Volt is a progressive, pragmatic and pan-European movement that aims at the democratisation of Europe, the change of policy practice and the development of realistic solutions to the daily citizens’ problems far from the current approaches and mindsets of the systemic Greek parties, which proved to be insufficient and unsuccessful to conduct the drastic changes that Greece required over the past 50 years. They understand the challenges but we go step by step with the goal of creating an attractive alternative proposal for the country with federalism at its core.
In a nation that has long been caught in a two-party political system and where the scars of the post-2008 crisis still linger for many, embracing a federal, pan-European agenda poses certain difficulties. However, Volt Greece has successfully increased its membership by twofold since its initial congress, indicating that Greece is demonstrating a growing inclination to rebuild its confidence in both European and political institutions.
With the run-off scheduled for June 25, the country is preparing for the establishment of a government. This task is particularly challenging in a nation that lacks a history of forming significant alliances. I had the opportunity to meet with them just one week after the initial round of the Greek national elections, and we all shared a sense of urgency to take decisive action.
Manos Avgerinos and Katerina Georgiou, who serve as spokespeople for Volt Greece, provide insight into the process of expanding a small political party, discuss the existence of euroscepticism in Greece, and outline their strategy for participating in the 2024 European elections.
- As a relatively young organization, you have experienced rapid growth since your initial congress. Would you be able to provide further details on the process of establishing and expanding a small political party?
Volt Greece was officially established when two groups of active citizens joined the already existing team of Volters in Athens and created together a core team of around 200 people, with 50 of them being extremely active in the day to day operations of the party. We elected our first council and created a number of working teams from volunteers related to communication, expansion, community and technology to cover the daily demands of the party and numerous policy teams in order to develop specific policies in every state area similar to a government. Before our conference, we expanded our network by contacting other citizen groups that were not part of any other party and of course using our own personal networks. After our conference we received significant attention from online media and received hundreds of applications which helped us to become more organized and move our party forward.
To recap, the process started with the Foundation and Vision, Organizational Structure, Grassroots Engagement, Policy and Development, Media and Communication and we are now in the process of campaigning and development. To successfully scale up, you need to focus on continuous Adaptation and Growth: Remain adaptable and open to feedback, evolving your strategies based on changing political landscapes and societal dynamics. Continuously assess your party’s performance, learn from experiences, and adapt accordingly to foster sustained growth.
- How can you rebuild trust in European institutions and ideals among your electorate in post-2008 Greece, where euroscepticism had taken hold?
While the situation was true during the Greek financial crisis, the majority of Greek citizens have now recognized the necessity of the reforms suggested by the EU to rationalize fiscal policies. They understand that previous governments lacked the political will to implement these reforms fully, opting instead to raise taxes to meet the EU’s requirements and increase state revenues. The Greek financial crisis was not caused by the EU but rather by widespread corruption within successive governments since 1974. Consequently, euroscepticism in Greece has significantly declined, as evidenced by recent elections where pro-European parties gained a majority of parliamentary seats. This reduction in euroscepticism has been further amplified by observing the challenges faced by Brexit, which has underscored the potential difficulties Greece would encounter if it were to leave the EU. Particularly among the younger generations, there is a strong understanding of the benefits of EU membership and overwhelming support for it.
- Has it been easy to garner support from the Greek population for Volt Greece’s pan-European ideals?
Gaining media coverage in Greece has proven to be exceptionally challenging, making it difficult for people to become aware of Volt Greece in the first place. While many individuals may already align with our ideals, they are often unaware of our existence and would likely join our cause once they learn about us. We believe that the majority of young people, in particular, share a significant portion of our beliefs. Unfortunately, mainstream media outlets such as television and radio pay little attention to newly established parties like ours, and some even demand financial compensation for interviews. As a result, we primarily rely on social media platforms to promote and disseminate our ideas.
- Considering that Volt Europa boasts a remarkably youthful membership, how does this dynamic translate within the Greek context?Are there any notable distinctions between the older and younger generations?
Nowadays there is a huge generation gap. Access to information due to technological developments has significantly contributed to its exacerbation. The new generations have such easy access to find and read whatever they want that they sometimes tend to underestimate the knowledge and experience of the older ones. At the same time, the older generations, who did not have such access and grew up with a greater dependence on older and more experienced individuals, tend to feel that they have lost that privilege, so they may react a bit unfairly towards the younger generation. Nonetheless, both the enthusiasm and passion of the young and the sobriety and experience of the older ones are essential elements in most ventures in life. Hence we should all have more empathy, in order to overcome this gap, by putting ourselves in the position of each generation and understanding their problems.
Regarding Volt, we are indeed a young party, but not only because we have many young members, but mainly because we perceive politics in a different and innovative way, from our everyday work to the way the party is organised with open procedures and our policies which are adjusted to the needs of modern societies focusing on dealing successfully with the problems of the modern era.
In Greece the state is “held hostage” by the party in government since according to the current system the prime minister effectively controls both the state and the party MPs. If a government MP does not vote in favor of a party policy, he/she will usually be kicked out of the party and/or the government. In addition, each government places its people in top management positions in the vast majority of public services. Volt is against these practices. That is why our party statute ensures that such practices cannot be adopted should Volt become government. It is for instance not possible for leading members of the party to hold a government position. The Co-Presidents, the Secretary, the members of the Political Council, Central Committee, Ethics Committee and any other body of the Party who are in a position of responsibility through which government policy or executive power is exercised in the wider public sector should automatically resign from his/her position within the party and remain only party members. Moreover, a gender quota applies to all party bodies, which ensures that no more than 2/3 of their members will be of the same sex.
At the same time, we truly are a pan-European party. We work closely every day with the Volt parties of other countries as we share common values of solidarity and mutual assistance. Finally, we are a transparent and democratic party, since each member has the opportunity to participate in any policy group that matches his/her knowledge and interests, all meetings are open to all members and all important decisions are made via internal referendums. All these significantly differentiate us from the existing parties and we hope that the world will understand and appreciate our innovative approaches.
- Are you intending to participate in the European elections, and if that’s the case, do you have any advice for those running in eurosceptic countries on how to navigate the electoral landscape?
Yes, it is within our intention to run for the European elections. Our approach will involve promoting the positive side of the European Union and making people understand the huge benefits each country and its citizens enjoy because of that. We plan to develop a campaign full of positive messages about how the EU has increased society’s welfare in our everyday lives and encourage people that it is the time to take the next step in federalism within Europe by promoting how an important challenges of European societies such as climate change or immigration should be resolved with a common European approach as the national parties have failed in doing so. All traditional parties have adopted populistic approaches from time to time in order to increase their voters and have expressed concerns about the EU and Greece’s role in it. They reject even discussing the possibility of a Federal Europe but Volt Greece will have a clear message on why we should take this next step rejecting populistic campaigns that all other parties have used in the past. After all, one of the reasons Volt Europa was established in the first place was the rise of populism all over Europe so our approach is fully aligned with it.