A Short History of the Party of the European Left
I. The “Communist exception” in the European integration
It is a fact that it has been coined the "communist exception in European integration" due to the absence of collective and planned communist parties action of Western Europe in the process of European integration that has begun in 1957 with the Treaty of Rome.
On one hand, European Socialists, Liberals, Conservatives, Christian-democrats or later the European Greens and on the other hand the European employers (UNICE, European Confederal Union of Industrial and Employers) since 1958, and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) from 1973, contributed in one way or another to this process. At the beginning there was the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1953.
During the 40s and 50s was dominant among communist parties of Western Europe the negative characterization that the CPSU had on the European process of the Common Market as an attempt by Western capitalism in the hands of the United States to stifle the USSR. Hence, they reacted by creating the Comecon in the Soviet sphere of influence. The most that was possible, has been to develop for every Western party "a national road to socialism", almost as compensation for this lack of a common approach. In a similar way and probably due to the same characterization, the CPSU deserved the Marshall Plan (1948-1952) as addressed against them.
The paradox is that it was precisely an Italian communist, Altiero Spinelli, early in World War II, in 1941, who formulated the idea of a Federal Europe, when he was suffering from confinement on the island of Ventotene under the repression of Benito Mussolini. The proposal, Ventotene Manifesto, has led, despite hiding the PCI, the launch of a European federalist movement in 1943 as a need to bring the European countries to avoid clashes and otherwise curb the cravings of imperialism. From the internationalism of the working class, it was an opportunity, to contribute to a better world.
It could be argued that the paralyzing effect of this Communist anomaly somewhat was due to Stalin’s dissolution of the Third International in 1943, during the Second World War. What has been a necessity for some geopolitical coordination from the First International (1864) and the Second International (1889), reinforced by the creation of the Third International in 1919 at the behest of Lenin, seems interrupted this way, as well as the European communist collective action subordinated to the defense of the USSR through the Cominform first (1947-1956) and independently by each communist party after the dissolution of this organization later.
While European social-democracy offered under the umbrella of Keynesianism the construction of the Welfare State (full employment, public health, education and social services, public enterprises, public goods, etc.), the Western European communism lost support by not offering or dispose of concrete progress. All hopes of the Communists in a better world would come after the triumph of a hypothetical and continued postponed world revolution.
May '68 and the Prague Spring represented a severe alarm signal of prime importance for the European Left and particularly for the communists. It showed that there were no concrete alternatives, adapted to the circumstances of Europe, to build socialism in Europe. The Cold War paralyzed everything, eliminating any hope to consciously transform reality. When timidly attempting in the seventies, from the Italian formulation by Enrico Berlinguer's "Historic Compromise" as a proposal of democratic achievement of socialism the reaction on both fronts, USA and USSR, was blunt. The CC of the CPSU ridiculed and dismissed such a proposal. Moscow said that in Western Europe a revolution was impossible given the loss of class consciousness of the working class, and that in any case the revolution has to come from the Third World dragging everyone. The mission of the Western Europe’s working class was for them to support the USSR. For the other part, US imperialism, the reaction was expressed in a tough way too. The coup d’état to Salvador Allende in 1973 eradicating any fancy for democratic achievement of socialism or historical compromise and, secondly, Santiago Carrillo was ridiculed when he tried to explain the content of Eurocommunism in New York.
II. The European Parliament (EP) and the work done by the political group Gauche Unitaire Européenne/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL).
Postwar Europe, in addition to hopes for peace, brings the need for European cooperation to remedy common hardships. In 1952 has been created, under the existence of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), its "European Parliament” with 78 MEPs appointed by each country who, with the Treaty of Rome in 1957, have been increased to 142 but only with an advisory function. In 1971 to the European Parliament (EP) has been given the role to decide on the budget’s expenditure. In 1979 there was the first direct election of MEPs by universal suffrage and in 1986, with the Single Act, the EP has acquired the role of cooperation in the work of the European Commission and the European Council. It is in 1992 with the Treaty of Maastricht, when was transformed the Common Market into a politically European Union, that the EP could assume the role of co-decision in many more areas.
