Which kind of politicians does the European Union need in order to achieve greater goals? The recent decease of Adolfo Suarez, the first Spanish President after the dictatorship, makes us reflect about it. He was a politician able to find consensus in a divided society. In a European Union many times accused of lack of leadership and division of interests, it would be crucial to have the right politicians elected to rule the main institutions.
Few days ago Spain cried for the death of Adolfo Suarez, the first President of our young democracy, as he was known. He played a key role in the “Transition” from a dictatorial regime to a democracy. And it was not an easy task. He had to lead the country surrounded by all kind of political pressure, a failed coup d´état and terrorist actions. Some people called it a miracle. But the fact is that he succeeded. Spain became a strong and modern country equal to its European partners, which allowed it to join the European Communities in 1986.
Sometimes a national event can make us reflect about the European project. This is the case for me today. Some minutes after the news of his death was published, the reaction of the Spanish population and leaders was unanimous and sincere: A tribute to a politician that took the right decisions, even if that meant to take serious risks, in an unstable environment. He knew how to unite different political forces in order to achieve a genuine goal.
That a whole society has a common reaction to an event is rare. That it is concerning a politician is unique. And that astonishes me. So, I started wondering: why did people from different ideologies react in the same way to the death of our Ex-President? What can we learn from that at the European level?
When reflecting about the next European elections, I think one of the questions we should all wonder, even (or especially) the candidates, should be: What kind of politicians do we want to represent us for the next five years? What kind of values should these leaders have?
Europe, as it repeated once and again, is going through a period of crisis. However, this crisis, as its etymological origin suggests, could be seen as an opportunity. But in order to take advantage of such an opportunity to grow together we need committed politicians.
For this reason, I would like to be represented by committed MEPs that truly believe in the integration project. But I do not ask just for this. The person that would get my vote should also be brave. I say brave because sometimes being representative of the citizens’ means to take hard decisions. Maybe it means to vote against your own believes. What it is sure is that most of the times the work would have to be done under an extreme pressure of external forces and influences. In the case of Adolfo Suarez, for example, being brave was one of the qualities that allowed him to fulfill his task. He even had to face a shooting in the Spanish Congress, being one of the few parliamentarians that stood in front of the militaries to defend the democracy. That is an extreme situation, but that is the concept of courage that I would like to find in the new European leaders. This prototype of statesman is the one that Europe deserves.
To conclude, my last questions, this time without answers, are: Who would lead Europe through the transitional period, from a supranational system to a federal state? Who is going to be this wise politician surrounded by an ideologically mixed team that will take the last and definitive step in favour of the European integration? Would the miracle take place again, this time at the European level? Would we be led by a person that represents the consensus of the different parties and countries of Europe? If this politician exists, I would definitely vote for him.
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Sofía Mairal Montero de Espinosa is currently a student of the European Law LL.M at the College of Europe in Bruges. She graduated in Law from the University of Málaga and completed her studies in the University of Bologna and in Madrid. She was Blue Book trainee at the European Commission in Brussels in 2013.