Transform! Europe and all its member and observer organizations have committed themselves to create spaces for radical progressive dialogue and debates and assist the affiliated parties throughout Europe in their race towards the EP elections.
One of the most bold footprints the economic crisis has left behind is the historically condensed political time. The political crisis of the European Union and the integration process does not seem to reach to an end and political instability resulting from the crisis of the political representation gives birth to eruptive developments that have an impact to the whole Union. Five months before the European Parliament elections no political family has to present a strategic plan for the European Union that responds to its identity crisis and presents a model of integration that recognizes the fundamental contradictions and weaknesses of the Union by proposing a way forward towards prosperity, social justice, solidarity and freedom.
The only political force that seems confident and ready to see itself more powerful after the EP elections, both in electoral and political terms is the far right across the EU. Strong and influential far right and populist right parties in Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Poland, Hungary and Sweden have transformed the political framework of European politics by managing to create a new populist narrative that crosses over to the whole EU. Even in Portugal where we have no performance of any relevant far right party, a recent opinion poll is showing that 27% of the Portuguese admit that they would potentially change their vote if a new party emerge to speak out against illegal immigration and corruption. In parallel, in Greece, Golden Dawn, an openly neo-fascist party, currently on trial accused of being a criminal organization, while it had been paralyzed for the last three years, they are presently resurfacing with militant actions and grotesque political shows under the nationalistic intensity created by the Prespes Agreement signed by Alexis Tsipras, the Greek Prime Minister and his North Macedonian counterpart.
The danger of a massive rightward shift in the upcoming European Parliament elections is real. And the EP elections would be only the beginning. The far right does not aim for an exit from the EU despite its hysterical antiglobalization and Eurosceptic cries. The far right aims for a transformation of the EU into an authoritarian union of nation states that will continue serving the neoliberal order but it will finish once and for all with democracy. The Hungarian government under Orbán is at this moment promoting a new labour law that allows the employers to demand until 400 hours of overtime per year and the right for this overtime to be paid even three years later!
However, authoritarianism is not moving unhampered and this is where the political left needs to pay attention. Popular resistance emerges in many diverse and certainly unpredicted ways through events marked by their singularity. Europe is on fire by the collective agency, such as the yellow vests uprising that has put French politics into an unforeseen turmoil, the students’ movement in Albania demanding free public education and students’ democratic control over the university’s functioning and the Hungarian people’s protests called “Merry Christmas Mr Prime Minister” against the new labour law (15.000 people marched through Budapest on Sunday and after the protest, people moved towards the state television headquarters, while a group of MPs was demanding to have a list of demands read out on air).
The European left has to act accordingly if we do acknowledge that one of the most important tasks we need to accomplish is the shut-off of the far right’s onset. We must use the European Parliament elections and the electoral campaign as an opportunity to put forward a radical left strategic plan for Europe based on equality, social justice, social, political and labour rights of the people and democracy under the scope of a contemporary conception of socialist internationalism. The left is the political actor that can unite all the democratic and progressive forces in Europe against the rise of the most xenophobic, nationalist, authoritarian, sexist and social darwinist wave of our times.
After the study we have published under the title “The Party of the European Left, DiEM25 and the Transnational Campaign of Jean-Luc Mélenchon towards the European Elections in 2019”, we are currently initiating the EP Elections Monitoring Project as a collective effort of our network to observe the developments all the way until May 2019, but likewise after the electoral results and the new composition of the European Parliament. What we aim to achieve is a more or less clear picture of the political framework in each European country before the elections and in a latter stage, after that.
Being a network of political foundations and organisations in more than 20 European countries, we do believe that we have the capacity to observe the European Elections campaigning process from a left perspective in order to a) analyse the political landscape where the Elections are taking place and b) produce fruitful conclusions for our political parties and the Party of the European Left after the electoral results based on a methodology that takes into consideration the pre-electoral conditions. Transform’s role would be to use the data and the analyses from the respective countries in order to formulate a broad, analytical framework of what do the European elections really mean for Europe and where does the Left stand. The project will be hosted in our website including also partnerships with left leaning media during the day of the elections. January 2019 is the kickoff date of the project and we will keep you posted for its concrete steps!