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  • AutorenbildJo Vergeat

Meine Rede am European Youth Parliament in Basel

Hello everybody,

When I look around here and see all of you, I get insanely excited. Very enthusiastic. A room full of young, motivated people who take an active part in changing what bothers you. About two weeks ago, Orad came up to me and asked me if I would come and speak to you. I wouldn’t hesitate for one second even though I knew I had to change all my plans today. I knew that I wanted to stand here, in the very middle of you all and speak to you. I wanted to have a chance of being a part of this. Standing here now, being able to give you a hand, give you an aim and maybe take a few fears, is actually the best thing I could do right now. Even better than watching my football team loosing again.

I first got in touch with politics at a very young age. I guess I was about 8 years old when I read something about whales dying because of littering. Little Jo couldn’t imagine anyone would continue to litter, if they knew the consequences. So I wanted to inform and started to create a flyer. I copied my hand about 25 times, wrote some information on it and stood in front of my house to hand it out. Being any kind of activist, alone or organized in a group is part of politics and so, part of our society.

When I grew older, I joined the Kinderbüro Basel, an institution that wants to learn the children how our political system works and how you can bring changes to things that bother you. By then, my biggest problem was the heavy weight of my backpack, and we meet someone from the local government, to talk about it. Searching for dialog is a part of politics and of our society.

Then in 2014 they announced the closure of two main clubs in Basel. Hinterhof and Nordstern. Even though I had been to Nordstern once and didn’t particularly love the program there I got furious. I knew that hundreds of people in Basel loved those places and that part of their culture was “stolen”. That’s when I got active. We founded an association, launched a petition and produced a short movie. We organized discussions and brought the different interests of people together. All of this is a part of politics and it was for my good or bad (it depends how you look at it) the point of no return.

Shortly after forming “Bebbi wach uff!” I got asked to join a party. Being young and active in such a broad topic short before elections lead to literally every party wanting me. Man, that was a horribly though choice. Until that day I always was on the other side of the system. I could aim my finger at the parliament, at the politicians and could loudly announce what they did wrong.I never had to argue my opinion if I didn’t want to because I could change it from topic to topic, just the way I wanted to. Ideals, longterm aims, longterm consequences where something I never really had to deal with in such a way. There where a lot of people very insisting in getting me into politics and as you might imagine, I’m not very good at saying “no”.

So I decided to go on the election list, still not having a clue for which party. In the end I had to sit down and find my ideals, topics. The things that make me angry. And I had to figure out a consistent opinion on those things. When I did that, when I knew which things were truly important to me, that’s when I knew which party would be closest to most of these ideals. Being elected into the local government, out of the blue, overtaking men and women who do politics for several years. That is a part of politics. A truly scary one though.

The evening of the elections there was event, where the results are announced. I was standing there, just having split up with my boyfriend about two hours earlier, and had in mind I would just go there, say hi to everyone, speak my congratulations to the elected and then creep off. My Party did very good in the elections, so when everyone came over to congratulate me, I thought, this is how it is works, that everyone congratulates each other. It became clear to me about an hour later, that actually everyone congratulated ME on my result. That I was, “WHAT THE HEEK”, part of politics now.

Since then, being politicly active is part of my life. Three weeks ago I first entered this room, shivering knees, knowing that I know have the responsibility but much more important the chance, to change the future. Our society depends on it’s political system and on it’s stability. I’m having lots of concerns and inner discussions about whether this is the right system or the right way to be part of society. But when I learned something in the past five years, and especially in the last one looking out of Basel, to Hambach, Brussels or even the United States, it doesn’t matter on which level you are a part of politics. It matters that you are part.

It matters that you matter! That we matter! That we are heard.

A democracy is only as strong as its people. No matter if you are a critic of the system, if you search for dialog or if you strike for change. No matter if you start discussions at the Christmas table and get your uncle furiously mad, or if you join a party or an institution. As long as all of you care about how it works and what we might change, there is going to be a future I want to work for. Live in.

My work is often frustrating slow, very annoying and small in scale.

But when I look around here, feeling like I am part of you, I know it’s worth every little bit.

One tiny thing, before I come to an end.

Come join me. I’m horribly alone around lots of old, whiteheaded men. Don’t misunderstand me, we need them too but our system needs you! So if anyone in here is wondering whether being politicly active in ANY party might be an option don’t hesitate to ask me. Or any member of a youth party.

All that is left for me to say now is thank you. Thank you for your interest in our society. Thank you for all your opinions. Thank you for being here on your free Sunday afternoon. Thank you for being a part of politics and society in whatever way it may be.

For I can stand right here in the upcoming parliament sessions and in public and can proudly represent you, the youth. That’s why today I am even prouder to have entered my seat as a politician from a youth party. That’s what I always insisted on. If I ever make it into the parliament, I’ll go and be a delegate of the youth as long as I can be.

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