Category Archives: Elections

EU Elections: get to know some +Europa italian candidates: Cristina Bagnoli and Inoussa Bara

he ALDE Party IM coordinator for North-West Italy Francesco Condò  submitted some questions to the candidates of +Europa, the Italian liberal party, at the next European elections in the North-West Italy constituency. You can read the full interviews (in Italian) on the Facebook page of the North-West Italy ALDE Party IMs:

Today we publish the answers of Cristina Bagnoli e Inoussa Bara

Why did you choose to run for the European Parliament?
CRISTINA BAGNOLI I  felt the need to undertake a path of civil commitment because of what is happening to our society. We are witnessing a closure towards civil rights, minorities, science, freedom, a dizzying growth of nationalist and sovereign movements, which determines a climate of fear and uncertainty in which hatred is stirring up. We notice a desire to exacerbate the contrasts between different social players, instead of seeking and finding a harmonious synthesis. I believe that courage is needed at a time like this: without fear there can be no courage. We must have the courage to admit and remind those who forgot what Europe has done for us so far and what it can still do

INOUSSA BARA I chose to run because I strongly support the programme of +Europa and I feel the desire to represent the many Italian citizens who became Europeans when they acquired Italian citizenship.

In your opinion, how can we make the European Union closer to its citizens and more effective in responding to their needs?

CRISTINA BAGNOLI: Certainly starting right from the needs and desires of the citizens. Therefore, in this perspective, it is necessary to reinforce the cooperation between local institutions, which are the first contact with the citizens and the territory, the local associations, which gather the actors of the different sectors operating on the territory, transferring the demand to the higher levels and creating a virtuous process. In this way, ad hoc policies can be drawn up that look at the different needs of different urban, rural, mountain and remote areas.

INOUSSA BARA  I  don’t think the European Union has to answer citizens’ questions. The European Union is “the answer” to the wishes of European citizens: a large market where everyone’s dreams can be realized, a heritage of culture and values ​​to be proud of and shared with the world and with the new European citizens.

Which are the three priority areas in which the European Union should do more with the powers that its institutions have at present?

CRISTINA BAGNOLI:Greater education in European citizenship through the strengthening of cultural integration programs, in particular for the new generations: they are not only tools with a strong symbolic value, but authentic and powerful means to form a European identity

Greater attention to social issues: in the last decade the European Union has been seen, partly unfairly, partly motivated, as an institution far from the needs of individuals. It takes courage and foresight to reaffirm human dignity, freedom and well-being as key values ​​of the European renaissance.

Making European decision-making bodies stronger. The United States of Europe project is seen as an ideal but very distant dream: it must become a common and shared goal. A united Europe is the only utopia for which it is worth hoping.

INOUSSA BARA: I would say the foreign policy, from which economic policy choices derive.

If you will be elected to the European Parliament, which will be your priorities and what policies / sectors would you like to focus your work on?

CRISTINA BAGNOLI: Research and innovation. Strengthen research funding to compensate for the steady decline by national governments to support the excellence of our research centers, maintain and increase jobs in the sector. Promote measures aimed at creating hubs between research centers and companies, so that research takes into account the productive reality in which it operates and, at the same time, companies can benefit from those research products aimed at improving processes and quality.

Agriculture. The draft of the next framework program (2021-2027) provides for a reduction for the funds to be allocated to agriculture. With this premise, I would like to commit myself to favoring measures aimed at supporting our territorial agricultural realities, but also at implementing innovative and sustainable techniques for the environment and for human health, especially in relation to food products.

Gender equality and young people. Being part of the first generation that was overwhelmed by the short-sighted measures that created a watershed between the guaranteed rights of certain age groups and those reallocated by the younger age groups, I would like to pursue the concept of intergenerational equity both in terms of employment, both at the pension level, extending it also to the environmental level. Furthermore, as a woman, I would like to carry out effective measures that favor the increase in female employment, which in Italy is well below the European average. Measures that allow women real opportunities to choose, rather than forced choices. Because even women can be free to dedicate themselves exclusively to the family, but also free to pursue a professional career, because they are supported by personal services, without the influence of cultural heritage.

