MERA25 – Not Just Another Political Party – Model, Principles and Pathway
Europe’s only transnational political movement puts forward the idea of a transnational political party as one of its tools for democratising Europe
We consider the model of national parties which form flimsy alliances at the level of the European Parliament to be obsolete. While the fight for democracy-from below (at the local, regional or national levels) is necessary, it is nevertheless insufficient if it is conducted without an internationalist strategy toward a pan-European coalition for democratising Europe. European democrats must come together first, forge a common agenda, and then find ways of connecting it with local communities and at the regional and national level.
— Extract from DiEM25’s founding Manifesto
DiEM25 is, first and foremost, a movement with members that participate in the formation of its policies, while its Electoral Wings (MERA25) explore, recommend and enact electoral options for bringing power to the movement’s principles and policies.
A revolutionary, historic first: DiEM25’s Electoral Wings take the form of political parties that represent our transnational, pan-European political movement electorally in their country. Their ultimate goal is to develop the power necessary for DiEM25’s ideas to become a reality through electoral engagement. However, whether they contest elections is ultimately dependent on whether DiEM25 members across Europe decide that the conditions in the said country are right. No matter what the final chosen strategy, the electoral wings need to always be complementary to, and aligned with, the national and European efforts of the movement.
Transnationality: DiEM25’s Electoral Wings, as the executive electoral expressions of DiEM25, are the first transnational parties with a genuine transnational decision-making structure (as expressed through DiEM25), a truly pan-European background, and election manifestos, as well as policy papers in general, approved by all DiEM25 members across Europe. It is in this sense that DiEM25 remains the transnational movement which authors the manifesto and policies of each member-state manifestation of our ‘Electoral Wing’, while adapting its mission to the national context of the countries it is active in.
Name and Logo: DiEM25 registers a political party in as many European (not just EU) countries as is feasible. These parties will have the name MERA25 and the logo will be the same as the logo of DiEM25’s first electoral wing in Greece replacing the Greek letters. The red swallow will act as their common symbol. The Electoral Wings of DiEM25 are recognized as part of a single pan-European political struggle through their names, logos, and their common origin and belonging to the movement.
Inclusive and participatory in policy design: MERA25 will campaign in each country within the scope of our Progressive Agenda for Europe and the national programmes they will develop. Our inclusive and participatory White Paper process will continue at pan-European level, as today, feeding into the manifestos of MERA25 in different countries, while policy answers to national and local issues will be explored through the Peoples’ Gatherings project which the movement is using to develop a more relevant voice in national political matters. The task of MERA25 is to reach the mainstream and to imbue national electoral politics with this transnational DiEM25 agenda. The programme of MERA25 always provides the electorate with a positive vision and through that imply what we are for, rather than focusing on being against the status quo.
Transnational candidates: DiEM25 considered cross-national candidacies, beginning with the May 2019 European Parliament election. E.g. a German DiEM25 member running in Greece, a Greek in Germany, an Italian in France, a Belgian in Spain etc. (electoral legislation constraints notwithstanding). Thus, we put into action transnationality in a manner that helps create the European Demos that Europe’s future democracy necessitates, and we will continue to explore opportunities to insert more Europeans in electoral contests beyond their own countries. This is a guiding principle also for our local and national contests, to the extent that the law allows for
Mobilisation: Any pan-European movement without an electoral presence fails to avail itself of a key path to influence in today’s democracies, and hence tends to impotence. And a pan-European party without a coherent transnational pan-European movement behind it can only repeat the failures of the past. We need both. By acquiring Electoral Wings, DiEM25 did not lose its character as a movement. On the contrary, it gained strength by effectively pushing its policy agenda on the canvas of pre-election campaigns and, later, within parliamentary processes. The unprecedented overlap of major crises facing Europe calls for both: (i) a comprehensive political response which can translate social energy into political power and (ii) the transnational mobilisation of social and political leverage on governmental institutions to ensure change. We conceive a ‘party’ as a mechanism to facilitate and expedite social mobilisation, giving it a clear tool through which to enact that change. Our transnational party list will, besides seeking to win electoral support from voters, serve to provide a clear theory of change to our mobilisations on the ground and to facilitate those at European level.
Movement-party relationship: MERA25 is an indivisible part of DiEM25, which is a transnational political movement. Its role is to plan and coordinate actions in the electoral sphere, in the form of a political party (while the role of DiEM25 is to pursue movement-building actions). The local, regional and national boards of MERA25 stay in regular and transparent communication with the respective bodies of the movement. MERA25 is not distinct from DiEM25, but a tool of the movement, used to further its goals through electoral activity. In order to maintain its political and organisational coherence, the movement, primarily through the Coordinating Collective and ultimately through All-Member Votes, always maintains the option to dissolve MERA25 in case its political principles and policies no longer reflect those of the movement.
Non-Partisan: At the heart of our political mission lies the simple truth that if Europe is not democratised, it will disintegrate. DiEM25’s call has been answered by people of various political backgrounds, brought together by the aim of driving through a transformation to our political system, and an upgrade of our democracy. Hence, MERA25 is not ‘partisan’ in the traditional political sense of being guided by political tribalism. The scale of our mission instructs us to look beyond political cleavages and petty party politics, and instead support any and all who agree with us that Europe can and must be democratised, as long as they are willing to join us in forming the force that ushers in the internationalist democracy of the future. At the same time, we cannot afford to waste our movement’s potential and ideas in alliances of convenience that eliminate the relevance of our policies and undermine our ability to facilitate change. The priority of MERA25 is to ensure the best possible strategy for the electoral success of DiEM25’s policies and goals.
