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Quote of the Week: Margaret Mead
Feb 18th, 2010

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead, American anthropologist (1901-1978)

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The best of the web: the Conservatives are victims of cybersquatting
Oct 5th, 2009

If you take a look at the European Parliament’s page on political groups, it seems that four months after the European elections, the Tory-led European Conservatives and Reformists Group still does not have a website, and neither does the even more Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group.

Yet if you search on Google for “European Conservatives and Reformists Group” you will see that THERE IS a temporary website for the group called ecrg.info. The page provides an email address where you can contact the ECR group. In a recent blogpost, the social-democrat blogger Jon Worth reveals that he is the owner of the ecrg.info domain name. He has received all sorts of queries regarding the ECR group through the contact email address, and has replied “informing them that they are victims of cybersquatting and asking the valid question: how can any political organisation that has gone three months without a web presence be taken at all seriously?” Very good question, indeed.

Click to read the full story on Jon Worth’s website.

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PES activists: join our Wiki page for the Prague Congress!
Oct 1st, 2009
© Chourka Glogowski
© Chourka Glogowski

PES activists had inspiring debates at their 2009 forum in Dublin. Desmond O’Toole -the Dublin PES activists coordinator- published a summary of these debates on a Wiki page, where PES activists are invited to contribute so we can present our own proposals to the PES congress held in Prague in December.

Come and join the debate on the future of the European left!

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PES activists forum 2009: video summary
Sep 17th, 2009

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PES activists forum 2009: championing equality for all
Sep 12th, 2009

At the PES activist forum this afternoon, I attended a workshop entitled “Towards a fair society – Championing equality for all”. The session was refreshingly interactive, giving the audience the opportunity to interact directly with the speaker panel right from the beginning. No long speech, just discussion. The panel included Rhonda Donaghey (SIPTU, Ireland), Lisa Pelling (FEPS Research Group), Michael Leiblfinger (Rainbow Rose) and Niall Crowly (Former CEO Irish Equality Authority).

PES balloons at the Trinity college

PES balloons floating over Trinity college

Niall said that in this time of economic difficulties, governments unfortunately tend to cut funding for equality programmes, which are too often considered as the kind of secondary policy you can only afford in more positive times. However, according to Niall, an “equality crisis” preceded and led the economic crisis we are going through. Studies show that not only do the most vulnerable groups benefit from equality policies, but the society also does, for a more equal society is a more peaceful, healthier, and happier one. Therefore we should focus on putting equality at the core of the public debate in Europe, and protect the infrastructure that is in place to implement it.

Addressing the issue of discrimination against immigrants, Lisa Pelling suggested we change the way we look at immigration. We need immigration as our societies are aging and our population is shrinking. Therefore immigration is a chance for us, and we should even be proud that so many people choose to migrate to Europe. Building up on Lisa’s ideas, a participant said we should reaffirm that any citizen has the right to find their freedom and well-being anywhere in the world. He added that we should also be very strong in stating that countries that do not respect LGTB rights are simply breaching human rights.

As for people with disabilities, Niall points out that we haven’t yet moved in a position where it is part of our common sense to accommodate difference. It should become common sense and only positive action will enable us to move towards more equal societies. Rhonda closed the workshop calling upon the participants to act daily against all kinds of discrimination so that in five years from now we can see a more diverse European Parliament, free of extreme-right parties.

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Blogging from the PES activists forum 2009
Sep 11th, 2009

This weekend I will be blogging from the PES activist forum in Dublin. Co-organised by the PES, the FEPS and the Irish Labour Party, the event is gathering around 300 activists to brainstorm over “the next left for the future of Europe”. Tonight we will meet at the Leinster House -the Irish Parliament- for the opening session. Two days of workshops will follow in the premises of the 400-year-old Trinity College campus. Workshop themes include: a European social and employment pact, a recovery plan for Europe and a new global deal, championing gender equality for all, and safeguarding environment for future generations.

