This last year has been a difficult one, marked by conflict, social and environmental crises, the continued rise of the far right in Europe and the ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. But even – or especially – in challenging times, it is vital to continue to voice and refine left-wing political ideas and calls for action. With this in mind, the European Left (EL) met for its seventh party congress in Vienna in December 2022. Titled ‘Peace, Bread, Roses’, the conference saw delegates agree on nine new demands to bring about radical change in Europe. May we work collectively in 2023 to make some of these demands for a solidarity-based, sustainable and fair society a reality.
The EL’s congress also provided a fitting farewell to former President Heinz Bierbaum and saw the election of a new executive board as well as a new president. Walter Baier, a long-standing member of our executive board and political coordinator, a well-regarded comrade and colleague, has been elected president of the European Left. During the party congress, our Co-PresidentMarga Ferré paid tribute to Baier and his commitment to transform! europe as well as the European Left. A transcript of her speech, also including an outline of transform!´s future work, is featured in this newsletter.
Martin Schirdewan, Co-Chair of DIE LINKE as well as of The Left in the European Parliament, also gave a speech discussing the left’s political approaches and struggles in which he stressed the importance of taking a collective approach in the battle against neoliberalism, fascism and climate change.
2023 will no doubt be another challenging year. Less than a century ago, the world saw Hitler and his fascist party rise to power in Germany. The conditions are still ripe for such ideology to take hold once again. Not only in Europe but around the globe, the authoritarian and the far right are openly challenging the legitimacy of their country’s democratic institutions, as shown by the recent storming of the Brazilian Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace of newly elected President Lula da Silva.
The war in Ukraine drags on and has already caused devastating destruction. At present, it is almost impossible to calculate the ultimate human, social, economic, environmental, and political cost. It is highly likely that we are witnessing the emergence of a completely new type of global system. As we are already seeing, this shift entails many countries rearming as well as the militarisation of society and political discourse. The left is torn about how to respond to this new conflict, with views ranging from calls for an immediate ceasefire and negotiations to increased funding for NATO and continued fighting until Russia’s defeat. At the same time, the social and economic impacts of the war demand active, solidarity-based politics on a pan-European scale. Is the European Left up to the challenge?
Persistently high inflation across Europe and the refusal to adopt tax reforms that would have a real redistributive effect is causing increased social and political polarisation. Developing socially sustainable alternatives together with a wide range of social actors remains the most pressing challenge.
You can find all of these issues and more in our upcoming 2023 newsletters.
Our current newsletter also contains links to our most recent publications as well as information on upcoming events organised by transform! europe and our partner organisations.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue.
Štefica Gazibara, web editor, transform! europe