Be brave instead of worrying and make right-wing populism strong

Instead of showing only worry and anxiety in connection with far-right populism, we have to step up with braveness, a clear message and program for the people, making it sure that we represent the alternative. Masses do not want to belong to and vote for the worrying side but the strong and confident side, and far-right is doing everything to make itself look strong and confident. We have to communicate the merits and the accomplishments we have done lately. This is what Bernie Sanders is doing in the United States. He supports labor unions and represents the interests of the employees on a daily basis, making a previously never seen left-wing tendency overseas. Labor unions are getting stronger in the USA and Sanders keeps on communicating the achievements that left-wing tendency is achieving. We need a strong social partnership between left-wing parties and civil organizations, to fuse politics with the everyday life of the people and solve the problems on ordinary level. This is what makes left-wing politics popular, when we show up very specific, very concrete achievements that people can connect with their everyday life and feel they can benefit from it. Crabbing far-right and generalities are not enough. We have to communicate our accomplishments, the positive results of the left-wing governments and our future prospects that people can feel the direct benefit of. Supporting labor unions is a key. Representing the rights of the employees is a key. We have to show up that we represent the interests of the many instead of the few. Only those countries should join the European Union in the future that respect labor rights and developed working conditions. Some EU members do not respect these values and it has to be sanctioned. The European Union does not sanction those members that clearly break the common and written values of our democratic community and it should have consequences. Far-right politics in the EU smells that it is not sanctioned, this is why they are getting more and more unashamed and unscrupulous. Only those members should receive money from the common pool of the EU that respect and apply the common and written conventions. It is nonsense that the European Union is still funding those members that openly go against our common, democratic values and destroy the rights of the employees. The rights of the labor unions, paid overtimes, maximum 40 hours work per week and receiving a fair share of the corporate welfare by he employees should be ultimate criteria. In my opinion, the Copenhagen criteria has to get a continuity and should not be forgotten just because a country joined the EU. All the members have to be monitored if they stick with the application of the common conventions and criteria. Copenhagen criteria should not only be fulfilled during the time of the accession negotiations for a country that wants to join the EU. The fulfillment of the Copenhagen criteria should be applied after the accession to the EU as well and it has to be monitored continuously. Those member states that do not meet the criteria should be sanctioned and should not receive money from the common pool of the EU. In my opinion, guarantees of the rights of the employees have to play a significant role in the criteria of a country to join the EU and they have to be kept after the accession as well. Stepping up for the interests of the employees, communicating our accomplishments and sanction anti-democratic governments are the key factors of the future of the left-wing and the entire European Union as well.
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As we all know the Copenhagen Criteria defines whether a country is eligible to join the EU or not, based on political, economical and legislative aspects. The Criteria guided all aspiring Central and Eastern-European countries to successful application to the EU since 1993. Nowadays after 25 years of the birth of the Copenhagen Criteria we face problems regarding the application of it. As far as I am concerned one of the most critical problems is, that the EU and its institutions only monitor the externalities of the Criteria such as free elections with a secret ballot or freedom of personal opinion. Thus the lack of in depth monitoring and analysis of each member states political practice, misbehaving member states like Poland or Hungary can easily get away with acting purposely against the fundamental principles of the European Union based on our common values. Since these governments are in power because of formally free elections and operating in liberal democracies they can continue to hide their authoritarian actions and practices in the frame of democracy, thanks only to the lack of in depth monitoring and the lack of sanctioning. Without well outlined and strict sanctioning policies there isn’t anything which could hold back member states who decided to act against the European principles. Therefore without strict sanctioning we can’t guarantee that every single member state which joins the EU by promising to keep in practice the fundamentals of the Copenhagen Criteria will actually do so. The right-wing populists we sadly have to face in our own European community only respects strength in political discourse. Minding the fact, that we cannot descend to their level, we should make it clear, that if one member of our community would like to benefit from the goods of the community, then it has to follow the common principles of it. Stepping up together against those governments who pose a threat to our common values is necessity, however sanctioning can never replace only supplement conversation with our fellow members of the community. Understanding, listening to the people and acting in unity is the only social democratic, the only true way of solving the problem right-wing populists pose to the European Union.

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Democracy is in our culture, in our air: We breathe democracy! We breathed democracy when we were young and while growing up as European citizens. We all wanted to enjoy the European values of freedom. We wanted to emerge and enjoy the richness of these values. They were the natural consequences of the end of a bloody WWII. However, we took for granted that these democratic values were there for us and our civilization, but today populism is once again challenging these democratic values. We invented our European democratic values as a consequence of widespread dictatorship across Europe. But, everything that is invented by human beings, it can also be destroyed. Today, we suffer, we are afraid, because we see the erosion of these democratic values. We are angry, because we see that a group of illiberal politicians are threatening our societal freedoms. We need to train our European thinking, to behave and to create a common democratic standard. Democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights are customary principles in which we all believe in, and they are at the core of the Copenhagen criteria as much as the need to have a functioning market economy. Economic problems, inequality, unemployment, health… all these issues exacerbated frustration and unhappiness, that turned the electorate to populist leaders. What populism has given to some EU citizens is a hope for a future but at the cost of basic freedoms and democracy. A hope that people and voters has not seen in other political programmes. Populism has given an answer to existential fears of tomorrow. Why do some voters feel comfortable with populism ? Populism keeps people attached to the surface of things, populism does not leave time to people to think more in depth about their daily problems, does not leave time to people for more thoughtful thinking. Populism only creates fake enemies personified in our neighbours. Populism teaches citizens to hate the neighbours. If we want to reveal the symptom, the cause that brought populists to power, we need to determine the meaning of the general social unhappiness. We need to talk and understand and confront social unhappiness. Therefore, my doubt… are we more in love with the old European desire for democracy or with a clear tangible democratic life that has benefits for the people? Hence, are the Copenhagen criteria enough developed to represent the needs of European people? When democracy attains a supranatural meaning, based on a fantastic ideal, and not on a clear vision, this generates insecurity in the electorate. But when democracy represents the stability and the security of a European shared life, then democracy is the light in citizens life from birth to death. Citizens, then, think about their future and what will it be under a tangible democratic umbrella. Democracy cannot be imposed and cannot be taught. Democracy has to be chosen by citizens. People have to choose to be free, even if this requires suffering and many challenges. Socialists and Democrats have to act as a guide along the way of the democratic path. The guide has to show the steps in front of each citizen, but it has not to force citizens on the path. The Copenhagen Criteria should be strengthened in this direction, by making democracy more tangible and meaningful to each European citizen.

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