On this track, the Communists and allied deputies present in the EP, in the absence of a European Party of Communists, at the beginning decided to form a communist group composed by French and Italian members, adding 44 deputies in 1979. The first (the French communists) having a position against the idea of the Common Market while the latter (the Italian communists) were favorable. As a result, the group was more a technical one than ideological. In 1989 remains the "Group of Communist and Allies" but with the entrance of Izquierda Unida (United Left) of Spain another group has been formed, the European United Left (GUE, Gauche Unitaire Europeenne) with the participation of Italian Communists (PCI), Izquierda Unida (IU), the Socialist People's Party of Denmark (PPS) and Synaspismos from Greece. This group has been deeply affected by the decision of the PCI, at the end of this year, to transform into the Italian Democratic Party and to move to the Party of European Socialists.
Understandably, the fall of the Berlin Wall and later of the USSR, have risen anxiety in many political organizations of the communist sphere and different alternatives and unitary platforms were sought. Thus we have, as an example of this, a meeting in 1989 in Brussels of the European communist parties convened by the Belgian Communist Party, the establishment in 1990 of a New European Left Forum (NELF) as well, by bringing together traditional parties and others recently converted. But it is when the (European) Common Market was transformed into the European (Political) Union (EU) in 1992 with the Maastricht Treaty that the GUE was enlarged firstly with the French Communist Party (PCF) and later with the Party of Democratic Socialism of Germany after German reunification and, since 1995 with the incorporation of the Nordic left parties, Finnish and Swedish, transforming the group into the GUE / NGL (Gauche Unitaire Européenne / Nordic Green Left). The experience gained by this platform of the left in the democratic struggle of the EP has been the most important contribution for the creation of the Party of the European Left. Remarkable is the contribution of various members of the same group to this process as Francis Wurtz, René Piqué, Fausto Bertinotti, Luigi Vinci, Armando Cossutta, Hans Modrow, Salvador Jové, Pedro Marset, Mihalis Papayanakis, Alecos Alavanos, etc.
It can be said that with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the following year of the USSR, everything has changed for the European communists. The geopolitical framework of reference has become completely different and this has required placing the revolutionary proposal of socialist transformation in coordinates that, under pressure from the neoliberal offensive, would have taken time to elaborate. Firstly, it has been necessary the mere survival, to resist. Since 1990, when for similar reasons in Latin America the Forum of Sao Paulo (FSP) has started, the search for new ways to overcome neoliberalism by the parties of the Left has been put into place. In Europe it has not been possible to develop such a unitary step among the different forces of the left. On the contrary, it has persisted the traditional approaches and the parallel discourses, each one on their own side: the communists, the socialists, the greens, etc., while the social conditions of the population were worsening.
It looked as if the interpretation of Francis Fukujama "The End of History" (1992), was the only reality: capitalism as a “present continuous”, eternal. The proposed “Neoliberal Washington Consensus” by 1989, arrived to Europe in 1992 reformulated as the Maastricht Treaty and everything subordinated to the development of the neoliberal principles of the primacy of the market (single currency, European Central Bank and the logic of profit and interest payments debt) above the social and labor dimensions. The “Social Europe” that was built under the principle of the welfare state in the sixties and seventies was being demolished. It is the ultimate triumph of the Chicago School of Milton Friedman vs. Keynesianism favoring the Welfare State.
III. Preparing the Party of the European Left (EL) in the 90’s
The experience gained by the GUE/NGL shows that it has been the only European parliamentary group systematically opposed to the neoliberal policies of the Washington Consensus and in particular to the European model of Maastricht. In parallel to the approval of the entry into force of the single currency, the Euro, in the mid-nineties it emerges the idea of building a European political force to channel and coordinate this alternative to neoliberalism experience and, where appropriate, offer a new project. Parties initiating such a project were the Italian Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) following its pro-European path, the German PDS, later extended as Die Linke, committed to democratic socialist construction in the area of the EU, the Greek Synaspismos that rejects Stalinism and committed to a democratic Europe as a political framework, as well as the Spanish Izquierda Unida, assisted by the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) and the Catalan left force Esquerra Unida y Alternativa (EuiA) in favor of a more social and democratic Europe, since the clandestine fight. All of them see the EU as a social reality with a strong economic and political class struggle enabling the democratic achievement of socialism.
After a meeting in Berlin in 1998 and in Paris the following year, 1999, and with the collaboration of some of the parties attending NELF Copenhagen meeting, the project has been formed.
