The left is struggling to regroup and Italy is without real opposition. The country is at the mercy of Matteo Salvini’s outbursts and the existential uncertainties of Luigi Di Maio and the intense bickering taking place inside the Democratic Party. On Saturday, July 14, a group of young minded pro-Europe activists has now realized their dream.
Volt Italia and is a new party with Bologna having been chosen to establish that dream. It was the idea of a group of pro-European youths – but older folk now flocking to their ranks – in an attempt to give a constructive and concrete answer to the problems Italy and Europe is facing in times of uncertainty and internal destruction.
The idea of Milanese Andrea Venzon was to establish a party and replicate it in every European country, recognizing the endless opportunities it offers its citizens, pushing for a Europe with a benign face and not working towards its destruction, unlike those on the opposite wings such as Marine Le Pen in France, the Italian Matteo Salvini, the Hungarian Viktor Orban and the German Horst Seehofer.
And so in all major European countries, from Germany to France, Romania to Cyprus the Volt call has started. For them the problems afflicting most European countries have their roots and effect far beyond national borders: from immigration to work; from defence to trade. They cannot be resolved with strictly national policies. We need a European vision that is able to give answers to citizens born in an increasingly integrated Europe. “It is not the first attempt to Europeanize politics”, says Alberto Alemanno, professor of political science and founder of the project ‘The Good Lobby’, who spoke during the party’s foundation event. “There have been both others in the eighties and in the nineties which did not take root. But now the conditions are ripe. The choice “pro Europe, less Europe” will be at the centre of the life of all citizens in the coming months. Political discourse is going beyond national borders. It has become European.”
In Italy the challenge of the nascent party is to understand how to solve the great issues of today such as immigration and work within the European framework and how to attract the growing number of people who are not only disappointed by the big traditional parties but who, above all, do not have confidence or detest their current governments.
Federica Vinci, Volt Italia president says: “We want to reform the way we do politics to return to believe in it. Stop denigrating and destroying it. We want to come forward with proposals to oppose today’s populist discourse, and to create something more concrete.”
The 5Stelle movement recognizes that it has laid the foundations for a close and not distant dialogue with the population. Their meet ups have made history in Italy as in France. They were inspired by En Marche, who overcame them. But to make sense on all sides are their values, or rather their lack of values. “One cannot found a party solely on ecological discourse and on the exaltation of the Internet,” continues Vinci. “In fact we have all seen how they were easily associated with the ideas of the League’s right-wing policies without asking identity questions. They are devoid of political identity. And they have no founding values .”
During the weekend Volt’s activists worked on the six values on which they were founded: human rights, sustainability, justice, equal opportunities, freedom and solidarity. They will build on details of who they are and their aims through a series of round table discussions. “Unlike others we want to be able to talk to a broad audience,” insists Vinci, “even if we carry forward a different discourse that, for example, sees us favour effective policies of migrant integration instead of a senseless closure of our ports.”
The first goal will be the European elections of 2019, then the local elections in 2021. It will not be an easy challenge because, as Vinci recognizes, “It’s difficult to have a European feeling if one is part of the weaker strata of society. But it is also true that we cannot build a Europe of peoples without peoples.”
About 200 activists participated in the founding assembly, however the numbers around the country have hit 1,300 and steadily increasing.
One of the founders and president of Volt Europa Venzon says: “Our movement today becomes a party, which has the goal of structuring and presenting itself in the European elections. In Italy we have about 1,300 members, who have an average age of 34 years and we are trying to take root in the territory.”
The 180-page platform focuses on Europe, but also on work, unemployment, justice, solidarity and the environment. “We are a progressive party, reports Venzon, “but for about 70% of our members this is their first political experience, but they see a chasm of representation and above all want to build a stronger Europe.”