Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Activists challenge Party of European Socialists (PES): Spent force or renewable resource?

Even if the Campaign for a PES Primary is directed at socialist, social democratic and labour party activists right now, the call for action by Desmond O’Toole and José Reis Santos challenges the leadership of the Party of European Socialists (PES) - in French Parti Socialiste européen (PSE) – and especially the leaders of the national parties.

On the campaign blog Neil Warner of Irish Labour Youth argues that the Campaign for a PES Primary is an absolute necessity; for Europe, democracy and progressive politics.

This is hardly an exaggeration with regard to the future of the PES-PSE. The reformist left parties have been beaten in most parliamentary elections in the member states of the European Union.

Paralysis or renewal?

In the 2009 elections to the European Parliament a paralysed PES failed to field a candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission, and the socialists predictably fell far behind the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP).

The Wikipedia article on the Party of European Socialists was last modified on 16 August 2010, but even this entry seems to share the melancholy feeling by presenting outdated information about the PES in the European institutions (as of 2007).

Is the PES a spent force or a renewable resource in the political landscape of Europe?

The Campaign for a PES Primary is the most concrete and imaginative initiative for the Party of European Socialists to reconnect with activists and engage EU citizens ahead of the EP elections in 2014.

Growing Facebook group

Last Friday morning the Facebook campaign page had gathered 590 supporters, and the following morning, Saturday 14 August 2010, they were 650.

In less than four days the number of campaign group members on Facebook has grown by 118 (to 768), so the initiative is making headway and for once the PES activists are seen to be on the offensive in a positive sense.

Euroblogs supportive

In addition to Jon Worth, The European Citizen and Grahnlaw (here and here), new Euroblogs have taken up the PES campaign in a positive light.

Joël Cordier had already published the campaign call in French on his blog, but Jean-Sébastien Lefebvre on the blog seems to be the first to analyse the proposal in French: Primaires européennes, le réveil des leaders socialistes pour 2014 ?

Peter Sain ley Berry’s View from the Outfield (EUobserver blog) calls the PES campaign An Encouraging Proposal.

Other Europarties?

The campaign challenges the leadership of the PES and the national socialist parties, but it has also left the activists of the other Europarties (political parties at European level) in the starting blocks: the European People’s Party (EPP), the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR) and the European Green Party.

Are they going to stay crouched until the race is over?

Ralf Grahn

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