INOUSSA BARA :My desire is to become the “spokesperson” of Italians and new Italians in Brussels.

Full interview to Cristina Bagnoli is available in italian here.

Full interview to Inoussa Bara  is available in italian here.

Francesco Condò

Advertisements

EU Elections: get to know some +Europa italian candidates: Silvja Manzi and Lia Orfei

The ALDE Party IM coordinator for North-West Italy Francesco Condò  submitted some questions to the candidates of +Europa, the Italian liberal party, at the next European elections in the North-West Italy constituency. You can read the full interviews (in Italian) on the Facebook page of the North-West Italy ALDE Party IMs:

Today we publish the answers of Silvja Manzi and Lia Orfei

Why did you choose to run for the European Parliament?
SILVJA MANZI This is a key event. Perhaps never like this time the European elections represent a crucial challenge, between those who want a greater European integration and those who would like to go back in time. I not only want more Europe, but I also want the United States of Europe, because that is the goal: the way to go for a future of peace, greater wellbeing, openness, hope. And that’s why I’m running with +Europa.

LIA ORFEI  After graduating in Statistics in Rome, I felt the need to engage and gain experience abroad in other academic research realities. Thanks to European agreements, I had the opportunity to study and work in various countries: Eurostat in Luxembourg, the University of Lancaster, the University of Cambridge and the Joint Research Center in Ispra. For me and many people of my generation, Europe represented an opportunity and I would like it to continue being an opportunity for others and future generations of young people. We must absolutely contrast the feeling of closure and protectionism that is taking place in different sections of the population and which risks endangering the European project. I am working to transfer this conviction to young people but also to other age groups, because Europe can give so much to everyone.

In your opinion, how can we make the European Union closer to its citizens and more effective in responding to their needs?

SILVJA MANZI: We should start from an electoral system that really brings the voters closer to the elected and from the direct election of the President of the Commission. It would also be essential, even as an antidote to rampant misinformation, to promote European public media, radio and television, to have a common and accessible source of information for all the European citizens.

GIULIA PASTORELLA I believe that the greatest effort to bring citizens closer to the EU is to accelerate towards political and social union; these, together with the single market and the free movement of people, will help to make citizens feel more and more European, because they are included in a community of people where they can have opportunities and, above all, safeguards. In this last field, a form of European unemployment benefit must be introduced as an instrument of economic stabilization.

Which are the three priority areas in which the European Union should do more with the powers that its institutions have at present?

SILVJA MANZI: Enforcing the internal rule of law: the authoritarian tendencies within the EU are not admissible and tolerable, since they undermine the sense and foundation of the European institution;  policies on migrants and asylum; social policies.

LIA ORFEI: Starting from the current situation of powers, the EU could act towards the taxation of commercial transactions of international digital companies in the European continent, towards the harmonization of direct and indirect tax regimes, and towards new objectives of regional funds and social cohesion towards the areas of southern Europe and urban suburbs.

Last,  Innovation: a European public fund to support new and good business ideas by investing an amount equal to those granted to companies by venture capital and private equity funds and a better coordination and support of national Industry 4.0 plans.

If you will be elected to the European Parliament, which will be your priorities and what policies / sectors would you like to focus your work on?

SILVJA MANZI: On the one hand I would work on internal reforms, on the areas I mentioned. On the other hand, I would work on the promotion of human rights: on this topic the Parliament can do a lot and we worked a lot in the years when I was in the EP with the Radical MEPs.

LIA ORFEI: I want to defend the values ​​I believe in: honesty, competence and solidarity. I will carry forward proposals on the topics that I believe most contribute to achieving these values. In particular: innovation, environment and social protection.

Full interview to Lia Orfei is available in italian here.

Full interview to Silvja Manzi is available in italian here.