The coordinating group connected one to each other party present in the GUE/NGL, and also with others that didn’t belong to the GUE/NGL, or even not members of the EU. In this way there were talks with the Portuguese Communist Party in Lisbon, with the PCF in France, with the Left Party in Sweden, with the Left Alliance in Finland, with the KKE or in Athens, with Communist Party of Bohemia Moravia (KPBM) in Prague and the party of Democratic Socialism, with the Norway's Socialist Left Party, with the Labour Party in Switzerland, with the Communist Party of Belgium, with the Party of The Left in Luxembourg, with the Austrian Communist Party in Austria, with Akel in Cyprus, etc.
Another major boost came from the launch of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in January 2001 that somehow forced regionalization of the continental social forums including Europe. In fact in Florence, November of the following year 2002, the First European Social Forum was held urging progressive answers to the neoliberal Maastricht model.
Clearly, it was also an important incentive the fact that since 2001 and particularly in 2003, the European Parliament defined and accepted the constitution and financing of European political parties as a mechanism to strengthen the idea of Europe, its democratic values and the founding principles of the EU.
This funding the EP offered to European parties was directly proportional to the number of MEPs who signed annually supporting the concrete parties. Thus there were sought and obtained signatures from most of the MEPs of the GUE/NGL for the EL. It can be mentioned the support given by MEPs of the PCF, Die Linke, the KPBM, Akel, IU, PRC, the Party of Italian Communists, Synaspismos later Syriza, the Red-Green Party of Denmark, The Left Aliance from Finland, the Left from Sweden, the Bloco from Portugal, the Sinn Fein from Ireland for one year, like the Spanish Podemos (2014).
Among personalities from each European party working for the EL, we can mention the German party, Lothar Bisky, Helmut Scholz, Helmut Ettinger, Dieter Schulz, Christiane Reymann and Wolfgang Gehrcke; the French CP Daniel Cirera, Gilles Garnier, Francis Wurtz, Jacques Fath, Marie-George Buffet, Pierre Laurent and Joseph Cordon; the Italian party Fausto Bertinotti, Ramon Mantovani, Gennaro Migliore, Luigi Vinci, Fabio Amato, Marco Consolo and Graziella Mascia; the Greek party Nicos Konstantopoulos, Pannos Trigazis, Stellious Pappas, Yannis Bournous, Alecos Alavanos and Mihalis Papayanakis; the Spanish party Julio Anguita, Francisco Frutos, Maite Mola, Pedro Marset, Salvador Jové, Myriam Losa, José Luis Nunez and Jose Cabo.
Finally, after many shuffling meetings as well as more important and defining; after the Manifesto of the European Left, the Basic Program and the Statutes, at the meeting of January 2004 in Berlin coinciding with the annual tribute to Rosa Luxemburg, the constitution of the party of the European Left has been agreed. In this sense the star logo has been adopted with the red arrow to the left and also the date of the founding congress was set to coincide with the anniversary of the Rome Treaty and the European elections in May 2004 precisely in that city, Rome. There were procedures to find adhesions and supports to this event in order to display an extensive list of founding members of EL.
IV. Roma 2004, the Founding Congress. Full Democracy, Economy for people, Peace and Ecology.
It should be mentioned and assess the huge economic and organizational effort made by Communist Refoundation of Italy (PRC) under the leadership of Fausto Bertinotti in order to ensure the holding and development of the Founding Congress in Rome.
Three were the most important objectives of the Founding Congress:
1st - Develop the desire for a European cooperation based on more democracy and socialist aims as an alternative to the Europe of Maastricht
2nd - To formalize this common will in a sufficiently flexible collective party with a simple organizational structure able to make all the different members to feel comfortable and protagonist
3rd - Approve a programmatic statement with the four basic points: a) full democracy, b) economy at the service of people, c) peace and d) respect for the environment.
In this regard the Manifesto approved and included the recognition of the fact that the so called Third Way ("the socialist") has failed, but also assumed that the path of the revolutionary forces in the twentieth century has "reaped great achievements but also great defeats and tragedies". This idea is more explicit in the Preamble to the Constitution of the EL when it says that "we (with the recognition of the achievements of the revolutionary ideas) also declare our unconditional opposition to undemocratic practices and crimes of Stalinism".
The EL is established as a platform for common action, always accepted freely and where there is not "democratic centralism" but, instead, the way of approving proposals is through the principle of consensus. We move forward from majorities and minorities in order to reach consensus, respecting and guaranteeing the variety of positions without voting discipline.
