From the 19th to the 20th of September, representatives of member and observer organizations of transform!europe met in the headquarters of transform in Vienna for the annual General Assembly.
The two-day meeting focused on the current political challenges in Europe, the upcoming European election and the possibilities and dangers for the Left, as well as the strategic planning of the network for 2019. The Members meeting adapted the financial report 2017-2018 and elected the new Board of transform!, as well as two new observer members.
Political debate, upcoming challenges and strategic planning
Ten years after the financial crisis 2008 the gap between European regions (South, CEE, North, Center) is widening, while the ongoing Brexit negotiations remind us that the European integration is not a one way process. Parallel to the growing Euroscepticism, we witness the rise of Far-Right populist, ultra conservative and xenophobic forces all over Europe. Far-right parties have exited the fringe of history and by now are intruding governments in the core of Europe, like the recently formed governments in Italy and Austria. Authoritarian and illiberal governments in CEE countries, seem to have stabilized their regime as shown by the recent Hungarian election. The rise of the far-right cannot be solely explained as parallel national processes but must be recognized as a European trend. The questions that rise from these developments do not only concern the Left, but the future of Europe as a whole. Apart from the obvious rival nationalisms, the generalized hostility towards migrants and refugees as well as their objection of the very idea of European integration unite the far-right. Are they apt to develop a substantial European agenda which could create a basis for a string far right group in the EP that goes beyond a technical cooperation? Is there a common hegemonic project of the far-right which is challenging neoliberal hegemony? To which extent is this hegemonic project compatible with traditional conservative parties? The European Union continues to follow the neoliberal doctrine of austerity, while investing in militarization and externalization of its borders and the self-proclaimed ‘progressive block’ (Greens, SDs) seems to continue its course of pasokification blind-folded. On one side we see Europeanism, ideally epitomized by Macron which in fact has less to do with European solidarity but everything with a relentless neoliberal agenda, however exploiting pro-European rhetoric. This resonates well in the ALDE, among the right wing of the Greens, demonstrated by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and even in the Italian PD. That was also the main message of Juncker’s state of the Union-speech: “Make Europe great again!”. The dominant political debate is a false flag fight between those who try to present themselves as Cosmopolitans, while their foreign policy agenda is militaristic and neo-colonial on the one side, and those who scapegoat migrants and refugees, devaluing so human-life, and present themselves as self-proclaimed defenders “Europe’s identity and traditions” on the other.
The main problems of European societies like austerity, unemployment, de-industrialisation, climate change, tax evasion, authoritarianism, racism etc. remain unsolved by those in power, in a rapidly changing global landscape. In times which will be carving Europe’s future in the world, all the above will undoubtedly find its reflection in the results of the upcoming European election and the outcome prospects are alarming.
Within the Left, despite the calls for unity, the situation stays challenging as dominant public debates reflect also within our ranks. The third independent left position, distinct from both Macronism and nationalism, is not yet sufficiently elaborated. Given the rise of the far-right, could a fragmentation of the Left be a reasonable answer? How to frame our discussions around what unites us, rather than what divides us? How to enhance the continuing efforts to create a common political space for strategic discussions among the actors of the Left in Europe? How do we collectively regenerate the discussion on the real problems of the European societies? In which way do we, together, re-orient the public discussion in the European domain towards actual solutions that the Left proposes, rather than pseudo-dilemmas that the right and far-right is forcing upon Europe’s people? How do we strategically and coherently promote the vision of a feminist, ecologically sustainable and social future for Europe?
All the above questions, together with the ongoing struggle for democracy in Europe and its respective countries, echoed the need for new ways of political participation, mobilization and communication for the Left. Evaluating and redeeming the post-crisis 2008 experiences of the European South, as well as understanding the importance of the countries of the CEE region, are preconditions for overcoming current challenges.
This year transform! received more than 50 project proposals, mainly clustered around seven thematic chapters:
1. Marxism –Feminism
2. Strategic perspectives of the Radical Left and UK strategy
3. Productive Transformation
4. Far and Populist Right
6. Global strategy and migration
7. CEE prospects and projects
8. Cooperation Strategies for Southern Europe
Members and observers also submitted additional decentralized projects with European relevance.
The fine-tuning of the 2019 program will be concluded during the next conclave of the Board, in Prague, October 2018.
The Members Assembly unanimously accepted the applications for observer status of the Center for Politics of Emancipation, Serbia and of R-komplex, the publication network of the Party of Freedom and Solidarity in Turkey.
cul:tra: Helga Calcada
RLF: Meinhard Tietz
Espaces Marx: Louis Weber
Left Forum Finland: Jari Salo
SPED: Viera Hudeckova
The new elected Board of transform:
Walter Baier (Austria)
Marga Ferré (Spain)
Cornelia Hildebrandt (Germany)
Yann Le Lann (France)
Jiri Malek (Czech Republic)
Hugo Monteiro (Portugal)
Roberto Morea (Italy)
Jukka Pietiläinen (Finland)
Danai Koltsida (Greece)
Political Coordinator: Walter Baier
Scientific & Strategic Advisor: Haris Golemis