Constructive Ideas in Times of Populism

Phil Plait (CC BY-SA 2.0)

(by Christian Janisch)

According to the opinion of the founder of European Democracy Lab, Ulrike Guerot, we are facing a decision as to whether or not we allow the corset of national socialism to further constrain us or to move towards the development of a European Republic. The propogated renationalisation in Europe and the USA is, according to Guerot, not taking place.

The cracks are penetrating the societies of the individual states (in the USA, for/against Trump, in France, for/against Le Pen, in Austria, for/against Hofer) and it is still difficult to assess the result of the dynamic which results therefrom.

It would be time to finally introduce a European citizenship. There are currently many good ideas regarding Europe, most of which, although viable, are too narrowly conceived. To highlight this, Guerot gave the example of Interrail Tickets for young people.

Populists have an advantage over most of the current constructive approaches because they convey a clear message: leave the EU, leave the Euro. They do not offer a well-elaborated counter-model. One could counter these ideas with the concept of a European Republic: it is transnational, all citizens are equal before the law, as in Cicero’s „Republik“, the ius consentis is the basis of co-existence.

To give a current example: according to the Guardian, the Brits will possibly be offered a personal opt-in for a Union citizenship in the course of the Brexit negotiations. If this resolution is brought before the ECJ, this Union citizenship could be a possibility for all EU citizens.

The supporters of this new concept currently do not exist but, according to Guerot, this is not a problem: as Hegel said in Weltgeist, good ideas break fresh ground and suitable people are found.

Melanie Sully, co-founder of the platform, go-governance, considers the idea of a Union citizenship interesting but is of the opinon that it will not solve the current problems. A significant reason for Brexit was the lack of trust in the grand statements of established politicians.

It is not enough to better manage the expectations of the population. The problems lie deeper: politics no longer solve the big questions, many untruths are being spread (for example, in the Brexit campaign).

Populists like to present themselves as anti-Establishment but they are usually a part therof.

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