Category Archives: Elections

AN OPEN LETTER TO FELLOW LIBERALS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I believe in Europe.

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

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

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

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

Anja Fabiani

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emanuele Lombardini 

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

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

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

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

You can read here the first set of interviews


Candidates we present today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin Mc Namara and Emanuele Lombardini

Italian political elections 2018, ALDE Individual members candidates: get to know them/1

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

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

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Candidates we present today:

YURI GUAIANA

Born in Cantù, province of Como in 1974, president of Certi Diritti Association, LGBT Activist. Member of Radicali Italiani, former president of ALDE Individual Members. Candidate for Deputees Chamber at  “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Lombardia 02.

SJLVIA MANZI

Born in Foggia in 1973, she lives in Turin. Tresaurer of Radicali Italiani, ALDE Individual Member. Leader candidate for Deputees Chamber at “Uninominale” (Single name list) in Turin 02 and at  “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Piemonte 1, Lazio 1, Campania 1, Campania 2

CARMELO PALMA

Born in Turin in 1969, journalist, editor in  chief of political study on line magazine “Strade”, ALDE Individual Member and member of Radicali Italiani. Candidate for Senate at  “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Piemonte 1, Piemonte 2, Lombardia 2, Lombardia 3, Lombardia 4.

DIANA SEVERATI

Born in Milan 1976, she lives in Rome where she works as trainer and consutant in crowfunding sector. Member of Radicali Italiani and ALDE Individual Member. Candidate for Senate at  “Plurinominale” (More name list) in Veneto 01, Veneto 02, Trentino Alto Adige 01, Friuli Venezia Giulia 01, Lazio 02, Lazio 03

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

Yuri Guaiana I’ve been a Radical for all my life and I subscribe to all their liberal views, since individual freedom is at the core of my political identity – but +Europa goes beyond the Radicals. It’s a political project which makes Europe a priority for Italy. In these times of rampant Euroscepticism, we are the only party who dare to say that we need more Europe and that this is in our interest. Europe gave Italy more economic stability and more civil rights. To tackle migration, we need common European borders. We want a federal Europe where responsibilities are clear and people, not only nation states, count.

Sjlvia Manzi +Europa, in Italy – and not only in Italy – is a need. We are living through a period that will be studied in the history books if we don’t reverse the course. Next generations will ask themselves how we allowed the return of nationalism and populism. This is the reason why, even in a country with strong European tradition like Italy, we must reaffirm that the solution to our problems is not less Europe, but more rights, more democracy, more freedom and, therefore, more Europe.

Carmelo Palma. First, it means reversing the rhetoric of victimhood that many have towards the EU and reversing the decline of fiscal responsibility and financial stability in Italy as Europe has become the scapegoat for problems that have been caused in Rome.

The public debt, which has dug a chasm beneath the feet of future generations, has been the product of national political choices. The imbalances of our social security system arise from a parasitic use of the public budget as a means of “remuneration”. In Italy, the exchange vote was not legal, but taxpayers are paying the price of this sale.

The EU is the life boat keeping Italy afloat. Outside the Eurozone and without ECB support, we would not be able to refinance its public debt. +Europa means for us +Italy. Without the common market and without the four freedoms – the free movement of goods, capital, services and people – the Italian economy, with its export-oriented manufacturing vocation, would simply die.

Diana Severati Europe has guaranteed us peace, a free market, freedom of movement and opportunity for young people, such as Erasmus. We are saying yes to this Europe we have but More Europe means to me more liberty, more rights, more democracy, more growth, more sustainability,  more union rights, more knowledge, more equity, and more jobs.

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

Yuri Guaiana Italy faces a huge populist threat which can harm not only Italy but the EU itself. To fight it, we need to change many things starting from the relationship between the State and us citizens. For far to many years we have increased our public debt jeopardizing the future of young Italians. The disregard for them is shocking and that’s why populism and euro skepticism is high among the youngsters. We need to freeze public expenditures to contain the public debt and start reducing taxis, especially for free lancers who are the most vexed and the youngest workers. We need to do away with all the red tape that makes it harder to interact with the public administrator. We need to support more scientific  research and technological development. In a nutshell, we need to create more opportunity, specially for young people.

Sjlvia Manzi Italy’s big problems are still those linked to the blocks of party power. We must not delude ourselves: even new movements, that define themselves as ’different’ have perfectly fitted to the ‘parties system’ and have become the new bishops of it. This is why those of us that become +Europa MPs will have as priority the respect for the rules, legality, and the rule of law.

Carmelo Palma The biggest problem is restoring a honesty to politics and creating a politics that recognizes and faces problems. If one thinks of treating a country with a lot of debt with even more debt is a good outcome, then it shows that our political culture is very debased and out of touch.

What we risk is a phenomenon of collective alienation, like the one that brought British voters to vote for Brexit, which will not put an extra pound in the pockets of families in the United Kingdom and risks taking it away in the medium and long term, much more than what they thought was extracted from them by Brussels.