Francesco Condò

EU Elections: get to know some of +Europa italian candidates: Igor Boni and Giulia Pastorella

The ALDE Party IM coordinator for North-West Italy Francesco Condò  submitted some questions to the candidates of +Europa, the Italian liberal party, at the next European elections in the North-West Italy constituency. You can read the full interviews (in Italian) on the Facebook page of the North-West Italy ALDE Party IMs:

Today we publish the answers of Igor Boni and Giulia Pastorella.

Why did you choose to run for the European Parliament?
IGOR BONI  I have been active in politics down on the streets for over 30 years with the Radicals, fighting for civil and human rights, for the transparency of the institutions and for the United States of Europe. Running for the European Parliament for +Europa is the way to provide my contribution to the concrete building of an alternative to sovereigntists.

GIULIA PASTORELLA I want to give my contribution to strengthen and improve the European Union, which in my opinion is the only political project able to face the challenges of our times. As a young and committed pro-European woman, I hope that many voters will understand these elections are a crossroad: either the EU will continue to be a model of a just and sustainable society, or it will shift backwards and shrink into irrelevance.

In your opinion, how can we make the European Union closer to its citizens and more effective in responding to their needs?

IGOR BONI There is little perception of the benefits of being European citizens even though even ifin every dayeveryday life Europe helps us: we take the train in a station built with European funds, we eat vegetables produced thanks to the common agricultural policy, we attend training courses funded by Europe, we live in a better environment thanks to European directives. To increase the sense of belonging, I believe that it would be appropriate to introduce the direct election of the President of the European Commission.

GIULIA PASTORELLA +Europa has very specific ideas to really show how Europe can be rooted in its territories: a single European web portal to activate and carry out consultations, petitions and initiatives of European citizens; integrated cooperation and planning of local institutions for rural and urban areas coordinated at European level to relaunch sustainable development; financing instruments for the development and cohesion of non-urban and de-industrialised areas through infrastructures, innovative agriculture and building recovery; a plan of lifelong learning so that no one feels left behind. Another way to make Europe closer is through greater integration of public services, starting with ensuring true healthcare mobility within the Union, with minimum standards of care and better distribution of specialized excellence centers on EU territory.Which are the three priority areas in which the European institutions should do more with the powers that they have at present?

Which are the three priority areas in which the European Union should do more with the powers that its institutions have at present?

IGOR BONI I would say that the problem is to be found in the powers that Europe does not have today. This is the major damage I see. Common immigration policies would make it possible to manage the phenomenon without leaving it to the gut of the voters of the Mediterranean countries. A common foreign policy could give answers to the most serious present dossiers: Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela…

GIULIA PASTORELLA: First,  Immigration: approving the Dublin IV Regulation that is currently blocked in the Council of the EU. It would be a step forward in the management of migrants and asylum seekers flows, with a fair relocation mechanism based on GDP and population and criteria for family reunification.

Then,  Rights: as of today a full and equal European citizenship on individual rights issues has not been reached. The rights of a European citizen are currently not transferable to all the member states in the same way, e.g. marriages and adoptions for same-sex couples.

Last,  Innovation: a European public fund to support new and good business ideas by investing an amount equal to those granted to companies by venture capital and private equity funds and a better coordination and support of national Industry 4.0 plans.

If you will be elected to the European Parliament, which will be your priorities and what policies / sectors would you like to focus your work on?

IGOR BONI First of all, I would work on the European institutional reforms to open a process of federation, of direct election of the President, of concrete participation of citizens in the public decisions, of enhancement of the Parliament. Furthermore, I would also deal with the environment, that is the sector I have been working on and studying for over 30 years.

GIULIA PASTORELLA: My program is focused on three axes: a review of the EU structure in the areas of minor competence at present (defense, immigration, taxation). The EU must grow to promote a model of a just, innovative and sustainable society. Then, innovation. To keep pace with international players, the EU must have an industrial and economic policy focused on innovation and new technologies, ensuring that it is developed in an ethical and fair manner. Third, women and young people. As a young woman I know that more could be done to ensure full integration of women in the European economic and social life, especially in the technical-scientific field, and to make sure that being young is not penalizing in a society that looks more to its elders. So if I’ll be assigned to the ITRE, IMCO, LIBE or FEMM committees, I will pursue the themes of innovation for growth and new rights for more opportunities for young people.

