2009 PES Congress – Video Summary
Jan 14th, 2010

PES Congress 2009 Highlights from PES_Party of European Socialists on Vimeo.

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So long 2009! Welcome 2010!
Jan 10th, 2010

A couple of days ago, I took part in the recording of the podcast Chasing Brussels. We were asked what we thought the highlights of 2009 were and what those of 2010 may be.

2009 has been a year of great renewal for me. For the first time, I got very involved in a European elections campaign, which was a fascinating experience. We have seen the premises of true European political campaigning at the Party of European Socialists. However the campaign in-country remained nationally focused, which was a great disappointment for European activists. In the end, the European Parliament is even more right-wing than before, and Barroso will be at the head of the European Commission for 5 more years. This status quo is quite depressing. On a more positive note, 2009 was also the year where I started to blog, tweet, and more generally use all kinds of social media tools avidly. I got involved in exciting projects such as bloggingportal.eu -the EU blog aggregator- and the Gender Balanced Commission Campaign. I’ve had the chance to meet many Eurobloggers in person or virtually on skype, chats, and Google Wave.

I don’t know if 2010 will be interesting in terms of European politics. There is no highest point in political life than the elections. After that, it’s more or less business as usual. Don’t get me wrong, lots of interesting stuff is happening in European policy-making all the time but I’m afraid it’s mostly ignored by mainstream media. Let’s see if in the 4 years to come our growing community of Eurobloggers can change this dynamic!

For now, if you have a little time, I invite you to follow the hearings of the European Commissioners-designate by the members of the European Parliament. They will take place from the 11th to the 19th of January. You can find the agenda here and view the hearings in live streaming here. I’ll be live-tweeting about it here.

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PES Congress 2009: all my Tweets in one place!
Dec 9th, 2009

The 8th PES congress has just started! Follow it on Twitter with #pescongress or live on www.pes.org. Hello from Prague! 9:42 AM Dec 7th from web

The #pescongress is carbon-neutral. http://www.pes.org/en/news/pes-hold-carbon-neutral-congress-prague 9:47 AM Dec 7th from web

Paroubek, former Czech PM is now opening the #pescongress 9:55 AM Dec 7th from web

Now our beloved PNR – Poul Nyrup Rasmussen – , PES president has entered the stage #pescongress 10:00 AM Dec 7th from web

PES pres: I want to make a pact today with you to find and define a new direction for our progressive societies #pescongress 10:19 AM Dec 7th from web

PES pres: a progressive society has to put gender equality at the centre of its priorities #pescongress 10:20 AM Dec 7th from webPrague_3

PES pres: Regarding the financial crisis, back to business as usual is not an option #pescongress 10:23 AM Dec 7th from web

PES president is explaining how the negotiations went regarding the selection of Catherine Ashton as EU High Rep #pescongress 10:26 AM Dec 7th from web

PES pres: It is a myth to believe that the market economy, especially fin markets, will have a tendency to equilibrium #pescongress 10:28 AM Dec 7th from web

PES pres: Never ever again financial speculation must turn our societies down. Never again. #pescongress 10:28 AM Dec 7th from web

PES pres Poul Rasmussen: some of the key pillars of our project are green growth, education and gender equality #pescongress 10:36 AM Dec 7th from web

PES president Poul Nyrup Rasmussen gets a standing ovation when he says that we must have a common candidate for next Commission president 10:42 AM Dec 7th from web

Zapatero’s motto: “I’m a Feminist because I’m a Socialist”. A progressive society is not possible without gender equality #pescongress 11:23 AM Dec 7th from web

enjoyed the 1st panel at the #pescongress very much, great ideas for the future by Aubry, Bersani, Gilmore, Gabriel and Thorning-Schmidt 12:12 PM Dec 7th from web

Socialist group president Martin Schultz addresses the #pescongress in German, French and English. Well done! 12:17 PM Dec 7th from web

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen is reelected as the president of the Party of European Socialists! very happy about the news :) #pescongress 12:41 PM Dec 7th from web

Poul N. Rasmussen receives a red roses bouquet from PES Women pres Zita Gurmai. Lovely that men also get flowers at the PES @pescongress 12:44 PM Dec 7th from web

I think PES president Poul Nyrup Rasmussen is one of the most inspiring politicians there are. v. happy he remains our leader #pescongress 12:49 PM Dec 7th from web

at 2nd panel on progressive societies @ #pescongress 3 women in their 30ies as speakers out of 5 in total. very dynamic and inspiring 4:04 PM Dec 7th from web

“If you tell a fairy tale to a child and you don’t believe in it yourself, then the child will not either” Petroula Nteledimou #pescongress 4:17 PM Dec 7th from web

