December 10, 2018
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ALDE:“We have to win over nationalists and populists across Europe”

 Ciudadanos leader, Albert Rivera, in the ALDE meeting. File photo: EFE/Fernando Villar

Ciudadanos leader, Albert Rivera, in the ALDE meeting. File photo: EFE/Fernando Villar

Madrid (EuroEFE).- Ahead of the European Parliament elections next year, over 1,000 liberals from all across the European Union last week gathered in Madrid in a joint move to captivate voters and take on populism and nationalism that threaten Europe’s core democratic values in a eurosceptic, post-brexit era.

By Basma Dali Ahmad/Madrid

The 39th Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party Congress took place between Nov. 8-10 in the Spanish capital.

At the meeting, ALDE, along with other EU liberal parties, stressed its commitment to becoming a "transversal party, a transnational platform," that helps "prevent xenophobia" and defeat "nationalistic and populistic forces" in Europe, six months ahead of the EP elections, which will take place at a difficult time for Europe, with Rome challenging Brussel’s competence, immigration waves and xenophobia on the rise overall, particularly in former Eastern Bloc countries.

With a close eye on the EU elections, ALDE presented its new campaign team, which is expected to be endorsed at an electoral congress to be held in Berlin in early 2019, the party announced.

“We will campaign on content, on our ideas for a stronger and better EU with a diverse team from all over Europe (…) European liberals have several strong leaders and we decided they should be heading our electoral campaign as a Team!” said ALDE party president, Hans van Baalen MEP.

European liberals want to put a strong emphasis on freedom, democracy, human rights and solidarity.

“Ciudadanos” (Citizens) and “En Marche” (On the Move) electoral alliance

Within the scope of being stronger in Europe’s political arena, during the Madrid meeting Spain's centre-right Ciudadanos forged an alliance with the party of France's President Emmanuel Macron, En Marche, a pact open to other liberal groups in the EU.

Ciudadanos leader, Albert Rivera, whose party is, according to a recent survey by Spanish daily "El Español", well-placed to compete with the right-wing Partido Popular (Popular Party, PP) to occupy the centre-right leadership in Spain (with the Socialists Workers’ Party (PSOE) in the lead), agreed with Astrid Panosyan, one of En Marche’s founders, that it is urgent to "relaunch" the European project and defend key European values to neutralise populistic and nationalistic messages.

ALDE members also highlighted the importance of working with other progressive political forces in Europe, to redefine the foundations of the EU, for “a sovereign, united and democratic Europe” and to “oppose authoritarian politicians and their actions against press freedom, rights individual or minorities.”

Parties and organizations that support extremist ideologies are harming democracy and freedom, and jeopardizing the basements of the European project.

“We have to win over nationalists and populists across Europe,” ALDE group president in the EP and former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt, stressed.

► Electrifying Europe to win over populists (Op-Ed by Spanish ALDE MEP Beatriz Becerra)

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