The full interview to Igor Boni  is available in italian here.

The full interview to Giulia Pastorella is available (in italian) here 

 

Francesco Condò

European elections – now is the time to act!

Thalia Ntoka, Chair of the Steering Committee of ALDE Individual Members wrote this piece for Liberal Bullettin. We republish it on our blog

23-26 May 2019: save these dates in your calendar and go vote in the European elections.

Before sharing information on ‘how’ and ‘who’, let’s remind ourselves that 2019 can become our year. If not from the perspective of dynamics, then definitely from the basis that the result of these European elections will probably change the way we live.

It is true that people are not interested in the European elections. They seem boring – more than 700 new (and some old) faces will relocate for five years, will get high salaries, will disappear from their countries for a long time, will vote for some legislation we do not understand and five years later, many of them will come back, probably asking for your vote. So, what is the point?

We belong in Europe. For many, Europe is just an idea or a place with boundaries that occasionally change whilst our rights and obligations strictly remain inside the country we live in. This is the biggest myth populists use to convince someone that Europe is just a geographic area with no other function or point.

But let’s first have a look at some facts and then decide whether European elections mean anything at all.

 We have the freedom to travel, live and work everywhere – select one of the EU Member States, and there you are! You think it’s the national parliaments which achieved that? Wrong!

Thanks to Europe, around 500 million people can cross the borders easily and travel without fear. Our common market works no matter what populists say and recently, data became accessible free of roaming charges, so thank you Europe

Do you think that the Single Market is not a European achievement? Well, think again! We now cherish the biggest Single Market in the world when it comes to goods and services. You like a camera and want to purchase it but can’t find it in your country? Go ahead and buy it from Germany, there is no import tax. Big companies work better, millions of employees relocate all the time with no issue, so thank Europe again!

 Many of us don’t really know what wars or border controls are, and if we take a look at the history, we should be thankful for that. It is Europe that managed to create one of the most democratic and peaceful regions in the world and that gave us the ability to not just feel but actually live in freedom.

Are you aware of the Paris Agreement? No matter what climate change deniers say, climate change is here and thanks to the policies of the European Union, we can reduce CO2 emissions to protect our planet and the generations to come. Only recently, an EU strategy on reducing plastic use by 2030 was adopted.

There are many other achievements, of course, but also many challenges.

Brexit, migration, youth unemployment and data privacy issues have recently harmed the trust many have in the European project, but think of how much worse off things could be if there was no common voice or strategy.

As ALDE Individual Members, we are not just seeking for answers but solutions, which will keep Europe and our future safe.

We know how difficult it is to build communities and share our values, but we also know this is not time lost, and we must make up ground the best we can. The time for this has come!

With less than a month to go before the European elections, it is time to become more active than ever. Thankfully, all of us can take action. You can start small by telling your friends to join and support liberal ideas. You can organise events and share the message on why these elections are so important. You can use social media for the right cause, by spreading the message all over Europe. You can get involved in the ALDE Party’s electoral campaign. You can write articles or become vloggers.

Whatever you do, do not stay silent. Do not leave the ground to those who hate Europe, as they are many and they live where we live. We can do better and must show that liberalism is not just an idea but a way of life.

I won’t tell you who to support, you know better, so go and make the right choice for the future of Europe.

On 26 May I will personally celebrate, not only for my birthday, but I will dedicate this special day to you, to us, to Europe!

Thalia Ntoka

AN OPEN LETTER TO FELLOW LIBERALS

In this contribution, Anja Fabiani, ALDE Individual Member and former president of Liberal Democracy of Slovenia describes the liberal situation in her country, just two days before political elections of June 3rd.

—————————————————————————

More than a year ago I was elected as a president of Liberal Democracy of Slovenia – LDS. My aim was to reconstitute liberal party with rich history in Slovenia and to contribute to the development of liberal democracy in Slovenia. Under the play of circumstances I had to resign shortly after.

