This article has been published in the YO!Mag #2 2013
It’s widespread opinion that ideologies lost the meaning they used to have to drive change and get people elected. However, Ideologies are political dreams of utopias (or dystopias) for the present and the future of nations, communities and society in general.
We met with the Presidents of the youth wings of the Party Political Youth Organisations that are members of the European Youth Forum and we challenged them on the issue. Konstantinos, Kaisa, Jeroen, Ingrid and Pauline, are respectively leaders of the Youth of the European People’s Party, of the Young European Socialists, of the European Liberal Youth, of the Federation of Young European Greens and of the Young European Federalists.
Despite the variety of political views, their answer is straightforward: ideologies are still very much up and running. When it comes to the content of their respective ideologies, differences are more defined. “For the centre-right – Konstantinos pointes out – the individual is at the centre, together with core values such as family and the patriotic feeling”. For Kaisa “socialism it’s about giving a fair chance to all people and especially those who are less well off”. Jeroen states, “The core of liberalism didn’t really changed over the century, it is freedom together with responsibility”. Things get more intertwined with the Greens, as Ingrid explains “the green ideology incorporates many theories and influences from environmentalism to peace, to social rights movement”. Last but not least the Federalist movement roots its ideology in the political theory of institution building and governance. “It is about how we are seeing this continent to be democratically governed”, says Pauline. If there is still a defined set of ideals, principles, doctrines, myths or symbols of a political movement it is also clear to that “any ideology has to move on with the time”, using the words of Kaisa, or, as Jeroen states, “the core of the ideology can remain the same but the way it is implemented changes over the years”.
What would be, then, the political dreams for XXI Century Europe?
For Konstantinos the dream is a European Homeland to be built gradually but bravely and together. “Working on the issue of identity is a long-term commitment” – he tells us – “building a widespread common sense of proudness associated to be European is something not easy to be achieved but it is an essential part of imagining the future together”. The words of Konstantinos resonate with those of Luigi Sturzo, the founder of the first Christian democrat Party in Italy suppressed by the Italian Fascist regime. In the 30s Sturzo founded an international movement that supported the creation of a European common market and European integration to prevent war, amongst those who attended his group were Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi, and Robert Schuman.
European Welfare State
Kaisa thinks, “The key question of what the socialism will be in 30 years time is what kind of economic system do we accept or approve or aim at”. The socialist alternative is very clear “We want deeper integration and we want to create a European Welfare State” – she states – “to protect the interest of the people collectively and individually there is a need for a well defined structure in Europe not only social Europe but a real welfare state. Kaisa proposes to move to a post-Keynesian thinking with true investment in areas that can create growth and jobs rather than just holding off the old institutions and old structures that have passed their time.
European Freedoms Space
Jeroen reminds, “Liberals do not have a perfect society in their heads but the fact that the individuals can take care of society”. According to his dream Europe should become a top reference throughout the world to guarantee individual freedoms. “Much more than today, people should be free to really express their full potential”, he states. Within the boundaries of not creating a heavy state apparatus, he believes that progressive legislation can be adopted to harmonize the standards of such freedoms to the highest extend instead of common minimum denominators.
Ingrid dreams a Sustainable Europe. “It should not be just about the environment” – she says – “but also about social and economic development”. For the Greens it is important that the current policies look not only at the short-term impact but also at the future generations. This is the core of the concept of sustainable development applied to public policy. Looking at what concretely Europe should look like in 2046 Ingrid has a very ambitious plan: “it should be a 100% renewable energy Continent leaving behind the traditional concept of growth”.
For Pauline the federal dream is not necessary the one of creating the United States of Europe, she explains “for federalists the most important is to create a new political object which will allow a greater coordination and allow to fully apply the concept of subsidiarity”. The goal is therefore to create a European Federation that would allow all citizens to participate more actively and democratically to its construction. For example, she concludes, “we strongly believe that the European Council and the current Parliament should merge on a dual Chamber Assembly with equal powers”.