Volt - a European party is entering the political arena

, by Daniel Matteo

Volt - a European party is entering the political arena

Volt Europa is a pan-European, progressive movement that wants to change how politics is done in Europe. Last weekend, the German section was founded as a political party in Hamburg. Volt parties will be founded in other countries in the coming months. The short-term goal is to create the first truly European political force and run for European parliamentary elections in May 2019.

Europe is in dire need of a transformation. The currency union is on life support, still unable to deal effectively with asymmetric shocks to the economy - the consequence is economic stagnation and unemployment, especially amongst Europe’s youth. The asylum system has been patched-up, but can break apart with the next hit - the refugee crisis has brought up the worst in Europeans: nations acting (or not acting) at the expense of others, humanitarian rhetoric with only half-hearted action; only two shortcomings that exemplify the need for a European transformation.

But transformation will not come on its own. Citizens will have to organise in such a way that they exert pressure on political elites. While such pressure must come from civil society, it must also come from within: from parliaments and governments throughout Europe.

That is where Volt comes in. Volt wants to transform European politics by entering the political arena, and: • Fighting for reforms that transform Europe into a European democracy, capable to act and responsive to its citizens and strong because of it. Volt is not merely ‘pro-European’ in the sense of defending what has been achieved. It is pro-European, because it aspires to a better future for Europeans

• Refusing to accept the untenable status quo in Europe, particularly when it comes to economic and monetary policy or the migration system. Instead, Volt values the voices of economists and political scientists who have been calling for fundamental reforms in these and other policy areas

• Speaking truth to power: that political inaction is not due to ‘the people are not ready’ but because national elites do not want to relinquish what little of power they think the nation-state can exert in the 21st century

• Emphasising what unites Europeans rather than playing the game of those national elites who - for their own purposes - pit nations against each other: the interests of Europeans align more often across nations than what some make us believe

• Reinvigorating political debate, because it truly believes in democracy and knows how seriously it is now threatened - not just by autocrats throughout the world, not just by extremists in Europe, not just by the lethargy of those in power, but - more fundamentally and more dangerously - by the apathy of the majority of citizens who are continuously losing trust and passion for the democratic system

• Injecting a desperately needed dose of urgency into European politics - without alarmism, but with ambitious plans

• Fighting the historical dementia of nationalists as well as the political short-sightedness of status quo political mainstream

• Rekindling the imagination of Europeans by setting out a bold vision for Europe

• Instilling hope again: by taking action against all odds, by putting innovative ideas forward, debate by debate, conversation by conversation, election by election.

Volt strives toward being the first truly European political party, not a heterogenous party family. European party families’ national policies often contradict each other. And their ‘European’ policies rarely amount to more than a merging of national parties’ policies - the result is often the lowest common denominator.

What Europe needs instead is European solutions for European problems. Some parties will agree with that in rhetoric, but will not live up to it in practice. Volt started with what it sees as European challenges and developed European policies in a team from across Europe. And only now is it developing national political programmes, tailored to the challenges of each country, but in line with European positions. The result is going to be a coherent political programme that Volt can, if successful, pursue on the European and national level.

A political force like Volt can, If it gains traction, begin to disrupt the system. It represents another immediate, tangible threat to re-election for the status quo political mainstream – only this time, not from nationalists but from Europeans. As much as the nationalist threat has shifted political discourse in one direction, the European threat to re-election can shift discourse in the other: so that we start talking about how to bring Europe into the 21st century, not back into the 19th/20th century Europe of nation-states.

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