Liberalism: What’s in a name?

The European Parliament political group ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) have announced the intention to drop the word ‘liberal’ if an alliance with French President Emmanuel Macron’s European “Renaissance” movement is made. That’s a good thing for the authenticity of liberalism in Europe..

The alliance

The announcement was made recently: ALDE and Macron’s Renaissance, which already contains mostly ALDE member parties, will be working together after these European elections. Their goal will be to get 100 seats in the next legislature. This is an ambitious objective that can, at least in the eyes of Macron, only be reached if a broad coalition of centre, right of centre, and left of centre parties come together. Macron’s platform is a known one: a Europe-wide minimum wage, more powers for the Eurozone, and a European military with increased spending capacity. To achieve this, a vastly increased budget will, of course, be necessary.

The German liberals (FDP) boast about the upcoming alliance back home. Strange, when so much of the French “centrist” platform should be repulsive to FDP party chairman Christian Lindner. While the FDP supports European free trade agreements and a reasonable, pro-innovation approach to climate change, Emmanuel Macron is threatening to back the EU-Mercosur agreement if Brazil opts out of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. Polar opposites? Not for elections, it would seem.

ALDE group leader and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt is also ready to give up the word “liberal” in order to make this alliance happen. It is unclear how consultations went on within the “liberal” movement in regard to this issue, but one thing is for sure: Macron is hijacking the liberal democrat movement in Brussels.

That’s not a bad thing

In my post from two weeks ago, I laid out how ALDE has lost the moral high-ground. Estonia’s liberals are allying with the far-right, Czech liberals are hosting a prime minister with corruption charges, and Bulgarian liberals support an oligarch with an 80% media monopoly on the country. Not to mention Verhofstadt’s dishonest attempt at rallying Beppo Grillo for the group despite having personally distanced ALDE from M5S just two years earlier.

But with ALDE’s stance on environmental questions, taxation and centralisation, every good liberal can only be thinking “good riddance.” Should the Italian Social Democrats and the Portuguese socialists join this Renaissance-ALDE alliance, then there is no reason to bemoan the loss of the word liberal. If everything and anything goes under a word that previously stood to represent a belief in individual rights and economic liberalism, then the political philosophy loses.

ALDE was a sad representation of European liberalism. Now it will be a sad representative of nothing whatsoever.

This article was first published by Values4Europe.

Pictures are Creative Commons.

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About Bill Wirtz

My name is Bill, I'm from Luxembourg and I write about the virtues of a free society. I favour individual and economic freedom and I believe in the capabilities people can develop when they have to take their own responsibilities.

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