Category Archives: ALDE

Political absenteeism of youth in Russia

Nikita Lyakhovetskiy is an ALDE Im from Russia.  Political activist from Russia, specialising in International law and International relations. Member of Russian United Democratic Party “Yabloko”, he talks about young people in Russia and their low participation in political things

Political absenteeism is defined as the evasion of voters from voting in elections, or political behavior. Absenteeism can be an indicator of the loss of people’s trust in the political system or interest in political activity. It can pose as a serious threat to the legitimacy of the authorities, resulting in either complete political apathy or extremism.

Generally, there are two types of absenteeism: active and passive. Passive absenteeism is a result of low levels of political culture – as a result of people not understanding the importance of the political process, they tend to renounce taking part in any political activity.

Active absenteeism, on the other hand, is a type of political protest. Active absenteeism takes place when a person, who doesn’t like any of the candidates on the ballot, or disagrees with the question of the referendum, deliberately refuses to vote. The problem with active and passive absenteeism is that it is impossible to determine how many people refused to vote due to their political views and how many due to the lack of understanding of the political process. And politicians use this problem, to claim that all the people who didn’t vote, are, in fact, their supporters. For example, famous Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny, after being denied access on ballot during last presidential elections, called for a boycott and afterward claimed that the majority of the people who didn’t vote were his supporters. He is planning on using the same strategy during the upcoming constitutional amendments vote.

Development of society depends on the participation of the young generation. Young people have enormous innovative potential, which is the source of current and future changes in public life. The increasing role of young people in society is a natural tendency, which is becoming more clear nowadays, in the era of globalization and interconnectedness.

Opposition parties in Russia are creating different ways to get the youth involved. For example Russian liberal Yabloko Party ran a  “Make Your Voice Louder!” campaign calling citizens of Russia to join the  party so that to make their voice heard in defending their rights and making the government change their policies. Grigory Yavlinsky called on all Russian citizens to participate in politics and join Yabloko, because the approaching domestic political crisis represents a rare moment when a mass party can change the fate of a country.  After this call, hundreds of people all over Russia joined  Yabloko, including renowned academics and human rights activists.

But not only the opposition is trying to involve the youth, the government is also seeking for a variety of methods of youth involvement in politics. State parties and public organizations connected to the government have increased their work with the young electorate. First, it was the creation of youth organizations under the patronage of the presidential administration. Then they ran a parliamentary school, which was in fact, just a way to get youth to work with United Russia – the ruling party, and a bunch of youth forums, which were closely tied to the ruling party as well.

These examples prove the hard work of the government to involve youth in politic life and why this is so important, but the problem will not disappear if the causes were not fixed. So what are the reasons that prevent young people from participating? Firstly, this is a low educational level. Statistics prove that people without college experience show lower interest in this sphere of life than students with college experience. Secondly, distrust of the government. It is expressed in distrust of certain power structures, specific officials, state and municipal institutions. It can lead to the total disregard of the election. most of the young people do not believe that their voice will make any changes. They think that the results of an election are already known in advance.

Most countries have to deal with absenteeism and look for different ways to overcome it. For example, the introductions of a mandatory vote, that is, the legal duty of voters to participate in voting. It is used in Italy, Australia, Belgium, Greece, Turkey.

Politics is not considered important or even remotely interesting by many young people, they think it is just a group of old people sitting in the parliaments and writing laws, but the thing they do not understand is, that those laws politicians write, those decisions politicians make, are directly affecting everyone’s daily life. It matters of war and peace, that politicians are up to decide, and if the youth is not going to choose the right representatives, the views, progressive ideas shared by most of the young people will not be represented during the lawmaking process, and thus the decisions made, will not be progressive, but are likely to be rather conservative.

Nikita Lyakhovetskiy

ALDE IM’s Steering Committee candidates: Richard Retezi and Yves Robert

Starting from September 4th we will have ALDE individual members Steering Comittee elections. So, as usual we present all candidates and their motivations. Third round with Richard Retezi  and Yves Robert 

Richard Retezi

I would like to apply in order to reform the Steering Committee and have a strong and politically active representation of the Individual Members. Also as a Hungarian applicant and a member of Momentum, I would like to have yet another entity that strongly focuses on and emphasizes the need of restoring the rule of law in the EU.