I give another example: we live in a country that in 2017 had a negative demographic balance – the relationship between births and deaths – of 180,000 individuals, the worst after that of the First World War, with the worst fertility rate in Europe of 1.2 children per woman of childbearing age. Yet we continue to consider immigration a problem when it is the only possible and immediate solution to the deterioration of the demographic structure of the population.

Diana Severati I think that the biggest problem Italy faces at the moment is public debt. Public debt is a real threat causing financial instability and market trust crisis.

+Europa proposes to freeze the nominal value of public debt for the next five years by cutting subsidies dangerous to the environment, main house subsidies and subsidies to businesses  (especially in the agricolture and manufacture sectors). There are also the spending review lists by Carlo Cottarelli and Roberto Pierotti, ready to be implemented.

Making Italy free from public debt would allow the country to better face the European integration process.

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?

Yuri Guaiana I am running as +Europa candidate precisely because I’m an individual member of ALDE Party, not despite it. Doing politics cannot be confined to one affiliation. I’m doing politics as a Human Rights activist, as an Individual Member of ALDE Party and as a candidate with +Europa. ALDE Party has been running a very effective campaign called #ValuesFirst. That’s for me what politics is about: study and work hard to enhance my liberal values and translate them into policies and laws. This campaign is another way to engage with people on crucial matters and fundamental values that today, more than ever, are at stake. If I am elected, I will help translate them into policies and laws within the institutions, but If I don’t I’ll keep doing politics and translate my values into polices and laws from outside the institutions. As Radicals, we are pretty good at that, as we showed with the laws on divorce, abortion and, more recently, on civil unions and living wills.

Sjlvia Manzi. It should certainly more courage. Apart from transnational lists idea, it is overall the election mode for MEPs that should be reformed in a way to allow a real closeness between elected and voters. This is what Europe needs more. I choose to run as a candidate to try to realize the Liberal European Federalist dream, chasing Altiero Spinelli and Marco Pannella (Italian radical leader ndr) tradition.

Carmelo Palma. I am member of a pro-European party, but I think the most promising prospect for the political consolidation of the Union is that of building pan-European parties. Without parties that think of themselves as Europeans, it will be difficult to imagine a European policy that is not a sum or an average of national policies. If we look at the great European political families, including ours, there are not only evident differences between the different national parties that compose them, but there is a substantial impossibility of thinking of the European as a truly unified political dimension. It is illusory to think of an EU that exceeds the states that compose it. But it is also illusory to think that the only level of political organization and representation is that of the state and that it is possible together to make a European policy. What led me to nominate myself? The awareness that, as Mitterand said, nationalism is war.

Diana Severati Individual Members are not a party themselves but their role is to activate the dialogue with existing member parties, trying also to influence them.

National parties, at the moment, are still needed and they should put United States of Europe on their agenda.

Being an ALDE IM, running as a candidate is an added value. Indeed, this is the reason why I decided to become a candidate. My goal is to defend the European project and all that means: rights, Erasmus, circulation and integration in order to create an unique identity within all Member States. In this way, Italy will be similar to other countries, such as France, Germany or Dutch, without being the Hungary with Orban.

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?

Sjlvia Manzi Because varied and numerous liberal movements in Italy do not have the courage to unite  – preferring to claim a more past without having competence and humility to look to the future. On the other hand, there remain some seemingly insurmountable differences, among ‘so called’ right wing liberals and ‘so called’ left wing liberals.

It’s time to overcome these differences: liberals and democrats, in my opinion, should be as liberal in economical topics as they are individual freedom strenuous defenders.

Carmelo Palma. Liberal Democratic parties in Italy have never emerged in the last century from a strongly minoritarian dimension. While, for many decades, they played a decisive role in the balance of government and today they are mostly extra-institutional forces, lacking sufficient electoral consistency to win seats and metamorphose into politically accredited interlocutors. I hope that +Europa can reverse this process. I do not delude myself that we can win the election, but I think we can bring back a force that is openly liberal democratic within institutions and at the heart of political discussion.

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?

Yuri Guaiana +Europa does appeal to Italians living overseas. We have great candidates in all the overseas constituencies and the European one is obviously the most important. Many Italians left Italy – for the UK, but also for Spain and Germany – because there were no chances here for them. I’m talking about chances to find a job or, if they are LGBT, to marry the person they love, for instance. They know better than any other what the problems are in Italy and I’m confident they will support us. I don’t think Italians in the UK are any different to Italians in Spain, Germany or anywhere else, but they certainly know very well the problems that Brexit causes to the UK and to European citizens in the UK. I’m confident they will support our pro-European message

Diana Severati +Europa is directly appealing to Italian people living in the UK. We have candidates for Europe, Americas and Asia. For people living in London, a fundraising dinner with Benedetto Della Vedova will take place on the 19th of February.

