Environment, security and bread

Environment, security and bread

When I went to vote in my local village in Crete, a mother had brought her children with her. It was a sizzlingly hot morning, and I know they would much rather have been in the shady playground down the road. But their presence felt very right. Kids tend to copy their parents and these siblings will grow up with the idea that voting is important, and knowing that it matters to queue up and take part in a democratic process. They were too young to vote themselves, but it focused me on whose future I was voting for. Because voting is always about the future and I was essentially voting for the world they are growing up in.

In the previous European elections five years ago (the last one that Brits could participate in), we all had different things on our minds. During that period, climate change was getting the focus it deserves and Greta Thunberg was perhaps at her height. Environmental issues are about tomorrow (we can all tell ourselves that temperatures in June were high even when we were small) but it looks this time as if electorates in many countries have focused less on the global warming catastrophe arriving tomorrow, and more on what they are going to pay for their bread today. Of course, I have no idea what the parents of those children in Kalo Horio voted, but I suspect that their minds were more on the cost of their supermarket bill than whether or not there should be a wind farm in the area.

More alarming than the fall in the “green” vote in Europe is the predicted rise of far-right parties, the objective of so many of which is to cause conflict (the very thing that the EU was established to avoid).

In France, Spain, Austria and Germany there has been a swing to the right which threatens to weaken the pro-European majority in the European Parliament. At the last elections, I don’t believe many of us expected that there would be a war on European soil, right on the borders of several EU states. The solidity of Europe (and its solidarity too, which is slightly different) feels under threat. We have never needed conflict less than we do today. My friends and family often tell me that my vision of the world is apocalyptic, but I do hope that when we come to vote again in five years’ time there is still a free Europe and that today’s 12-year olds (who will be able to vote in Greece by then) will have nothing greater to worry about than the cost of loaves and soap powder.

Victoria Hislop is a British author and a member of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.

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