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Berlin. 17th of July, 2023.
Today, I am announcing that I’m running as an independent candidate for the European Parliament on the list of the German Left Party. This is not a decision I have taken lightly. Instead, I debated the offer with friends and colleagues from inside and outside the EU, many of whom are very active in social movements but do not hold EU passports and the privileges to engage with democratic institutions in the same way that citizens can. The situation is urgent: fascism is on the rise once again across Europe, people seeking safety are stripped of their human rights, fossil fuel corporations are making outrageous profits while people endure the cost-of-living crisis, we all feel the consequences of the escalating climate crisis around the globe. At a moment like this, I believe that movements striving for justice cannot afford to ignore state institutions.
The sixth mass extinction and climate breakdown are challenges that humanity has never faced before. And they are not accidents. They were caused and are fuelled by a massive power imbalance between the interests of fossil fuel corporations and the public. The next years will be critical, as social injustice and ecological damage spiral out of control – unless we as actors of civil society force governments to take drastic actions to create the conditions for equal well-being for everyone.
The corporations which have recklessly caused the climate crisis must be held accountable; they have to be socialised and their money used to finance a just transition. At the same time, we need to cancel debt of the Global South, share access to technology and provide safety for people who are forced to leave their homes. We cannot afford the tax avoidance of the rich, we have no time to waste on corporate green-washing and false solutions (like carbon offsetting and biodiversity credits). Instead, we need to act with decisiveness and truthfulness to fight for equal power structures, transparency and democracy.
What happens in Brussels may feel very far-removed from everyday life in Catania, Krakow or Rovaniemi, but the decisions that are taken by European institutions affect not only people in Europe, but also far beyond. As a person who is deeply rooted in social and environmental justice movements, I have never had any desire to work within state institutions. However, I feel that strong links between the movements in the streets and the European Parliament are urgently needed. I believe that this position can be used to make movements’ voices heard in parliament, but also to strengthen social movements by sharing information, resources and media attention whilst acting as a watchdog for what is happening within the institutions. I will strive to be a transparent, critical member of parliament. I will be accountable to civil society and justice movements in Europe and beyond.
In social movements, we often talk about a strategic “ecosystem approach”, in which groups work together for their common goal, but take action according to their own experiences, skills and specific focus. At this moment, in this movement ecosystem in Germany, an institutional representation of the movement is lacking. I think the German Left Party can fill this gap, as it is emerging from an internal crisis and is in the process of re-positioning itself as a progressive justice party that unites the interests of the oppressed. Consequently, the party approached me for this candidacy, to try and strengthen its ties with civil society. Whether this will be successful depends on the engagement of movement actors. I believe we should not stand by as spectators.
– Carola Rackete