"Bad politics brought us were we are," says Colombe the co-founder of Volt - a pan-European party hoping to win at least 25 seats across seven EU countries in May's elections. We met three of the members, who met as students, in Brussels this week.
Three friends, one dream
An Italian, a French and a German had a plan… It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but these three guys are serious.
Andrea, Colombe, and Damien are between 25 and 30 and met while studying abroad. Upset by the results of the referendum on Brexit, in 2016 they decided found their party: VOLT.
Three years later they are embarking on an ambitious political adventure that sees them running for the next European elections.
“Bad politics brought us where we are", Colombe Cahen-Salvador explains, "but it wasn’t only Brexit. For example, I am French and there was the rise of Marine Le Pen in France. It was time to act and change this. As Italian, German, and French we realized very quickly that we had similar problems and that together we could be active in politics and try to solve them".
VOLT is a pan-European movement that wants to change the way national politics deals with the main issues for Europeans. One above all: the consequences of the economic crisis, that left a profound mark in the society.
"We are angry but want to find solutions"
Andrea Venzon comes from Italy, a country where the populist government has faced an unprecedented spat with Brussels over its budget plan and the unsolved issue of migration. The anger that pervades the country is understandable, he says, but the government is not addressing the problem at its roots.
“We are deadly angry and we know that we have to find solutions, for example producing growth and producing jobs. It is something completely left in our country. For example, the only measure we are talking about is immigration and how to give some little wages to unemployed people, which is useful but does not solve the problem. So we completely understand the problem but we are thinking about how to solve it on a European scale because national governments have been failing for decades ", he says.
Where they stand
It is difficult to place VOLT on the political spectrum. Their members share views with the liberals the greens and socialists, but they want to give an electric shock to traditional politics, they say. It’s not a coincidence that VOLT is their name. Damian Boeselager explains that citizens should have more say in the decision-making process and this would be possible by empowering the already existent EU institutions.
“Very simply put we should be able to vote our parliamentarians directly to know who they are. Then those people sitting in the European Parliament should be able to elect a European government, and a European prime minister however you want to call it”.
“We are talking about the European Parliament and enabling MEPs, our direct representatives, to propose laws - Colomba adds- This is something very basics that happen in all our countries. Or talking about more integration, we should have a more harmonized fiscal system. We need to make sure that EU is reformed so that it functions as best as it can”.
Volt has so far 20.000 members and aims to run in at least 7 EU member states. The movement wishes to join 25 seats at the European Parliament, but the real success, they say, would be bringing Europe close to people again.