On 26 May, Leipzig elects all 70 members of the City Council (Stadtrat) and the four Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from Saxony. This election is not just one more boring election, but one that can define the fate of Leipzig and Europe.
With nationalist-populist parties gaining ground in Western Europe, like Rassemblement National (formerly Front national) in France and Alternative fĂĽr Deutschland (AfD) in Germany, the chances of an AfD-controlled City Council or a large anti-EU block in the European Parliament are not zero. These political parties are a threat to all those seeking to live in a cosmopolitan European city like Leipzig, as they advance the construction of “illiberal democracies.”
“Illiberal democracy is a contradiction.”
This is how Swiss publicist Roger de Weck began to explain the term at the MDR Europa Conference 2019 last March. He continued by elaborating that, “by winning the popular vote, many illiberal political parties and governments like Viktor OrbĂˇn in Hungary do away with press freedoms, separation of powers, and social cohesion to gain and remain in power. This is not a democracy.” Therefore, the anti-immigrant and anti-diversity posture of parties like the AfD is due to their illiberal conception of democracy, which is excellent if you want to stay in power long-term.
In this same conference, the former MEP Ruth Hieronymi gave words of hope regarding the democratic future of Europe. She pointed out that, out of the chaos that Brexit has become, support for EU institutions in mainland Europe is at an all-time high. Therefore, there is momentum for pro-European and liberal democratic powers to dominate elected government bodies such as the Leipzig City Council and the European Parliament.
To keep parties like the AfD at bay, you have to vote!
“But I’m not German,” you may say. No excuse!
For both the City Council and European Parliament elections, all German and European Union citizens over the age of 18 who have lived in Germany for more than three months are eligible to vote. For City Council elections you need to live in Leipzig, though.
Note that you have to register with the City of Leipzig to be able to vote.
About 16,200 European citizens living in Leipzig have not filed their voter registration application!
If you are one of them, get moving! You have until 5 May to register to vote! There will be an information session about the voting rights and procedures on 9 April, 2019, starting at 17:30 in Europa-Haus Leipzig e. V. (Markt 10, Handwerkerpassage, 04109 Leipzig). You must register by 5 April if you want to attend the information session, by email at email@example.com. The event will be in German.
At the polls you will have to indicate three votes for City Council (direct candidates and list candidates), and another vote for the European Parliament representative for Saxony.
Due to the bad-taste Monty Python remake called Brexit, it is still uncertain whether or not British citizens will be eligible to vote at the end of May. If all EU countries, without exception, grant Great Britain an extension to their “divorce date” planned for 12 April 2019 (which is possible), then Brits will be able to participate in both the municipal and parliamentary elections.
“Ok, I’m eligible to vote, but I don’t know for whom or what party,” you may reply. No excuse, either!
The Leipzig Glocal will provide exclusive interviews with candidates!
That is, candidates running for City Council and the European Parliament on behalf of liberal democratic parties. We will ask them questions ranging from job creation to climate change. That way you will get deeper insights into where they stand on today’s most important issues.
Stay tuned in the following weeks. We at The Leipzig Glocal will make sure that you have absolutely no excuse not to vote if you are eligible. In the meantime, keep hanging in there as Brexit unfolds…