The EL has been launched with a minimal organizational structure. Even the first headquarter was the private house of the comrade Myriam Losa in Brussels, later moving to occupy various offices up to the current location in the Square de Meeus 25. We are obliged to mention the selfless work done by many colleagues from Dominic Heilig and Liberté Gregorio, until Daniel Sheffer, Piera Muccigrosso, through Martin Herberg, Eleonora Circosta, Giorgos Karatsioubanis, Tiago, and many others.
4. Roma 2004, el Congreso Fundacional. Democracia plena, economía al servicio de la gente, paz y ecología. Hay que mencionar y valorar el esfuerzo económico y organizativo que hizo Refundación Comunista de Italia bajo el impulso de Fausto Bertinotti en albergar y garantizar la celebración y desarrollo del Congreso Fundacional en Roma. Tres eran los objetivos más relevantes del Congreso Fundacional: 1º) formular una voluntad de cooperación europea que reivindicase la democracia y el socialismo como alternativas a la Europa de Maastricht, 2º) formalizar esa voluntad común dentro de una estructura organizativa colectiva y partidaria suficientemente flexible para que todos se sintiesen a gusto y protagonistas y, 3º) aprobar una declaración programática con los cuatro puntos básicos, de a) plena democracia, b) economía al servicio de la gente, c) paz y d) respeto al medio ambiente. En ese sentido el Manifiesto aprobado incluye el reconocimiento de que la Tercera Vía (“socialdemócrata”) ha fracasado pero a la vez también asume que la trayectoria de las fuerzas revolucionarias en el siglo XX posee “grandes logros pero también cosechó grandes derrotas y tragedias”. Idea ésta que en el Preámbulo a los Estatutos del PIE queda explícita cuando se dice que “hacemos (ese reconocimiento a los logros de las ideas revolucionarias) desde la oposición sin reservas a las prácticas no democráticas y a los crímenes del estalinismo”. Se constituye el PIE como plataforma de acción común siempre aceptada libremente y en donde de ninguna forma hay “centralismo democrático” sino asunción de propuestas, rigiendo el principio del consenso para avanzar, no por mayorías y minorías, y en todo caso respetando y garantizando la diversidad de posiciones sin disciplina de voto. Se pone en marcha el PIE con una estructura organizativa mínima. Incluso el primer domicilio fue la casa particular de la compañera Myriam Losa en Bruselas, pasando posteriormente a ocupar diversas oficinas hasta llegar a la actual sede en la Square de Meeus nº 15. Hay que mencionar el trabajo abnegado hecho por los compañeros y compañeras de la sede, desde Dominic Heilig y Liberté Gregorio, hasta Daniel Shefer, Piera Mucigrosso, pasando por Martin Herberg, Eleonora Circosta, Giorgos Karatsioubanis, Tiago, etc.
At this stage, there are 26 parties that come together under the name Party of the European Left from 12 countries, 16 of them as full members. We can mention the Party of Democratic Socialism of the Czech Republic, the Left Party of Estonia, the Communist Party of France, the United Left, the PCE and EUiA of Spain, the Communist Refoundation of Italy and RC of St. Marino, Synaspismos in Greece, Die Linke in Germany, the Communist Party of Austria, the Communist Party of Belgium, the Workers 'Party of Switzerland, the Workers' Party of Hungary, the Romanian Socialist Alliance and the Left Bloc in Portugal. Over ten observer parties, the Communist Party of Bohemia Moravia in the Czech Republic, Akel from Cyprus, the Red-Green Alliance of Denmark, the German Communist Party, the Party of Italian Communists, the Left of Luxembourg, the Communist Party of Slovakia, the Party of Freedom and Solidarity from Turkey, the Communist Party of Finland and Akoa from Greece.
As it was mentioned, the programmatic proposals approved by the founding Congress, left no doubt about the objectives and so was stated in the Manifesto that "Europe is a space for the revival of the struggle and political action of classes”. "We want a society that goes beyond the capitalist and the patriarchal logic. Our aim is human emancipation, liberation of men and women from all forms of oppression, exploitation and exclusion”. It states “We want to build a project for another Europe and to give another content to the EU, independent from the US hegemony, open to the south, alternative to capitalism in its social and political model, active against the growing militarization and war, in favor of environmental protection and respect for human rights, including social and economic ones”. “We ask the right of citizenship for all residents in Europe”. And further “we are faced with the recession and rising unemployment, we must oppose the Stability Pact and the political orientations of the European Central Bank (ECB)". "We want elected institutions, the European Parliament and national parliaments, and also the Economic and Social European Committee and the Committee of the Regions, as representative committees to have more powers of action and control". "The consolidation of the EU creates a new political space for class struggle and for the defense of the interests of workers and democracy, through the European society with its organizations and institutions, including the European Parliament".
