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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

PES Primaries: a survival issue for Europe's Left

In a hard-hitting analysis of the prospects for Left politics in Europe, Neil Warner of Irish Labour Youth argues that unless the Party of European Socialists embraces grassroots democracy in its own organisation as well as within the EU, then his generation may be the last to experience Social Democracy as a powerful political force in Europe. 

The Campaign for a PES Primary is a campaign which Irish Labour Youth feels driven by necessity to be part of.

The problem, as we see it, can be summed up in two statements. Progressive politics, consigned to the national in a globalised age, is dying for lack of significance and will continue to deteriorate. European politics is dying from elitism and disengagement from a public who fail to show an interest or understanding in areas of legislation which profoundly effect and, given more popular awareness, have the potential to liberate them.

A PES primary provides a vital element in solving both these problems. The social-democratic cause can only survive in the long-term if we take it to Brussels.

This is particularly troubling for young people. I believe that our generation will not live to see the survival of socialism in Europe unless we act on a grassroots level to bring it to the next step. What’s more, we feel that we are living in a world in which politics is increasingly distant from us and we are losing control over our ability to legislate our lives according to our values.

But there is a way out, one which young people in particular must seize upon. Have you observed the malaise of progressive politics in the developed world for the last 30 years? Do you want some solutions? Well look no further. As for the EU’s democratic deficit and neoliberal bias, how do you expect this to end provided the EU’s officials are solely accountable to a small group of national elites who share the same ideology; insulated from public accountability, and never having to put themselves and their policies to an electorate?

Recent developments, from the EU Constitution-Lisbon treaty debacle to the Greek debt crisis, show that Europe as an idea and institution is suffering from numerous disconnects on many different levels. There is a disconnect between EU politics and EU citizens, between its ambitions and its institutions and, possibly most grievously, between European social ideals and the neoliberal implications of European public policy.

All of these problems are intricately connected, and consequently involve the same sort of solution. For as long as the European elite remains detached from its citizenry and for as long as its citizens fail to recognise that the politics which they pursue can only be properly achieved by engaging with and challenging EU institutions on a pan-European level, then these disconnects will, all of them, only get worse. The only solution is to engage popular mobilisation by progressives on an EU-level.

This is why, as young socialists, we feel that the Campaign for a PES Primary is an absolute necessity; for Europe, democracy and progressive politics.

Neil Warner,
International Officer,
Irish Labour Youth

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