A new political party, and a new wave of extremism?
Following the incorporation of Volt Deutschland in Hamburg and a long Sunday night watching the Italian elections until late, I felt two strong contrasting emotions.
On the one hand, the privilege of witnessing the founding of our first national chapter filled me with happiness and pride. Almost 50 Europeans travelled from all over the country to make Volt even more real. Almost 50 Germans - among them students hoping for a better future, professionals that believe that a good job and a good wage are not enough if our society stays flawed, pensioners that are worried for their grandchildren - went through hours of passionate discussions, note-taking, exciting decisions and to finally stand as one. Almost 50 citizens decided to stand up, and not give in to a gloomy future.
On the other hand, the excitement for this great achievement for our movement was soon paired with a feeling of anger, when the first projections of the Italian elections came in. After witnessing extremists achieving historical heights in France, gaining 90 seats in the German parliament, and joining the governing coalition in Austria, the electoral earthquake in Italian peninsula ringed a bell inside me; the same bell that ringed the day of Brexit, when I decided to create this movement.
When the soon-to-be 3rd largest economy of the EU will be ruled by a far-right party, and/or an anti-vaccines movement, we have to act. When in almost every constituency of one of the biggest disadvantaged areas of Europe – the south of Italy – the same anti-vaccines party is chosen by more than 50% of the population, something is happening. When the future Prime Minister of this same country will be either one that has so far refused every public debate with other political leaders, or one that would “drop every refugee back on the African shores with a bag of peanuts,” we have to stand up and oppose this.
In Volt, many of us feel divided between the excitement of being part of something great, innovative, and hopeful, and the fear of not being fast enough, and being too late to steer the tide of this continent. That’s why I am writing this; to share a few concrete actions that we need to act upon to make sure that our excitement brings about change, that our fears are channeled into the motivation needed to achieve our vision, and that our movement changes European political landscape, for good.
Europe is a great mean, not an end in itself: Our aims are to increase the effectiveness of our public administrations, bring sustainable growth and economic opportunities, curb inequalities, fight for a better future , give everyone a voice, ensure peace and cooperation within this continent & beyond, and so much more. To achieve this, we have to reform the EU and strengthen it. However, we shall not fall into the mistake of loving Europe for the sake of loving it; blind patriotism - both at European and national level – has hardly ever brought any good. We love Europe because of the great benefit that has brought on our lives, and we will fight to improve it until its impact will be even greater, and will be more evenly shared with those Europeans that did not feel it yet.
We do politics, at every level: I want to be clear: Volt is more than a European movement. We define ourselves as pan-European because we aim not only to be in every European country, but in every layer of government. We believe this is the only way to truly have a political weight, impact the lives of people, and bring solutions to local and continental problems. I heard a few times the proposal of only campaigning on European topics at European level. If we were to follow this model, we would not only gather a very limited amount of political support (and hence not bring any change), but we would also be incredibly elitarian: when you can hardly pay your bills, your child does not have access to a decent education, or you have to travel to another country to have a surgery, a European army is probable the last of your problems. Each one of us should always remember that if we want to change this continent, we cannot forget about the needs of a huge share of its citizens.
The time to be shy is gone, now is the time to act: 6 months ago, I was glad that Volt could attract many “silent” members – people that liked our movement, maybe helped a bit, but would not publicly stand for what we stand for, for our name, for our vision. We were a small movement, with an identity still to be shaped, and a lot to show. Today, after hundreds of meetings, an incredible diversity, 22 country teams, and our key political positioning online, it is not the time to be shy anymore. Today, I ask each one of us who decided to fill that online form to take up responsibility and make Volt more than a like on Facebook. Are you in a political party? Consider leaving it. Do you have a wide network of friends? Involve them. Did you always have an idea to improve the status quo? Propose it. In 6 months, each one of you reading this email will be a leader, each one of you will embody our values, and each one of you will be an active part of a political revolution, or Volt will have failed.
The choice is yours. #ReVolt