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Zaida Catalán: Getting the vote out for a greener Europe

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Zaida Catalán: Getting the vote out for a greener Europe
11:44 CEST+02:00
Climate change, women's rights and economic sustainability are high-priority issues for the Green Party's Zaida Catalán, but when asked what she hopes to achieve if elected to EU Parliament, she says with a laugh, “What don't I want to achieve?”

The vivacious 28-year-old candidate says her interest in politics first began as a young girl, when she became an animal rights activist.

"I soon realized I couldn't do much outside of party politics,” Catalán recalls. “I wanted to make a big difference, so joining the Green Party was an obvious choice. It's the only party fighting for a sustainable place for humans and animals to live in, and respecting the environment.”

Catalán, who graduated in 2005 with a law degree from the University of Stockholm, is currently a lawyer for the Green Party (Miljöpartiet de Gröna). She's also a board member of Sweden's national organization for women's shelters (ROKS), and an alternate board member on Stockholm's police and housing committees. In the past, Catalán has also served as a spokesperson for the green youth organization (Grön Ungdom).

She says the influence of the EU Parliament is often under-appreciated, but its power is very important and should not be ignored.

"It's a democratic institution where we make decisions that affect people in 27 countries in Europe,” Catalán explains. “Today, the majority of the laws in Sweden are based on decisions taken by the Commission or the European Parliament.”

Catalán, who speaks Swedish, English, French, and Spanish, says she is a strong election candidate because of her personality, which she describes as enthusiastic, trustworthy and driven by integrity.

“I wont back down. I am a politician you can count on,” she says. “I want to fight for the climate. I want to fight for green jobs in Europe. I want to fight the current economic crisis. I want to push green laws forward and create new green jobs all over the European Union.”

One of her biggest focuses is on ending the sex trade industry across the continent. According to Catalán, it's one of the EU's largest criminal industries, and needs to be conquered through political action. She says Sweden is a strong leader in this fight.

“Sweden is very good at targeting people who are selling sex workers,” she says. “We have a law against buying sex in Sweden. I would like to bring that to other European countries as well. We need to fight the people who are demanding it and have it prohibited.”

But her final message is one that applies to all Europeans: she says no matter who they vote for, she hopes they recognize the importance of living in a democratic society.

“Whether or not you use your right to vote, you are affected in your life by decisions taken by politicians, be it in your municipality, local government, national parliament of Sweden or EU parliament,” she says. “Everyone is affected and you should vote.”

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