Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Eurosocialist has moved!

Eurosocialist's platform has changed. From now on, you can find the English version on www.eurosocialist.eu and the French version on www.eurosocialiste.eu. Looking forward to your visit!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Quote of the week

"There have been times that I thought I couldn't last for long,
but now I think I'm able to carry on.
It's been a long time coming,
but I know a change is gonna come."

Sam Cooke, A change is gonna come, 1964

One of my favourite songs ever.


Powerful song, covered among others by Otis Redding,
Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and more recently by Seal, to name
but a few. I'd recommend Al Green's for the voice and Seal's
for the video. Timeless.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The best of the blogosphere: Social connectivity to determine success of job applicants

A job vacancy published by a US company specifically requires applicants to have at least 250 followers on Twitter. "Will this set a precedent?", wonders the blog The Lobby. Find out about the whole story here.

Socialist re-enchantment at the La Rochelle summer university

On my way back from Barcelona, I stopped at the lovely coastal town of La Rochelle where the Parti socialiste summer university was held. The sun was shining, people were in a good mood, and optimism was in the air. Journalists felt it too as for once in a very long time they wrote positive articles on the PS. What has caused that sudden turnaround? Could they actually feel the activists’ enthusiasm? Have they been seduced by the reforms announced by PS leader Martine Aubry? Or is it simply that they have finally realised that their approach to the PS in the past years has been overly negative? The PS is by far not only about internal fights. The PS is not dead. The PS is an activist party. It is alive and kicking, lifted up by the dedication of its thousands of activists, who relentlessly and voluntarily give some of their free time to the pursuit of their ideals because they refuse fatality, and decided one day to take their destiny into their own hands. I am regularly dumbstruck when I notice the gap between the party’s life as I see it from inside, and the image that is given by the mainstream media. I feel betrayed and usurped. I am happy to see that finally there are signs of change in this regard.


This weekend at La Rochelle, the activists’ enthusiasm warmed up my heart. Among the reforms announced by Martine Aubry in her opening speech, especially two of them were greeted by thunderous applause, spiced up by bravos and hurrays: the first one was about putting an end to the very French habit of plurality of offices, and the second one was about following the American model and opting for open primaries for the presidential election in 2012. Besides these two groundbreaking reforms, Martine Aubry announced the upcoming launch of a social network dedicated to PS activists and sympathisers. This “socialist Facebook” will be called Coopol from “coopérative politique”, political cooperative in French. I am thrilled by these three announcements as they all go towards a greater openness of the Parti socialiste.


Openness to the diversity of society by putting an end to plurality of offices. In order to renew itself, the Parti socialiste needs to promote more women, young people, people of foreign origin, people from any social and economic backgrounds. Not only will it better reflect the diversity of French society, but it will also convey that diversity engenders creativity.


Openness to our sister parties on the left and to the participation of our sympathisers to the party’s life thanks to the presidential primaries. I am convinced that the left needs to unite. We are driven by the same values. What differs is our vision of what is needed to reach our common ideals. I believe that is something we can overcome. The primaries will also give our sympathisers the opportunity to play an important role in the campaign, thus certainly giving birth to new vocations.


Openness to new means of political activism thanks to Coopol. This new tool will allow activists who share common interests to gather and act together despite geographical distance. Opening up the tool to sympathisers will also show that our party is a common place for debate, as well as a laboratory for political innovation.


Openness is a left-wing concept, and so is participative democracy and transparency. It was high time we reasserted it.


As Al Green sings, "a change is gonna come".



Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Spanish government is doing a lot and knows how to make it clear

I've arrived in Barcelona. I've had a walk in my neighbourhood along the Gaudi Avenue between the majestic Sant Pau hospital (below left, behind the billboard) and the breathtaking Sagrada Familia (below right, behind the billboard).