2nd day @ #pescongress just starting. had a great time yesterday, looking forward to today’s programme http://tinyurl.com/yfcxfl2 10:11 AM Dec 8th from web

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen: “In some sense, we are all workaholics in the social-democratic movement” #pescongress 10:14 AM Dec 8th from web

Economist Jeffrey Sachs: “Social-democracy has proven to be the most successful economic model in the world” #pescongress http://tr.im/GZHt 10:16 AM Dec 8th from web

Read blogpost summaries of yesterday’s panels at the #pescongress here: http://www.pes.org/en/blogs/pes-blog 10:19 AM Dec 8th from web

and check out the pictures of the event there: http://www.pes.org/en/galleries/pes-congress-2009 #pescongress 10:20 AM Dec 8th from web

Howard Dean addressing the #pescongress : “Free market alone cannot achieve social justice. We need a global new deal” 10:32 AM Dec 8th from web

Nabil Shaat from Fatah gets warm applauses at the #pescongress 10:38 AM Dec 8th from web

P.N. Rasmussen: I would have been so happy if I, at this moment, could give the floor to our Israeli party. #pescongress 10:55 AM Dec 8th from web

video address of Australian PM Kevin Rudd #pescongress www.pes.org 10:55 AM Dec 8th from web

Now starting: panel on the campaign Europeans for Financial Reform. REGULATE GLOBAL FINANCE NOW! #pescongress http://tr.im/H00R 11:33 AM Dec 8th from web

Elio Di Rupo (PS, BE): Everything remains to be done to regulate financial markets. The mountain gave birth to a mouse.#pescongress 11:37 AM Dec 8th from web

Di Rupo: We must fight neo-liberalism with renewed energy. #pescongress 11:41 AM Dec 8th from web

Di Rupo: No to this stressing society, this society of profit maximisation. 1/2 #pescongress11:44 AM Dec 8th from web

Di Rupo: This is stressing people out of their mind. We want a more human society. 2/2 #pescongress 11:44 AM Dec 8th from web

“Fiscal stability cannot be done at the expense of social justice” Ivari Padar, leader of the Estonian Social Democrats #pescongress 11:51 AM Dec 8th from web

French MEP Pervenche Berès, amazing expert on ecofin, now talking! #pescongress 11:52 AM Dec 8th from web

Berès: We are not living up to the challenge. Things seem to start again as usual as if nothing had happened. #pescongress 11:53 AM Dec 8th from web

Berès: Why is it that any type of product has to go through controls to enter our markets, all products but financial products? #pescongress 11:56 AM Dec 8th from web

Andreas Schieder (Austria): The crisis shows the failure of the ideology of privatising gains and collectivising losses #pescongress 11:59 AM Dec 8th from web

The PES has elected its new presidency! Find full list of members here: http://tr.im/H07R #pescongress 12:05 PM Dec 8th from web

Berès: The challenge of this campaign (for financial regulation) is to make it a grass-root campaign 1/2 #pescongress 12:30 PM Dec 8th from web

Berès: These questions only seem complex because some don’t want us to get involved ! 2/2 #pescongress 12:31 PM Dec 8th from web

Find all Congress documents and resolutions here: http://tr.im/H0eE #pescongress 12:35 PM Dec 8th from web

Javier Moreno of the Global Progressive Forum is presenting the Europeans For Financial Reform campaign http://tr.im/H0f2 #pescongress 12:37 PM Dec 8th from web

Sign the call to action “Regulate Global Finance Now!” http://tr.im/H0fp #pescongress 12:38 PM Dec 8th from web

Closing session at the #pescongress is starting now, follow it live here: www.pes.org 2:22 PM Dec 8th from web

Former Bulgarian PM Sergei Stanishev: Where do we want to be as a political family by next PES congress? #pescongress 2:27 PM Dec 8th from web

Philip Cordery has been unanimously reelected as PES secretary general. Bravo Philip! #pescongress 2:32 PM Dec 8th from web

Ruairi Quinn is reelected PES treasurer #pescongress 2:35 PM Dec 8th from web

Adrian Severin (VP socialist group in EP): We need a PES that is a true architecture of the European transnational democracy #pescongress 2:37 PM Dec 8th from web

Severin: I truly believe the future of social-democracy lies on Europe #pescongress 2:40 PM Dec 8th from web

Marije Laffeber (Dutch Int. Sec.) This has been two very inspiring days. #pescongress 2:41 PM Dec 8th from web

Commissioner Vladimir Spidla: We shouldn’t move towards the centre but we should become the centre. #pescongress 2:45 PM Dec 8th from web

