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Unexpected result of the European elections: the rebirth of a radical left

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
4th June 2014


I’ve always considered Syriza to be a pivotal party. It is a party with many roots in the alterglobalization movements of the late nineties, and with a remarkable openness to distributed movements and p2p/commons/sharing ideas. In the last EU elections, they became the first party in Greece. If they would succeed in the next national election, this would be the first anti-austerity party to gain power, and this could create a domino effect in Europe, similar to the effect of the Argentinian crisis of 2001, which led to almost the whole Latin American continent turning away from neoliberalism and setting in place a renewed committment to human solidarity and welfare which led to a strong emergence of p2p dynamics in the continent.

Here’s an excerpt from an analysis from Srecko Horvat:

“For the first time in Europe since 1984, when the Italian Communist Party won the European elections, a leftist party gained the first place in its country. With 26.5 percent of votes SYRIZA triumphed. If Greece were to conduct national elections tomorrow, SYRIZA would get as much as 130 seats in the Greek Parliament.

And it is not just SYRIZA anymore. Activists associated with the “Indignant” movement in Spain decided to form a new organisation called Podemos (“We can”) and have won 8 percent – which means 5 seats in the European parliament. They have existed for only four months and are now the 4th biggest party in Spain and 3rd in Madrid.

“L’Altra Europa” (“The Other Europe”), the left-wing electoral list in Italy in support of Alexis Tsipras, founded in March 2014 won 4 percent, which is 3 seats in the European Parliament.

The United Left in Slovenia didn’t get any seats in the European Parliament, but they won 5.9 percent.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that all these young European left parties cite SYRIZA as their inspiration. And it is definitely not a surprise that most of them emerged from the protest movements of the past few years. Moreover, most of SYRIZA’s elected new MEPS are more or less connected with these movements. In addition, it has included prominent anti-fascist figures like Manolis Glezos, who in 1941 climbed on the Acropolis and tore down the swastika and who will now take his European Parliament seat as the oldest MEP. Furthermore, the election of Bulgarian citizen and trade unionist Kostadinka Kuneva in Greece through the SYRIZA list demonstrates that this new left has the potential to cut across national borders.

In short, what the European elections have shown is not only a definite end of bipartisanship in Europe or the success of extreme right-wing parties, but also the rise of a new left that is willing to take a risk.

If SYRIZA really succeeds in their call for earlier national elections and comes to power in Greece, there is no doubt this event would change the current European deadlock. On the other hand, if the far right and eurosceptic parties succeed to turn their electoral progress into political reality, the European continent might, once again, face the worst nightmares of the 20th century.

Since the current European establishment is only deepening the crisis and thereby directly giving rise to all these openly neo-Nazi parties, the only future for Europe is the left.”

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