Blog post by Sophie in ‘t Veld, ALDE Group First Vice-President
Today is the start of the campaign. The campaign to take ownership of Europe.
Yesterday, Viktor Orbán secured his third term as Prime Minister. It was a victory for a nasty brand of nationalism, authoritarianism and corruption. The elections were free, but not fair, as Orbán has used his first two terms to silence all critical voices. Hungarian people were exposed to fake news and one vitriolic hate campaign after the other, for years. Putin can be proud of his sorcerer’s apprentice. Nationalists and extremists around Europe are celebrating. Centre right parties elsewhere try a weaker version of his toxic xenophobia and nationalism, with euphemisms like “Leitkultur” and anti-migration rhetoric, using “Christian values” in a way that betrays the very essence of Christian values.
But they cheer too soon. They may be loud, but they are not the majority. But it is high time pro-European, progressive, liberal forces climb the barricades for what they believe in. Silence or commenting from the sidelines has never won any battle. And the battle is on, the battle on values. What kind of world do we want to live in? What are the shared values of our community?
I will stand up for a Europe where people are free and equal. For a Europe that embraces diversity and pluralism. Where media do their work in perfect freedom and security. Where men and women are equal, where LGBTI persons can be themselves, where all religions and beliefs are equal and public authorities are serving all equally. A Europe that does not tolerate corruption, where judges are independent, and governments accountable.
I choose a strong Europe, to defend European values in the world and to be a powerful actor on the world stage. Only a Europe with open borders can enable us to fully reap the benefits of the digital era. Only a strong Europe can ensure that nobody can escape paying their fair share in taxes. Only Europe can adquately regulate capital flows. Only Europe can protect our unique mix of social protection and competitiveness, solidarity and innovation. The best protection against excesses of globalisation is a strong Europe, and inversely a strong Europe is essential to boost all the available talent and creative power of Europeans in the world economy. A united Europe can manage migration, in a humane, regulated and effective manner.
Nationalism offers a rose — tinted, nostalgic take on the past. Europe offers a bright future. In May 2019 all Europeans can choose. Let’s make Orban’s win the last hiccup of nationalism, and build a strong Europe for all Europeans.
The campaign starts today. Are you in?