By Louise Cripps, Investigations Editor
Bristol second year Luke Stagnetto is standing for election to the European Parliament in the South West and Gibraltar region. He is part of the liberal Democrat team, sixth on their slate. At the tender age of twenty, Stagnetto is the youngest candidate to stand in the UK. He is currently completing a politics and international relations degree.
"How do you find balancing a campaign and completing your degree?”
In truth, it has been challenging. Whilst technology helps to circumvent the difficulties presented by the geographical distance between the campaign office in England and living in Gibraltar, it does mean that I am constantly on stand-by to reply to emails and phone calls.
I’ve had to ensure that my academic commitments take precedent over campaigning requirements, which has highlighted to me the importance of scheduling and timetabling. It really does make me appreciate the work ethic of those students amongst us who complete their university degrees whilst working a part-time job or are fully committed sports players too.
“What promoted the decision to run for the election whilst attending University, why not wait?”
The upcoming 2019 European election may likely be the last of their kind in the United Kingdom. If the UK are to leave the EU on the 31st October 2019, (or earlier), it may be that European elections will never take place again in the UK & Gibraltar. Waiting was out of the question. The opportunity arose and I jumped at it. It’s something I really feel passionately about.
I was initially prompted by the fact that I didn’t want there to be elections held in Gibraltar which couldn’t influence the lives and futures of Gibraltarians, without there being a Gibraltarian on the ballot paper. Bristol has quickly become my home away from home and so it’s also very special to me to have the opportunity to stand for election in the South West region.
“Do you think being a student provides any advantages to your campaign?”
It most certainly helps, especially given the fact that I am currently completing a politics & international relations degree. One of my modules this term was titled ‘Integration and Cooperation within the EU’, which has given me invaluable insight and knowledge to help me understand the current political climate domestically and across Europe.
Knowing that I am the youngest candidate to stand at the upcoming elections is a daunting fact, but it also makes me realise how fortunate I have been to be given such an important platform to represent the youth vote.
“Being sixth on the slate, what do you hope to achieve in this election?”
Whilst I would have welcomed a higher seeding on the Liberal Democrat slate, I think that the very fact that I had my candidature accepted in the first place, is an achievement. It not only reaffirms the Liberal Democrat’s commitment to Gibraltar but is also indicative of their confidence in the role that the youth must play in the political process. It’s all about participation and representation. It is paramount that young people should feel represented and have their voices heard, as ultimately, it is our generation and those which follow, which will be most greatly impacted by our departure from the EU.
I’d also like to hope that my candidature may also encourage other students to endeavour to try and make a difference in their unique fields of interest…politically or otherwise.