It’s quite an unusual cocktail that gets created when shaking 80’s lyrics “’Cause you’re too shy, shy. Hush hush, eye to eye” with the words ‘Great China’, ‘cross border criminality’ and ‘free movement of people’. Probably a Rotterdam-special.
A speciality most likely to be found in the backroom of a local pub. A room with small colorful lightbulbs hanging around the dim lighted room with shelled barstools and distillery commercial on a wall.
In the back of this pub the local fractions of the pan-European party, Volt Europe, hosts events to talk about politics, over a beer or two. And here in Rotterdam around 50 people have joined Volt Rotterdam. One local fraction out of around 300 local teams in 32 different countries across Europe. All originating from the same party programme.
It was after Volt Europe was founded in 2016 that Reyhan Cigdem, a member of Volt Rotterdam, started getting interested in politics.
“ I wasn’t really interested in politics before. I only voted, and even that was quite the job,” Reyhan laughs, who’s currently working as an intern at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a master in criminology.
And a part of what caught the new politicians eye was the very ambitious programme the European party has; wanting to create a stronger political union, give the EU more power and make unified European policies.
A political belief that has been met with harsh critique from anti-EU politicians and citizens across Europe in the later years. The lack of trust in the EU-project is most clearly seen with Brexit. One of the biggest economies in the EU saying goodbye, leaving EU battling with the empowered distrust around the continent.
But Brexit had the exact opposite effect on Reyhan and a lot of the other members of the party. For Coen Buvelot, city lead of Volt Rotterdam, getting involved in politics is important, especially now:
“Right now, the politicians in the European Parliament aren’t representing our point of view, so that’s why we have to put ourselves into politics,” he says and continues:
“I’m worried about the globalisation and even standing together, Europe isn’t that big compared to for example the States, Russia and China. We need to stand together, not be apart,” says the economics student. And Reyhan agrees:
“Instead of focusing on where we’re different, we should focus on similarities. Europe has given us so many good things, and people have a tendency of forgetting that. We want to focus on being together”.
Despite it being an uphill battle to get much media coverage as an upcoming party, it doesn’t stop Volt Europe to set high goals.
“25 seats [in the European Parliament] are the goal now, so we can get some influence. And when we’ve reached that, we can start looking at other goals,” states Reyhan.
25 seats are the amount of politicians in the parliament that’s needed to create a group. And it is a rather old-fashioned way the party is going to draw attention to themselves, due to financial reasons: By knocking on doors and handing out flyers on the streets.
Today the groups in the Parliament consist of politicians from different parties in their home countries. That is also how the unlikely marriage of the Prime Minister of Hungary’s, Viktor Orbán, party Fidesz and European People’s Party, a pro-European political party, happened.
These differences within the European parties in the Parliament also means that members don’t always vote within party lines. But that’s not how it’ll be when Volt Europe gets seats after the election in May. ‘Cause they will get seats, Coen Buvelot assures.
However that’s not how it’ll be on a national basis for the party. Here there will be room for differences on certain topics, such as abortion, to make some eastern European countries capable of becoming members of the European party.
“But many of us identify with Macron,” Coen injects on the beliefs of what they want to reach with their policy.
Identifying with Macron whose policy has lost widespread approval especially at home, making re-election difficult, may not necessarily make the life easier for this raising party. But that is exactly why they have to get involved with politics, to shake up the politicians in the Parliament, they say. And with the far-reaching party programme this pan-European party is ready for the battle on getting Europeans to make a mark next to Volt Europe when entering the voting booths in May.
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