Common ground: Where other parties attempt (and fail) to create a common European party, DiEM25 already has a common European platform on which all its parties are based: the movement. MERA25 has the freedom to go further when following the movement’s principles, adapting them to its own context and priorities, but always in close collaboration with the movement’s bodies, without the collaboration of which MERA25 fails in their purpose: to represent the movement electorally in their country. The Electoral Wings communicate with one another through at least one common monthly video call, hosted and moderated by the Coordinating Collective, whose role it is to coordinate them at the European level.
Optional membership: True to our promise of non-partisanship, and as a demonstration of how DiEM25 challenges the standard relationship between movement and political parties, there will be absolutely no compulsion of DiEM25 members to automatically become members of MERA25 in their country of residence: membership of any political party or alliance set up by DiEM25 will be on an opt-in basis for each of its members. However, all members of MERA25 have to be DiEM25 members to ensure that decisions via all member votes of DiEM25 are respected and implemented. Hence it also follows that if a member leaves or is expelled from DiEM25, they also leave or are expelled from MERA25 membership. In order to ensure this dual membership, MERA25 must have in place a system that automatically registers individuals who sign up to their party to DiEM25 as well.
Multiple membership: DiEM25 members will not only have the option of not joining MERA25 in their country of residence but will also retain the right to continue to belong to other political parties, as long as those parties’ values do not clash with DiEM25’s Manifesto. Members of MERA25 cannot be members of other parties, except for MERA25 in other countries and parties established in countries where MERA25 does not exist. If a person is a member of MERA25 in several countries, they just have to pay a membership fee to one.
All-member debates and votes: The electoral manifesto and statutes of MERA25 will be developed in cooperation with the Coordinating Collective and their country’s National Collective, and validated via All-Member Votes. Candidate lists for national and European elections will also be submitted to All-Member Votes, while lists for local or regional elections will be developed by MERA25. An All-Member Vote is always necessary in case of an electoral alliance, endorsement of a party that is not MERA25, or any list that includes candidates that are not members of DiEM25. An All-Member Vote can be requested by 10% of the local or regional membership, if in doubt about a chosen programme or candidate list.
Alliances and elections: If MERA25 seeks alliances with existing political parties in the specific country, then that alliance needs to be made on the basis of our Progressive Agenda for Europe (including the Green New Deal for Europe) and the national programme of our party. A detailed step-by-step approach has been developed for MERA25 to follow if they wish to establish an electoral alliance
Power: The political content is always of primary concern, and cooperation is only possible if DiEM25’s policies and programme are not compromised. Power is not an end in itself but is only meaningful if it offers us an opportunity to implement what we think is right. The condition to get power (meaning to be elected) can never be to undermine our program or our values. This type of power, gained through bargaining with the powerful and received as scraps under the table, is the kind of power that has alienated millions of our fellow Europeans from representative democracy over the last few decades. We only want power if it will allow us to bring power to our policies: if to gain it we need to sacrifice what we stand for, or the means to affect meaningful change, then it is not true power, and we do not desire it.
Diversity: Diversity of the membership and leadership is actively promoted in MERA25. All people have the right to unobstructed participation in all and any of the bodies and activities of MERA25. As electoral extensions of the movement, MERA25 is expected to stand by the same principles of inclusion and diversity that are outlined in DiEM25’s Manifesto.
Code for Candidates: All candidates sign the DiEM25 Code for Candidates. The Code for Candidates says that, if elected for a position, which provides enough income for a reasonable maintenance, the candidate will put the mandate in the centre of their working life, transparently provide an overview about all other sources of income with amount and name of institution and not take money from companies and lobby organisations or if so, donate the full amount to DiEM25.
1. (BASICS) DiEM25’s Electoral Wings have to follow theNot Just Another Political Party Proposal, PrinciplesandPathway listed above. The statutes of MeRA25, our Greek Electoral Wing and MERA25 our German Electoral Wing, act as inspiration for the statutes of all other Electoral Wings, notwithstanding the changes that will be needed to adapt them to national legal frameworks.
2. (SET UP) Initially, prior to its legal establishment, approving the statutes of MERA25 (as a whole) and amendments to them (separately) must be validated through a DiEM25 All-Member Vote, as should the board of MERA25. The rules for the election of MERA25 boards are the same as the National Collective elections, barring the requirement for a voter quota.
3. (BUILD UP) Until the number of party members reaches 1/100.000 of the country’s population, the party is considered to be in the build-up phase and should focus solely on building up the party (which is to say to develop the statutes, create an electoral programme, and expand its membership). However, if a reasonable number of people are active locally for MERA25, participation in local elections, to grow membership and even be elected where possible, can be proposed to the Coordinating Collective and approved via a DiEM25 All-Member Vote once a concrete programme and candidate list is drawn-up. These proposals must be made well in advance to the election date, and no later than three months in advance. No alliances can be considered while the party is in this embryonic stage.
4. (FINISH LINE) When the party membership number reaches 1/100.000 of the country’s population, the statutes of MERA25 will be reviewed by its membership in a bottom-up participatory process, coordinated by the MERA25’s Board and the Coordinating Collective of DiEM25. Once this process is finalised, and a political programme is drafted and validated by a DiEM25 All-Member Vote, MERA25 is in a position to pursue national and European electoral contests, always in coordination with DiEM25’s bodies. Candidate lists for national and European elections must be submitted to an All-Member Vote, but local and regional elections can be coordinated by the MERA25 directly. All votes must be submitted no later than three months before the date of the elections MERA25 intends to contest. All work should be coordinated with the Coordinating Collective to ensure that the final proposal has the best chances of being close to the political and strategic direction of the movement, and has the best chances of being approved by the membership.
5. (OPTIONAL) If, as part of its electoral activity, MERA25 wishes to establish an alliance with another political body, a separate step-by-step guide has been drafted to allow for this possibility.