Son 26 partidos los que se unen bajo la denominación de Partido de la Izquierda Europea procedentes de 12 países. De ellos 16 como miembros de pleno derecho, el Partido del Socialismo Democrático de la República Checa, el Partido de Izquierda de Estonia, el Partido Comunista de Francia, Izquierda Unida, el PCE y EUiA de España, Refundación Comunista de Italia y RC de San Marino, Synaspismos de Grecia, Die Linke de Alemania, el Partido Comunista de Austria, el Partido Comunista de Bélgica, el Partido del Trabajo de Suiza, el Partido del Trabajo de Hungría, la Alianza Socialista de Rumania y el Bloco de Esquerda de Portugal. Más otros diez partidos como observadores, el Partido Comunista de Bohemia Moravia de Chequia, Akel de Chipre, la Alianza RojiVerde de Dinamarca, el Partido Comunista de Alemania, el Partido de los Comunistas Italianos, la Izquierda de Luxemburgo, el Partido Comunista de Eslovaquia, el Partido de la Libertad y Solidaridad de Turquía, el Partido Comunista de Finlandia y Akoa de Grecia. Como se ha mencionado la propuesta programática aprobada por el Congreso fundacional no dejaba dudas sobre los objetivos y así se señala en el Manifiesto que “Europa es un espacio para el renacimiento de la lucha y acción política de clases”. Deseamos “una sociedad que supere la lógica capitalista y patriarcal. Nuestro objetivo es la emancipación humana, la liberación de los hombres y mujeres de cualquier forma de opresión, explotación y exclusión”. Se afirma “Queremos construir un proyecto por otra Europa y dar otro contenido a la UE, autónoma de la hegemonía de los EE.UU., abierta al sur, alternativa al capitalismo en su modelo social y político, activa contra la creciente militarización y la guerra, a favor de la protección del medio ambiente y del respeto de los derechos humanos, incluidos los sociales y económicos. Pedimos el derecho de ciudadanía para todos los residentes en Europa.” Y más adelante se señala que estamos “enfrentados a la recesión y aumento del desempleo, hay que combatir el Pacto de Estabilidad y las orientaciones políticas del Banco Central Europeo (BCE)”. Para ello “Queremos que las instituciones elegidas, el Parlamento Europeo y los parlamentos nacionales y los comités representativos (el Económico y Social y el de las Regiones) tengan más poderes de acción y de control”. “La consolidación de la UE crea un nuevo espacio político para la lucha de clases y para la defensa de los intereses de los trabajadores y de la democracia, a través de la sociedad europea con sus organizaciones e instituciones, entre ellos, el Parlamento Europeo”.
V. The EL in progress. Athens 2005, the first Congress, Prague 2007, the second one, Paris 2010, the third, and Madrid 2013, the fourth.
The evolution of the EL has been of continuous strengthening of its structure. Thus in 2015 the EL has already 31 parties from 21 countries, including 17 of the EU, 4 non-EU countries (Turkey, Moldova, Belarus and Switzerland) and two of Northern Cyprus. In the meanwhile there have been changes such as the Danish party which became full member, Synaspismos transformed into Syriza, the Left Alliance of Finland joined and the Communist Party of Finland become full member. It has also to be mentioned the joining of the Communist Party of Moldova and the Party of Belarus “For a Just World”, as well as two French parties, the Left Party and the United Left, the Sinn Fein from Ireland and the United Left of Slovenia, to which add a number of proposals for membership pending approval at the next congress in Berlin.
The five most significant dimensions the EL wishes emphasize are:
Aware of the enormous importance of the full integration of women into the political fight, it was agreed that the Executive Board should be composed of two people from each party, man and woman, and that in the congresses would be involved ten members from each party, also with the gender balance. As with the figure of the EL President, if he is a man, the vice-presidency should be composed by women. In fact it was proposed in Rome Fausto Bertinotti as president and as vice president was elected Grazziella Mascia. And today (2016) being President Pierre Laurent there are three women as vice-presidents, Maite Mola from the PCE (Spain), Marisa Matias from Bloco de Esquerda (Portugal) and Margarita Mileva from the Left (Bulgaria) as well as one man, Alexis Tsipras from Syriza (Greece).
