In an interview with Linkiesta, an Italian online newspaper, the Secretary General of the EDP Sandro Gozi talks about the prospects of the single Renew Europe list in the upcoming European elections.
Azione and Italia Viva, despite everything, should present a single list at the next elections for the Strasbourg Parliament: “The goal must be more than overcoming the threshold, it must be the alternative to bipopulism,” Sandro Gozi, MEP and Secretary General of the EDP, explains to Linkiesta.
Having averted the divorce between Azione and Italia Viva, now that the next European elections have a date, the couple’s therapy, let’s call it like this, can begin. One year to go. Competing against each other, especially with a proportional system, would not only have been incomprehensible to voters: it would have been a missed opportunity. Instead, the Italian delegation can be Renew Europe’s second delegation’ in the next European Parliament, Sandro Gozi, MEP and Secretary General of the European Democratic Party (EDP), tells to Linkiesta, as long as we join forces. Not to overcome the threshold, but to ‘make the difference’.
After weeks of friction, a happy ending seems to have come to the joint race between Azione and Italia viva?
It is a good news, a good result. From the point of view of the European Democratic Party, in which both Italia Viva and Azione belong, we are satisfied. The perspective of a united list of Renew Italy is very important. I am convinced that the ambition of liberal, democratic and reforming forces can’t be the one of those who make four per cent. It must be the one of those who truly presents an alternative to both the reactionary extreme right of Giorgia Meloni and the movementist and populist left of Elly Schlein.
What is at stake is Italy’s role in Europe, a strong role in the European Parliament after 2024, where Italy can also be the second delegation of Renew Europe, which today is the third largest parliamentary group. Given the enormous challenges we have, from preparing peace and the reconstruction of Ukraine to enlargement in the near future of the Union, our strategic relations with the United States and China, with Africa, we don’t need to ‘make the threshold’, but to make the difference.
A disenchanted voter, after the broadsides of a few weeks ago, might wonder whether the truce between Matteo Renzi and Carlo Calenda will last. How to make it last?
We do this by working on politics and policies. We have to give hope to those who no longer vote, to those abstaining, to young people, to the two and a half million people who trusted us on the 25th of September last year. Beyond the propaganda of the media and institutions, the Italy of Giorgia Meloni is a reactionary Italy on civil rights, on LGBT couples, on immigration and, therefore, an ineffective Italy on Pnrr. The reality is that we have an extreme right-wing government that talks about ethnic replacement. On the other side there is the chromatic nothingness of Schlein’s Democratic Party.
It is working in a radical way on the promotion and protection of civil rights and in a very pragmatic way to address the needs of businesses, especially small ones. On a real university reform, as well as the battle to build a sovereign and democratic Europe, which is the real alternative to populism and the extreme right. I believe that these are the issues that must initiate and hold together this path, which is much more important than character aspects.
Today and tomorrow in Rome there is the Renew Europe event. How has the European family experienced the misunderstandings between the Italian affiliates? Would it have hoped for a unique party?
From Renew Europe’s point of view the important thing is to join forces to win the European elections. This is our priority, with common lists that identify with the political leadership of Emmanuel Macron. This is what we did in 2019 and what we will do in France in 2024. There is no single Macronian party, but there is a list, of which at least four parties will be part. It is important for us to join forces around a shared political project, to continue the European transformation.
I say ‘continue’ because we present ourselves, and we will also say it in Rome, with a very positive balance sheet. Then, the single party is not a matter of Renew Europe, but it concerns the Italian political forces. However, it seems to me that today the priority is – I repeat – to obtain a good result with a political alliance. After all, Renew Europe itself is a political alliance, between the liberals of the Alde, the democrats of the EDP and other forces. The message we will give is: let’s combine forces because we must continue to be protagonists, the king makers of a pro-European majority also in 2024 and for this reason we need more Renew Europe in Europe and more Italy in Renew Europe.
To stay, let’s say, on the same phonetics: +Europa can be one of your interlocutors, what are the others?
Personally, I kept in touch with Riccardo Magi to make sure that he and Emma Bonino were present at the event in Rome. When I speak of a common list, I absolutely hope that +Europa will decide to be part of it. Together with Italia Viva and Azione, the European liberal democrats that I helped to promote with Oscar Giannino, Giuseppe Benedetto and Alessandro De Nicola. I will work to ensure that these four realities will be part of the common list.
Then all the movements, associations, and personalities that share this perspective and want to overcome a bipopulism that, instead, the media, analysts, and part of the institutions are trying to make us swallow. The European elections are the best opportunity to say that there is an alternative to bipopulism: because we are playing at home, because we are the most pro-European force in Europe and also in Italy, and for a technical, but important reason, which is the proportional electoral system.
Do you consider the hypothesis of a shift to the right of the European People’s Party (EPP), with an opening to Ecr, to be concrete after the next European elections, or is it the usual national political dynamics that make us see upheavals that are not, or not yet, there?
It is clear that Manfred Weber, Antonio Tajani and Roberta Metsola are working to build a right-wing alliance together with Ecr, looking also at the extreme right of Id. It is an attempt that distorts the EPP the way it was born, it was the party of Alcide De Gasperi, Konrad Adenauer and Schuman. They make no mystery of it: in any interview, whether they talk about Peru or Mongolia, they include their perspective of an alliance, actually enlarged. Tajani often speaks of ‘liberals’ and again I inform him that Renew of such an alliance with the extreme right wants nothing to do with it.
However, the point is how much is tactical and how much is propaganda. They don’t have the numbers to reproduce populism at the European level. It seems to me that within the EPP itself there are strong resistances. This certainly will not be our perspective, which is to strengthen European integration, and these are not the words of Sandro Gozi: it is the formal commitment we took in the memorandum of understanding between Alde, EDP and Renaissance and we say no to alliances with extremists.