“Imagine that everybody is taking part in the elections”

Letter to Europe from Manuel Gath

, by Manuel Gath, Translated by Vincent Lokhamp

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English]

“Imagine that everybody is taking part in the elections”
“This is the time for pro-European civil society actors, including the Young European Federalists, to become even more active.”

Imagine that everybody is taking part in the elections – in order to reach this goal, we have a long way to go. This is a passionate letter to Europe from Manuel Gath, the Federal Chairman of Young European Federalists Germany.

Imagine it’s the elections and everybody is turning out – we have a long way to go to get there. This is a passionate letter to Europe from Manuel Gath, the Federal Chairman of Young European Federalists.

Dear Europeans,

In the last few weeks a good piece news was almost lost in the media coverage: after eight years, Greece has officially left the European safety net. This is good and an indicator that the economy is changing for the better. Moderate economic growth rates might beg the assumption that the economic crisis in Europe is over. The new German government was seen as a new dawn for Europe and celebrated as a huge success; it was seen as the new hope for European reforms. There was an answer for Macron! A new energy in the debate about how to arrange Europe’s future! Is this not the time for great optimism?

Let’s take it one by one. Not only has the German government put the brakes on reforms, but the time it so bought will be paid for heavily in the coming years. A right-wing nationalist FPÖ government rules in Austria, the populist 5-Star Movement, together with the nationalist Lega Nord, remain the strongest in Italy and Victor Orban secured another two-thirds victory with his party, putting a stop to liberalism in Hungary. And that is without even mentioning the coming elections in Poland, set to take place in 2019. Democratically elected and legitimate parliamentary majorities are enabling Eurosceptic parties, which feed off the discontent of the people. As a result, communication between former parties becomes harder to achieve, visions are discarded and nationalistic thinking is celebrating a Renaissance.

What does this mean for the upcoming European elections of May 2019, what opportunities does it bring? The answer is clear: a lot! Every five years the public attention drifts towards the EU and its future. Across the whole of Europe, we will talk soon enough about what challenges we face and what solutions the different parties have to offer.

This is the time for pro-European actors in civil society, like the Young European Federalists, to be more active and to take the work of the last years into account. We have to push our ideas forward and encourage European citizens to use their privilege of voting. In 2014, JEF members in Germany were on tour, with the aim of saving Europe. In 2019 we should do this on a European scale, and put out a clear message to all pro-European politicians: ‘Europe means doing it better.’

It will be the task of the parties to organize their campaigns across Europe. Put more focus on the leading candidates, even if they are not German. Connect your party with its European counterpart through common events, election events and slogans, talking everything you can see in the elections. On the other hand, citizens should demand answers to long-established questions: How do we make the Eurozone more stable for the future? How can we have a new policy for refugees and migrants based on principals of humanism and solidarity? When will we get rid of the border controls inside the EU? How do we invest in the future? Which public duties can and should be carried out by the EU? What resources does it need for this? What can the role of the EU be for social cohesion inside the Union? How do we take a stand as a political union against other players on the international level? This has to be the time for answers. The source of discontent about how the EU functions is here. When you point out the problems, you also have to provide solutions.

It is our responsibility to put an end to the era of empty words, of the enduring mountain of bureaucracy and the tentative buying of time, and to set the stage for real political progress. This will bring up the real question: How do we want to live together on this continent? I am sure you will motivate a lot of people to vote. The message has to be clear: Vote to fight a feeling of lethargy. Voting is power! Make it loud and clear. Let us step forward and let us make it together.

With federalist greetings,

Manuel Gath

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