‘Your Vote Can Unite, You Choose’ – Press Release, 21-05-2014

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Campaign against racism in the European Parliament

In the next days citizens all over the EU will vote for a new European Parliament. The elections for the European Parliament from 22-25 May could prove a turning point for the future of the EU. Populist, and racist parties are spreading hate, blaming migrants and minorities for whatever goes wrong, dividing societies in many of the EU member states. This campaign asks all EU citizens to use their right to vote. And we ask all to vote against racism in the European Parliament; to choose for unity, instead of division.

Already these elections have been called historical. The European Parliament elections come in the middle of a crisis that struck Europe hard. Everywhere people have lost their jobs, lost their income, and lost hope. These are circumstances some political parties and movements are trying to take advantage of. Far-right, and racist parties are combining forces and trying to win more seats. They are manipulating peoples’ fears to build support for their dividing policies. Inciting hate against minorities is a classic strategy to gain visibility and win votes, especially in times of economic crisis. Migrants are the easiest targets.

The two largest European anti-racism organisations, ENAR and UNITED for intercultural actions, together with UK based Hope not Hate run a campaign to prevent far-right, racist candidates from being elected. The message of this EU-wide campaign “Your Vote Can Unite” is spread in 28 EU countries and several neighbouring countries. More intensive, local campaigns are organised in Hungary, France, Italy and Greece. The main goal is to motivate people to not stay silent, but use their voting rights.

We want to reach voters in a direct way. In Hungary, campaigners from the organisation Subjective Values go to small villages and ask Roma people to go vote. Campaigners from the young migrants organisation Generation 2.0 in Greece go to friends, family and others and explain why they need to vote. In France, Les Indivisibles produced a special newspaper and video, which are spread in a suburb of Paris. Campaigners from Centro d’Iniziativa per l’Europa del Piemonte in Italy reach out to young people and discuss the importance of the European Parliament elections.

The initiators of the campaign ask citizens to use their right to vote and to choose non-racist candidates. “Many people in the EU do not want parties that spread racism and poison society but they don’t use their voting rights. The public interest for the elections is low. At the same time racist parties do activate their voters, leading to a higher number of seats for far-right, racist parties. That is a bad development. So we ask people to go the ballot box and to vote, to show they care about what happens in their society,” argues Ralph du Long.

The organisers call upon everyone with voting rights to use their vote and not let racists come into the parliament. To choose for unity, instead of division.