These are just two examples of how much the Spanish government seems to be advertising what they do, as -in a one-hour walk- I've seen two other billboards of this kind. Apparently the Sant Pau hospital work is financed by the Spanish government's PlanE, the much advertised recovery plan to stimulate the economy and boost employment, while the Sagrada Familia work is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund. Both billboards seem to have been put in place by Barcelona's city council.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Eurosocialist becomes Eurosocialista

It's time for Eurosocialist to take her summer vacation and go rest in Barcelona until the end of August. I’m still planning on blogging from there but probably at a slower pace. Who knows what kind of new inspiration the Catalan sun will give me!

I started blogging less than two months ago and already over 500 visitors came to one of my sites, almost as many are following me on Twitter, and 40 people have even suscribed to my RSS feed. Thanks to all of those who have read me so far. A special thanks to the ones that left comments on the posts because this blog is above all meant to be a place for debate. Hasta muy pronto!

Photo credits: MorBCN on Flickr

Monday, July 13, 2009

Social media in plain English

Ever wondered what social media actually meant? It's as simple as ice cream...



So, fellow bloggers: do you think you are like pecan ice cream or rather like pickle ice cream?

Friday, July 10, 2009

The political culture of Generation Y aka Generation 2.0: Openness, Ethics and Humility

A week ago I published a post about Generation 2.0 that dealt with the cultural consequences of the digital revolution. Yesterday, I discovered on Twitter the term of Generation Y thanks to @boriswandoren. The statement “Generation Y” is used to qualify the generation roughly born since the end of the seventies, which is the first one to have massively integrated the use of digital technologies in their daily lives. Boris Wandoren, Jon Worth and I engaged in a Twitter debate about the necessity of Generation Y values to be represented more in politics, which led Jon Worth to write a blogpost disproving the generational argument, stating that the main issue in today’s politics is more the structural difficulty of political parties to integrate “risk takers, leaders, people with drive, people with ideology, and bind them into a party structure”. Julien Frisch picked up this post, partly agreeing with Jon while arguing at the same time that there is some truth in the generational issue.

I still believe it is a matter of generation. But don’t get me wrong, I do not mean it is simply a question of replacing elder politicians by younger ones. That would be too easy. To paraphrase Jon, “it’s more important than that”. The generation question is not only an age question; it is much more relevant as a cultural question. Many young people still think like older generations while some elder people embrace the cultural changes younger generations bring in. Take the example of the 1960s cultural protest movement. Back then, not all young people were culturally liberal hippies! Some were conservative. They were the same age though. Yet looking back in history, at that moment it’s the values of the young progressive hippies -joined by their open-minded elders- that won the cultural battle.

The relevance of the generation question is more culture than age-related. So what is the specific culture of Generation Y and how does it matter? According to the Wikipedia articles I could read on the topic in English and French, what characterises Generation Y -at least in Western countries- is the following:

  • They didn’t grow up with the apocalyptical threat of the cold war.
  • They have integrated the moral transformations of the 1960s/1970s.
  • They haven’t known the world without AIDS.
  • They were young enough when computers and portable electronic devices started to widely disseminate so that they could gain an intuitive command of these technologies, much better than that of their parents.
  • They were born at a time when ecology started to raise interest in the wide public.

This list is certainly not comprehensive, and more importantly not entirely relevant to all geographies, but it is still good food for thought. Although these Wikipedia articles give a good description of Generation Y’s culture, they do not relate it to political behaviours. And that’s where we get back to the point I wanted to make.

The emergence of this new culture will have a long-term impact on politics. My guess is that Obama’s election is the first visible sign of what the political legacy of Generation Y will be. I believe that the future of politics lies in Openness, Ethics and Humility:

  • Openness because, thanks to digital technologies, the public debate has become much more open to citizen’s direct interaction, which also leads to the necessity for institutions to be more transparent. Openness also because tolerance is one of the defining values of Generation Y that believes in sexual liberties and the promotion of minority rights.
  • Ethics because in the past decades there has been a growing disenchantment about politics as a consequence of recurring corruption scandals and a perceived discrepancy between what politicians say they stand for and what their behaviours are.
  • Humility because in today’s world one can become an idol in just a minute, only to fall back as quickly into anonymity, because the world has become so complex that no ideology can pretend to have all the keys to world peace, because we live in an interdependent world where the fate of the richest is linked to that of the poorest.

