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Головна » 2009 » Лютий » 19 » Crisis has returned the conversation to the left, say EP Socialists
Crisis has returned the conversation to the left, say EP Socialists
5:57 PM
Declaring the centre-left to be the big electoral winners of the fall-out of the economic crisis, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Danish MEP and president of the PES, said on Wednesday (18 February) that free-market ideology was now dead and that the left has the answers.

"There's a new paradigm after the crisis: No one can go it alone anymore," he said at a debate on the state of the European left and the ongoing recession in Brussels organised by the Friends of Europe think-tank.
"We are the modernisers now, the reformers, the progressive movement of Europe," he said.

The ideas of deregulation and liberalisation were as bankrupt as the bankers that have pushed for them over the last twenty to thirty years, he believes. 

"The financial markets must be the servant of the real economy, not its master," he continued, underlining the "social market economy" at the heart of the party's manifesto for the June elections, titled People First and adopted at a party council meeting in Madrid in December.

Former EU commissioner and current Greek MP for the Panhellenic Socialist Movement Anna Diamantopoulou, said at the meeting "We are very optimistic these days ... After 20 years of market ideology, the discourse has returned to the left."

However, the two senior European social democrats made their upbeat pronouncements only hours after Walter Veltroni, previously the great hope of a rejuvenated Italian centre-left, stepped down as leader of the Democrats. 

The Democrats were modelled on the American centre-left party of the same name and brought together former Communists and centrist Christian Democrats uncomfortable with Silvio Berlusconi's coalition of right-wing and hard-right politicians. Mr Veltroni was even hailed as Italy's answer to Barack Obama and copied the American president's campaign theme of "Yes, we can."

Despite the recession however, Mr Berlusconi appears to be solidifying his dominance of Italian politics. The left does not appear to have profited from the right's association with the crisis. 

In regional elections in Sardinia last weekend, the incumbent center-left governor lost by nine percent to the son of the prime minister's tax adviser.

Asked about Mr Veltroni's resignation and the left's disarray in Italy, Mr Rasmussen was at a loss to explain how his optimistic declaration matched with the reality of results on the ground in Italy.

"It don't know what happened with Veltroni. You'd have to ask him," he said. "He was in Madrid and helped draft the [PES] manifesto and they agree with it."

Losing across Europe

Debating the Danish politician, the pro-free-market Economist magazine's European correspondent, David Rennie, said that Mr Rasmussen's great hopes for a European election in which voters rush to embrace the centre-left parties are a fantasy.

"They are losing across Europe and they are going to lose the European Parliament elections too," he said. 

"There have been a string of polls across the EU, particularly in the UK, France, Greece and Spain, with bad numbers for the traditional, mainstream centre-left parties."

"Financial capitalism is undergoing this most humiliating mess, and yet [the left] is losing. It's extraordinary."

Far left, not centre-left the winners

Also debating the social democrats from the free-market right, Luis Rego, the European correspondent for Portuguese financial daily Diario Economico, said that there was a reason for the centre-left's failure to capitalise on the economic disaster.

"The socialists ... gave up on their traditional beliefs," he said. "They forgot their ideas - the Tobin Tax, heavy regulation, putting an end to tax havens and their Keynesian proposals."

"When they were in power ... they set up the United States as a reference," he continued. "Inequality became worse rather than better."

He said that voters are paying attention to what the centre-left does once in power, rather than what they say they will do on the campaign trail.

"It is the far left that is profiting from this instead, because they are taking on the agenda that the Socialists resigned from assuming."

In Germany, France, the Netherlands, Greece and elsewhere, far-left parties such as Die Linke, the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) of French postman Olivier Bescancenot, and the former Maoists in Holland's Socialistische Partij are steadily gaining on their cousins on the left that are closer to the centre.

"The Socialists were asked by voters to protect them from the market and they didn't. Now this is what the far left is proposing and so logically it makes sense that they will profit from it."

Source: euobserver

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