On the other hand it has to be said that simultaneously to the Congress, there has been meeting of all interested and working in the field of women's rights, forming the EL-Fem network. It has been outstanding the role played in this field by women from Die Linke like Christiane Reymann and Judith Benda, from Syriza like Natasha Theodorakopoulou, from Refondazione like Giovanna Capelli, from the PCF like Christine Mendelsohn and Anne Sabourin, from Spain like Cristina Simó and Maite Mola, among others.
Aware of the launching of an experience of cooperation among political parties which has nothing to do with a vertical structure, and convinced of the value of reaching consensus, any decision has to be the result of debate, never of majority vote. It is a slow process but it allows all parties to feel cared for and respected in their positions and by this progress the result is the agreement and adhesions but never impositions.
3. Flexible organization
The structure of the EL consists in having three types of members, full members parties, observers parties, all with the right to participate and debate, and individual members. It was agreed upon that member parties could choose between the status of full membership or observer with all rights of participation in meetings.
Together with the Executive Board there is the Council of Chairpersons which contains the general secretaries or presidents of each party member.
Understandably, the highest authority lays in the Congress of the Party that is composed, as has already been said, by ten members from each member party.
There is also a technical Secretariat driving all activity. The contribution to the Secretariat has been commendable, highlighting among others Waltraud Fritz-Klackl from the Austrian Communist Party, Antoni Barbara from the Catalan EUiA, Christine Mendelsohn and Jean Francois Gau from the PCF, Fabio Amato from the Italian PRC, Carmen Hilario and Renato Soeiro from the Portuguese Left Bloc, and Maite Mola from the PCE.
All this amount of activity is accompanied by the work of the Treasurer. The first one until the Madrid Congress (2004-2013) has been accomplished by Pedro Marset (PCE), and since that date Dieter Dehm from the German Die Linke. In order to help this work there is a working group with the treasurers of each party member.
4. Theoretical and ideological elaboration of the EL is developed through three main procedures:
a) The working groups and the Parlacon.
The more active WGs have been: i) Trade Unionists with Nuria Lozano of EUiA (Catalonia, Spain) and Gerald Kemski of the German Die Linke among others; ii) education with Sonia Crivelli from the Labour Party of Switzerland and Maite Mola; iii) health with Toni Barbara (EUiA); iv) Environment, v) Economy, vi) Energy , vii) Social Services, viii) Civic Freedoms and Human Rights, ix) LGBT with Carsten Schatz from Die Linke and Benjamin Salesse from RC-San Marino among others, x) Migration.
Likewise, the Parlacon has been a source of theoretical and practical proposals with its annual meetings of representative members in the different parliaments, from the European one down to the national, regional and municipals ones.
b) The Summer Universities of the EL. Aimed primarily to young people, have been held every summer since 2005. They have made an outstanding contribution to the thoughtful discussion of all kinds of issues and hot topics with the help and invaluable assistance of the Foundation Transform!. They have been held in Austria, Portugal (twice), Greece, Spain, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Moldova and Italy.
c) The development and the abundant activity of the Party’s Foundation, Transform!, has been really very useful. Two years after the launching of the European parties, in 2006 was decided by the EP to help foundations of these parties in their efforts to study and disseminate political contents. Create Transform has been very useful and interesting for EL, always keeping their independence. Transform is composed by the foundations of 28 organizations from 18 countries. They produce a journal of theoretical studies, Transform! And also a Newsletter widely disseminated. This Foundation collaborates effectively and exemplary on three areas: a) at each meeting of the Executive Board, b) at each Summer University and c) in each congress. All the initial effort was developed by its first president, Walter Baier, former Secretary of CP of Austria, helped by other colleagues from different foundations. Its current president is Haris Golemis from the Greek Nicos Poulantzas Institute. In the Council of Transform are Marga Ferré by Marxist Research Foundation of Spain, the late Elizabeth Gauthier by Espaces Marx France, who developed a great effort and work in Transform, Cornelia Hildebrandt from the German Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Jiri Malek from the Society for European Dialogue in the Czech Republic and Roberto Morea from Transform of Italian Foundation. Walter Baier is Coordinator of the work in Transform.
d) Looking for proposals and common tasks, fundamental Relations with other organizations and political formations around the world:
I. Sao Paulo Forum (FSP) in Latin America. It is of particular significance considering its fruitful contribution to escape from the trap of neoliberalism with joint strategies. In addition to regular meetings with the FSP, we can mention our participation in their respective conferences and working meetings on agreed topics such as migration or changes of worldwide economic model. In this sense has to be appreciated the work developed by the WG on Latin America coordinated by Obey Ament with the help of Maite Mola, Dietmar Schulz, Marco Consolo, etc. There are many common points, among others the current political situation in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, etc ..
