Europe’s Liberal family grows

aldeLiberal Democrats campaigning hard to keep the United Kingdom in the European Union can perhaps take heart from the fact that the European Liberal family, as represented by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE Party), continues to attract new member parties, showing that European and Liberal Democrat messages still resonate on the Continent.

At the ALDE Council meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, the other day, hosted by the city’s Liberal Mayor,Remigijus Šimašius, no fewer than four newbies were welcomed into the fold: three as full members and one as an associate member (a stepping stone to full membership).

Significantly, two of these are centrist parties from two of Europe’s larger states, Poland and Spain, where previously we had no national member party. Nowoczesna from Poland was only founded in May last year, by economist Ryszard Petru, yet it won 28 seats in the Sejm (Parliament) with 7.6% of the vote. Since then the party has provided a strong and principled voice in opposition to the increasingly intolerant ruling Law and Justice government.

In Spain, Ciudadanos, led by dashing young Albert Rivera, was one of two parties that made a spectacular breakthrough in last December’s general election that broke the decades-long dominance by the Socialists and the conservative People’s Party. On that occasion, Cuidadanos won 40 out of 350 seats and they are hoping to do even better in the snap general election called for 26 June. Interestingly, in Catalonia’s regional parliament, Cuidadanos is the main alternative to the Catalan nationalist Convergencia, who are also members of ALDE, but they are happy to sit together within the European liberal family.

ALDE embraces parties from across the European continent, not just the EU28 and the third new full member, Civic Position, founded in March last year, hails from Ukraine. It is headed by that country’s former defence Minister, Anatoliy Hrytsenko and has the distinction from most other political parties in Ukraine of not being beholden to any oligarch.

The new affiliate member is Nasa Stranka from Bosnia and Herzogovina, led by Predrag Kojović, who is determined to spread its social-liberal message across the country’s sectarian divides in the run-up to the 2018 general election. This now means that ALDE has in its fold 59 parties from 38 European countries. Incidentally, all the delegates present at Vilnius cheered on our somewhat depleted British Liberal Democrat contingent in our fight to remain in the EU.

* Jonathan Fryer is the new Chair of the Federal International Relations Committee.

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5 Comments

  • If you think there is a liberal upturn on the continent at the moment you’re going to be very disappointed. Check the recent article in the Guardian about the Netherlands. Armed guards outside schools and a virulently anti-Islamic politician leading the polls. It’s a sad sight and if Lib Dems don’t want to face up to the crisis of western liberalism they’ll remain drifting towards irrelevance.

  • Gordon Lishman 10th Jun '16 - 9:15am

    Convergencia happy with Cuidadanos?

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