Despite living and working for transnational democracy, I couldn’t vote on the EU elections

Marta Cillero Manzano | Communications officer | European Alternatives

We are going to need some time to analyse the amount of data coming from the EU elections happening from the 23-26 May, but there are some conclusions I can already take, starting from my lost vote.

On the 26th of May, Madrilenian regional and municipal elections were held together with the European. I’m from Madrid and I’ve been living in Rome (Italy) for almost four years, where I work at European Alternatives promoting democracy, equality and culture beyond the nation state. I’m part of the 17 million EU mobile citizens coming from all 28 member states. Besides having tried very hard to get registered to vote in the city where I live and work, the overwhelming procedures, bureaucratic processes and the infinite queues at the citizens offices of the Municipio V, made it impossible for me to exercise my right to vote at the municipal, regional, and European elections held yesterday.

In spite of being active at several feminist groups and organisations that promote transnational feminism starting from the concerns on how globalization and capitalism affect people’s lifes across nations, races, genders, classes, and sexualities, I couldn’t express my ideas on a vote for a feminist list or candidate, neither in Spain nor in Italy. However, from this elections’ results, we can take that an ecological, feminist, and democratic message against the extreme right has been sent from several countries (Spain being one of them), and yet, there wasn’t a common transnational list that I could vote for from my country of residence.

We live in an increasingly irreversibly globalized world, where the greatest challenges we face require international responses. 

The fact that this elections have seen higher participation rates in the last 20 years, also mean that the mainstream debates, the topics of concerns, and so the citizens, are becoming more and more transnational and aware of the importance of having a paneuropean discussion about the most pressing challenges of our times: from the need to transform the global financial system, to implementing a Green New Deal for Europe to protect the environment, from the necessity to protect  workers’ rights to regulating global technology. We live in an increasingly irreversibly globalized world, where the greatest challenges we face require international responses. To address them, we need both cross-border social movements and transnational institutions to work with. We need the messages and votes sent against the right translated into transnational lists functioning across Europe. We need  the rights of the citizens like me, who are living and struggling across borders, to be better represented. It is not the time to surrender, but to continue working with the new candidates and movements that have understood that an entire political and economic system is on the verge of collapse and that we must join forces to bring a new, transnational and realistic European political proposal. This is the challenge that will define our generation.

Democracy and civic participation can take many forms and reproduce in many different ways, casting the ballot is just one of them, but we also need a new civic protagonism.

National politics are very likely to still remain blocked and messy for some time: but we, progressive European citizens, need to keep our objectives very clear in mind, and have a concrete horizon of recomposition that will lead our process of change. Only the construction of transnational movements can restore democracy and power to the citizens. But where to start? Or better, from where do we continue? Democracy and civic participation can take many forms and reproduce in many different ways, casting the ballot is just one of them, but we also need a new civic protagonism, a new way of understanding politics and our role in the world. It is a challenge that starts with us, with the millions of EU citizens that, besides being active on our local struggles, have been denied the right to vote.

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