by Claudio Tocchi, Centro d’Iniziativa per l’Europa del Piemonte, Turin
We did not want to (we could not) go political.
Politics is a bad word in Italy, something dirty: after 30 years of corruption scandals, bribing and six years of economic crisis, only mentioning the word “politics” causes your entire audience to react negatively. Nobody now is a politician: they are all businessmen, lawyers, entrepreneurs, even stand-up comedians are only making themselves available for the community. The perfect environment to let populism grow, to allow over-simplification to win over discussion and irrational stances to prevail, to have an hate-dominated public narrative.
No, talking about “high” politics would have been a problem for us. Even having big actions could raise some eyebrows. “Who gave you the money”? “Who are you to waste that much money on these issues when people struggle to make ends meet”? And so on.
But politics is not that. Politics is not some fat cat living in golden castle, bribing and stealing from servants below him or her. Politics is not deciding upon people’s head. Or, better said, this is what politics becomes when people let that happen, when they give up the idea of influencing their own society through voting and political engagement.
Non-voting and protest-voting are legitimate democratic tools – but they have impacts on other people’s lives. On our neighbours, our classmate or our kid’s classmates, our flowers’ seller, our employer. Discrimination, racism, populism – they are not abstract phenomena. Protest-voting is not only a “kick in Brussels’ ass”. It spreads hate and divides society.
It impacts all of us with unintended, sometimes very negative, consequences.
As soon as we reached that conclusion, we knew how to frame our campaign. How to talk to people – not about populism and racism from an high-politics perspective, portraying it as a power struggle at an European Parliament no one really knows where it stands, whether in Luxembourg, or Strasbourg, or Brussels.
No, we talked and talk about the effects it has on anyone’s life.
About a divided society which is weaker, less secure, less “homey” for everyone.
About the kind of society we want to build – because abiding to populism and racism is simply giving up to hate.
And we are talking about not giving up.
Our vote can divide, our vote can unite – our vote is important.
We have to make it worth it.
Our campaign is for a racism- and populism-free European Parliament.
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