I believe in liberal democracy, part of me was always a dissident. I listened to punk with the generations who departed from communism and the totalitarian system of Ex- Yugoslavia. Punk was part of our protest, I was of the opposition in the times when the others were position. I am liberal democrat today in Slovenia, where there is no longer popular to be a liberal democrat. I am an individual.

I understand people who today defend the red star in Slovenia, from the point of view of rebellion.

I do not defend the red star, but I do not want right wing parties. Soon we will have elections in Slovenia. Polarisation seems to get more intense.

“Slovenia, our land”, was a slogan of our independence. I am from the family of foreigners. I am only partly Slovenian by nationality. I am an Italian aristocrat and Hungarian Gipsy, among others. Is it possible to tolerate?

I believe in liberal values, in the path of middle, of ratio and understanding. I do not like political extremes. But I like acceptance of differences, all differences. Understanding of Individual and his / her personal fortune. Also individual fortunes of people innocently killed in Slovenia after Second World War. Is it possible to understand such a stance? Is it possible to tolerate?

What does it mean, to be a litmus paper for tolerance? Are litmus papers for tolerance LGBT+ rights? Too many times I have seen lifted eyebrow: “Yes, I am progressive, but gays and lesbians… they exaggerate.” You know, what does it mean?

Are litmus papers for tolerance rights of immigrants? The more political the question gets the more we have to defend them. Because immigrants cannot be allowed to become political weapon.

The weakest members of society cannot be a political weapon. Quite the opposite; exactly trampling on them show the germs of neo- Nazism, of neo- fascism. This is the very core which should be stopped immediately.

I believe in liberal democracy which could be renewed in the spirit of true freedom, true solidarity, understanding of different cultures and social stratums. In non-ideological liberal democracy. In liberal democracy, based on development and science, always corrected by ethics. In liberal democracy, which does not exclude any faith beliefs, but is critical to the abuse of religion. I believe in liberal democracy of marginal groups. I believe in liberal democracy which does not prevent, but enable. Which does not discriminate. Which does not close the borders. Which does not make political capital out of poverty and humiliation. I believe in human liberal democracy, which is able to put barriers to expansion and has a common sense of healthy self- criticism. And more and more I believe in renewal.

Slovenia needs such liberal democracy. Italy needs such liberal democracy. Balkan needs such liberal democracy. The one, who does not see changing society, is blind. This is smart liberalism; adapting to the context of society. And people will understand.

I believe in Europe.

I have just returned from Latin America. I was not a tourist. I was one of them; I wanted to feel how their lives are. More than felt I have experienced their poverty, misery, stamped dignity, but defying in pride; despite. I was in the heart of demonstration. I went out of comfort zone.

When turning back to Europe, I was ashamed. Ashamed of all privileges, which we have and are not aware of. I cannot be ashamed to be born on this beautiful continent; but I could do more in awareness rising of its worth and by trying to help underprivileged Others.

I believe in European liberal democracy. Refreshed, young, human, peaceful, solidary, and non-ideological. I believe it could blossom in Slovenia, in cooperation with other neighbouring countries, also with Balkan. It is minimal path from populism to the more dangerous politics. Slovenes from Primorska, together with Croats from Istria, led first resistance in Europe against fascism.

I believe in such values. And I will still walk on the brink, if necessary. Because it is easier to defeat the precipice, there on the brink.

Anja Fabiani

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

———————————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emanuele Lombardini 

Local elections in Serbia: Get to know one of our individual members, Naim Leo Beširi

On 4 March, not only Italians will vote – as you may have read in earlier blog posts – also citizens of Serbia will go to the polls to elect new local councils. One ALDE individual member, Naim Leo Beširi, is a candidate for the ALDE member party in Serbia, LDP. In this interview by Steering Committee co-chair Thalia Ntoka we present him by asking four questions.

In your biography we read that you have devoted all your career to helping the society in which you live. Can you please name actions where you achieved your goals?