Anna Paola Concia (Rainbow Rose), only open Lesbian in Italian Parliament addresses the #pescongress 2:49 PM Dec 8th from web

A.P. Concia: Social and civil rights should always come together. Voters recognise those who fight for their values #pescongress 2:50 PM Dec 8th from web

Janna Besamusca (SG ECOSY): Youth unemployment at the moment in Europe is twice as high as the average #pescongress 2:51 PM Dec 8th from web

Zita Gurmai (Pres. PES Women): More important than ever is to listen to our members, our activists & the younger generation. #pescongress 2:57 PM Dec 8th from web

Jiri Paroubek: “Czech became the international language of the last two days” Thanks Jiri for hosting this fabulous #pescongress :) 3:01 PM Dec 8th from web

Paroubek: We have a lot of expectations for the Spanish presidency of the European Union (1st semester 2010) #pescongress 3:06 PM Dec 8th from web

Now Poul Nyrup Rasmussen (PNR) gives the closing speech of the #pescongress 3:08 PM Dec 8th from web

PNR thanks all the PES secretariat team, one by one :) #pescongress 3:11 PM Dec 8th from web

PNR: There are 25.000 PES activists now. I have a dream that at next #pescongress we become 50.000 3:14 PM Dec 8th from web

PNR: Next century is going to be ours.The 21st century will be the progressive century. #pescongress 3:14 PM Dec 8th from web

PNR: Over the next years we will change Europe and its priorites #pescongress 3:20 PM Dec 8th from web

We will not allow that the market guides us because it has no face. Social democracy is about giving the market a human face. #pescongress 3:21 PM Dec 8th from web

We don’t want to avoid the market but we want to ensure that the market becomes the servant of the people, not its master. #pescongress 3:21 PM Dec 8th from web

We will be the party of engagement, freedom, hope and humanity #pescongress 3:23 PM Dec 8th from web

very moved by Poul Nyrup Rasmussen’s last words. A thought to my Spanish republican gd-parents. Thx Poul for being so inspiring #pescongress 3:26 PM Dec 8th from web

#pescongress finished now :( thanks for following the tweets. looking forward to next year’s congress! 3:37 PM Dec 8th from web

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Ashton as High Representative: no, being a woman does not imply incompetency
Nov 23rd, 2009

The nomination of Catherine Ashton as EU High Representative for foreign policy came as a surprise to many. I hear here and there what you always hear when a woman gets a high-level position, no matter how competent she might be or not: “Ashton has been nominated only because she is a woman. She doesn’t have what it takes for the job”. I think both accusations are wrong.

Lady Ashton was not selected only because she is a woman.

In a blogpost on Le Taurillon, Fabien Cazenave says Ashton was elected because first she’s a woman, and then, because the British didn’t get the Council President job for Tony Blair, so the EU needed give them compensation with the High Representative job. I disagree. Ahston was nominated because:

  • Firstly, it was agreed the job would go to a member of the PES family.
  • Secondly, it was understood the High Representative would have more impact on the world stage if coming from a big country.

Of the largest EU countries, only Britain is led by a centre-left government. So the candidate logically had to come from there. David Miliband -the UK foreign minister- would have been an ideal candidate, especially as he is younger than most prominent politicians, but he did not want the job. Then Lady Ashton already works in Brussels as the EU’s trade commissioner, and finally yes indeed, she’s a woman of female gender. That is only a superfluous point in addition to the other ones listed above, that in my opinion have played a bigger role in this nomination.

Lady Ashton is competent for the job.

She has almost a ten-year experience in the British government holding various positions as junior minister, as well as Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council. On top of that experience on the national scene, she’s held the position of EU trade commissioner for a year, a position that involves negotiating international trade agreements for the EU. On the national stage, I have never seen any man appointed as minister being criticised for a lack of background or skills in the portfolio they were to be in charge of. Whether you like it or not, competence doesn’t put people in power, but politics does. Why would that be different for the EU?

The unfair accusations that have been made against Lady Ashton reminded me of something I witnessed as a child and that had a big impact on me: the appointment of Edith Cresson as Prime Minister of France in 1991. She was the first –and so far the only- woman to hold the job and her appointment was considered as a very bold move by Mitterrand. The attacks she has been a victim of were completely out of proportion. Even if I were still a child, I could sense that the violence of the criticisms against her was triggered by the fact that she was a woman. That was 18 years ago. I do not feel we have made much progress as for the acceptance of women in power positions. So please, give Lady Ashton a break. She seems like a good person. Let her prove what she can do. You might just be surprised.