Even though it’s a concern of all EU member states (as well as on a global scale), I’m coming from a state within the EU where I have seen the demolition of rule of law, the rise of populism, governmental control over the media, among many other. I’m protesting and fighting against this system for 7 years now, and I want to represent and strongly articulate these grave topics within the Individual members and support ALDE in its fight against the populists and help it truly to Renew Europe. For me, it would be a great honor and possibility to talk about these issues, use my expertise (as an economist) and work together with all the AIMs to help form an effective political strategy and political communication with ALDE’s core values of equality, protection of rule of law and civil rights in its center. Thank you for considering voting for me. 

Yves Robert

We are all aware that with the development of the number of our Members, we must evolve our organization. At the Congress in Madrid, after presenting my White Paper to the SC privately, and then at the meeting of the Coordinators, the SC asked me to create and lead a working group on the organisation of IMS in order to make it stronger, more visible and anchored within the ALDE Party

23 members from 12 countries responded to this call. Last December they received a 12-pages questionnaire. Last February a first synthesis was send, later a new consultation and a new synthesis. This summary was to be used as a presentation in Berlin, in Brussels where I met the members of the SC and about forty individual members. Finally late August meeting have been held in Stuttgart to finalize the document before forwarding it to the working group so that they can give their opinions and vote.

After the vote this document will be presented to the SC and the Party in order to advertise it to the IMs for the vote at the General Assembly in Athens.  My application to SC is to implement and monitor these new rules. You can count on me to finish the job. Together with new rules we will be stronger.

In my brief but exciting time as a member of the SC, I have not only reasserted my commitment to the IMs but also my motivation to continue pushing forward. We have achieved much these past few years, but we keep growing and that calls for a new and improved strategy.

 

ALDE IM’s steering committee candidates: Timothy Asotie and Sven Gossel

Starting from September 4th we will have ALDE individual memberdsSteering Comittee elections. So, as usual we get to know candidates and their motivations. First round with Timothy Asotie and Sven Gossel

Timothy Asotie

I believe the Individual Members have more to give if they are well prepared and mobilized with more political channels to transmit their voices across Europe. The fact is, Alde Individual Members are the mouthpiece to help Alde Party realize and fulfill her political goals and values. The IMs are the definition of Liberalism and Democracy, and they promote socio-cultural integration for political transparency and accountability. The IMs are channeling their voices towards building a society with fair and equal value, human rights and violence-free communities for economic enhancement/growth.

For continuity and for a stronger force of agitation, I would love to serve Alde Individual Members for the following reasons:

1) to help build stronger communication and relationship between Alde Party and the Individual Members, by making the IMs the center-focus in Alde Party policymaking.

2) to project IMs goals and objectives during the Steering Committee decision-making process, policy formulation, and enactment for the benefit and promotion of the Individual Members.

3) to work dearly with Steering Committee Members in building stronger and advance political platforms to promote human rights and keep fighting for what Alde represent; “liberalism and democracy”.

4) I will encourage the Steering Committee to build a relationship and collaborate with the IMs national coordinators to promote Alde values in their various country. This will help to strengthen the fight for a united Europe, equality, freedom of speech/choice, and above all, help to fight against political totalitarianism across Europe.

5) I will never forget and will keep in touch with Alde Individual Members about Alde political movement and political events. And I will encourage the Individual Members to always attend Alde events and participate in political issues/matters in our various countries.

Permit me to say this, the IMS need more force and I will support to create that energy and motivation in making IMs a success. “together we can achieve more”.

Sven Gossel

Europe is at crossroads. With Donald Trump in the West, Vladimir Putin in the East, Brexit in the North and dying migrants in the South, the continent faces real and present challenges. China represents both economical growth and a threat to freedoms Europe stands for ever-since the turmoil of the second world war. The Middle East needs answers, facing a secondary conflict of super powers in-between regional interests towards nuclear weapons of a region we all depend on as to energy resources.

The European Union has to move forward now, to mitigate these developments, moreover, to catalyze from those for a better future of all our continent. May it be by fighting climate change, by tackling poverty in Africa or central Asia, by standing together for free trade, or protecting and ensuring our civil rights and economical success.

Alde Individual Members do have a strong say in this, but need to express it much better, much more efficiently, with confidence and trustworthiness. With my current foothold in foreign policy, within all EU infrastructure and our digital life, I feel extremely well positioned to work for the Individual Members in our every favor: to improve the standing of the Alde IM family towards the Alde party, to contribute in a teamwork with other members of the Steering Committee to make our membership growing and improve and integrate our organization into the programmatic and political work of a truly liberal European party. We are Europe, and we’ve gotta show it.

Steering Committee replacement elections: get to know candidates/4

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

What is your motivation to run for the Steering Committee?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone on board for the European Elections campaign!