There is a growing demand for a new way of doing politics. However, there is still not quite a satisfactory offer. Stay tuned: more posts coming up on Generation Y, the open society and what it means for politics.

Update on 11 July:

Boris Wandoren's take on the topic: http://www.clermont-citygroup.eu/2009/07/11/is-it-more-important-than-the-generational-issue/comment-page-1/#comment-454

and the amazing article by Kevin Kelly on digital socialism: http://www.wired.com/culture/culturereviews/magazine/17-06/nep_newsocialism?currentPage=all

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Communicating Europe: Mission Impossible? What if the problem was elsewhere…

On Monday, Forum 311 -an association of young French professionals in Brussels- organised a debate on the theme “Communicating Europe: Mission Impossible?” I couldn’t go. Fortunately, other bloggers attended, and thanks to them I could read two reports of the debate. They are quite different in style and content. While communication professional, Michael Malherbe, makes a detailed presentation of the themes that were discussed, un Européen jamais content chose to report on the atmosphere of the debate. If you can read French, you should definitely visit those sites.

Although European institutions have made remarkable efforts this year to “communicate Europe” with a view to prepare the European elections, the turnout has been yet again lower than the previous vote. This is a depressing fact for the communicators of Europe, hence the title. One has to admit that they did do their best. Consequently, they can’t help but think it is a lost cause. It has been mission impossible. Willy Helin, Head of the European Commission representation in Belgium, went as far as calling it a “suicidal mission”. What if the problem actually laid in the very expression used to solve it? “Communicating Europe”: why not “communicating with Europe”, or even “communicating with (or between) Europeans”?

At the time of the debates on the French “non”, the Dutch “nee” and the Irish “no” to the
constitutional treaty and the Lisbon treaty, each time I was stroke by the reaction of Eurospecialists from all sides. The vast majority shared the same analysis: had Europeans been more informed, they would have voted “oui”, “ja”, “yes” in chorus. Maybe. Possibly. But as with this debate, the problem isn’t there.

What is needed is not to “communicate Europe” i.e. to spread the good word of the enlightened elite to the uneducated, but to communicate in Europe, between Europeans about Europe. The idea of “communicating Europe” is didactic. Institutions provide information on what they are, but it just works one way. They send information towards recipients – the European citizens – while they haven’t even asked for it. The idea of “communicating with Europe” or “between Europeans” is interactive. The point is to foster debate about Europe. I think the main problem of the European communication is that it is institutional, i.e. consensual, depoliticised, and as such, non polemical. Consequently, it is boring. The whole problem is here.

Although I am sorry about the result of the referendum on the European constitutional treaty in France, I still think something utterly positive happened during this campaign. For once, we talked about Europe! The French have been passionate about this campaign. Everybody talked about it. Why was that? Because there were opposite sides that confronted one another over comprehensible political choices, because there were lively debates, because for the first time, Europe got politicised. I am convinced that the solution to the problem of the gap between the European institutions and the Europeans is the
politicisation of Europe. That’s what my political activism is driven by.

Alright, I can already hear you say “here is another mission impossible!” Because national parties (some) are against it, because national political cultures are too different one from the other (is that really so?), because Europe is too complicated (not more than national political systems), because people are not interested in Europe (self-fulfilling prophecy?), and so on, and so forth… Despite all that, I still believe in it. Dislocating these prejudices by building bridges between national politics and European politics is precisely the focus of this blog. For there is no such word as “can’t” – literally translated into my mother tongue as “impossible is not French”. I know a similar expression exists in Dutch: “Onmegelijk bestaat niet”, which means “Impossible doesn’t exist”. Do you have a similar expression in your own language? The floor is yours!

Photo Credits: European Parliament on Flickr

How addicted to Twitter am I after just two weeks of usage?

How addicted to Twitter are you?

