Pan-EU party Volt Europa launches European election campaign

Written by Martin Banks on 8 May 2019 in News

A new “grassroots” political party which describes itself as a “constructive critic” of the EU, has launched its campaign for the European elections.

Photo credit: Volt Europa

Volt Europa, a “citizen-led” party, plans to field 146 candidates in Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

In some countries, such as Belgium, it will run a transnational list, with candidates from several Member States.

It is thought to be one of two parties - the other being European Spring - fielding transnational list candidates.


Its candidates range from a 17-year-old in the Netherlands to a 72-year-old in Bulgaria.

A 60-page paper, effectively an election manifesto, sets out in detail its policies across a range of areas, from economic growth to addressing climate change.

The policies, including more “citizen platforms”, are summarised in a shorter version called the Amsterdam Declaration.

The party prides itself on having no major financial backers, stressing that it was financed via methods such as crowd funding and personal donations from its own members.

“Volt seeks to empower citizens so that the EU can make a real difference to their lives” Katherine Richter, Volt Europa candidate

Volt, which translates as “energy” and has 10,000 members, says its policies are designed to “fix the EU.”

The overall aim is to elect 25 members from seven Member States so it can form a group in the next Parliament.

Speaking at the launch in Brussels on Wednesday, Katherine Richter, a 37-year-old Dane who is standing for the elections in Belgium, said, “We want citizens to have a real say in how the EU works and its policy-making.

“National political parties have failed and, to an extent, so too has the European Parliament.”

Richter, fourth on the party’s list in Belgium, added, “Volt seeks to empower citizens so that the EU can make a real difference to their lives.”

Marcela Valkova, who is from the Czech Republic but is also standing for the party in Belgium where she is second on its list, told reporters, “The reason I joined Volt is because I am worried about the way the EU is heading and because the focus is on the citizen.”

It will contest the elections in only eight Member States because, Valkova said, of the “prohibitive cost” of registering in some countries.

“The reason I joined Volt is because I am worried about the way the EU is heading and because the focus is on the citizen” Marcela Valkova, Volt Europa candidate

In France, for instance, she said it costs €800,000 to print ballot papers while, in Italy, 150,000 signatures are needed for a party to run in elections.

Christophe Calis, first on the Belgian list, said the aim was to “fix” some of the “huge challenges” facing the EU.

He added, “We have seen citizens’ movements elsewhere of course, including the young climate change campaigners who have taken to the streets of Belgium and other places recently.”

“You have to ask, though, how these can bring solutions to long-term problems? What we offer is a properly structured and well thought through approach.”

Volt Europa was founded in March 2017, when the Brexit was triggered and claims to be the first “citizen-led” alternative to traditional and nationalist parties.

Since 2017, the movement has grown to approximately 10,000 active members, mostly volunteers, across Europe, and 30,000 supporters.

Calis, who has a full-time job, stressed that 95 percent of the party’s members and election candidates had no previous political experience.

The party’s election manifesto includes calls for a European Parliament with legislative initiative and an elected European Commission President.

Calis added, “Citizen mobilisation is on the rise and people across Europe are unhappy with the current political climate. There is a serious risk that this generation will be worse off than their parents.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine


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