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

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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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A relevant, comprehensive and synthetic analysis of the European elections
Jun 28th, 2009

I have found on the FEPS think-tank’s website an analysis of the European elections that I think is quite relevant, relatively comprehensive, and remarkably synthetic, which is always a plus point. Click here to access the FEPS analysis.

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Something of a déjà-vu: from the 2002 presidential election to the 2009 European elections
Jun 17th, 2009

The European elections left me with a bitter taste of déjà-vu. After reading the terms some commentators are using to describe the disappointing scores of the European socialists –debacle, collapse, rout, disarray- another expression comes back to my mind… an expression I got familiar with 7 years ago under painful circumstances: ‘like a clap of thunder’. That was the title of a documentary on the then serving French PM Lionel Jospin while he was running for President. Reporters followed him during the last six weeks of his campaign, until the final clap of thunder: centre-right RPR Jacques Chirac was first, extreme-right FN Jean-Marie Le Pen was second with almost 20% of the votes, thus eliminating centre-left PS Lionel Jospin who only got 17.4% of the ballot. The French presidential election is in two rounds, only the two best candidates have access to the second round. This unfortunate event has been more of an electric shock than a clap of thunder to me, as it has been for a whole generation of young French people. I was studying political sciences in Grenoble back then. Like many, I didn’t vote. I was far away from my polling station in Paris. My parents were on holiday. They didn’t vote either, nor did my brother. For the very first time, none of my family members had voted, although we are a very civic family. We always vote. It is a matter of duty for us. Yes, I remember, it was holiday time. The Parisians had deserted the city. They figured they would come back to vote for the second round, which usually opposes the main centre-right candidate of the RPR/UDF to the main centre-left candidate of the PS. But that time so many of us assumed it would happen the usual way that the unthinkable actually occurred. The PS got dismissed. Even worse, the extreme-right overtook the PS. As millions of left-wingers, that terrified me. That’s when I decided to commit myself to politics.

Let’s see why the 2009 European elections remind me so much of the bitter memory of the 2002 French presidential election:

1. A favourable trend for the left. Jospin had done a good job. As a PM for 5 years – a record in France – he implemented significant progressive reforms such as the 35-hour week and the universal health insurance scheme. He was rather popular. The PS was strong, had a good track-record, and as such had quite a wide range of opportunity ahead of it, just as the PES member parties did this year. In the current context of economic crisis -when most European governments are right-wing led while the ones that used to vehemently advocate for free and undistorted markets are now using social-democratic recipes- centre-left parties should have been the front-runners of these elections. Newsweek ‘s headline even said « We Are All Socialists Now ». Yet most PES member parties suffered from a heavy defeat at the European elections.

2. Low turnout that mainly affects the left. It was holiday time in 2002. In 2009, the European elections took place during a bank holiday. The weather was nice. The result: record low turnout rates in both cases. In both cases too, there was a problem of clarity of what was at stake, and many actually wondered if there was a point in voting. In 2002, many thought it did not really matter to vote at the first round, as things were only getting serious at the second round anyway. As for the European elections, it is a well-known fact that what is at stake is not clearly visible. Voters don’t really understand what these elections are about. Moreover, low turnout rates have a more negative effect on the left than they do on the right. Right-wing voters are more disciplined and loyal. The elders, who always vote, tend to vote more for right-wing candidates while youngsters, who vote much less often, tend to vote for left-wing candidates.

3. A divided left-wing camp. In 2002 as in 2009, many left-wing voters voted for the Greens. Traditionally, at the first round of the presidential election, a significant fringe of PS voters are tempted to vote for the Greens, the Communist party or even further left, for some because the rhetoric of these parties is more attractive to them, for others because they want to send indications to the PS on what political line it should follow. First round, you vote as you please. Second round, you vote for the best realistic alternative. The European elections are like the first round of the French presidential election: the left-vote is divided. In 2002 as in 2009, left-wing parties preferred to attack each other, rather than attacking right-wing parties.

Lack of visibility of what was at stake, record low turnout levels, division of the left: like recipe like result, a tremendous defeat for the Socialist parties to the benefit of smaller left-wing formations. That’s just one way of looking at things, I know. It is not a comprehensive one. There are many other ways of analysing these elections. I plan on using different perspectives. After all, there is so much to say about these European elections.

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Fantastic atmosphere at the French PS final meeting in Lille
Jun 5th, 2009

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D+1: Ireland and Czech Republic
Jun 5th, 2009

After the UK and the Netherlands, today it’s the turn of Ireland and Czech Republic to vote.

Good luck to the Labour Party and the CSSD!
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