The Financial Economics master student is number 17 on the young party’s list of candidates. Over the past weekend, he campaigned in no fewer than eight cities, driving around the Netherlands in a big bus, in the company of some 50 volunteers. “All this activity gives me a lot of energy.”

Janssen enjoys travelling across the country and talking about Europe with the people who cross his path. “At first glance, the European Parliament seems very distant to a lot of people. But when you bring up some of the subjects that are being discussed within the EU – things like climate change, migration or data security – everyone turns out to have very strong opinions,” he notes. “You’re almost assured of an interesting discussion.”

Young movement

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Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

The first time Janssen heard about Volt was last year. “I read a newspaper article about the party and immediately felt a click,” he says. “It was founded by three young people as a positive answer to the rise of populism and nationalism,” Janssen explains. It was exactly the party he was looking for. “All too often, Dutch politicians use Brussels as an easy scapegoat,” he continues. “As if everything that goes wrong is the EU’s fault – but whenever things turn out OK, it’s supposedly our own achievement.”

In Janssen’s view, a political party that is active in multiple European countries can operate a lot more effectively within the European Parliament. “I find it very strange that the European Parliament is made up of very loose coalitions of national parties, even though they tend to have completely incompatible ideologies and programmes.” He’s convinced that Europe needs transnational parties, which can help solve transnational problems. “Our plan, in other words, is to form a Volt contingent within the Parliament. So while the various candidates who are voted in actually come from different countries, we as a party all follow the same programme.”

Graduation

These past few months, his calendar was completely dominated by the May elections: learning the finer points of Volt’s party policies and programme, participating in debates, handing out flyers, and campaigning across the country. “But I always make sure that I can still do fun things over the weekend – like going out with friends, sports or a festival,” he adds.

Janssen has put his studies on the back burner for the moment. “But this doesn’t worry me one bit,” he says. “I’ve passed all my subjects and they went really well. So I’ll probably be able to graduate with honours.” After the elections, he plans on getting back into his thesis, after which he hopes to graduate over the summer. In fact, he doesn’t have a choice, because on 1 July, he’ll be starting his new job at an investment firm. “In other words, I have six weeks to finish my thesis. But I’ll manage.”

No political ambitions

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Before becoming a Volt candidate, Janssen had no prior experience in politics. “I’d never even debated anyone,” he says with a smile. He actually didn’t join Volt with an eye on making the list, but simply felt “a need to set things in motion”. Janssen: “When they were drafting the list, they asked me whether I was interested,” he explains. His friends and family were enthusiastic, in any case: “They said it suits me very well and that I should just go for it.”

Volt Netherlands claims they’ll be able to land two seats in the parliamentary elections on 23 May. Janssen also knows that as number 17 on the list, his chances of going to Brussels are fairly slim. “No problem,” he says. “For me personally, it’s very important that our generation goes to the polls. Of course, I hope they’ll vote for Volt – but at any rate go and cast your vote.”

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