The Party of the European Left (EL) has called for the cancellation of a part of an odious debt for many countries of southern Europe as part of a platform of anti-austerity policies that member parties will promote for the European elections.
The call came at a Conference titled “Together we can put an end to debt and austerity problems in Europe” where economists, sociologists, politicians of the European Left, trade unionists and members of the social movements of more than 20 countries of Europe and Latin America joined forces.
During a 10 hour day of debate on April 10, they analysed the causes, targets, experiences and proposals in order to jointly prepare a social solidarity and united alternative economic policy for the left.
President of EL Pierre Laurent said the debt issue and to question the whole economic system of the financial markets and institutions that support it must stop being a taboo, and instead it should be the centre of the debate.
In the analysis of the causes and consequences of the generation and increase of the sovereign debt as well as the politics of austerity the manner of how the debt is used to dominate other peoples, to blackmail them and to provoke external and internal imbalances, was denounced. These policies were aimed at transforming the south of Europe into an area of cheap and deregulated labour without rights, the conference agreed.
Proposals for a left economic model
The set of proposals that were discussed throughout the day are based on four main pillars
Other measures that built on these pillars included a change of the mission and role of the European Central Bank, which has been offering loans to the private banks without any change in the financial system, while the private banks lend money to States at 5% of interest. Instead the ECB should buy a part of the States debt and could lend directly to States in order to fund the development of public services “without imposing anti-social conditions” as they are doing with the states that have received financial aid. The European left asked that the ECB only refinance banks at a low cost when they provide credit to companies with “social and environmental” criteria.
A European Fund for social and ecological development would be used to finance public services and the creation of employment at interest rates to almost zero. The Fund may also finance projects of local authorities and social actors. Other measures that were presented from more than 50 speakers from Europe and Latin America, were fair taxation, taxes on financial transactions, wage increases, the democratisation of financial institutions, sustainable re-industrialization, an end to tax havens and, of course, the audit of the “illegitimate” debt.
Pierre Laurent called for a European Convention on debt and public investment in order to solve the problem of debt in the countries in difficulty, so that some part of that debt will be forgiven, and the conditions for the payment of interest be reviewed.
He announced that these proposals will form the basis of the EL parties’ electoral campaign for the elections on May 25
15 April 2014
See also the statement on Europe by the German Communist Party; the Communist Party of Britain; the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia; AKEL (Cyprus); the Communist Party of Spain; the United Left (Spain); the Party of the Communists of Catalonia; the Communist Party of Finland; the French Communist Party; the Party of Italian Communists; the Communist Refoundation Party (Italy), the Portuguese Communist Party, the Communist Party of Austria; the Communist Party of Denmark; the Red Green Alliance (Denmark); the Left (Germany); the Socialist Party of Latvia; the Communist Party of Malta and the Left Block (Portugal).
A programme to govern Italy
We want to create a civil revolution to implement the principles of equality, freedom and democracy in Italy’s Constitution.
We want a “new direction” in economic and social policies, starting from the Mezzogiorno, an alternative to the inequity and corruption of the twenty years of Berlusconi, and the destruction of social and labour rights, and the environment that has characterized the Monti Government.
