Date: Wed, 14 January 2004

"The time is ripe for a party of European leftists.
A Europe of peace, of justice, of openness and democracy is
impossible without a strong visible and self-assured Left.We will be
treading new paths and abandoning old models of thought,"

Lothar Bisky-
chair of the host party, Germany's Party of Democratic Socialism

New European Party Of The Left Founded
by Victor Grossman, Berlin
published by portside

Eleven leftist and communist parties, meeting in Berlin on January
11th, finally agreed after ten years of discussion and debate to found
a party called the European Left. The parties agreed on a common
program but planned further debate on the statute, which will probably
call for a chairperson, an executive committee and a council of party
leaders. Eight other parties also attended the meeting did not join
but remained as observers, waiting for confirmation from their home
countries or considering the founding premature. The eleven who did
join decided the step was necessary in preparation for the June
elections to the European Parliament, which already has a leftwing
caucus but hopes to enlarge it substantially, especially with the help
of leftist parties in the ten new countries joining the European
Union. These include the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (the
Czech Republic), the Communist Party of Slovakia, the Estonian Social
Democratic Workers' Party and the AKEL of Cyprus, though the last
named, proportionately the strongest, was one of those deciding to
maintain an observer status. The eleven founding parties have a
membership of about a half million members.

According to Lothar Bisky, chair of the host party, Germany's Party of
Democratic Socialism: 'The time is ripe for a party of European
leftists. A Europe of peace, of justice, of openness and democracy is
impossible without a strong visible and self-assured Left.We will be
treading new paths and abandoning old models of thought," he said,
adding that the party should become more than simply a loose umbrella
organization. It should be a party open to varying work methods and to
democratic cooperation. The answer as to what kind of Europe the Left
wants will be more convincing "if we ourselves demonstrate the answer:
democracy, equality, transparency and tolerance are consensus and
prerequisite for our alternatives." Not party bureaucracy and party
diplomacy, but active engagement in politics, with changes in the
everyday life of the people as our goals.

The most active initiators of the new party were, besides the German
PDS, Italy's Party of the Communist Refoundation, represented by its
leader, Fausto Bertinotti, and Nicos Houndis of the Greek Coalition of
Left, Political Movements and Ecology (SYNASPISMOS). Also joining from
the start are the Communist Parties of France, Austria, Slovakia and
the left parties of Luxembourg and Spain.

Among those present but not immediately joining were the AKEL of
Cyprus, the Socialist Party of the Netherlands, whose leader Tiny Kox,
a Senator in the Netherlands, thought they should wait until they were
stronger. Until then he was satisfied with the caucus of the United
Left in the European Parliament as it now stands. Delegates from the
Norwegian Socialist Left Party and the Finnish Left Alliance expressed
their desire to cooperate but also decided to keep for now the status
of observer. Also undecided or waiting were the Greek Communist Party,
the Czech Communist Party and two Catalonian leftwing parties.

In the new program, the eleven founding members stressed eight main

1. No weapons of mass destruction from the Atlantic to the Urals but
rather a Europe of collective security without NATO or any military
alliance of the European Union.

2. A redistribution from rich to poor, solidarity, and social policies
aimed at full employment and job training, investment in ecology,
taxation of capital speculation. People not profits must become

3. No attacks on human rights in the name of fighting terrorism but an
open Europe with human rights and asylum for refugees.

4. No trade war at the expense of the less developed countries but
courageous initiatives for just economic and political partnership.

5. Opposition to the concentration of the media in fewer and fewer
hands and a plurality of opinions, information, culture and education
with cultural variety, knowledge and information for all.

6. Ecological goals against CO2 emission, export of garbage, the
exploitation of energy resources and forests.

7. A rollback of growing sexist discrimination caused by
globalization, for equal rights for men and women.

8. A fight against the domination by capital and the rule of
capitalism. We want a different culture of life, work, production and

"We orient ourselves toward the fight for peace, for anti-fascism,
anti-racism, democracy, social justice, feminism and ecology.We remain
open to all who cannot yet or do not wish to join us. We deeply
respect varied forms of cooperation and practice them so our continent
becomes more democratic, social and peaceful. "

The meeting and the founding of the new alliance or party - unions of
rightwing, Social Democratic , Green and other groups in the European
Parliament already exist, did not hide sharp differences of opinion on
the left in some countries. One of these was in the host country,
whose PDS still faces sharp controversy in its ranks about its present
course, especially its participation in a coalition with the Social
Democratic Party in the Berlin government, involving sharp cuts in
social programs in order to stave off bankruptcy.

Some observers found it symbolic that the meeting was held in the same
auditorium where the German Communist Party was founded 84 years ago
by leaders like Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, whose memory was
marked the same day by the traditional annual march of tens of
thousands of leftists from Berlin and many other German and foreign
places. The European delegates took part in the opening ceremonies,
placing red carnations near the big stone epitaph to the two murdered

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