Created by The Oatmeal

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Generation 2.0: not just a technological revolution, it’s a cultural revolution

I joined the Twitter community just a week ago. Although at first I was skeptical about this tool, the eye-opener blogposts on the political use of Twitter written by Jon Worth and Julien Frisch talked me into paying a little more attention to it. A couple of days later Bente Kalsnes's post on political geeks in Europe convinced me Twitter was something to consider seriously. Now I am hooked. The other day I was juggling as usual between the windows of Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and my RSS reader, to name but a few, when suddenly it hit me: ten years ago, none of that was part of my life, and of anybody’s either as a matter of fact.

When I was a teenager in the nineties, just a little more than ten years ago, we had no mobile phones, and hardly any personal computers. In France, we were still using the Minitel. Mobile phones only started to widespread when I went to university. Our teachers still hardly dared to ask to hand in typed papers instead of hand-written ones. Just a few of us actually owned a computer. Ten years later, we are all emailing, browsing the web, sending text messages on our mobile phones, having hundreds of friends on Facebook, posting our ideas on blogs, and participating in lively twittering micro-discussions with people we’ve never met. All that happened within 10 years, and it has profoundly changed our relationship to the world, and especially our relationship with the political sphere.

We are witnessing the beginning of a whole new era. The digital revolution will probably be seen in the history of the public space as the most significant milestone since the invention of movable type printing by Gutenberg in the 15th century. Anyone can have access to any kind of information through a simple internet connection. Information has become a common good. It is not anymore a source of power only reserved for the educated. This is deeply changing the political equilibrium. Anyone can now influence the public debate rather easily, provided they are a little witty, and understand how to make a strategic use of web tools such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Information is not top-down anymore. Information comes from anywhere and from anyone. The public sphere is becoming more and more horizontal. This is having a huge impact on our democracies. For decades, political debates have been led by political parties, journalists, and intellectuals. Now anyone can voice their opinion on the web and get a lot of attention. There is no monopoly of the information anymore. We are just at the beginning of a new era. The tech people call it the digital society. The Commission officials call it the information society. I would call it the open society.

This evolution of society is causing a serious challenge to mainstream political parties. These organisations have heavy structures. The bigger they got, the most top-down they went in the way they operated internally. That doesn’t work anymore because thanks to the Internet revolution, the information is not the monopoly of the few. But mainstream political parties are so frozen in time in the way they operate that they have been having trouble integrating the Internet revolution. Of course, they all try and use the latest technologies, have fancy websites with all the coolest functionalities. However they haven’t managed to integrate the input these new functionalities bring in. They just don’t get it. It’s not a matter of integrating the new technologies. It’s a matter of understanding how much these technologies have created a whole new culture, a wide-open culture, based on the widespread availability of information and the possibility of all to feed the society with more.

This blogpost is just the beginning of a long series. I feel the topic of the open society is essential to understanding the changing political landscape we are witnessing. The success of the Greens in France, the election of the Pirate Party in Sweden, and all the talks on the free sharing of data on the Internet are just other indicators of that move towards a new type of society, which is leading to the necessity of thinking new ways of doing politics.

Photo 1: "Le" Minitel (groundbreaking French technology). Credits: Wikipedia Commons

Photo 2: Jump on the social media wagon. Credits: Matt Hamm on Flickr

Just a thought: what exactly is the European-added value in the Commission pushing for smoking bans?

The Commission is calling on member-states to all implement smoking bans in public places. The rationale for this action is to have healthier Europeans. Alright, I get it. Smoking is bad for you, we should all quit. However I can’t help but think: what does the EU has to do with this? What is the added-value to push this agenda forward to a European level? Honestly I really don’t see to what extent that issue is a European one. If citizens smoke and get sick from it, then it is a public health issue that concerns the social security systems, which are purely national. So, again why is the EU bothering? I understand that in the field of health, there is a need for European action to prevent the spread of viruses and epidemic diseases as they can easily cross borders. That is why this kind of policy makes sense at an EU level. But cigarette smoke doesn’t cross border, does it? Anyone has a clue why the Commission is pushing that idea forward? I am happy to debate about it and change my mind. For the moment, I think the smoking ban campaign is a good example of these policies that make little sense at a European level, and only have the negative effect of building on the image that “Brussels” is a dark force that imposes constraints on member states against their will. The EU has better things to do, don’t you think?


