General Assembly of transform! europe

Prague, 9-11 September 2011

26 delegates from 13 countries met in Prague for the General Assembly of the members of transform! europe. Several invited people from the Czech Republic have followed the debates. The Secretary General of the Czech Communist Party, Vojtěch Filip, participated in one of the meetings in order to present his organization and to talk about the political situation in the Czech Republic. Jiří Málek, one of the organizers of the General Assembly, explained how his organization (Society for European Dialogue, SPED) came to be associated to the network. He talked about the crisis and the current problems in the Czech Republic, more in particular with the Roma population. Faced with the emergence of the extreme Right, which is a consequence of the deterioration of the social situation in the country, he asked what underpinned many other questions during the debate: what can the Left, and more particularly the radical Left do?
Major ‘Projects’ (Working Programme) of transform! europe and Other Activities:
One of the major programmes concerns the fiscal, economic, social and political crisis in Europe. Elisabeth Gauthier – facilitator of the project and member of the transform! europe managing board – recalled the different activities, more particularly the conference organized in the European Parliament in May 2011 which proved that there is a growing convergence between different social movements.
transform! europe made progress as an active partner in different alliances and networks (participation in summer universities, initiative in London in the end of September with the Joint Social Conference).
Mass movements against the establishment are developing (Greece, Spain, Portugal, Arab countries, Israel). However, there remains a huge gap between the social demands and the policies which are being imposed.
Haris Golemis presented the second major programme of transform! entitled “Strategic Perspectives for the Left in Europe”. He argued that the crisis had slightly altered the focus of the programme. Although we live in a systemic crisis, the Left is not winning. Do the causes have a strategic characteristic or are they tactical and ideological? He proposed to examine this dimension and to ask experts as well as political actors to acquire deeper analyses. The research programme as such is scheduled to be concluded by a book to be released in 2013.
Walter Baier reported about the other activities of transform! europe. He argued that there is a general crisis which for the moment at least does not benefit the Left. He also recalled that one of the objectives of transform! is to create a close working relationship to the European Left where progress was accomplished with the help of a joint working group and through the personal meetings with Pierre Laurent, the president of the EL. transform! europe today is acknowledged as an active partner in different alliances and networks (see above).
One project approved of and presented to the members’ meeting by Romania concerns the “National Question in the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe”. This is considered to have priority, because it is a very sensitive topic. An interesting discussion was held on the interest of the project presented by the Left Forum of Finland (Ruurik Holm) concerning a basic income and its economic, political and moral feasibility.
The New Challenges for transform! europe – Identity and Development of its Structures and its Methods:
Walter Baier introduced the debate. He proposed to start the discussion from the idea that the Left has entered a new phase with new challenges. In a certain way transform! encounters now the limits of its human and financial resources.
Three texts were presented which re-word a debate that is in fact much older: Do we have to privilege the formula of the network? Or should we prefer the constitution of a foundation, with a stronger structure, more professionalized than what exists today? For Walter Baier, different approaches exist but they are all based on different experiences. They can also be read as complementary documents.
For the Finnish Left Forum (Ruurik Holm), it is not the Managing Board which should organize activities. It should have a more political task.
The proposals of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation go in the same direction. It proposes to “locate” those who are responsible for activities in between the Managing Board and the activities themselves. The objective is to re-define the responsibilities of the Managing Board. Presently, this board is not a political direction, but more a project management board. This proposal also aims at professionalizing the work on the magazine.
Elisabeth Gauthier presented the text of Espaces Marx, insisting on the need to be more efficient and therefore to use the diversity of national experiences.
In order to proceed in the debate a couple of decisions were taken:

  • An open working-group – which means with members not necessarily belonging to the Managing Board, but acting under its responsibility – will be created.
  • In addition to the elected members of the managing board and the office also Gabriele Kickut (RLS) Carla Luis (Cultra), Jonas Söderqvist (CMS), Roberto Morea (transform! italia), and Jiří Málek (SPED) will be invited to attend the meetings of the Managing Board. The invitations will be sent out to all members so as to allow others to participate.
  • The frequency of meetings will be reduced: once a month, though without excluding the possibility of having more meetings.

Finally the working schedule of 2012 and the budget were approved, as well as the activity plan for the fall 2011.