing many problems in many sectors. There is a great job to do and many sacrifices to come. I could list many points in the program but I would like to focus on a couple. Growth and the labour market are two key points in the +Europa programme and two hot topics in my campaign. From these two points there are a thousand themes that can solve many of the problems that we face. Rethinking industry and companies with more modern, innovative approaches helps us to create different production and commercial models that can keep up with the times. The contribution of research is essential for us to thrive and to differentiate ourselves. Competition should not be a taboo but the foundation of our economy. Not only for companies but also for consumers. We need to facilitate freelancers and remove barriers from young people creating businesses. By loosening these knots, we can start to speak a common language to the rest of the world, which continues to move forward as we watch. Think of the world of start-ups and the many problems of small and micro companies that make up the largest percentage of our economic fabric: we must remove the obstacles to their growth.

 You are already an Individual Member of ALDE Party. Don’t you think that’s enough to push for changes in European level?  What was your motivation to run as a candidate?

Claudia Basta. Initially, I didn’t think I would run as a candidate. As member of ALDE and of the Dutch party D66, having lived in the Netherlands, I had enough to do and contribute to the European project already.

When Più Europa was born, back in November, what I did was simply to put myself at disposal of the respective European steering committee, led by our head-of-list for the lower chamber, Alessandro Fusacchia. I gave my availability to become a candidate, as many others, for helping the movement grow in Northern Europe more than for the true ambition to run, but Alessandro proposed me to be the first ‘Dutch’ candidate ever proposed by an Italian party in the Europe constituency, and I accepted with enthusiasm.

Riccardo Lo Monaco Italy does not have a political party that represents Europe and European ideas. This could be a risk for the European project. Unfortunately, many Italian leaders, even including Berlusconi, who says he supports United Europe, allies with the most xenophobic and nationalist political parties that have ever existed in Italy, such as Salvini and Meloni. I will always support human rights and civil liberties, such as LGBTI cause. These rights could be threatened by anti-European parties. Indeed, this is the reason why I decided to become a candidate. My goal is to defend the European project and all that means: rights, Erasmus, circulation and integration in order to create an unique identity within all Member States. In this way, Italy will be similar to other countries, such as France, Germany or Dutch, without being the Hungary with Orban.

Antonio Stango  Transnational lists would be a positive step towards an accentuated federal dimension of the European Union, just as it was important in 1979 to start electing the members of the European Parliament by universal suffrage. I am sure that we will have to achieve this goal too. I have chosen to run as a candidate because I believe that all the energies and ideas of those who do not intend to give in to populism, sovereignism or abstention – three deadly risks to democracy, civil rights and socio-economic wellbeing – must converge towards the hope of effectively liberal democratic and federalist politics.

Andreina Serena Romano. I believe that the time has come for a new, more European, more compact and policy younger. New communication methods and new methods of approach to the voter. I have been an individual member of ALDE for many years, I started my journey in LYMEC and this has helped me a lot. Dealing with the politics of other countries is a starting point to improve and make ours more open. This is why I have always supported transnational lists, which have had a setback. It’s a way to rely on different cultures and thoughts, to discover how other European countries operate and how we can improve our political activities. It is time for a new political wind of right ideals, of real commitment and of security and loyalty. That’s why I chose to run as a candidate and put my face in the front row for the European project.

Why, in your opinion, has a real liberal democratic culture in Italy struggled to emerge, while in the rest of Europe ALDE-affiliated parties have greater visibility?

Antonio Stango  Italian politics has for decades been dominated by the contrast between the two “church parties” – the Christian Democrats and the Communist Party with strong traditions of Catholicism and Marxism respectively. Meanwhile, the minor secular parties, like Liberal Democrats, no other possibility of maneuvering it but supporting it, with variable results. The only exception were the Italian Social Movement which referred to the political elements of Fascism and which was considered “outside the constitutional arch” – a term referred to the parties who contributed to wrote the Italian Constitutional Chart after WWII, the Radical Party, which between 1976 and 1987 participated in the elections with the his own name and that he posed as an alternative to both the logic and the “historical compromise” between Christian Democrats and Communists, pursuing his own non-ideological objectives and seeking convergence on those.

The end of the PCI, which was the largest communist party in the Western world, together with the French one) after the collapse of the Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet reference, the extinction of the DC and other parties in the final crisis of the “First Republic” left space for Berlusconi’s Forza Italia; that initially appeared as a “mass liberal party”, and changed face, programs and practices according to the polls and allies of the moment. The phase that starts now could allow us, precisely because of the urgent need to counteract the new risks, to strengthen the role of a liberal democratic alternative party and make it more evident and incisive.

Andreina Serena Romano. This is a good question, difficult and impactful. The liberal democratic parties in Europe are strong, often form the government and are often fundamental in European political management. I believe the main problem is our difficulty in changing history and adapting ourselves. We have a strong attachment to conservative and Catholic thought, despite being a secular country. But this is a knot that we will dissolve with difficulty, even if with +Europa we are finally launching one true liberal democratic party that can lead us towards modernity.

With Italian people abroad being able to vote in this election, do you think +Europa should appeal directly to Italian people in Britain with Brexit looming? How will this happen?

Claudia Basta. Più Europa’s candidates living in the UK, Davide Rubini (for the lower chamber) and Claudio Radaelli (for the Senate) are the brightest, most competent and most genuine ‘remainers’ that Italian voters are likely to meet in the course of this campaign. Respectively, a European Regulatory Affairs Manager and a European governance professor, they have explained to the many Italians who followed their campaign why they think Brexit is a political, economic, and  identitarian disaster for the people living in the UK – regardless of whether they’re native British or not. Davide and Claudio embody outstandingly our pro-European political programme and the level at which we would like to take the debate on the European Union. Through them, and through the entire team created by Alessandro Fusacchia and Alberto Alemanno, our head-of-list at the Senate, we really are deploying the best minds and the most enthusiastic Italians possible for making the European Union “exiters-proof”.

Riccardo Lo Monaco +Europa should appeal to all Italians within European territory, stimulating them to vote for “Europe”. Of course, Italians in Great Britain should feel more than everyone this European feeling. For this reason, since Brexit, they should vote +Europa. We just need to reach them saying that we are in this election!

Kevin Mc Namara and Emanuele Lombardini