Wake Up Foundation Chairman Bill Emmott debated live on Twitter yesterday with Wake Up Europe! activists across the world. We were delighted by how many of you joined the discussion on Europe’s Summer of Elections. With votes coming up in France, Germany, Italy, Austria and the UK the chat was lively and evolved into wider issues - from NATO and Russia to eurozone reform. What follows is a selection of the conversations, but as always we would love to hear more of your opinions - it’s never too late to share your thoughts with us.
Alberto Alemanno, Professor at HEC & NYU and Founder of The Good Lobby, kicked things off:
“Do you see any European leader capable of – and committed to – reconnecting with their citizens through new forms of dialogue?”
Bill suggested that President Macron could - and indeed must - make this connection. Both agreed that while Renzi in Italy and Obama in America failed to remain connected to their respective bases, Macron can succeed where they slipped up by making his leadership a permanent campaign to connect.
Journalist Ezgi Basaran came in:
“Has the tide in the battle of ideas turned following Macron’s victory or is this too much of an emphasis to make?”
For Bill, the victory of the former Economy Minister over Marine Le Pen from the far-right Front National showed that the battle against illiberal political forces can indeed be won. But Macron now has to deliver on his promises and the vision he set out, in order to truly be victorious. (For more on this, see our Eight Point Agenda for Macron.)
Tom in Durham asked:
“With the recent YouGov prediction indicating a hung parliament in the UK after the general election, could Britain, France and Germany all have coalitions in the legislatures this year?”
Bill would bet on coalitions in Germany and Italy, where the highest polling parties (the CDU/CSU and PD respectively) are nowhere near reaching overall majorities. But a coalition is unlikely after the French legislative elections in June, with Macron’s La République En Marche likely to win a working majority. In the UK, predictions of a hung parliament are probably premature although a coalition could be a positive outcome.
Cambridge student Gabriel tweeted:
“Is military union in the EU a better deterrent to Russia than NATO considering the Trump presidency?”
This issue was similarly raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel just this week; as she referred to the need for Europeans to “take our fate into our own hands” due to the nature of the Trump administration’s foreign policy. Bill responded that a stronger EU defence union, with greater spending and coordination, is necessary to effectively deter Russian aggression in future.
Kate from Cambridge asked:
“Can eurozone reform finally become a possibility after elections this year?”
Political will could be supplied by Merkel if she stays in power, as the Chancellor recognises its importance and knows it will be her last term, therefore her final chance.
Thank you to everyone who took part for their excellent questions. We will host another live chat after the UK election in June.
Until then, let’s all keep the debate going online, with colleagues, friends, family and like-minded activists everywhere.
By Max Traeger | 01/06/17
Edited by Claire Willman
From time to time we'll share exclusive interview clips (including never-seen-before footage), the most incisive blog posts and the most interesting dispatches from our event organisers as they take the europe debate to the furthest, biggest, smallest, weirdest, most unusual places around europe and beyond.