Months before the EU elections in May 2019, the political families are organizing their campaigns and political agendas. The left-wing and progressive forces are heating up their engines to present a convincing program that can become the prominent policy model for EU and Eurozone.
We have witnessed new channels of communication and cooperation in the European South towards the formation of wider political alliances. There are interesting endeavours to that direction, like for instance the agreement between the Socialist party and Podemos in Spain on the national budget draft, the successful case of Antonio Costa’s government in Portugal, as well as Alexis Tsipras’ government big achievements and efforts in Greece. In addition to that, we are observing positive developments in Bavaria with the electoral increase of the Greens, but also a surge of support over left-wing and Green parties in the political scene of Belgium. At the same time, EPP and S&D affiliated parties are facing huge electoral losses.
In the European Parliament the Progressive Caucus is intervening in EU politics more decisively, building a fruitful platform of dialogue between MEPs of GUE/NGL, S&D and the Greens on issues of common interest: enhancing social cohesion policies, increasing democratic legitimacy and accountability of EU institutions, dealing with climate change, and providing a sustainable growth model, aimed to address the needs and challenges of the social majority.
The latest Eurobarometer survey suggests that EU citizens are deeply concerned about the degree and quality of democracy EU is demonstrating, whereas the latest research report by NGO Friends of Europe indicates a growing disappointment of people over EU policies. An outright majority of citizens believes that EU is not working for them which is a very negative development that channels electoral support toward populist, ultra-conservative and far-right parties.
In this context, there is a two-level debate we need to emphasize on in the coming period. The first deals with the essence of politics and the proposals we are making as left-wing, progressive forces to tackle austerity, neoliberal policies and social injustice in EU and Eurozone. The second level concerns a wider goal which is to secure that hate speech, far-right and divisive rhetoric are kept out of the political debate. This is primarily a responsibility of the conservative forces, precisely of EPP, to keep out of its family those wanting to establish strong ties with far-right figures and parties, and invest politically in nationalist decline.
In the latter, we, as left-wing forces, we are willing to build a wide democratic alliance, preserve and strengthen the founding principles of the European project.
At the end of the day, what we care about is to cope with the concerns of the citizens. We can longer withstand big projects and vague proposals. We need to stick to the challenges we face both as a European constituency, but also as a geographic region that despite being labelled as part of the developed world, it still cannot tackle social injustice, cope with huge gender issues and deep-rooted regional imbalances.
*Dimitris Papadimoulis is Vice-President of the European Parliament, head of SYRIZA party delegation.
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