ALDE Party Congress – a first time delegate’s thoughts

In the shadow of the ancient Athenian acropolis where Aristotle and Socrates once lectured on ideas that would go on to change the world, Hans van Baalen, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE) launched the organisations 40th congress under the banners “mission is possible” and “liberal renaissance”. His audience included delegations from 67 full and associate member parties, as well as individual members who had assembled from across the European continent.

I had applied to the International Office upon learning of the exciting opportunity to attend the ALDE party congress as a Lib Dem voting delegate. Having been a life-long Lib Dem voter, I felt it necessary to become more politically active in UK politics by joining the Lib Dems and ALDE. The Brexit referendum and the resulting political uncertainty undoubtedly had a catalyzing effect on this decision.

The ALDE party has seen its influence and representation increase at every level of the European Union since its inception in 1976. The Liberal Democrats, Britain’s internationalist party, has been a full and leading member since 1988, and at this crucial juncture of British politics seeks to further strengthen ties with our European allies, with whom we not only share a geopolitical destiny but also one based on hard won historical liberal values and ideals.

Experienced Lib Dem delegation members including Paul Fisher, Chair of the Liberal Democrats in France, as well as Mark Valladares, member of International Relations Committee, gave me a warm welcome and guided me through the schedule of the congress. This enhanced my insight, enabling me to actively and effectively participate in the main congress programme along with meetings, debates, fringe events and training sessions. My experience also made me feel a part of the bigger team.

Wide ranging progressive and internationalist resolutions addressing important issues effecting Europe were put forward by ALDE member parties to the congress. The process included working groups who debated articles and proposed relevant amendments which were then voted on by congress delegates. One such resolution adopted was the condemnation of Turkish military operations in Syria; the ratification resulted in a united and comprehensive foreign policy that sought to protect effected groups such as the Kurds from aggression in Syria, while also addressing the security concerns of Europe arising from the destabilisation of Rojava.

The congress was also the platform for vice presidential elections of ALDE. The Lib Dems outgoing president, Baroness Sal Brinton, was successfully elected to one of the VP positions giving the UK an essential seat on the ALDE party bureau. Sal attracted votes from across member parties voting delegates who supported her vision laid out in the manifesto. This included a commitment to develop evolutionary reform of the EU.
Voters also recognised her work on promoting diversity among membership in order to better reflect the true make up of society. Discussions with undecided voters regarding the importance of Sal’s election platform, enabled me to gain first-hand experience of canvassing.

Expert led interactive workshops on topics such as how to use data in election campaigning, making of social media election videos, and election fundraising techniques were held. These workshops were valuable as they allowed attendees to deepen and extend their understanding of these fast developing areas, which will be vital in modern electioneering.

Finally, the solidarity and support from other Europeans expressed to the British delegates at the congress on our future relations, regardless of the outcome of the Brexit settlement, gave me a more personal and heartwarming dimension to the term European family as well as demonstrated the extent and nature of our interdependent relationship.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and Op-eds.
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3 Comments

  • I should point out that prior to the formation of the Liberal Democrats in 1988, the Liberal Party was a full and active member of ALDE’s predecessor organisations FLIDEPEC / ELD / ELDR

  • Mick Taylor 5th Nov '19 - 9:25am

    As one who has attended ALDE/ELDRIDGE for many years I think this Congress was a very positive one for the LibDems. Unlike 2 years ago when we lost our place on the bureau, Sal was elected with a margin to spare. The attitude of colleagues across ALDE was much more positive, at least in part because of the important contribution the LibDem and Alliance MEPs are making in the European Parliament. It has dawned on the Renew Europe Group that the will reduce both in size and influence if we leave and be back below 100 members again. The LibDems are the 2nd largest party in Renew Europe after En Marche.
    Another good reason to keep fighting to stop Brexit

  • Mick Taylor 5th Nov '19 - 9:27am

    ELDR. Predictive text is a damn nuisance!

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