The Party of the European Left was founded in Brussels in 2004. The party’s first office was set up in a private residence in Brussels, after which the EL has greatly expanded both in terms of member parties and in terms of activity. The first congress of the EL took place in Athens in 2005. From Finland, Communist Party of Finland and the Left Alliance are both members of the European Left, and the Communist Youth of Finland influences in the EL Youth, which is one of the working groups of the European Left.
The following quotation from the manifesto of the EL (ratified in 2004) portrays the principles of the party well:
"We refer to the values and traditions of socialism, communism and the labour movement, of feminism, the feminist movement and gender equality, of the environmental movement and sustainable development, of peace and international solidarity, of human rights, humanism and antifascism, of progressive and liberal thinking, both nationally and internationally."
Once every three years, the EL hosts a congress, where the chairpersons are chosen and documents are decided upon. In recent years, CPF has successfully pursued, for example, the adding of the shortening of working hours to the political goals of the EL, as well as the exposing of green imperialism and the building of a proletarian environmental movement.
Since 2017 the European Left has organized in collaboration with activists and other social actors the European Forum, which works with European leftist organizations and other progressive world-changing NGOs.
Broad leftist collaboration
The EL is not really a party, but more like a loose alliance or a flexible network. The EL consists of member-, observer-, and partner parties, which there are 42 in total. Some of the parties support and some of them oppose EU membership. The attitudes towards the EU may as well be the biggest policy difference between the member parties of the union. Despite this, the issue doesn’t prevent co-operation, since the parties share a common goal in defeating capitalism for the sake of the working-class and the planet. SKP demands the secession from the neoliberal European Union and the common currency of the euro, and instead advocates for the creation of red co-operation between the working-class and different nations.
Member parties of the European Left that demand secession from the EU, like CPF, see that democratizing the union from the inside is not possible, since the EU framework agreements are made to prevent democratization and policies aimed at strengthening the public sector in member countries. Regardless, CPF and the Communist Youth of Finland believe that we should participate in EU elections since all elections are good platforms, and communists that get into the parliament can work to strengthen the EU critical working-class front.
Europarliamentarians that represent the member parties of the European Left, work in the GUE/NGL- parliament group. The EL also gets funding through the GUE/NGL. However, all GUE/NGL member parties are not necessarily part of the European Left.
Working groups and transform! europe
The EL has different working groups, which coordinate European leftist co-operation in different political sectors:
• Trade Unionists (links to the notorious European leftist labour network TUNE - Trade Union Network Europe)
• Latin American working group (relations to the Latino left and the São Paulo Forum, where Latin American leftists and other progressive actors come together. It’s the Latin American equivalent of the annual European Forum)
• North America
The EL Youth is not just its own working group, but also a link for the exchange of ideas for European youth and other affiliates. The EL Youth publishes statements and organizes events, like for example, in relation to the European Forum. In some way, the EL Youth could also be described as the youth organization of the European Left, with the European Left being the parent party.
transform! europe -network is a think tank, which publishes analytical texts about European leftism and also takes stances more internationally. transform! europe works with the European Left in strong co-operation. The EL and transform! europe have common activities; for example summer universities and for mainly younger people targeted discussion arenas, that have been organized in different European countries.
Reset Europe - Go Left!
Based on YouTube and other forms of communication, as well as stances, the European Left is clearly more militant than the GUE/NGL, which doesn’t portray itself as very radical. On the opposite, it comes off as very tame. "For the many, not the few" is a stance, that doesn’t ask for much. A new flamenco version of Bella Ciao arranged for a party meeting of the EL plays noticeably on the EL’s YouTube channel, and their other social media channels communicate about events and all sorts of local and Intereuropean struggles, as well as show neat visual photos from the congress of Málaga with it’s fighting wallpapers. The channels of the European Left on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are worthy of following.
So the general policy in the European Left is that co-operation can be done with all leftist parties. Despite the occasional natural disagreements, dialogue and the shared spirit in the European Left are of rather good quality.
Links and sources
"The European Left - Its Current State and Prospects"
- Heinz Bierbaum
(transform! europe, 2019; s. 182-193)