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

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

What is your motivation to run for the Steering Committee?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steering Committee replacement election: get to know candidates/1

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

What is your motivation to run for the Steering Committee?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

ALDE Individual Members Council Candidates, get to know them: Yves Robert

Let’s get to know also  ALDE Individual Members Elections candidates. Voting starts on September 19th. We asked same two questions about electoral program and Liberals Democras perspectives  to each of them. Now it’s up to Yves Robert from France

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

As an Individual Member, and specifically a National Coordinator, we have firstly to develop a strong relationship the ALDE Member Parties in each country. ALDE IM is not an organization against Parties – we must work with them. Secondly, we must develop the Individual Members Network. The unique word today in politics is “citizen”, not party. Everybody speaks “citizen”. ALDE Party understood this for a long time by creating “Individual Members”.  For each of us, each Citizen is a part of Europe, and Europe is a part of us.

The best way to stop the populism is to discuss with people day per day and explain and explain again. The best response to populism in each country is to develop discussions with citizens. Not easy, it’s background work. We have to organize events including our Member Parties and other members of the liberal family such as French parties like La Republique En Marche and MoDem, work to obtain the widest media coverage, once again is a background work.

As delegates, we have to be in touch with all Council Members to insist that politics is about fighting poverty and inequality – the mothers of populism. I believe with my experiences of international negotiator as Diplomat to be the best to be your ambassador.

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

Definitely, yes. This is the request of the Individual Members (vote last July); Individual Members want support transnational lists for the 2024 European Elections – with 23% of voters, it’s their first request. What a shame that the European Parliament has ruled out this opportunity for next year. Today, we must send a signal to citizens: if we want a real European Parliament, we must forget national lists, and more than that all Europeans Citizens must votes on the same day in all Member States on transnational lists.

As delegates, we must be in touch with all Council Members. To insist and give the best arguments to them to promote in Council the principle and work in every country to impose the “transnational lists” is one of weapons against populist movements and give the image that European Parliament with strongly responsibilities is the most important organ of the European Structure, elected by citizens for citizens.

ALDE Individual Members Steering Comittee Candidates, get to know them: Anders Basboll

Blog activity restart after summer. Let’s get to know  Steering Comittee Elections candidates. Voting starts on September 19th. We asked same two questions about electoral program and Liberals Democras perspectives  to each of them

Let’s start with Anders Basboll from Denmark

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

The answer is Donald Trump! Just a few years back it was mainstream to reject trade in Europe – for one reason or another – due to the fear of low environmental standards, bullying partners and other bogeymen.

Now we have the good fortune that these points are now being made by the least popular US president in memory. We see that tariffs and barriers hurt the ones putting them up – due to today’s integrated supply chains, which is new, and the old, often forgotten point, that we are all not just producers, we are also consumers – and more expensive imports hurt, especially the poor. Not only tariffs, but also red tape and barriers to entry in professions are hurting the poor. The fight against cosy monopolies is pro market and pro the poor. It is simply not true that free markets only benefit the rich – they benefit the poor too, perhaps even more.

Europe is built on the four freedoms – we shall never give up on free movement of people, capital, goods, and services. It has made Europe a better place. We shall never stop telling the good stories – of cheap and wonderful goods from Europe, of the skilled immigrants who work in our countries, of our compatriots learning new skills in other EU countries and, frankly, we need to show everybody that we have control over our external borders. Otherwise, we shall lose, to populism, the invisibility of the internal borders that have benefitted us all for so long.

Likewise, we should have a common refugee policy including a way to distribute refugees between member states. The current situation where states with 200 million inhabitants discuss 200 refugees for weeks give both the impression that refugees are an unbelievable burden destroying our societies and that we have lost control over our borders.

Finally, and obviously, we never judge people on gender, race, religious affiliation or sexuality. Europe is “united in diversity” and we liberals love it!

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

Liberals do not have great presence everywhere. I find it crucial that we do have an offering where liberal parties are thin on the ground. I think we already do, in providing a platform where liberals can meet – we should prioritise this. Who knows, maybe local liberal movements will be born?

I think it is important that these members can get as close to MEPs as possible. Last year, the idea of backing groups for MEP’s were mentioned at the congress which I haven’t heard of since, but a way for the ideas of all our members to reach our MEPs should be a major priority. We must do all we can to make it reality. Incidentally, access to MEPs could also be a major inducement for members of ALDE member parties also to join ALDE IM.

Most liberal parties have only a couple of MEPs. It would be wonderful if their ideas could reach the whole liberal group. Liberals and democrats cannot make transnational lists ourselves but – should they be implemented, we should contest them.