I am most proud of our alumni network. In the framework of the EU integration process, I worked on expanding understanding, knowledge and experience of young people in topics I find important: human and minority rights, public accountability, regional reconciliation and countering violent extremism. In the past ten years, I have had the opportunity to work with more than 10.000 young people through various programmes with an idea to build an open society. Have I succeeded?

When you decide to contribute to the society, you need to accept the fact it is not a super-fast process. It is a mission that asks for daily engagement and devotion to the cause.

I am not sure, but when you decide to contribute to the society, you need to accept the fact it is not a super-fast process. It is a mission that asks for daily engagement and devotion to the cause. You also look for a team of people within which you share your ideas and visions. I recognized this in people from Liberal-Democratic Party and I decided to run for the elections.

What is in your opinion the biggest problem Belgrade faces and what kind of solutions you suggest.

At the time of the most dynamic progress of Eastern European countries, in the 1990s, Serbia was at war with its neighbours and under international sanctions – which resulted in a complete economic collapse of the country. This causes two major problems in Belgrade at the moment: out-dated infrastructure and discrimination of minority groups. We need more openness in Belgrade, to respect and cherish differences. On the other hand, we need private investments in the public sector sphere. We also want to make the budget of our city more citizen friendly and available, so they know where the spending of their tax money goes. As LDP is the only party that unanimously and regardless the consequences supports human rights and freedoms, we also supported causes regarding ongoing issues – LGBT safe house, war crimes memorials and marijuana decriminalisation.

On a scale of 1-10, how liberal would you characterise Belgrade city and why?

NaimLeoB_42I would say 6. Citizens and visitors of Belgrade strive for freedom and progress, but the city administration and legislation are pulling them backwards. It is definitely easier to be LGBT or some other minority in Belgrade than in other cities in Serbia. Society is not ready to accept liberal values that we advocate for more than a decade. We still have debates on whether we should have a Pride parade or not, should we provide assistance to Roma and how the city should develop. Violence against those who are different is not just a mere incident, but everyday life for some of our citizens. This is what we need to deal with. The institutions instead of the market regulate taxi fares, business is over regulated and human rights are not guaranteed to everyone. We subsidise companies from private and public sector for ages, and refuse to accept that it just doesn’t work. We are also refusing to accept the simple and so many times confirmed fact that the state doesn’t have anything to do with the economy and enterprises. We must privatise companies that the city owns and let them do business in the market.

Are young people engaged in politics? If yes, how? If not, how would you encourage them to become more active?

Unfortunately, young people are not involved in politics. Only 8% of the 18-29 population are engaged in politics. Our biggest success of this election campaign is that we managed to involve dozens of young people to participate, more than ever – even to run for city parliament. The motto of our campaign is “New Faces – New Hope for Belgrade”, and we have launched 10-15 young people into the political arena. We already see that this is motivating other young people, and we plan to build on that.

My decision to run for local parliament was affected by my wish to participate and provide an example for other young people.

My decision to run for local parliament was affected by my wish to participate and provide an example for other young people. But, I still understand participation as something more than voting, or even running for office. There are numerous ways to be engaged in politics and I strongly believe that anyone can find his or hers. In Serbia, as in other countries, politics is seen as something dirty, dishonest and even dangerous, especially when we talk about youth. My personal example is there to show that it is possible to get involved with politics but keep your dignity and integrity. The more young people understand that, the more politics will change.


Do you want to learn more about Naim Leo Beširi, check out his website or follow him on Twitter or check the LDP website.

Quanto è dura la vita per un elettore italiano….

In this article Massimo Ricciuti ironically recounts a typical day of the average Italian voter during the election campaign. Politicians’ statements rage in every television, in every newspaper, every minute, in every situation of life. For many it is difficult to find their way in the avalanche of ​​declarations, looking for the only one that convinces. Fortunately, there is more Europe, which always brings good news….  A nice way to close with a smile the Italian election campaign.

Qualcuno si è mai chiesto quali possono essere i sentimenti di un tranquillo cittadino italiano improvvisamente travolto da uno Tzunami elettorale?

