The European Liberal Democrats, the ALDE Party, have elected a new president, Hans van Baalen, a Member of the European Parliament and Honorary President of Liberal International. Van Baalen hails from the liberal VVD Party in the Netherlands. Rounding off our series of Liberal Breakfasts FNF and the ALDE Party hosted an intimate breakfast discussion with Van Baalen to find out how he wants to run his term as the “hands-on” president, the slogan he brandished during his campaign.
In his introductory remarks van Baalen made clear that he saw his role as ALDE Party president much more in the tradition of British party chairmen than as a more political president. As a proverbial chairman he would focus more on bringing European liberals together in celebration of their diversity, rather than forcing uniform positions on European issues. He stressed that he was personally not a fan of labels such as social liberal, market liberal, left-liberal or conservative-liberal. Van Baalen underlined that liberals of all colours share a commitment to civil liberties on the one hand and a free market on the other. As president he will use this basic tenet work to bring liberals together and ensure that regardless of labels they work together for a more liberal Europe. Continue reading