We want a Civil Revolution
• For a Europe of rights. Against a Europe of economic and financial oligarchies. We want a Europe that is independent from financial power and a democratic reform of its institutions. We are opposed to the Fiscal Compact that [will force us to] cut [Italian government] spending by 47 billion euros a year for the next twenty years, weighing on workers and disadvantaged groups, destroying welfare and other social provision, accentuating the economic crisis. The Italian public debt must be dealt with through equitable and radical economic policies, aimed at the development, starting with the ending of the high interest rate. Alongside GDP there must be an indicator that measures the social welfare and the environment;
• For the rule of law and a new anti-mafia policy that has as its ultimate objective not only the containment but the elimination of the Mafia, which must be hit in its financial structure and in its relations with other power structures, starting with politics. An all out struggle against organized crime, corruption, the restoration of the law on false accounting and the integration of environmental offences in the Criminal Code are necessary to deliver economic development;
• For secularism and freedom. We affirm the secular state and the right to self-determination of the human person. We are a culture that recognizes difference. We abhor femicide, we will oppose all forms of sexism and want gender democracy. We will oppose homophobia and we want recognition of the civil rights of individuals and couples, regardless of gender. We will oppose all forms of racism and are for the citizenship of all persons born in Italy and welcoming immigration policies;
• For jobs. We do not want a precariat. We stand for national collective agreements and for the restoration art. 18 [that states that workers cannot be fired without just cause and, if fired, can sue their companies to be reinstated] and for a law on representation and democracy in the workplace. We want to create jobs through investment in research and development, industrial policies that bring innovation to the production system and the green the economy. We want to introduce a minimum income for the unemployed and the unemployed. We want Italian wages to increase starting from measures to raise tax threshholds [for the lower paid] and exemption from taxation of the thirteenth annual payment. We want to defend health and safety in the workplace;
• For small and medium enterprises, artisans and agriculture. Must begin with a great revival process of the country, freeing business from organized crime, the stifling bureaucracy. There should be tax incentives for companies that invest in research, innovation and create permanent jobs. Excellence in Italian agriculture, fashion, tourism, culture, the green economy;
• For the environment. We should change the current model of development, which is responsible for climate change, an unlimited consuming of resources, poverty, inequality and wars. The greenfield land and the natural landscape should be protected, projects like the high speed train project, TAV, in Val di Susa and the bridge over the Straits of Messina, Sicily, should be stopped. So should the privatization of public services and other common goods, starting with water. Quality agriculture, free from GMOs, should be encouraged, biodiversity and the rights of animals protected. Jobs should be created through a plan for energy efficiency, development of renewable energy, protection of the land, and sustainable transport that cuts urban air pollution;
• For equality and social rights. We want to eliminate the property tax, IMU, on first homes, but extend it to commercial real estate, banking foundations and the church, and establish a wealth tax. We want to stop tax evasion and reduce the tax burden on medium to low incomes. We want to strengthen the public, universal health system and launch a support plan for people who are not self-sufficient. We affirm the right to housing and want to see the restoration of existing buildings. We want a cap on the highest pensions. We want to repeal the Fornero pension counter-reform, eliminating the serious injustices generated, starting with the question of “esodati” [Italians who retired during a kind of twilight period created by pension system reforms leaving up to 350,000 without a wage or pension].
• For knowledge, culture and free information. We affirm the universal value of schools, universities and public research. We want to ensure that each and everyone has access to knowledge, because only then you can be free and conscious citizens, restoring meaning to art. 9 of the Constitution, by enhancing training and research. We want to boost Italy’s cultural, historical and artistic heritage. We want a democratic reform of the information and broadcasting system that breaks with the subordination to the economic and financial power. We want a law on conflict of interest and the end of party control over the board of directors of RAI. We want free Internet access, free for the younger generation and broadband spread throughout the country;
• For peace and disarmament. We must restore the function of the army according to the letter and spirit of Article 11 of the Constitution, starting from the withdrawal of Italian troops engaged in overseas war. We want to see international cooperation and Europe must take action for peace and disarmament, in particular in the Mediterranean. Military spending must be cut, including the cancellation of the order for F35 fighter-bombers;
• For a new ‘moral question’ and another politics. We want the ineligibility of convicts or those indicted for serious or financial crimes, or crimes against the public administration. We want to eliminate politicians’ privileges, the daily allowance for MPs, impose a rigid cap on the remuneration of the regional councillors and introduce the two-term limit for parliamentarians and councillors. We want a new era of democracy and participation.
After the May 6 2012 general election in which the radical left party emerged as the second largest in Greece, Syriza launched five points that would form the basis of a government platform:
For more on the party’s thinking, check out this interview with Nadia Valavani, a Syriza MP elected on May 6 for first time, Athens News
Check out an indepth video interview (subtitles) with leader Alexis Tsipras just days before the May 6 election here
Also see various position statements by largest component of Syriza, Synaspismos.
