Category Archives: politics

WHY EUROPEAN LIBERAL LEADERS WILL LEAD THE WAY

In this contribution, Anja Fabiani, our individual members country coordinator from Slovenia, describes why European and liberal leaders will grow in importance and will become a role model for any other leadership in the international scene over the next few years.

Smart power leadership is essential for future leaders. More than this; it’s the driving force behind successful global leadership. We understand it as a metaphor; it is not about the concrete leadership process or a leader as a personality.

Smart power leadership means  the combination of various sources and strategies, of hard and soft approaches, all dependent on context. Different players constitute the social and political reality, they interact with each other and contribute to the changes in the same way that conventional leaders once did. Civil society and cyber revolution are part of it. This means radical democratisation as other forms of hegemony fall apart.

The process of Enlightenment is unfinished. It never will be complete but  it has revived the contra revolution of religious and other ideological belief systems. Today, Society is not threatened neither by class, nor by God warriors – endless expansion threatens it. Future leaders will show their capacity when referring to the frame of limitation; how they will relate to Others (third World, powerless…) and to technological and scientific developments.

European worth lies in the heritage of its intellectual diversity.

European worth lies in the heritage of its intellectual diversity. Not in the civilizational elitism nor in the mimicry of ideologies alone but in an interaction of both. United in truth; It is the different intellectual and cultural models, arisen from Europe’s past, which today form the new reality. This is the context of smart power and the potential of European leadership. It could be a role model for any other leadership outside when properly understood. It is renewed; it is newly enlightened.

Transformative leadership is the leadership which addresses the exchange of needs and targets values of liberty or justice. It is inspirational, not pushy; it reaches out to the liberal norms. Transactional leadership is harder; but combination is the perfect harmony.

So, why is the future leader European and liberal?

In understanding the process of changing global society, it is never just European, but it carries its essential part: self-limitation with ratio, self-consciousness of diversity and claim for peaceful co-existence.

The new leader flies on the wings of freedom, only by personal choice and in full interaction with Others, with full respect to Equality, Fraternity and Liberty and with the reference to Moral Imperative.

They will never allow others to limit their Freedom, not with vain ideas, nor fixed ideology, and never by terror.

The future European liberal leader is Millennial

The future European liberal leader is Millennial,  they turn the world upside down and shake it because they know that everything is meant to be change.

It is about the dance of existence in the heart of Europe. It is about freedom when there will no longer be a need to explain what freedom is or where Europe is placed. Leadership as such will transcendent its meaning.

Until then, we, all leaders, are the force behind and have the responsibility to understand.

Europe faces challenges, which are bound to stoke tensions between security and freedom. We should act united, in common defence, but open. Real threat lies not in openness but in the tension toward it, in extremism or radicalisation.

Liberals should move forward to bright horizons of centre. Why are we always in third or fourth place? Why not first? It feels so natural.

The first real smart power leadership

Individual membership of ALDE Party is a genius idea because it is a grassroots movement, which involves the spectrum of civil society, but is a part of political family, which lets people act on both levels. Truly democratic. We could name it: the first real smart power leadership. The challenge for the future will be to maintain its purity –people acting with no power aspirations, loyal to ideals – but still maintaining influence on decision-making processes. On the other hand, Europe as a value, has never been more important. It is  now centre-stage.

We have a chance as never before. Towards smart leadership: the first step is to build transnational European lists, to have transnational delegates to European structures, to have European citizenship and to federalise the continent in a completely new way.

Go for it. Stand up for it.

Be the inspiration and the transformation.

Anja Fabiani

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TRANSFORMING THE BREXIT DEBACLE INTO A VICTORY FOR EUROPEAN DEMOCRACY: THE CASE FOR TRANSNATIONAL LISTS

In this contribution, Sebastien Martin from France, discusses how to transform Brexit into a chance for European Democracy and relaunch the topic of transnational lists for the European Parliament. In particular, he supports Emmanuel Macron’s idea to use the 73 UK seats.

Back in the 1950s, the three European founding treaties stated that “the European Parliament shall consist of delegates who shall be designated by the respective Parliaments from among their members in accordance with the procedure laid down by each Member State”. But, already fixing their aim higher, they gave to the Parliament the task to “draw up proposals for elections by direct universal suffrage in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States”. The first point is, as we all know, a reality since the European Electoral Act of 1976, which enabled the first European elections by direct suffrage three years later. The second point though – a uniform procedure covering a pan-European circumscription – remained, until now, unachieved

  1. The constitutional framework: the step back of the Treaty of Amsterdam

For more than 40 years, all constitutional amendments have maintained the idea that a single uniform procedure for European elections was the main objective of any future efforts to modify the Electoral Act. Unfortunately, the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) revised those ambitions downward by creating the option of having elections held “in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States or in accordance with principles common to all Member States” (now Article 223(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)).

