We are counting on you!
Dear comrades, dear friends, First of all I want to thank you for your invitation to your VII. Congress. I bring you the warm greetings of Lothar Bisky, Chairman of the Party of the European Left and Chairman of die LINKE, as well as of Oskar Lafontaine, the Executive Board of the Party of the European Left (EL) and of the members of the party DIE LINKE from Germany.
Four years after its founding in Rome, the Party of the European Left has unified 30 left parties with over 450000 members throughout all of Europe. For the first time, they will work together for a common overall voting platform for next year's European Parliament elections.
Like me, many comrades and friends of the Rifondazione Comunista from all over the world have come to your party congress to observe what conclusions are drawn concerning the massive defeat of the Left and other alternative social powers in Italy, and of course above all how you will combine this with the instructions on upcoming tasks. At the same time, we would like to learn with you, because your history is a history full of important breakthroughs. You should know that the Left is meeting great challenges everywhere in Europe. We have many common problems that need to be solved and questions that need to be answered: What does a democratic mass-appealing alternative to capitalist society look like? How can we succeed in encouraging people to get involved with a political solidary alternative, who in turn encourage themselves to be politically and socially active once more? Only together can we answer these questions.
Dear comrades, Our differences in history, tradition, and self-conception are part of the EL identity. Together, we have the idea of a transformation in Europe to one of peace, as we wrote down in the declaration from Rome: "We perceive Europe as a region for the restoration of the fight for a new kind of society. … Our alternative is a democratic, social, and environmental Europe!”
But we are far from this goal. When we look at the reality of our society today, it is undisputable and easy to see that we have a massive amount of work to do! The Lisbon Treaty and the Lisbon Strategy are reflections of today's EU: a growing social divide in our societies between the rich and poor; more and more people who, despite regular employment relationships, can no longer live from their work or are only precariously employed; ever-increasing working hours and 24-hour availability for people's employers as well as a respectively growing self-exploitation and wage- and tax-dumping. Globalized capitalism has not only changed the work and living worlds of the people in Europe, it has them under control. In addition, bank and financial crises, global warming, an increase in energy and food prices, an increase in poverty –especially child poverty- ,cultural depletion and medial paternalism, racism, and –in the light of the news in the past few weeks I would like to place special emphasis on this point- discrimination of migrants and homophobia. These key words for the characterization of the social reality draw a bleak picture: the richest of all continents sacrifices its potentials to create a more humane future in order to make profit-maximizing its primary goal. As the Left, we are asked to specify political alternatives and to pave the way out of this spiral. Let me say on behalf of the EL: our many similarities bring us together and strengthen us. A living pluralism of the Left, combined with a common social vision, is our greatest strength. The Italian Left was there as support and is already a reliable partner.
Dear comrades, In 2002, after a defeat swept us away in the Parliament elections, the then-PDS found itself in a very difficult political position. At that time, you assured us your solidarity and experienced this with us. In 2003, Lothar Bisky came to Rome and met with Fausto Bertinotti. That year, the MDS was a 3% party, having hit rock bottom. You believed in us then and told us that we should finally get down to business concerning the idea of a common European Left. At the same time, this was a turning point, the beginning of a regained strength of the Left powers, particularly in Germany. Lothar Bisky wanted me to remind you of that today during your VII. Congress and in your complicated situation, and convey the thanks of the German Left to you. Solidarity amongst each other was and still is very important. No less important for us during that time was the learning and linking of different political approaches, for example, in association with outside parliamentary movements and the development of conversations between different social actors.
Dear comrades, The April election results from La Sinstr – L'Arcobaleno are a harsh defeat not only for the Italians, but also for the European Left. After such a defeat, it is vital, just as you are doing, to question the causes of this failure and to take on the consequences.
The development of the German LINKE as a party has taught us that it is essential, easy, realistic and in the interest of the complexity of the causes to lay all problems and questions on the table without bias. This way, many questions, such as ones concerning the cause of the divide between the real-socialist society of the GDR and other countries in middle and Eastern Europe, can define our political and theoretical work. Even after 20 years, this debate is still important for our capabilities in compiling and submitting a credible, sustainable, and effective contribution for the societal debate on alternatives to capitalism.
Dear comrades, Berlusconi's government policy makes us painfully realize what it means to have no parliamentary left. Italy needs now more than ever a strong Left that takes part in outside political protest and also develops political alternatives. This is also the way in which it can be more successful in future elections. You will also have to make a decision concerning sustainable and organized structures. That is of course a question that you, our Italian comrades, will have to answer according to your situation here. Speaking out of the experience of the German Left I can only say that without a plural self-concept, without a political culture of respect, without open association, the Left will not come together. Also, the vigorous search for our similarities protects us from meaninglessness and arbitrariness.
The next challenge we must face is the European Parliament elections in 2009. Preparations have long since started. The European Left will enter these elections with a common election platform. Our Italian friends have taken part in the creation of a blueprint based on the 2nd EL Congress in Prague. This month, it will be turned over to the parties for discussion. We are looking forward to the results of these debates. At the end of November, in a final election congress in Berlin, we would like to see this platform off once and for all. Then we will start a Europe-wide election campaign. We will show everyone what kind of Europe we want. We want an alternative to the European market. We want a solidary, environmental, democratic, and peace-loving Europe. And we will show everyone, my comrades, that such a Europe is possible.
Dear comrades and friends, In 2004, during the first elections since the defeat in 2002, the PDS had its best election results in the European Parliament. The European perspective helped us get there. The collaboration within and between our parties promoted us.
I hope that with this Congress the strength in the PRC and the Italian Left is restored.
I also hope that our confiding cooperation with the labour unions, the Italian political Left, and the social and societal initiatives will be noticed through the success of the 2009 European election results.
The word "crisis" in Chinese is written using two symbols. One of them means "danger" and the other means "chance". We are counting on you!