Photo credits: Mandolux on Flickr

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A relevant, comprehensive and synthetic analysis of the European elections

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.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The EPP is openly blackmailing the PES but apparently journalists don’t care

Wednesday at a press conference, the newly re-elected EPP group leader Joseph Daul said that his group was opened to any type of alliance for the European Parliament shared presidency deal. However Daul added that the EPP group would – of course- only make a deal with “people” who back the re-election of Barroso as Commission President at the EP first plenary session on July 15th. I am not sure if I understand why the EP presidency and the Commission presidency have to be connected. Journalists in the room didn’t ask this question though. This is a smart move from the EPP. Either the Socialists accept these conditions -thus risking to loose political clarity and to spur divisions among the PES, or they refuse -thus loosing the power the EP presidency seat gives. Smart move, indeed. Although this declaration sounds like a political bomb, none of the mainstream EU media picked up on it. From what I could see, only Europolitics made a story on it, but the article is not available for free. I haven’t seen anyone mentioning it on Twitter either. Strange thing. Joseph Daul said negotiations with political groups on the technical agreement would start next week. Let’s see what happens.

Update on June 27th:

EU bloggers have started picking up the story. See Jon Worth's "Schizophrenic socialists and poker playing conservatives" and the European Citizen's “PASD Strategy: Opposition or Office?”

Their views converge: the socialists would be better off refusing the EPP presidency deal, and positioning themselves clearly as the opposition party.

Update on June 29th

The press has started to pick up on the story. See Jean Quatremer's blog (in French) and New Europe's website, which even mentions the http://www.stop-barroso.eu/ and http://www.anyonebutbarroso.eu/ websites.

Tired of legislation and taxes? Head off to the libertarian paradise!

Thanks to Compass Youth for drawing my attention to this amazingly funny (and so true) video.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The good thing about a crisis is that it brings about change

The French PS is going through a severe crisis. Nobody denies it anymore. Everybody knows. It’s out there. It’s a fact. On a more positive note, let’s keep in mind that one has to reach the bottom of the swimming-pool so they can give a good kick and surface again. I hope that’s where we stand now.

In the aftermath of the European election defeat, French PS leaders have started the blame game. They all come up with their very own explanation of the reasons why we lost, and what needs to be done to recover. The views expressed are all different of course, and there is no common stance on the situation. That’s part of the issue. Some think the party should lean more towards the left, while others would like to see it closer to the centre. Some would like to bring all left-wing parties together; others wish the PS rather reasserted its specific identity. Some even go as far as saying the party should change its name –the most extremist advocating that the party is dead, and we should thus dissolve it. In short, it’s a big mess.

Amid this cacophony, one idea has emerged as quite unusually popular, and it is generating more and more interest among the activists. The French PS is seriously thinking about organising primaries to the presidential election, after the US model. The idea has the advantage of being both new to the French political debate and innovative, and above all it is surfing on the Obama wave. A very interesting report has been written on it by a PS group dedicated to brainstorming on the party’s renovation. I’ll get back to that in upcoming posts. The idea is certainly inspiring, and worth giving a lot of thought to. However it shouldn’t be a smoke screen over the deeper problems of the party. We should not put all our energy in this new project at the risk of not tackling the real issues. Yes, the PS is going through a serious crisis, and that new electoral gadget – as interesting as it may be – will not solve the root problems our movement is suffering from. Let’s not act in haste. Our defeats are the results of a disconnection between our party and our electorate. Our party has not managed to renew its identity according to society evolution. That’s what we have to work on.