The same treaty encouraged the Council, a few years later, to amend the Electoral Act of 1976. In its original Article 7, the Act contemplated only – as the founding treaties – a uniform electoral procedure. In 2002, the Council cut short this option with a very laconic formulation, whereby “the electoral procedure shall be governed in each Member State by its national provisions”.

2. The institutional procedure: the blocking of the European Council

The Treaty of Maastricht (1992), the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, contained a second paragraph regarding the procedure to be specifically followed to amend the 1976 Act, and which has been later defined as a “special legislative procedure” by the Treaty of Lisbon (2007). In what is now Article 223(2) of TFEU, the Parliament has the exclusive right to initiate the procedure reforming the Electoral Act, but its proposal shall be unanimously approved by the Council and ultimately ratified by each Member State as per its own constitutional requirements.

In 2011, former Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff (ALDE, UK), then-Chair of the EP’s Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO), prepared a project of reform which unfortunately failed to reach the plenary assembly. Instead, the European Parliament opted in 2013 for mere recommendations to the Member States. A second proposal, backed by Danuta Hübner (EPP, Poland) and Jo Leinen (S&D, Germany), has finally been voted in plenary by the Parliament on 11 November 2015. Since then, the project has been blocked by the European Council which argued, not directly on the point of transnational lists but rather on the official recognition of Spitzenkandidaten, that its prerogatives were being diminished by the proposal.

3. A perfect alignment of the stars – but citizen support might be the ultimate element to tip the scales

The European Parliament, in its latest resolution on Brexit dated 5 April 2017, has reiterated its willingness to move forward on the reform of the Electoral Act, implicitly making the connection between the transnational list initiative and the UK seats which will become vacant.

Macron, since the start of its French presidential campaign, made clear that transnational lists were one of the priorities of En Marche’s European policy and that the 73 UK seats shall be used to support the initiative. Now elected, Mr. Macron is de facto a member of the European Council, which raises the hopes that the Council’s position will finally move forward on the topic – probably at the cost of concessions to be made to some other provisions of the European Parliament’s proposal.

In a world where citizens are more willing to take the power back into their own hands, online petitions are a powerful tool to bring legitimacy and weight to overcome institutional lethargy. And we, as ALDE’s Individual Members, have a duty to raise public awareness on the ongoing debates, support our ALDE Group in Parliament, and ask our recently elected Delegates to testify about our unconditional commitment at the next Party’s Congress and Council meetings.

As Andrew Duff wrote in a recent article for the European Policy Center, “the time for such a radical reform is now. The introduction of European lists would at a stroke Europeanise the European elections and re-invent the Parliament”. Let’s make sure that ALDE is pushing as hard as possible to transform the Brexit debacle into a victory for European democracy. The countdown has already begun.

Sebastien Martin

IL POPULISMO, IL FASCISMO E IL MEZZOGIORNO IN UN’EUROPA CHE CAMBIA

In this blog post (in Italian) Massimo Ricciuti describes the situation in Italy, the return of ‘fascist’ ideas and possible liberal solutions. Furthermore, he explains the particular situation in Southern Italy

In queste settimane, immediatamente successive alla tornata delle elezioni amministrative in Italia,  alle presidenziali e successivamente alle legislative francesi (oltre quelle inglesi) sono emerse questioni drammaticamente importanti che ci toccano da vicino. C’è una crisi generalizzata delle istituzioni democratiche, è vero e tale crisi fa immediatamente affrontata. Ma il punto più preoccupante che è emerso in questi giorni è la sfacciata ricomposizione di gruppi e forze politiche dichiaratamente fasciste. Purtroppo la questione è generalizzata e coinvolge tutta l’Europa.  E’ quindi quanto mai urgente porsi il problema di “quale Europa” ci sia bisogno.

Cambiare per superare la ‘transizione permanente’