Kevin Mc Namara and Emanuele Lombardini

 

Video interview with italian undersecretary at the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs Benedetto Della Vedova

In this video interview made by our blog coordinator Emanuele Lombardini, the Italian undersecretary at the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs Benedetto Della Vedova, also one of the founders of the liberal democratic list + Europa, talks about the need to bring back Europe at the center of the Italian political debate and of the  role of the EU for a real Italian growth

Interview was made during an electoral event organized in Terni, middle of Italy, by + Europa.  Italian language, english subtitles.

+EUROPA, NO MORE SIGNATURES TO COLLECT: A GREAT VICTORY FOR LIBERALISM AND DEMOCRACY

In this contribution, our blog coordinator Emanuele Lombardini, talks about some important news regarding +Europa, the new liberal democratic and pro-European Italian movement: it will be allowed to compete in the next political elections thanks to a gesture of democracy made by a very different party.

Liberalism in Italy is still alive. Not that it had ever died, for heaven’s sake, but certainly the long absence from Parliament of a true party that expresses liberal democratic and pro-European values ​​has, over the years, contributed a lot to lowering the awareness among Italian people of the importance of the EU for national growth, giving space to populists and neo-fascist drifts.

In a press conference, former European Commissioner Emma Bonino, and one of the leaders of +Europa, announced the new pro-European, federalist and liberal democratic Italian movement will not anymore have to collect signatures and will be officially allowed to compete in the next election race.  The news has enormous importance for European and Italian Liberalism because Italian voters now have the chance to choose a really liberal democratic proposal, the only real opposition to the racist and populist drift that is slipping country into chaos.

This was made possible thanks to Bruno Tabacci, a politician whose roots are very far from Emma Bonino’s.  Tabacci is founder and leader of Centro Democratico, a small Catholic-inspired party born of one of the many splits of the ancient Democrazia Cristiana. During the same press conference Tabacci announced that Centro Democratico will  join +Europa. Tabacci’s party is already represented in the Italian Parliament after the 2013 elections (it gained a seat as part of “Italia Bene commune” coalition), and this fact gives +Europa the right to compete in the next electoral round. According to Italian law, all the parties present in the current parliament are automatically allowed to compete in the next one, whether they present themselves alone or together with a group of parties under a common symbol and name.

Centro Democratico and Tabacci therefore become the fourth member of + Europa, alongside Radicali Italiani, Forza Europa and political association Movimenta.

Bruno Tabacci’s decision has great importance because it recognises two important aspects: firstly that Italy absolutely needs a really liberal democratic and europeist party (Partito Liberale Italiano choose to join the centre right side, together with populists and nationalists) and secondly that it is important that each party has the same chances to compete. Tabacci said: “I want my gesture to be considered a contribution to democracy. I decided to make the symbol of my party available for +Europa to recover a dimension of freedom that I consider fundamental. If there had not been Emma Bonino’s list we would all have been poorer”. This decision was really a great message of democracy: even if Radicali and CD share some challenges and topics, they are very far apart in some other areas. It must be said that in the 2014 European elections Centro Democratico appeared alongside  liberal democratic movements in Italy: the white and orange CD symbol was within the one of “Scelta Europea con Guy Verhofstadt” and Tabacci was also one of the unlucky candidates on the same list. Tabacci himself took part in the last pro-European meeting that was held in Rome and of which Liberal Words wrote: “It’s time to take a step towards democracy. This is why I was there, at a pro-European gathering in Rome – he said – Our different points of view in some topics are not a problem”.

Tabacci is the only politician who took concrete action to save the chance to give Italian voters the chance to choose a pro-European proposal.  Other politicians, both in centre-left and in the centre-right side, only expressed words of appreciation for Emma Bonino, but none of them gave any real help to reduce or avoid the collection of signatures. It was only thanks to an amendment within the budget law, after a letter written by  Emma Bonino, Forza Europa leader Benedetto Della Vedova and Radicali Italiani secretary Riccardo Magi to premier Paolo Gentiloni, that +Europa obtained permission to reduce the required number of signatures to be collected from 50.000 to 25.000. So now, no more signatures are needed. But both Radicali Italiani and Forza will remain committed together to fight the new electoral law, a fight for democracy: other lists in fact do still have the trouble of collecting signatures.

European liberalism can therefore hope to have its representatives in the Italian government, which is certainly a big step forward compared to the past. But it’s only now that the real battle begins.  Many people in Italy believe that + Europe may be the real surprise of the upcoming elections and that it can also attract the votes of some disgruntled people who in the past had supported the Democratic Party, especially if +Europa presents itself alone, without allies.

Emma Bonino is a widely respected politician and her battles have reached cross-party to create consensus among the various political affiliations. This is driving + Europa, that now seems much closer than before to reach 3% of voters, the minimum in order to elect their representatives in Parliament if they choose to go alone (while within a coalition it is sufficient to reach 1%) and that is why now the Democratic Party, until now very closed to discuss about an alliance,  reopened the dialogue in the search of a political agreement. The race to bring Europe back to the centre of Italian political debate has begun!

Emanuele Lombardini