More on the left organizational discussion for the European elections

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Fri Aug 22 00:39:09 MDT 2003

Organising across frontiers

Kurt Wendt is a representative of the Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) at
the international meetings to prepare for the next European Social Forum, to
be held in Paris over November 12-16. At the last assembly meeting in Genoa
(July 19-20), he criticised the left for being less united than the
bourgeois and social democratic parties. Common conditions require common
In today's society there is a diffuse and not very sophisticated, but
nevertheless strong feeling about the need for radical change. In young
people's eyes, symbols like the hammer and sickle and the red star have
changed their meaning: only 10 years ago they were the symbols of
repression, the symbols of the communist states. Now they have become
symbols of hope. Communist websites receive more hits than they have for
years, so there is definitely something going on.

In the deepest countryside in Austria, where we have no organisational
structure at all, we sometimes perform better than in our wildest dreams. I
can only deduce that there is a general swing in the political landscape,
although it is still on an individual level. Undoubtedly, this is happening
all over Europe.

Therefore, we need to work towards a European-wide anti-capitalist left that
can stand together in elections. Our party is very keen on this - we have
currently so little national impact that we have got nothing to lose by
moving to a more international level. The Italians, the Spanish and the
French comrades in particular have other, national interests to consider
when they are taking part in such international negotiations.

There are three potential outcomes of the current developments: Firstly, a
European left modelled on the example on the Nordic left parties. This is
not an acceptable outcome, as these parties are really just social

Secondly, an anti-capitalist left, which would, for example, have to contain
Rifondazione Comunista in Italy, the Communist Party (DKP) and Party of
Democratic Socialism (PDS) in Germany, etc. The success of such a formation
would, however, depend on the ability of the French Trotskyists in the Ligue
Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) and the Communist Party (PCF) to unite in a
single electoral organisation.

Also, I believe the PDS is currently not very interested in such an
anti-capitalist left. I do not think that we can have such an international
list without these problems being resolved first. This might not be so
important for the coming European elections in 2004. Only in 2008 will there
be proper international lists, with which at least 30% of the parliament
will be elected. It would, however, be much preferable if we could sort
ourselves out for next year - the bourgeois parties in Europe have long done
so. The social democratic parties and the parties of the centre-right are
organised in proper blocs. It is a disgrace that the left cannot manage

The third option would be a link-up of all the communist parties in Europe.
This would exclude the LCR and PDS, but would place more emphasis on the
Czech, Slovak and Cypriot Communist Parties. Rifondazione is the main
organisation at the centre of negotiations in relation to both these latter

I have taken part in some of the debates of the New European Left Forum, the
alliance between the communist parties in the European parliament - and I
have been thoroughly put off by it. It was horrible. I went to a gathering
in Stockholm, looking forward to meeting radical revolutionaries, and was
instead greeted by 'responsible' government ministers or those who want to
become one. I remember having a big fight with Jean-Claude Gayssot, then the
French transport minister, who justified his party's involvement in
government with the fact that Air France had only one third of its
operations privatised thanks to the restraining influence of the PCF.


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