‘Impacting societal issues through entrepreneurial action.’ The slogan plastered on the wall is telling for the vibe that lingers in the Impact Hub during Volt’s first meet and greet of the year in Amsterdam. As Europe’s sole pan-European party, the upcoming European elections will be Volt’s very first trial-by-fire.
An introductory video to Volt’s views and origin.
Frederik Mahieu / Merve Kayikci
“We need to bring all these issues to a European level” is a phrase repeated vehemently by every person we mingle with. Before we even had the chance to get a beer an unusually large but flamboyant Italian named Matteo Millone engages us in a discussion about quantitative easing. Three paces and half an hour later the topic has switched to the definition of sovereignty.
Admittedly, similar to the range of conversational topics, Volt is anything but a one-issue party. They mean to facilitate European and national questions under a united federal European umbrella. “It’s only then that we can really tackle the core issue of these problems” says Matteo.
The meet and greet has gathered a modest crowd of a little over 50 people. What originally started as a small-scale response to the outcome of the Brexit referendum, has since grown into a patriotic pan-European movement that encompasses 15.000 members across 30 European countries. Since there are no Europe-wide voting lists, they will attempt to persuade the voter in their respective small, local groupings. Currently Volt is registered and eligible in eight different member states.
But one thing is adamantly clear from the get-go, this is not your typical political demographic. With maybe two exceptions of our own, there is not a grey hair in sight. This is a young, enterprising, highly educated and internationally oriented group of people: the Erasmus-generation. The kind that conventional parties would kill for.
Reinier van Lanschot, leading candidate for Volt in the Netherlands, tells us after his speech that 70% of Volt’s participants had no prior political activities or affiliations. True enough, their current spectrum seems to range from conservative to liberal, but progressive all the same. However, even though their party colours are purple, there is definitely a hint of green in the crowd.. Of the ‘behind-the-ear’ variety. Van Lanschot however does not see this as a weakness. “It’s up to our generation now to ensure a stable future for Europe. Climate change, lasting peace, immigration,… The current and future issues of our globalized world need a multinational approach. In our opinion, in regards to Europe anyway, the best way to do that is to create an even closer union, a federal Europe.”
The answer as to how to convince the 27 EU member states to give up some more of their sovereignty to Brussels however, remains dodgy. Volt’s goal for the upcoming elections in May is to win twenty-five seats from at least 7 different EU countries in order to form their own fraction in the European Parliament. Financed purely by crowdfunding and party contributions, Volt has an uphill battle ahead of them in order to gain a lasting foothold in Fort Europa among ancient political giants. Van Lanschot responds with a grin: “You have to start somewhere right?”
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