A pervasive sense of disenfranchisement haunts rural areas all over the European Union: many people in remote places feel they are not being heard, their voices are not considered, and their specific issues never make it into the political agenda. And oftentimes, as voters, they are tempted by radical populists who promise to make their grievances heard.
Even though the pandemic seems to have increased the attraction of the countryside for disabused city people in search of a more ‘down-to-earth’ lifestyle, politically, the specific problems of these areas remain acute – among them, the rarefication of state services, be it for health, education, transport, or many others. Women who need to travel more than 120 kilometres to give birth in a maternity ward that meets today’s standards are just one stark example.
It goes without saying that rural citizens should have the same access as city-dwellers to the conditions to achieve their professional, social, and personal goals. And there are solutions – on local, regional, national, and EU levels –to tackle the political problems of the concerned regions. Many of them revolve around two main axes: stopping the cuts in services, even in remote areas, and giving rural stakeholders a voice in the decision-making concerning their area.