The PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions held today a seminar on "Progressive answers to populism", jointly organized with the Socialist Group in the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region. It focused on deconstructing a series of 'populist' claims that are common in political discourses and highlighted how these claims, and the ideologies underlying them, can be unmasked and effectively countered by positive progressive alternatives.
Opening the debates, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, 1st Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions, pointed out: "The rise of populist movements and discourses in many EU countries requires progressive forces to unite and counter the xenophobic narrative that is seriously undermining the 'living together' across the EU. One of the most dangerous characteristics of populists is that they claim to speak for the people as if there was only one homogeneous group, and to promise simplistic solutions to very complex problems. Instead, as progressive forces we must stand up for an open and inclusive society, which embraces diversity and encourages genuine dialogue".
Philippe Close, President of the Socialist Party in the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region, underlined: "Brussels, the double capital - of both Belgium and Europe - which brings together 180 different cultures, is the proof that the European project has succeeded! Of course, the project needs to evolve over time. This is why I am in favour of the right to vote for all - Belgians, Europeans and non-Europeans –and this for elections at all levels of power. Democracy can only be effective if it offers everyone the opportunity to express themselves. This is the best remedy against populism."
Carlos Zorrinho, MEP, Leader of the Portuguese delegation to the European Parliament's S&D Group, said: "As the experience of the Portuguese government has shown, fighting populism is being close to the people. Respecting them. Fulfilling your promises. Implementing policies that improve their daily life. Socialists, Social Democrats and Labour parties are the alternative to populism in Europe."
Concluding the seminar, PES Group President Catiuscia Marini, President of the Umbria Region (Italy), called for more differentiated messages of hope and action. "To defeat populists in Europe, we need first and foremost a cultural battle which will restore a positive narrative for politics. Progressive local and regional politicians, who are well anchored at grass-roots level, can play a leading role in promoting concrete projects which show the added value of European diversity, and help to regain the upper hand in the political debates with non-populist messages", she stressed.
For further information on the event, please visit http://pescor.eu/pes-on-populism