Between the General Assemblies and the agendas to be prepared, "there is a lot to be done", says Pétange town councillor Christian Welter, pictured
Photo: Matic Zorman
As part of our Summer like no other focus on young leaders, Paperjam spoke with activist and budding politician Christian Welter.
A local councillor of the town of Pétange, president of the Jonk Piraten (young pirates), activist within the Sea Shepherd association, while at the same time carrying out his studies in communication and media, at the age of 22 Christian Welter wears many hats.
It all started four years ago, after watching two documentaries--Rob Stewart's “Sharkwater” and Louie Psihoyos’ “The Cove” about animal abuse. “It was so moving, I really cried,” Welter said, adding that it quickly led him to become vegan.
It was not only an ethical choice, but also a political one--excluding meat would allow less waste in terms of production and feed many more people. Although he says he is not a proselytizer and understands non-vegan people, Welter would like to raise “awareness about animals and the environment” and bring about a “180° turn”, a “change of habits”, and for good reason: “Humans destroy their own habitat and don't care,” he says.
“There are alternatives, and changing habits is not so difficult,” he says. There are alternatives, and changing your habits is not so difficult," he says, adding that those first months were the hardest. “Six months before I became a vegan, I didn't think I could do it,” he recalls. “Then I asked around, I tried for a week, then I tried for a year, and now it's permanent.”
In 2017, Welter joined marine conservation group Sea Shepherd, for which he helped to raise awareness through street actions and collected donations. He also campaigned, particularly in Italy, for the protection of maritime areas.
He was spotted and contacted by different political parties as a result of his activism on Facebook. Undecided between getting involved with Déi Gréng, Déi Lénk or the Piratepartei, he ended up choosing the latter, “a good compromise,” he says. Above all, Welter knew the deputy Marc Goergen, also a local councillor in Pétange, who offered to participate in local elections and helped him to integrate within the party.
An all-electric bus, solar panels at bus stops and municipal infrastructures, Welter is attracted by the Piratepartei programme and its “modern approach to the environment.” What's more, “as a vegan, I find them very tolerant,” he says. “In addition, they take a stand against intensive animal husbandry.”
The Piratepartei won two seats in Pétange in the 2017 elections. Welter was fourth on the list, however, the second and the third names were withdrawn, and he thus entered the town council. He works in two commissions, the environment and youth commissions. Between the General Assemblies and the agendas to be prepared, “there is a lot to be done,” he says. In addition, on the first Sunday of every month, he takes part in “plogging”, a citizen initiative organised to collect rubbish in the streets.
“I'd like to do more, I'd like to join other animal rights groups, but I'm already doing a lot,” he says. Nevertheless, he doesn't see his political involvement slowing down. “When you have a job, you want to have more, you set higher goals, which are sometimes difficult to achieve.” He would like to become more senior on the council and achieve the seat of alderman. And, of course, his “dream” would be a seat in parliament as MP. “We're not doing all this for nothing!”