‘To those who fight!’ (”¡Arriba las que luchan!”), MEP Sira Rego (Izquierda Unida, Spain) said on 18 January in the plenary of the European Parliament (EP). Following the death of David Sassoli, the EP turned to the election of a new president. The Left’s candidate was Rego. Read her plenary speech in full.
I want to start by paying homage to David Sassoli and all that he meant for this Parliament.
It is an honour for me to represent The Left in this process, a humble group but one that has been essential to building a more democratic, fair and more egalitarian Europe.
Our mission has always been to improve the lives of working people.
We live in a world with limited resources. The answer cannot be that only a few have rights and access to those resources. We need firm decisions that address the consequences of a climate emergency that is already here.
That is why we believe that now that we are debating the Future of Europe, we must fight for more democracy. And that means that this Parliament must push for decisions that respond to the great challenges we face in the context of the eco-social crisis.
We must also champion a fair way out of the crisis generated by the pandemic, defending employment and public services.
And of course, this parliament must defend women's rights. Not one step backwards on our right to decide over our own bodies, not one step backwards on the right to abortion.
We need to be able to debate in a public space that is not intoxicated by lies. A space that is diverse and pluralistic, like European society. We must reject the far right that only brings fear, hatred and violence, and strives for the rights of all to become privileges for a few.
Its attacks on LGBTQI+ people, women and migrants are no coincidence.
In fact, the far right has declared war on human rights because, in its narrow model of society, most of us are too many.
Its project is that of a minority that needs to confront those below so that those above can continue to enrich themselves on the back of our precariousness. They have declared war on human rights - we fight to end injustice and inequality.
For this reason, we must point out that the old formulas for dealing with this threat are showing their limits. The supposed cordon sanitaire of the grand coalition is bursting at the seams and the right is proving porous to extremist approaches. Democracy and progress can only be defended by extending social rights and with a solid material base that leaves no one behind.
That is why we should remember that European democracies have anti-fascism as an essential feature; indeed, European cohesion has its roots in a continent torn apart by Nazi and fascist barbarism. Constitutions such as the Italian and German ones reflect this post-World War II spirit.
But these are not just stories from the past.
I come from Spain, the country where the global phenomenon ‘La casa de Papel’ comes from. Its screenwriter, one of those responsible for Bella Ciao being sung across the world again, has said that "the day has not yet dawned when it is not a good idea to sing an anti-fascist anthem."
The anthem we sing today is that of a more social, more ecological, more feminist Europe. It is enough for us to build a broad democratic alliance among those of us who stand against reactionary barbarism.
For this reason, brothers and sisters who identify with these ideas, allow me this appeal: let us build together a new consensus that puts the common good and social rights at its centre.
Let's learn the lessons of history and seize the opportunity to get out of this crisis leaving no one behind. Let us not give in to discourses that seek authoritarian regression, let us not ally ourselves with those who share their agenda or part of their agenda. That would be an implicit recognition that democracy is losing, let us not give in to the reactionaries and their allies!
I ask for the support of all those who, like us, recognise themselves in the dignity of those saving lives in the Mediterranean, of working people mobilising for their rights, of the women defying reactionary governments - their governments - and demanding the freedom to decide over their bodies, of the youth occupying the streets seeking real measures to tackle the climate crisis, of those fighting for public services.
I ask for your support for a new feminist horizon because feminism has come to change everything, to proudly say that the history of Europe has also been written by women and we will continue to write it in sisterhood and in our struggle for equality.
I ask for your support for a proposal that is inspired by a democratic and revolutionary Europe. The one that added fraternity to freedom and equality.
I ask for your support so that together we can build a more democratic, fairer Europe of solidarity, in short, an anti-fascist Europe.
¡Arriba las que luchan!