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 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/portside/post?act=forward&messageNum=5327 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 demands: 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 central. 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 distribution. "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 leaders.