@ALDEParty Congress – Day 2: preparing for a manifesto you may never use…

It was a foggy morning in Amsterdam, dark and damp, the sort of day that makes you want to just pull the covers back over you and go back to sleep. But it was also election day, and with our own candidate in the field, sleep wasn’t an option.

The Congress agenda was dominated by a number of plenary sessions, on the future of European internet policy, on mobility, on the future of work and on agriculture policy, all of which might be seen as laying the groundwork for developing the manifesto.

In truth, given that Liberal Democrats have traditionally paid only lip service to the notion of a European Parliamentary manifesto written for pan-European liberalism, the notion of drafting and debating a manifesto for an election which the Liberal Democrats may very well not be contesting was always going to complex. And this time, with the process being driven by an appointed group of thinkers, the ability to actively shape the document might prove to be limited.

In Ljubljana, in June, the delegation, at my instigation, concluded that our involvement should be limited to debating ideas without actually casting a potentially decisive vote on any resolutions relating to post-Brexit Europe. It was already becoming apparent that this self-denying ordnance might not survive a full Congress, and so it turned out, with Liberal Democrat delegates intervening on the question of transnational lists for the European Parliament. Given that such lists would fill the seats vacated by the United Kingdom, I did wonder how helpful our intervention might be, but…

One recent innovation at ALDE Party Congresses is training, something that is a core part of our own Federal Conferences. There is a sense that, for the ALDE Party to be successful, it needs to support member parties through knowledge sharing, and there was an interesting session on online fundraising, including a contribution from NationBuilder.

But, perhaps the most dramatic part of the day was the screening of “Nemtsov”, a documentary film about the late leader of the Russian opposition, Boris Nemtsov, chronicling his life. Nemtsov was murdered, probably by a state operative, because he was becoming too much of a threat to Vladimir Putin. Marietje Schaake MEP indicated the level of interest via Twitter;

In the background, however, delegates were voting in the Bureau elections, and the Get Out the Vote operations were in full force. All the candidates appeared nervous and there wasn’t a lot of obvious confidence. We would know the outcome the following day, although there was discussion of a possible earlier announcement, in order to put the candidates out of their misery somewhat earlier.

And so it came to pass. At 5.30 p.m., the polling booths were closed, and the results calculated…

* Mark Valladares is a member of the Federal International Relations Committee and Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and News.
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