For activists, the current situation is very difficult to live. The mood is bad, of course. We all are a little knocked out. But something tells me we are not far away from that moment when reaching the bottom of the swimming-pool, a good kick pulls you back to the surface, slowly but surely. What makes me feel like that is precisely the fact that we all agree our party is in trouble so we cannot shilly-shally any longer. Either we change or we die. All methods are allowed in this kind of decisive moment, and that is a good thing. People speak their mind out, volunteers multiply, and so do debates. We take a new look at problems, put prejudices aside, forget about the old recipes, and open up to all new ideas. So yes, at that moment, everything is possible. Stay tuned, coming up: fascinating times.

picture credits: jayhem @ flickr

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

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

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.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hungover



Yes, hungover. There is no other word to describe the way I have been feeling like since that terrible Sunday evening. There is so much to say. As usual, everybody has already started to analyse what happened and give their own explanation of the situation. Everybody thinks they're right, that their explanation is the right one. The truth is there is no simple reason, nor is there one single easily identifiable culprit. I have my own ideas on the reasons for this defeat, of course. Too many ideas, actually. I need to step back, recover from this hangover, and sort things out a little, so I can see the bigger picture. I will then analyse those reasons one by one, the ones that I instinctively feel are right, and the ones that others think are right. There is a lot of work to be done. But my motivation remains intact.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

it's super Sunday!

Today 18 EU countries are voting to elect their representatives at the European Parliament. Tonight at 10, we will get the results from all 27 EU countries, and finally know what the European Parliament will look like for the next 5 years.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

D+2: Cyprus, Italy, Latvia, Malta and Slovakia

Today is the third day of the European elections.
Citizens of Cyprus, Italy, Latvia, Malta and Slovakia are to cast their votes.
Good luck to all PES parties!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fantastic atmosphere at the French PS final meeting in Lille

video

D+1: Ireland and Czech Republic

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!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's D-Day

Today is the opening of a 4-day continent-wide electoral marathon!
The citizens of the 27 member states of the European Union are going to elect their representatives at the European Parliament. And no, they don't all vote on the same day. The first citizens called to cast their vote are the British and the Dutch. So, good luck to my Labour friends and Veel success voor mijn PvdA vrienden!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Call to vote from space

Even in space you can vote so stop making excuses and just go!

Who should you vote for?

Still confused? Grahnlaw's blog has brought to my attention this guide to the European parties' manifestos for the European Parliament elections. Have a look! It is quite well conceived. For a French equivalent, click here. Bonne lecture! 

just one day to go

I can hardly believe it is finally hapenning...
But no doubt, the European Parliament elections begin tomorrow!
27 countries will be voting over 4 days. 
Starting the race: the UK and the Netherlands.
Good luck to you all, and a special thought to my PvdA and Labour friends!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Abortion is an ‘aberration’ worse than pederasty, says Spanish PP head of list

In an electoral meeting on 29 May, head of PP European list Jaime Mayor Oreja expressed its support to Cardinal Antonio Cañizares’ assertion concerning a recent report on sexual abuses perpetrated for decades in Catholic schools in Ireland, reports El País. Mayor said that Cañizares is right when saying that what happened in Ireland was not as bad as “the hundreds of lives destroyed by abortion” and he claims to not understand the scandal Cañizares’ declarations created. The head of PSOE European list, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, said that the PP vision is not “the majority perception of society” and that Mayor is trying to criminalise women who have made their choice. The next day, in a meeting in Esplugues de Llobregat (Barcelona), PP President Mariano Rajoy tried to avoid references to his support for Mayor. Spanish Socialist President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero also reacted by asking Mayor to “withdraw his declarations which are 30 or 40 years old”. “We won’t allow Mr. Mayor Oreja to impose his morals” on Spanish society, Zapatero added. 

For the record, Major Oreja also refused to support the declaration condemning General Franco's regime 70 years after his coup d'état in the plenary of July 2007. “Why should I have to condemn Franco´s regime?”, he said. “I did not condemn Franco, I praise the democratic transition. How can I condemn what represents, without a doubt, a very big part of Spanish society?”, he added. 

Now, is Jaime Mayor Oreja really the kind of guy you want to see making decisions for you at the European Parliament? The PP is allied –among others- to the UMP, the PdL (Berlusconi’s party) and the CDU. All these parties are gathered in the European People’s party, strongly claiming their Christian values, which to them are “true values”. I don't like to draw the fear card -that's too much of a right-wing tactic- but this is a little scary, isn't it? Please, mind your vote.

Monday, June 1, 2009

2009: a PES odyssey

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.