Berlin 1 OCT 2019 – 21:01 CE
Damian Boeselager is a newecomer to European politics. In May he won a seat in the Eurocamara with a new party, which also means a rarity in the political universe of the Union. Volt is a pan-European party, which does not arise from a national political matrix. It is a European platform since its birth. And so, because Boeselager and the army of global young people who support it do not conceive of a Europe with borders or a unique national identity. They were born and raised with a Europe that they take for granted and now they watch with horror the new nationalist outbreak of those who advocate for an EU reduced to a minimum.
Boeselager, a 31-year-old German and head of the party, opens his eyes wide and smiles as if he still did not believe that the corridors of Brussels and Strasbourg are going to be his new home. “When we look at the European Parliament, we see that national parties have much more power over those corridors than the European group. The big issues are not resolved because national policy blocks issues that should be resolved from a European perspective. Who thinks in really European terms?” He asks in a coffee bookshop, north of Berlin, where he lives. “Climate change, digitalization, migration. The real fact is that many of the great challenges can only be solved together”, he defends.
Volt says it represents the youngest generation of European voters, “those who have no problem in having their identity unfold in several layers that are not exclusive. For us today it would be totally absurd, inconceivable that there was a border between Poland and Germany”. That “we” is a legion of young idealists, who until now, did not participate in politics. 70% of its active members have no previous political experience, according to their data. “Because they had the feeling that it didn’t matter what you did, that your opinion wasn’t going to count. That feeling is especially strong in Germany, with the great coalition”.
It all started with a “shabby web page” and some Facebook posts. Next, about one hundred people said they were interested and that gave them the courage to move forward in 2017. Today they have 60,000 registered supporters and 500 local and active groups throughout the Union. The bulk of their support is in Germany – 250,000 votes in the last European May elections – and the other quarter of a million votes in other EU countries. That despite the fact that there were countries, such as Italy or France, where they could not be candidates due to the particularities of the national electoral laws.
In the end, they won a seat, that of Boeselager, which landed at the end of May in Brussels after the electoral hangover almost like a Martian landing on planet Earth. There he negotiated with the group of liberals and the Greenin search for accommodation and ended up with the environmentalists, as was decided by their bases and in view of what they were offered by other groups. Volt wants to fight for Parliament to gain weight in front of the Council, because they believe that community architecture is part of the legitimacy crisis that the Union is going through. “Many Europeans feel that their voice is not heard in Brussels. That they vote in the European elections, but this does not work. It’s about bringing citizens closer to the EU”, he defends. “What is clear is that we cannot continue as before. These elections have been a wakeup call”.
He also says that the election of his compatriot, the new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was a great disappointment for him. “She came out of nowhere, she was not a candidate, but it is also true that governments did what they are legally allowed”, he says in reference to a candidate who was not part of the spitzenkandidat system, that is, was not chosen by none of the big parties. But Boeselager also believes that this is something of the past, that now what he has to do is to look forward and be “pragmatic”. “We agree with populists when they say the status quo does not work. The big difference is that we don’t want to tear it apart, we want to improve it”.
All that is theory; the practice is to set up an office in Brussels and try to orient himself in the labyrinth of corridors and halls of the Eurochamber. But also to find a way to influence the community agenda from an atypical micro-party. “Any advice? I am newcomer”, he admits with a freshness which could be anticipated as ephemeral.