The European Elections – How Do We Mobilise?

Every campaign constitutes a learning process, a process of individual and collective appropriation and of a gain in consciousness. For us it involves promoting the appropriation by citizens of European-level issues so that they can take a position corresponding to their interests. In order to be effective in 2014 we have to fully deploy new arguments.

Now, for the first time, our Left – that is, the Left with a transformative orientation – is capable of waging a Europe-wide campaign. There are several reasons for this. Austerity policies, however differently they are implemented within Europe, have brought closer together the realities, the struggles, and the alternative proposals that need to be confronted. Our capacity to choose Alexis Tsipras as our common candidate for the presidency of the European Commission has, for the first time, allowed us to symbolise, to make visible, the ‘all together’ quality of our struggle at the national and European level. Without underestimating the efforts this will require, let us take the full measure of this symbolism!
In recent years, cooperation between the social and political protagonists of different countries and traditions (an example is the Alter-Summit), as well as the emergence of the Party of the European Left as a common political space for the critical Left, has made it possible to reconcile different points of view while respecting the necessary and creative plurality of thinking and experience, and to formulate platforms and major axes for the needed refoundation of Europe. Today, there are new convergences at work, as we see in Italy where despite the fragmentation of the Left different components have come together to establish a common list, and as we see in Slovenia where young people are mobilising to lay the bases of a political force, and as in France where the 12 April march has made possible broader cooperation between anti-austerity forces.
In this context, each vote in every country cast in favour of one of the lists in agreement with Alexis Tsipras’ message, each vote that makes it possible to elect GUE/NGL deputies to the European Parliament, will have weight in the relations of global force within the EU. Let us make better understood that which many citizens already feel, especially when they are involved in social and political struggles: The relations of force established in one of our countries co-determines those of the other countries. The day after the elections we will not just look at the results country by country; we will also add up all the results and the deputies of the European Left and compare them to other forces. The usefulness of each vote is not just a national issue; it is by now a European one! Each Front de Gauche vote in France is consequently an act of solidarity with struggles elsewhere, for example with that of SYRIZA in Greece. In each country, the forces in motion will benefit from progress occurring elsewhere. If in one of our countries a left majority comes to govern the first thing it must do is to see who it can count on in Europe (movements, parties, elected officials, MEPs, institutions, trade unions, intellectuals, etc.) to have the power to break with the current logic and implement other policies. Tsipras’ European campaign is largely about preparing such situations. Tsipras symbolises the increasing rejection of the destructive austerity imposed on all European countries, of which Greece is the country hardest hit by it. The campaign represents the will to bring all the struggles and hopes together in order to refound Europe.
In this election the GUE/NGL group is going to advance considerably. All polls are predicting it. Indeed, the electoral progress of the forces in other countries, which have orientations similar to those of France’s Front de Gauche, and our capacity to have a common conversation aiming at the refoundation of the EU, makes it possible for us to reach a new stage. There is no doubt that, to the extent that the extreme Right makes advances, the dominant forces will depict the election as having benefitted ‘two extremes’.  We must therefore forcefully demonstrate that the aim of our struggle is the existence and development of a true Left in Europe. Everywhere in Europe our lists make public the will for an alternative in the face of the austerity policies promoted by the Right or the social liberals.
In the municipal elections we have just experienced one of the most significant moments in the long-term crisis of European social democratic parties. For decades now, their bases have undergone persistent erosion. In some countries this has sharply accelerated in recent years: in Spain (PSOE), in Greece (PASOK), and in France. In Italy, the social democratic party has disappeared; in Germany it can no longer claim to be the principal force in government. Because the transformational Left has been able, through complex processes, to not disappear after 1989 and has begun to constitute itself (in new ‘internationalist’ forms) as a political subject, including at the European level, it has of necessity assumed a very great responsibility today – that of bringing an alternative alive that can counter the dynamic of the extreme Right, mobilising citizens by proposing a policy that can work. Countering the extreme Right requires the constructive expression of anger through a clear message: a left rejection of austerity and an embrace of a common struggle.
Certainly, the state of crisis in Europe is no cause for optimism. The crisis in Ukraine shows that the EU’s situation is critical, also from the point of view of its foreign and security policy, and that its redefinition is indispensable, if it is to free itself from the strategic interests of the United States. But to assume responsibility also means formulating and making tangible that which is possible. This is the goal towards which we must work in this campaign. To appreciably modify the relations of political force by means of the European election is right now the most effective way we have of waging the class struggle on a European scale.

Originally published in French by L’Humanité

Translation into English: Eric Canepa