Restoring the 35 hour week
Fund national and regional training
- Minimum wage of 1,700 euros gross in 2012 and 1,700 euros net in 2017
– Maximum pay differential of 1 to 20 in all businesses
Help for business development
French and European protectionism
Tax loopholes and taxes on the rich
Banking and finance
Agriculture and fisheries
Teachers and education professionals
University and Research
Requisition of vacant units and ‘mobilization plan’ for empty homes
Help at the end of your life
Introduce in the Constitution, the right to “determine one’s own end and be assisted when one decides”
Parent Families – Right to marriage and adoption for homosexual couples
Discrimination & Equality
Creation of the National Media Council
Piracy and Internet
Passage to a Sixth Republic, adoption of the Constitution by referendum
Elected officials and ministers
Justice – Police
Police and gendarmerie
Abolition of the Concordat
Environment & Energy
Taxes and antipollution penalties
Development of clean technologies
Development of geothermal and “massive funding effort” to diversify energy sources
Recognition of Palestinian State
Regularization of all undocumented workers
Sources: Including Le Monde
Spain’s United Left
Link to 2010 manifesto (Portuguese) – English synopsis pending
Politics and democratic system
Defence of the Italian Constitution and for it to be put into practice in full, including all the commitments within its fundamental principles: genuine equality, centrality of work, individual freedoms, the need to remove obstacles that limit the full exercise of rights for men and women
Against federalism, for the prerogatives of the nation state and for a Republic of autonomous regions, provinces, communes to unite the country not divide it
Restore the central role of elective assemblies, providing them with significant decision-making powers that have been transferred to executive bodies and the their ‘leaders’
For a proportional electoral system at all levels to restore debate over political ideas and projects and to assure that the plurality of Italian opinion is represented which is a democratic value for all, not just the Left
To permit the freedom of information and to be informed with a law on conflict of interest, against a TV oligopoly and for the freedom of journalists with respect to the owners of the mass media
To reform political parties giving substance to the right of citizens to freely associate to participate democratically in political life, as guaranteed by the Constitution
For the widest possible participation in the democratic life guaranteeing social actors’ participation in the public decision-making and reducing the obstacles to holding referendums and laws relating to popular initiatives
Economy, jobs, growth
State intervention in the economy on the basis of an economic development plan that aims to achieve full employment and territorial rebalancing and that calls for public production of collective goods, from research, to the protection of the environment, to planning free from speculation to sustainable transport and the care of people
Tax policies that tackled evasion and avoidance, based on progressivity, that transfer taxation away from work to capital and (financial) income: to distribute wealth in favour of families and working classes and which sustain policies for jobs and social goals
Employment legislation that tackles precarious forms of work, with aim to promote full time permanent contracts and thus abrogating laws that promote casualisation, starting with the public sector, the vast numbers of workers in subordinate employment relations that are categorised falsely as self-employed
Specific policies to promote employment among women, which in Italy is the lowest in Europe
Defence of jobs with a law that introduces a temporary stop to redundancies and stops offshoring
Introduce a statutory minimum wage for those workers not covered by collective agreements and linked to existing nationally agreed rates in such a way as to guarantee dignity and tackle the phenomenom of working poor
A statutory minimum income for the unemployed and seasonal workers
Boost wages, pensions including through index linking
Extension to migrant workers the same rights as Italian citizens, campaign against gang masters and the exploitation of non-EU citizens, abrogation of the Bossi-Fini law, regularisation of migrants who report working in the black economy, an immediate amnesty for those who are already working in the country
Right to a decent pension, topping up through general taxation any consequent deficit in the existing pension scheme and increasing pensions so that the elderly are guaranteed a sufficient income
Concerted campaign against workplace accidents, boosting controls, penalties and legal sanctions for employers who do not respect workplace safety
A law that guarantees workplace democracy
Create a public credit ‘pole’ that via ownership or control of banks with strategic importance guarantees the protection of the savings of families and their use for productive investments in the the public and private sector instead of financial speculation that massively enriches a few small number of people and damages the great majority of savers and citizens
Tackle the Southern Question by affirming the principles of national unity, democracy and state intervention in the economy and so make use of the human, cultural and environmental resources of the South via national policies including the use of our proposed public credit pole to invest in the South with one aim to fight organised crime.