E’ ormai acclarato che siamo definitivamente entrati in quella che si chiama “fase di transizione permanente”. La qual cosa ci pone di fronte a rimetterci continuamente in discussione come cittadini di un’Europa che se vuol davvero essere all’altezza delle sfide della contemporaneità deve fare del “cambiamento” il suo elemento distintivo. Il cambiamento (o anche crisi) è parte fondamentale della vita dei singoli ma anche delle istituzioni. Ma il cambiamento spesso fa paura e non è un caso che il sentimento dominante oggi è la paura. Le società contemporanee sono afflitte da questa sensazione di incapacità di affrontare il nuovo e ecco che trovano terreno fertile forze politiche e gruppi che si reggono proprio sulla paura. Ma abbiamo il dovere della memoria. E deve essere sempre presente la cognizione che le peggiori dittature sono diretta espressione dell’incapacità dei singoli e delle istituzioni di reagire positivamente alle fasi di crisi (cambiamento). Dalla Brexit all’Ungheria, dal fenomeno Le Pen fino allo scampato pericolo populista in Olanda e continuando fino all’Italia si può dire che l’Europa si sia battuta con tenacia impedendo l’imporsi di una egemonia reazionaria e illiberale. Ma è vero che nel frattempo elementi di forte preoccupazione si sono palesati in tutti i Paesi membri della UE. Non nascondiamoci dietro allo scampato pericolo…perché qualcosa che brucia c’è, e solo un’ Europa rinnovata e più forte può far fronte a segnali spesso intollerabili e sfacciati. Un’Europa che spesso è proprio il bersaglio principale di sovranisti di ogni risma. Per esempio, non è casuale quello che sta accadendo in Italia oggi.

Il ritorno di nostalgie ‘fasciste’  e come superarle

Proprio in questi giorni si sta discutendo, in Parlamento, della possibilità di estendere il reato di apologia del fascismo anche su web e di inasprire le pene per chi commette tale reato. La reazione delle destre populiste (Salvini, Fratelli d’Italia e il Movimento Cinque Stelle di Grillo) sì è subito fatta sentire. Tra l’altro in questi partiti vi sono molti assessori, consiglieri comunali e regionali che non fanno mistero di inneggiare a Benito Mussolini e al nazifascismo.

Credo di non essere il solo a essere preoccupato per tutto questo.

Di sicuro si tratta dell’ennesimo fenomeno che segnala una debolezza di tenuta della forma della democrazia rappresentativa e dei suoi meccanismi di funzionamento ma anche di una sensazione di lontananza delle istituzioni che devono rispondere a nuove urgenze che la contemporaneità richiede.

Però risulta evidente che esiste una questione “fascista” , in Italia, mai metabolizzata e risolta. E’ come se ci fosse una sorta di “rimozione” psicologica…. E spesso accade che chi si macchia del reato di apologia del fascismo non viene perseguito ma tollerato. Questo fa pensare che in fondo questo Paese non abbia mai affrontato realmente il ventennio fascista e forse ne abbia quasi nostalgia!

Mussolini viene ricordato come un “nonno” severo e nulla più dalla maggior parte degli italiani,  la cosa è drammatica.

Per questo occorre subito smettere di rincorrere i populisti e le loro tematiche. Occorre puntare sull’Europa come propulsore di democrazia e civiltà. Occorre rilanciare l’open society contro i sovranismi di ogni tipo.

La ‘Questione meridionale’: clientele da superare

Esiste, inoltre, un’altra questione che riguarda il mezzogiorno d’Italia e il ruolo che dovrebbe avere in un’Europa che sia protagonista dei cambiamenti che riguardano i Paesi che affacciano sul Mediterraneo. Un’Europa che sappia governare i cambiamenti e che stimoli e sproni zone come il sud-Italia a essere partecipe del presente e artefice del proprio futuro e non vittima di ataviche cattive abitudini e atteggiamenti conservatori. E’ proprio dalla presa di coscienza delle proprie possibilità che il sud e i Paesi mediterranei potranno (nel medio periodo) essere un volano per  tutta l’Europa visto il ruolo che potrebbero avere su un’area in cui gli scambi commerciali, culturali e economici offrono ambi margini e occasioni di sviluppo e crescita. Ma il Mezzogiorno di Italia la smetta di perpetuare modelli di governo locale plebiscitari, peronisti e clientelari! Abbia la forza di scommettere su se stesso e sulle proprie capacità di saper attrarre investimenti. Dimostri di saper sfruttare le sue naturali risorse e “faccia sistema” con il resto del Paese e si faccia parte propulsiva di un nuovo progetto di rilancio europeo che parta dal mediterraneo…. E vedrete che con un po’ di rigore e una decisa assunzione di responsabilità il sud potrà essere nel giro di un decennio l’esempio di un nuovo modo di fare impresa. Un ponte di opportunità per tutta l’ Europa. Un ruolo strategico (non è un caso che la base NATO di Napoli sia stata scelta come riferimento europeo per la lotta al terrorismo)

A patto che si smetta con nostalgie nefaste…

Massimo Ricciuti

European democracy reloaded (or pruned)

In this blog post, Leonardo De Melo talks about the future of the European Union, primarily for young people who do not remember a time when the Union didn’t exist. Leonardo leads a thoughtful discussion on what future these young people will inherit, particularly concerning education and employment opportunities. Finally, Leonardo discusses the need for Government transparency and openness. Continue reading European democracy reloaded (or pruned)