The coming meeting of progressive forces in Bilbao (November 9-11) is of critical importance. We are having a chance to deliberate on the current challenges and dilemmas on the road to the European Elections in May 2019, exchange views, and build on a big, left-wing political and social alliance. The Progressive Caucus in the European Parliament is actively participating in the meeting, being represented by a number of its MEPs.
Since 2008 the malfunctioning of neoliberal policies has caused a deep-rooted crisis that has not yet been addressed. Although there have been considerable efforts to break out the austerity doctrine, conservative EU and Eurozone leaderships keep pressing for the same failed and socially repugnant policies.
The progressive forces should start embracing sustainable models of production, development and labor, putting all aspects of security first (i.e social, job, data et.c) while working on restoring quality employment and social inclusion, and demand a deeper involvement of trade unions in the decision-making process.
At the same time, we should build on a democratic solidarity economy with a clear agenda that rejects austerity, enhances wealth redistribution and tackles growing income inequality across EU. In this context, the role of the state is vital, being positioned as a critical actor in designing structural reforms and embedding new political elements, such as social investment and social entrepreneurship.
Furthermore, it is crucial to focus on social majorities and re-imagine our political and organizational mobilization. A considerable part of the electorate feels alienated from politics, especially the younger generations. We cannot let this become a new trend, therefore we need to re-examine the challenges for the left, explore new patterns of political participation and forge new coalitions in political and social level.
To that end, it is important to start asking ourselves how we can re-define our political messages and find a convincing balance between a visionary approach and pragmatism when it comes to electoral promises. In addition that, it is vital to emphasize on how we can build welfare societies rather than trying to maximize our political rhetoric.
The challenges we have to face are clear, and so are the steps we need to follow. Let’s make EU politics work for the social majorities.
*Dimitris Papadimoulis is Vice-President of the European Parliament, head of Syriza party delegation.