Josef Lentsch was the Director of NEOS Lab, the think tank of NEOS, and a former Board Member of the European Liberal Forum.

21st century political problems are not delimited by national borders – so why should 21st century political parties be?

If the challenges we face are continental or even global, so must the structures to address them.

In the short term, on an international level, there is much to learn from another. Just as young people provide fresh ideas and new approaches, so countrymen and -women abroad are a valuable source of political innovation. Different countries do different things differently well. And often, living abroad, at least for some time, leads to expats being even more committed and compatriotic than stay-at-homers. Therefore, they can also provide a political enterprise with the competitive edge, as traditional parties have not cared much for expats in the past. The case of En Marche illustrates:

Ludwig Grœsser of En Marche was 23 and in Montreal at the time En Marche was established, studying marketing. There are 3.3 million French abroad of the 67 million in total. In Montreal alone, there are 100,000 French citizens, 70,000 of which are able to vote. Ludwig campaigned tirelessly, 5,508 kilometers and one ocean away from Paris.

In the end, 40% of the French abroad voted, which turned out to be crucial for Macron’s success in the first round of the presidential election. Today, En Marche has 25,000 members abroad. 9 of 11 representatives of the French abroad in the Assemblée nationale are from En Marche.

This blog is an excerpt from the book “Political Entrepreneurship – How to Build Successful Centrist Political Start-Ups”, published in December 2018 by Springer. The research was partially funded by the European Parliament. Neither the European Parliament nor the European Liberal Forum asbl are responsible for the content of this publication, or for any use that may be made of it. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) alone. These views do not necessarily reflect those of the European Parliament and/or the European Liberal Forum asbl.

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