Interested in getting to know more about PES activists? Click here!

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2009: a PES odyssey
Jun 1st, 2009

Since I couldn’t help but notice the gap between the campaign as I know it from the inside, and as it is portrayed by the media  -see previous posts here and there- I decided to try and find a new equilibrium -if only a little- by relating the campaign through the eyes of a eurosocialist activist.

The Party of European Socialists has been preparing these elections for almost two years. Two years of consultation, debate and action. Two years trying to catch the attention of 27 national presses, in vain. Two years of hard work only to realise -at the end of the race- that the national media are just starting to show interest in these elections, only two weeks before the vote. This is a deeply upsetting situation for activists.

The PES manifesto is the fruit of an unprecedented approach in Europe. This manifesto is the result of a democratic bottom-up process, and not top-down as it is still done in other European parties.

For almost a year -from October 2007 to July 2008- the PES ran an open and transparent consultation of activists, NGOs, and trade unions over four key topics that were to become the PES campaign axes for the 2009 European elections. Gathered in their local branches, the PES activists debated for months in order to write contributions to the upcoming PES manifesto. The Your Space website was also an innovation in the field of political debate.  Internet users – either PES activists or not-  were invited to post articles or comments on the topics of the consultation. I took part in all of this. The result? For the first time, a common programme for all Socialist, Social-democrat, and Labour parties of Europe -a manifesto for the Party of European Socialists that states our values, describes six common axes for our future actions, and develops 71 concrete proposals for a new direction to Europe.

An ambitious manifesto, an unprecedented approach, transnational and democratic. Something that had never been seen before.

In December 2008, this manifesto was adopted unanimously by member parties at the PES council in Madrid (watch video). I was there too. This moment gave me the shivers. Along with the hundreds of activists that were there, I shared the feeling that the adoption of this manifesto was the emotional symbol of what we were building together: a Paneuropean political force that manages to elaborate and promote a common project, beyond the boundaries of language and culture, thanks to the enthusiasm of its activists. All together, united. Definitely moving. 

When I came back home, I was very disappointed by the French media coverage of the event. What was a major event, an unprecedented attempt at politicising the decisions made in Europe, was only reported through the participation of the freshly-elected head of the French PS, Martine Aubry. It is true that Martine Aubry was applauded warmly, but she was only one party leader among the 27 that attended the event.  What mattered was not her attendance or the way it was received. What mattered was the adoption of a common manifesto to all centre-left parties in Europe, and the way we managed to get there. Unfortunately, this was -according to the media- not a big story.

What was also innovating enough to be worth pointing out is the fact that the French PS has fully adopted the PES campaign: manifesto, mottos, visual identity, and logos alike. The PS chose to launch its campaign at the same time as the PES campaign was launched in April in Toulouse. On that occasion, all PES heads of list from the 27 EU member states gathered at a bilingual event. It was fantastic to see the audience – whose diversity was shown by the variety of flags being waved- so enthusiastic. This event was covered by the media -well, a little. Just a little since, once again, facts were covered through a national lens: it was reported as the PS campaign launch, rather than the PES’s. In fact, it was the opposite.

May, the final sprint. Every Saturday, there was a European day of action, for which PES party members organised events all around Europe, on the same date, and on the same topic: the 9th Social Europe, the 16th climate change, the 23rd relaunching the economy, the 30th our manifesto. When I read the live twitter comments that our activists posted on the events they took part in, when I looked at the pictures of these actions on flickr, and felt the sense of unity they shown, I couldn’t help but think that there was something truly innovating and unique in the 2009 PES campaign. A common manifesto for 27 countries, democratically elaborated, the enthusiastic mobilisation of activists all over Europe, and the use of the latest Internet tools as a means of overcoming distance, are some of the PES campaign features that should have triggered the interest of the media and other commentators. 

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© Eurosocialiste 2010. Everything posted on this blog is my personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of my employer or its clients. The content of this blog has been revised by Fabtrad (fabtrad @ gmail.com)