Upcoming event: The European elections in Hungary and the EU

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European politics has been increasingly influenced by leaders promoting anti-European messages. Hungary, as the prime example of such rhetoric, is on the brink of slowly eroding its democracy. Prime Minister Orbán and his government are destructing the rule of law, dismantling constitutional checks and balances, buying up or closing down free media and threatening academic freedom. The liberty and freedom of not only Hungarians is at stake, but other Member States and the progress of European integration is as well.

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Europe Decides… and we look on!

Europe Decides LogoToday, as polls open in the UK and the Netherlands, FNF Europe has invited David O’Leary, Project Leader of Europe Decides with Burson-Marsteller Brussels and Thomas Leys, Campaign Officer for the Open VLD to discuss with us the campaigns & candidates of EU2014 elections and tell us what they think the EU will look like post-elections.

Looking into his crystal ball, on the results of the European elections O’Leary sees the core pro-EU parties in the lead. Although the Eurosceptic left and right-wing populist parties stand to gain significant increases in seats, “these groups will do nothing but create noise” – their inability to form coalitions or coherent policy positions will still leave most of the actual legislative work to be firmly in the hands of the mainstream parties. Their expected impact is overstated and the days of them catching the headlines will be but fleeting. Together the EPP, S&D and ALDE will still take up two thirds of the seats. Continue reading

“Europe pretended that it was not listening”

Thodoros Skylakakis MEP, President of ALDE member party Drassi, speaks about the European elections as well as the recent developments in Greece:

Just in time for the European elections, Greece seems to slowly move forward. The government announced a primary surplus and now stands up for the discussion about the debt. Is this really a success for the country?

The so-called success story is actually only a success of tax increases. In February 2012, when Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his Vice-PM Evangelos Venizelos IMG_1247signed the second memorandum, they predicted a recession of about 4-5 per cent of the GDP for the years 2012 and 2013. Ultimately the recession – because of political uncertainty, high taxation and the delay of any reforms – reached 10 per cent. This equaled additional costs of 10 billion Euro and further 200.000 unemployed people. It is a tragic expense paid by the private sector of the Greek economy.

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Pro-Europeans challenged by the rise of extremist populism

Populist partiePopulism_Em96dpi-14s claim that they are the only ones who care about people’s preoccupations, while the elites are deemed to be solely motivated by their own interests. Populist parties thus consider themselves as anti-system and anti-establishment. This simplistic rhetoric has seduced more and more Europeans this last decade. A variety of electoral results illustrates the rise of extremist populist parties, particularly in Denmark, where the Danish People’s Party obtained 22 seats in the National Parliament elections in 2011, in France, where Front National leader Marine Le Pen obtained 17,9% of the votes in the presidential election of 2012, and in Hungary, where the extreme-right wing party Jobbik won 47 seats in the national parliament in 2010. Continue reading

“Supranational challenges require the kind of supranational responses which individual states can no longer offer”, interview with Sir Graham Watson

graham_watson_2011Sir Graham Watson, MEP, President of the ALDE Party, offers his view on the upcoming elections for the European Parliament.

1) The European elections are coming up, however, many citizens have no clear idea of who / which party / what content they really choose with their vote – how do you explain your electorate why the European elections are important? What is the message with which you and your liberal colleagues run for MEP?

The European elections have become more important in view of the new powers of the EP and the EU introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. It is strange therefore that participation in the elections has fallen. I try to inform my electors of the influence the EU has over their lives and convince them of the importance on having a say over decisions taken in their names. I point out that supranational challenges such as world population growth, climate change and internationally organised crime require the kind of supranational responses which individual nation states can no longer offer. Continue reading

Shaping a liberal narrative for the European elections

IMG_0412Last week the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom hosted trainings on campaigning strategies for the European elections of 2014. The trainings, which were organized by the ALDE Party, the European Liberal Forum, D66 and the European liberal youth LYMEC, aimed at training young party members and campaigners from all over Europe to shape an attractive message and use innovative tools.

In times of great criticism towards the European project and a sharp rise of xenophobe and anti-european parties in the polls, liberal parties struggle to frame an attractive message for the European elections. The trainings supported them in shaping a comprehensive, but at the same time positive message for the campaign. Furthermore, it gave them innovative tools on how to use social and digital media in the campaign.

 

Julie Cantalou