II. Parties and movements of the southern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Of particular importance have been the causes like human rights and freedom of Palestine and Western Sahara, with the solidarity movement that started with the so called "Arab spring", the opposition to wars in Iraq, Libya or Syria. This WG has held two Mediterranean Conferences with the left of northern and southern Mediterranean countries. The work done by her coordinator, Inger Johansen is very commendable, collaborating among others with Claudia Haydt, Maite Mola, Pedro Marset, Fabio Amato.
III. Parties and organizations from Africa. In this sense the EL has participated in the three World Social Forums held in Africa (Kenya, 2007, Dakar, 2011, and Tunis, 2015). Also we have kept in touch with the New Left from Africa.
IV. Parties and organizations from Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union, trying to establish contact with the prospect of a broad platform of peace and security. In this dimension it has been significant the experience and collaboration deployed by some parties of the EL such as Die Linke, the Communist Party of Austria, Syriza and the Party of Democratic Socialism of the Czech Republic.
V. Parties and social organizations in the far East such as China and India. In this respect there have been visits and contacts with the CP of China, with two visits to China, the first one in 2008 led by its President Lothar Bisky, the vice president Graziella Mascia and Maite Mola, and the second one in 2014, with the president Pierre Laurent and the vice-president Maite Mola, among others. The last took place in May 2016.
VI. Progressive parties in the United States and Canada.
e) Involvement with the European social movements such as the European Social Forum and the European Forum of Alternatives. From the very beginning the EL has collaborated and participated in the implementation and development of the broad social platforms claiming for another Europe. Although it was not yet created the EL, many members of its component parties participated in the First European Social Forum in 2002 in Genoa, then in Paris (2003) and London (2004), and as EL in Athens (2006), Malmö ( 2008), Istanbul (2010), and the others. Special attention was given to the European Forum of Alternatives held in Paris in April 2015 as a demonstration of solidarity of the progressive Europe with the Greek people and government of Syriza facing the Troika threats.
VI. The EL prepares the European alternative.
The ELP has evolved around the aim to demonstrate that “Another Europe is Possible”. Two stages can be marked in that evolution: 1st) the first one with the Congresses of Athens (2005) and Prague (2007) questioning the neoliberal construction of the Europe of Mastricht, and 2nd) a second one from the crisis of capitalism unleashed in 2008 with the Congresses of Paris (2010) and Madrid (2013) launching the alternative to that crisis. In this sense it can be considered the first European Government of the ELP the Greek one in January 2015 and as a second achievement the Government in Portugal in October of the same year, 2015 where the Bloco and the CPP support a Socialist government.
In this way at the Congress of Prague with a recently approved Lisbon Treaty that was rejected, the motto of the Congress was “To 'Build Another Europe'”. A Europe of peace, of development and full employment, respect for nature and against climate change. It was elected as President, Lothar Bisky. The following year, 2008, Lothar Bisky presented among other initiatives the "caravan against precariousness" aimed to reach Brussels and proposing an Electoral program of the ELP for the EU elections of the following year, 2009. The ELP wanted to demonstrate that there is such an alternative.
It will be from the Congress of Paris in 2010 with the election of Pierre Laurent as President and Maite Mola, Gregor Pretenko, Marisa Matias and Margarita Mileva on the Vice Presidency when gains renewed momentum the ELP strengthening and increasing activity on all fronts. To this contribute decisively Pierre Laurent and Maite Mola. Maite is able to dedicate full time to the tasks of the ELP.
Finally in the Congress of Madrid, 2013, a decisive step is done when for the first time there is the proposal of Alexis Tsipras for the European elections of 2014 as a candidate by the ELP and assumed by the GUE/NGL to preside over the European Commission. The slogan of the Congress was very clear "Changing Europe". At this Congress was re-elected Pierre Laurent as President and as Vicepresidents Maite Mola, Margarita Mileva, Marisa Matias and Alexis Tsipras.