Provate a immaginarlo.

Sei stremato perché sei appena tornato a casa da una devastante giornata di lavoro oppure, peggio, sei arrabbiato nero perché non ce l’hai fatta a salire sul treno (il posto fisso, uno straccio di contratto a termine…) e sei senza lavoro (si sa, chi non ha santi in paradiso…).

Vorresti rilassarti. Speri di avere il tempo di stare un pochino con la tua famiglia, ammesso che abbia la fortuna di averne una. Insomma hai un gran bisogno di svuotare il cervello.

Ma c’è qualcosa che te lo impedisce. In fondo sei un bravo cittadino, ti senti partecipe di ciò che ti accade intorno. Allora non hai scampo. Per mesi la tua vita sarà sconvolta e le tue abitudini saltate in aria. Per non parlare delle amicizie, di sicuro qualche amico lo perderai per strada. E poi il tuo umore sarà perennemente pessimo. I tuoi nervi costantemente sulla corda. Avrai acceso la televisione e balzerai da un telegiornale all’altro come un folle. In più il tuo conto dal giornalaio sotto casa subirà un balzo impressionante.

Non ascolterai nessuno che non si chiami Salvini o Berlusconi. Ti toccherà spulciare ogni singola pagina dei dieci quotidiani che hai comprato, anche la Gazzetta dello Sport e Topolino, alla ricerca dell’ultima sparata di Di Maio. E poi dovrai stare attento a ogni fotografia di D’Alema per decriptarne il retro pensiero. Quando finalmente becchi una intervista tutta intera sul Tg1 in fondo già saprai che il tuo cervello già ha fatto partire un’ indagine per cogliere il sottotesto del personaggio di turno. Quando penserai di aver raccolto tutti gli elementi per tentare di comporre lo psicopuzzle uscirà sempre quell’Ansa che ti manderà tutto all’aria. Nel frattempo tua moglie ti chiede dolcemente cosa vorresti per cena, ma tu la mandi a quel paese perché ormai sei nel gioco e la politica ha contagiato anche te fino a succhiarti l’anima. Dici ai tuoi familiari cose che non avresti mai pensato di poter dire, anche perché, in fondo non le pensi, e se poi te lo rinfacceranno tu non te lo ricorderai neanche perché sei posseduto dalla campagna elettorale. Non sei più tu, ma sei solo un elettore in piena crisi di onnipotenza. Sei convinto che la tua vera e unica missione sia quella di anticipare le trame e i sarcasmi di Renzi. Così passi il tempo facendo girare il tuo cervello a mille.

Alla fine ingurgiti in un solo boccone la cena mentre la tua testa è altrove.

Sei convinto che in fondo ce la farai. Non senti tuoi figli chiedere alla mamma “Ma cosa ha papà?”. Sono cose che a te non riguardano, tu decidi i destini del mondo e dal tuo voto dipenderanno i destini di milioni di persone. Hai una responsabilità alla quale non ti puoi sottrarre. Ed è bene che faccia il tuo compito nel migliore dei modi. A te non è concesso sbagliare, tu sei un elettore!!!

Così, alla fine ti metti a letto.

Sei stremato, ma l’adrenalina continua a fare il suo mestiere. Sei giallastro, hai le occhiaie perchè anche stanotte non dormirai ma sveglierai tua moglie convinto di aver trovato la chiave di tutto.

Domani ti alzerai e accenderai la radio per sapere le ultime novità. In ufficio non parlerai d’altro, e inoltre studierai bene i tuoi colleghi per capire da che parte stanno. Eh! Bisogna stare attenti!

Alla fine della campagna elettorale, di solito, non sai più se hai vinto o perso. Ma sai che questa volta sarà diverso. Davvero diverso…. Allora contatti via Fb i tuoi amici di +Europa sperando che ti diano buone notizie.

Nel frattempo ti accorgi che a ogni campagna elettorale comprometti i rapporti con amici e parenti, e in più perdi dieci chili. Per essere un elettore serio bisogna avere la scorza dura.

Massimo Ricciuti

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