Forty years since the feminist revolution, the balance of social, economic and symbolic power between the sexes remains strongly against women…Women are the victims of male violence, in the home and in society more widely….rape often is not recognised on an equal footing to other forms of violence…the fundamental right of a woman to control her own body is undermined when not outright denied…women are exploited in the economic, political and cultural sphere…the casualisation of employment and cuts in the welfare state directly affect the freedoms of women…
We are committed to fight against any form or patriarchy and so that women can freely control their bodies and have full rights to equality in the family, society and at work
Only state intervention in the economy can create the conditions for a ecological transformation of the productive system and project life on the planet that is being destroyed by indiscriminate exploitation for private gain. A new productive and consumer model but be based on the limits of a sustainable society and the idea that natural resources are a common good not commercial goods at the service of private profit
Oppose Nuclear energy, support renewable energies, back European rules on emission reductions
For ecological transformation of the refuse system following the objective of zero refuse
Food – For food sovereignty and support for small farmers and farm workers, organic farming, rejection of GM foods, protection of bio-diversity, agricultural land and rural environment
Public Services and Housing
Opposed to privatisation and right of Italian people to maintain water, energy and other ‘common goods’ and services in public ownership
Right to housing and full access to urban spaces via different forms of social and public ownership and intervention
Education and culture
Opposed to the privatisation of education and cuts, for raising spending to at least the European average with this new investment to go to public eduction only and not private schools that have been receiving large amounts of public funds in recent years
Expand pre-school provision to the whole of Italy, and in particular the South where there is very little provision
Boost education for disabled
Guarantee education to children of migrants
End privatisation of university and research
End fees for low income families, and reduce them for working students
Boost spending on research to close gap with European average and make up for low spending by private sector
Combat casualisation of teachers and lecturers’ employment conditions
Human Rights. Religion, Church and State
End the Concordat and privileges of the Church
Protect rights of people who are discriminated on grounds of ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation/identity, belief, religion, disability
Legalise same sex marriages
End explosions, recognise migrant rights, close detention centres and replace them with structures that aim to integrate migrants into society
Right to vote in local elections extended to resident immigrants and introduction of principle of jus soli – granting citizenship to those born on Italian soil
Procreation, life and death should be an individual choice
Withdraw from Nato which should be dissolved
Unilateral withdrawal of Italian troops fro Afghanistan and move towards the establishment in the country of a political alternative under UN control replacing military with civilian commitment. Spend Euros 550 million a year on cooperation, support for the peace process and assistance to the population
Closure of foreign bases in Italy and abrogation of Cold War era secrecy and prorogatives that are not subject to parliamentary scrutiny
Immediate end of US blockade of Cuba
Peaceful solutions to conflicts around the globe, including in Palestine, Kurdistan, Western Sahara, Colombia, Mexico etc
Abolition of EU’s ‘list of terrorist organisations’
Israel-Palestinian peace must involve end of Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands, be on the basis of ‘two peoples two states'; dismantling of Israeli settlements, lifting of Gaza embargo; the Federation of the Left stands beside the Palestinian people in its struggle for the right to self-determination as under repeated UN resolutions
Opposition to an attack on Iran, which ‘would be devastating with unimaginable consequences'; a negotiated solution of the dispute requires a renounciation of nuclear arms throughout the region, including Israel. This would the first step towards the destruction of all the nuclear stockpiles worldwide. For a denuclearised planet.
A social and democratic refoundation of the European Union on bases opposed to the monetary and neo-liberal policies imposed to date
Substitute the Stability Pact with a pact for full employment and the social & environmental transformation of economy
Socialisation of the financial and banking system, with public control over credit
Redefinition of the role of the European Central Bank which must be put under democratic control
Harmonisation of the tax systems of European states, based on the principle of progressive taxation
A European plan for bringing back into public ownership services and industries that have been privatised with priority given to ‘common goods’ and essential public services like education, health, water, energy and transport
Introduction of the Tobin Tax (AKA Robin Hood tax) taxing speculative capital movements and the abolition of tax havens
A plan for full employment funded by the receipts of taxation of financial speculation and income (rendita)
A block on redundancies and offshoring; companies which receive state support must not fire or use these funds for offshoring
A minimum European wage and income
The current institutional framework of the European Union does not permit the realisation of the above objectives with treaties giving effective power to governments, technocrats, bureaucrats unaccountable to European peoples, thus we need a profound change that sweeps away the Europe of bankers and multinationals to build a social, democratic and popular Europe.
Opposition to the Fiscal Compact and for a referendum in Italy on the matter
Link to 2010 Political Document (italian) – English synopsis pending