Over 60 liberal politicians and activists met in Bologna on 28-30 November for a series of talks and trainings. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom together with the ALDE Party invited representatives from various organizations to come together and discuss about a possible cooperation in Italy and beyond. A process of profound rethinking of liberalism in Italy and of the challenges and opportunities for liberals in Italy was launched.
Sir Graham Watson, President of the ALDE Party, opened the event by addressing the past deceptions, especially the recent European elections, in which the Italian liberals failed to win representation in the European Parliament. But he focused on the important challenge ahead, the one of rebuilding a liberal movement in Italy. A movement that is successful in addressing the needs of the population, win elections and change the country.
Although liberals used to be a fairly strong political current in Italy, being represented in parliament both at national and European level for many years, in recent time, they struggle to find support among the population. The economic, social and political crisis has hit them hard. Indeed, in times of crisis people cling to populist and protectionist proposals, or tend to support those who defend the status quo. But, as we all know, liberals never waste a good crisis.
Crisis have at least one positive effect, they oblige parties and political movements to take the necessary time to reflect on their strategy, their policies and their marketing and campaigning. Having lost broad support, you are able to change your strategy, messages and campaigning strategy – to test new ways to do politics – you have nothing to lose.
Ian Marquardt, independent political consultant, specialized in campaigning, has been working for the ALDE Party for the past two years. He drew the lessons from his experience in political campaigning across the world and distilled seven lessons for successful campaigning. His training gave the participants a broad range of tools to improve their campaigning and maximize their chances to win campaigns and elections.
Participants at the seminar also discussed how to apply those lessons to their specific situation and brainstormed about concrete campaigns and issues to be addressed. Acknowledging the impossibility to solve all challenges for liberals in Italy in two days, the seminar achieved to bring consensus on the necessity to change and adapt to new challenges. The seminar kicked-off a process of rethinking and change that hopefully, through snowball effect, will grow bigger and bigger.