The present survey on the Party of the European Left is based on the answers given to the questionnaires by the delegates on the 4th Congress of the party of the European Left, held in Madrid between 12 and 15 December 2013.
The survey is part of the ongoing, since 2009, “Left Strategy” project, one of the core-projects of Transform! Europe Network. It is the second Survey after the one published in 2013, and thus provide on the one hand, the statistical and analytical tools and framework addressing issues useful for the understanding of the so called “radical” or “transformative” Left, the party of the European Left and needed for the elaboration of their policies; and on the other, how to hinder the transf ormations taken place and the trends on the views and the profiles of the delegates of the congresses through a brief comparison with the results of the previous survey. To that end, the questionnaire elaborated made an effort to enlarge the aspects of the views of the delegates adding new questions, keeping at the same time all the core questions in order to clarify trends and transformations. The presentation of the answers tries to keep the same intuition with the former one, thus keeping the same division of questions and the same order. The results and the comparison brought forward will hopefully provide an analytical and methodological base to encourage and promote the follow up of the process towards wider trends and comparisons.
The text is divided in four sections in the same manner with the previous one:
All technical specifications of the Survey (sampling method, sample size, regional classification of the delegates’ parties, questionnaire) may be found in the Appendix of the Survey.
The main analytical classification tools were: a) age, b) sex and c) regional profile of the delegates. These analytical tools have proven themselves to be explicit and eloquent in the sense that they have “revealed significant differences in the delegates’ answers” (Questionnaire Survey on the European Left 2013, p. 4). Also, the recognition of changes in the classified samples provides deep knowledge on the trends and the advisable, according to the delegates, political strategy. Again, regional differences are found to be the most significant.
The reading of all the survey is advisable to realize the exact trends and transformations, however a brief summary of the most important results is held.
Please find the full survey (pdf) on the right.
Delegates of the congress are on average aged over 45 years old, although people between 35 and 44 are found to be more in comparison to the former Survey at the expense of younger delegates. They have undertaken post-graduate studies and compared to the former Survey they are more educated. Furthermore, they are mainly high rank members and officials of the parties depicting a shift towards more strategic character of the Congresses. Thus, most members are participating for more than 10 years in the party’s life. At the same time, earnings of the delegates seem to be higher, compared to the last survey and are clustered between 20.000 euro and 50.000 euro, albeit, men earn more than women among the participants.
In line with previous findings, most married delegates with children are men, giving evidence for the difficulties of the women in combining party life with childbirth and work, which is also evident from the difference in the earning and in the ranks in the parties’ bodies.
In line with the previous findings, delegates are generally speaking adopting libertarian views and share the values of the left. They appreciate the cohabitation of natives and immigrants, and they do not generally accept violence as legitimate mean of social and political struggle. Furthermore, they appreciate the role of social movements and they perceive them as allies in the process of social transformation. At the same time, they largely adopt the values of social movements which coincide with libertarian values such as the woman’s right to abortion, the legalization of the consumption of cannabis and same sex marriages. Next, they ask for central planning in the sense that they believe it as the best guarantee to prosperity. Also, they seem to be hostile to productionism since they fairly disagree with the view that economic growth must be a priority even if it affects the environment. When coming to obedience to authority they tend to disagree with the view, though far from unanimously. Finally, they believe their societies being rather not religious.
The future of Europe, in terms of the overcome of the crisis seems to be darker for the majority of the delegates compared to the former survey making a total of 88% who believe that the worst is still to come concerning the crisis in the EU. Though, the most optimistic age group, concerning the ongoing crisis, is the one between 45 and 54 years old. Furthermore, the views of their parties or themselves seem to have changed towards more euro-skeptic views, possibly due to the ongoing crisis. Thus, the exit from the Euro-zone seems plausible to a greater part of the delegates. In the same spirit, people find themselves harmed from the formation of the EU to a larger extent than in the past. Also, delegates suggesting exit from the EU have increased compared to the former survey, though remaining less than those proposing exit from the euro-zone as expected.
They consider themselves as more left-wing than their parties especially concerning the party of the EL, though differences seem to be rather mitigated compared to the former survey. At the same time, more people find social transformation feasible only in an international level, e.g. Europe. The party of the EL seems more left-wing than their own parties for the delegates coming from Eastern Europe.
Delegates are not satisfied with the way democracy functions in their countries, making these views close to be unanimous. They seem to have similar views towards the social movements as far as their impact on their parties’ strategy and policy with the slihght exception of people coming from Eastern Europe (same as the former survey).
In line with the findings of the previous survey, though with insignificant differentiations, the body of delegates regards the politics of the EL as “anticapitalist”, “alternative” and “transformative”. Delegates believe that the EL has a clear political perspective and policy implementations on most policy issues, however when focusing on the answers there seems a lack of information which is also testified when asked for the impact of the European Left on the European politics discourse, which is found to be rather not strong. Also, the low turnout of the European elections is foreseen when answering on evaluating societies’ interest on the elections (47%), while the interest on the elections is unanimous when expressing own views regarding the interest on the elections. The issues that will determine the votes in the European elections are said to be mainly national issues according to the body of the delegates. Finally, concerning the evaluation of the EL party in 2009 elections most people mention it as helpful.
The impact of the EL party in the political life and strategy of the nationals’ parties has increased significantly, though remaining not that strong. The agenda of political actions and perspectives issued by the EL are mainly focused on the topics of crisis, unemployment, environment, social welfare and migration. The most effective political activities are witnessed among the delegates to be dialogue either with social movements or trade unions, campaigns and communication via social networks. The discussion on the debt seems to be the most intriguing for the delegates of the EL Congress, seeming to monopolize the discussion of the left, bringing the majority of the delegates to ask for a cancelation of a part of the debt as the primary solution of the Euro-zone’s periphery debt crisis and the debt auditing the second most plausible solution for the debt crisis.