Interviews with Alex Horn & Erwin Schaefer – International Co-ordinator candidates for GPEx
Throughout August, members of the Green Party for England & Wales will be voting to elect members of the next Green Party Executive (GPEx). In all, members will vote to determine which representatives will carry out eleven different roles – including that of leader and deputy leader. There is also a ballot to determine who will be the party’s third member in the House of Lords should the party be asked to put forward another peer.
Alex Horn (Treasurer for Greens of Colour) & Erwin Schaefer (former member of the Green MEP advisory board) are set to stand for the role of international co-ordinator as a job share team. In August, they will face the job share team of Alice Hubbard & Sam Murray, Frank Sheridan (former Doncaster central candidate), & Claudine Letsae (former GPEX equality & diversity co-ordinator).
We asked each of the candidates five questions on their background and what they would seek to achieve on GPEx. Here are Alex & Erwin’s responses.
What do you think are the main challenges currently facing the Green Party, and how would you work to overcome them?
The Green Party is going to be one of the smaller parties in England in Wales for the foreseeable future. We need to recognise this and use it to our advantage. The GPEW desperately needs to become more diverse as well as attract a broader spectrum of the electorate. Greens of Colour, which I’m the treasurer of, is currently working hard on making the GPEW more attractive to BAME communities. We need to be bolder and preach beyond the converted. We need to win over people by the power of our argument. This is down to presentation, which we can improve on; however, people respond to emotion and not necessarily to facts – we should be aware of this. I feel we need to broaden our base of supporters, reach out to families, green businesses and working people. We can learn a lot from our sister parties, many of which are in power. We need to be more professional and effective in our overall presentation, both in appearance and digital presence.
We must be the party that ‘really gets it’: the climate crisis, destruction of ecosystems, a progressive and empathetic view about austerity, oppression and democratic failures. We need an internationalist outlook, an ability and willingness to share inspiration with our European and global sister parties & like-minded groups, and to explore the struggles they have gone through in other countries. We are not, and should not feel we are, in isolation.
We need to be seen as being relevant, as being honest, as listening, as being open-minded and inclusive – that also means to become more professional in our presentation to reach out to people who do not recognise the Green Party as a political home at this point.
What skills do you bring that would make you an effective member of the executive?
In addition to being multilingual (English, French and Spanish), I am creative, innovative and well organised. I am Treasurer of Greens of Colour, and Events Coordinator for West Central Green Party. I have a BSc in Physics with French and a Master-D diploma in Wind and Solar energy. The ability to think outside the box is one of my key strengths. I have also taught negotiation and presentations skills to executives and university students from around the World.
In addition to being bilingual (English and German), with skills in project management, negotiation, conflict resolution and empathetic listening. I learned these over a long international multi-cultural career in global transportation. I also have a BA (Hons) in science plus the completion of post-grad research studies in climate-related topics. Importantly, I bring passion and dedication to the international project we have to embark upon. In my local West Central London party I serve as secretary and membership officer, and I am actively involved in our targeted campaigns activities. I am also part of the current Policy Manifesto Approval Committee for the London Mayoral campaign.
What background do you have doing international work for the Green Party?
During the UK General election in 2017, I assisted Green MEP, Jean Lambert with my Spanish languages skills at the UK Latin Citizens General Election Assembly. While on a visit to Dublin for a Green Ideas Lab Conference, I visited the Irish Green Party’s headquarters and met and had a chat with Irish Green Party Leader, Eamon Ryan. Also in 2017, I attended the Spring Green Party Conference – Global Greens in Liverpool. During a recent London Green Party fundraising online meeting, I offered my French language skills to Sian Berry to help communicate with municipalities in France that the French Green Party have recently won.
I have been the London Rep on the Green MEP Advisory Board, both during Jean Lambert’s and Scott Ainslie’s tenure. I also campaigned with the Green Party before the EU referendum. Over the last few years I have established working campaigns connections with the London branch of the German Greens and have facilitated contacts with the Green Party at MEP, Assembly candidacy and local levels.
How do you see the Green Party of England and Wales fitting in to international politics post-Brexit?
As a result of this catastrophic decision, the GPEW needs to double its efforts in reaching out to the rest of Europe and reassure them that we are as internationalist as ever. What better way of doing that than by speaking their languages? Together, Erwin Schaefer and myself speak four languages fluently.
After this disastrous decision it is essential to show our desire to be part of an internationalist world. A good start is to keep engaged with Europe and being able to speak some of the important languages, as Alex and I do (French, Spanish, German), will certainly be beneficial. Domestically I would like to see us cooperate much more closely with campaign pressure groups working for a climate solution, fairness in society and stronger links around the European Project. We cannot let an indifferent lethargy overtake our international ambitions.
How would you strengthen the Green Party’s International links?
I am Danish-Trinidadian, multilingual and have lived in five countries. Internationalism is at the core of who I am and what I am about. Multilingualism provides a deeper insight into other cultures, and allows you to build a stronger rapport with other countries. For example if elected, I would participate in online meetings in French with recently-won French Green municipalities, which would enable us to learn from their successes. Furthermore, I would set up a European Young Green Business Group, a European Greens of Colour Group and a European Green Party Network of Repairers.
Many of us have an international story to tell, let’s show our partners we are enthusiastic and passionate – many links are already established.
This interview is part of a series with each of the candidates in this year’s GPEx elections. You can find Bright Green’s full coverage of the elections here.
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