The improving process of defining the ELP thorough alternative has been developed from the very beginning. Thus it already arises in the I Congress of Athens in 2005 by the President of Synaspismos, Alecos Alavanos, in its closing conference, explains that the ELP contains a specific point of intervention to boost economic development in order to create employment through a special Solidarity Fund. This idea is emerging on the ELP with the passage of the years. In addition, from the very onset of the economic and finance global crisis in 2008, we alert about the catastrophic effects of the stability programmes. These caused growth of public debt and increase of unemployment. This leads to a growing rejection of European society, including the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) that, if they first they accepted Maastricht Treaty, now they recognised it was a mistake to give a critical “YES” to it. The growing rejection of European society leads to a rift with the idea of European Union and the development of populist, xenophobic and nationalistic attitudes.
In 2005 the referenda in France and the Netherlands on the Constitutional Treaty resulted in a NO expressed by both peoples because of its neoliberal content. That meant the burial of it and obliged the EU to put in place the Lisbon Treaty of 2007.
As Greece was the country most affected by both phenomena, the crisis and the measures of the Troika, and also happened to be the only country with a three-party government (with right wing New Democracy and Social Democrats, Pasok), Syriza became the only alterative opposed to corruption and the Troika.
The ELP was aware of this opportunity and boosted the trajectory of Syriza, with the prospect of starting a new stage in which ELP parties could have similar possibilities in other southern European countries, like Portugal, Spain, Italy, etc.. By this way it could be forced a new political structure of the EU, changing the Lisbon Treaty and its institutions.
Important milestones in this path have been several initiatives ELP: the March Conference of 2011 in Athens analyzing the debt and the austerity policy with known personalities of the left like Francis Wurtz, Haris Golemis, Alexis Tsipras, Oskar Lafontaine, Pierre Laurent, Javier Navascues, Elizabeth Gauthier, Elmar Altvater, Euclid Tsakalotos, Yanis Varoufakis, Eric Toussaint, Stephen Gill, Pedro Paez, Jose Luis Centella, etc.; also we can mention the meeting that took place in Madrid in May 2013 at the Presidents ELP Committee with Pierre Laurent, Alexis Tsipras, Cayo Lara and the Trade Unions, CCOO and UGT with Fernandez Toxo and Candido Mendez; also the Alternative Summit in June 2013 in Athens; the Conference of April 2014 in Brussels on Alternatives to the Debt.
VII. The ELP in European governments and the future
The challenge of Syriza is very important. In the first place has to rescue people from both, crisis and Troika. But also in second place it has to convince parties and peoples from Europeans countries suffering similar conditions that it is worthwhile the proposals the ELP offers. Hence the need it has the ELP to clarify its future strategy in order to contribute to a new stage. October 2015 elections in Portugal showed how the right could not form a government and on the contrary the Socialist Party did it conditioned by the help of the CPP and the Left Bloc. The compromise was to limit the austerity policies imposed by the Troika. In this sense, the socialist president of Italy, Matteo Renzi, is also criticizing the austerity policy as detrimental coinciding with the views expressed by the ELP.
There are two main issues to consider at this juncture for the debate of the Congress of ELP in Berlin in December 2016. On the one hand the role of the European Parliament as a theoretical depositary of European popular sovereignty, democracy, and on the other the need to replace the Lisbon Treaty by a new one in which the ELP could offer the crucial cues.
In a context of looming stagnation and even worse, possible worsening of the economic crisis, with populist and xenophobic temptations of renationalisation arising everywhere, the whole structure and functioning of the EU should be the main question to solve. It has to be revised the European Commission and the European Council, the whole economic model of Maastricht (European Central Bank, Austerity, Rescues, Troika, etc.) and try to create a new European Treaty able to guarantee full democracy, full respect to Human Rights Declaration, to fulfill Climate Change duties and to become Europe a world advocate of peace, away from the NATO. We need more democracy in the EU.
In order to define an alternative architectural to the EU it has to follow, according to the present procedure, through the intergovernmental route, hoping to get the support of some other EU governments with ELP presence. Stated the failure of the present design, the Lisbon Treaty, the possible options to discussed are, 1st) to go ahead with more democracy, taking as reference the European people, not only each one of the countries but the whole European society as present in the European Parliament, some kind of federal model similar in some way to the US model of federalism, or 2nd) to go back to the intergovernmental way giving more power to the different governments or national parliaments. Do we dare to refound Europe with a constitutional process or we better go back to Rome 1957 Treaty?.
All the enormous effort that the ELP does and should do with social movements in Europe, has to continue without more proposals or must be completed with a proposed maximum democracy? How is expressed today at the level of Europe class struggle?