Saturday 10 January 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (35): The Party of the European Left

Since I have already taken first look at the Party of European Socialists and the European Liberal Party and neither the European Green Party nor the European People's Party show any particular sign of interest in the 2009 European Parliament elections on their websites, let me take a look at a party not yet covered under this category: The Party of the European Left.

Uniting 20 of what could be called the "leftish" or radical left and communist parties of the continent, the European Left is a rather unnoticed political movement. In the European Parliament, they form an alliance with the Nordic Green Left and are called European United Left/Nordic Green Left, holding 41 seats (around 5.2% of all seats), which gave them roughly half a million of Euros of financial support from the European Parliament in 2007 (according to their public financial report).

On their main website there is a clear announcement of the "Elections 2009" and link to their electoral platform which has been decided upon on the Left's Congress in Berlin in late November. The main statement under this platform is:
[T]he neo-liberal foundations of the EU treaties are called into question, in particular the insistence on an “open market economy with free competition”: the unchecked free circulation of capital, the liberalization and privatization of public services, the status and mission of the European Central Bank.
The European Left is also clearly and openly against the Lisbon Treaty. And although this might seem to unite them with other, more nationalist anti-EU movements, their statement towards their political opponents is clear:
The EL competes against conservative and liberal, social democratic and green parties in the member countries and with the corresponding European political parties, which are sticking to the logic of current European policies. The EL is striving for change and regaining the political space in Europe. The EL confirms its consequent struggle against any attempt by extreme right and right populist parties to broaden their influence in Europe.
When you look at the more concrete measures the European Left is proposing, its getting tough, especially hearing classical communist terminology like agricultural land reforms:
We strive for a substantial review of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It must be directed at the right of people everywhere in the world to decide on their agricultural policy themselves by fully respecting the environment. [...] This means giving priority to local agricultural production, quality food and no constraints on submitting the products to the world market. The access to land, seeds, water and credits must be regulated in a real land reform in Europe and the other continents.
The platform continues demanding a disarmament as well as a dissolution of NATO, quite typical positions for the more radical left. Quite interesting is the position on international co-operation and development aid:
The bilateral European Partnership Agreements are the wrong way. The international trade policy of the EU is to be measured by giving adequate answers for solving global social and ecological problems. The fight against still growing global poverty and imbalances must be put at the focus of development cooperation – the misuse of development cooperation for continuing a kind of colonial relations, for the one-sided support of export industries in favour of European enterprises, or as a geopolitical instrument must be stopped.
The paragraph I like most in the whole document is one that every European party should copy-paste and use for their political documents. Different to many other propositions in the electoral manifesto of the European Left, these words are in the heart of the author of this blog (I therefore highlight them):
The European Left favours the creation of all political and economic conditions for a peaceful coexistence of the European peoples and states. Europe needs an economic and social space which does not exclude any European country and which is based on a varied bi- and multilateral system of agreements. The EL stands for the further enlargement of the European Union and for a stable All-European structure to overcome still existing political and economic divisions in Europe. For that the EL supports in particular the preservations of democratic governance, of guaranteeing and realizing human rights for all people in daily practice, of respecting and protecting minorities and the state of law as important preconditions for negotiating with countries applying for EU membership. The EU itself must be made politically and economically ready for further enlargement steps as well.
It's a pitty that this paragraph stands in the midst of quite controversial and sometimes even contradictory statements, mixing radicalism and pragmatism, idealism and strange realism, and producing a mélange that tastes so bittersweet that you don't know whether they would like to govern or just to destroy the system.

Altogether, the text of the platform/manifesto is quite voter friendly. It could have got slightly more structure. But in total, apart from the content, it looks and reads better than the manifestos of the ELDR and the PES. It is entertaining, whether you like it or not. It is not too short, and not too long. And what is important for politics: You can read everything and nothing into many parts, giving room for national interpretations, without losing the general direction. In this sense, it looks like a rather professional text.

I could go into more details, but this post would become far too long. What I like with the European Left is that they care for the elections, more than some other European parties seem to care. I also like their website, structured, but not too playful.

But regarding policies I might eat another cake...

Under the category "Tracking: European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

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Giorgos Karatsioubanis said...

Thank you for your interesting reading of our manifesto!