... and another proof of their devotion to neoliberalism
by system failure
Standardised answers from the European parties in power is a characteristic that someone can easily observe especially during the period of economic crisis. The uniformity of arguments is quite impressive through the whole eurozone, despite the special conditions in each country, and this is another indication of the pan-european unification of the neoliberal forces against political parties that threaten their domination.
Such an example is a discussion between Hannes Swoboda, of the European Socialists in euro-parliament and Joseph Paul, of the European People's Party, for the France24 network and EuroparlTV of the euro-parliament.
The journalist asks among other things: “Up till now, the two large groups have shared the European Parliament, 2,5 years each, as neither of you could form an absolute majority. Will that change much this time?”
Among other things, Daul says that: “On 25 May we'll wait for the election results. [...] but I think the democratic parties will keep the majority in the Parliament.”
Here, one can see clearly the dominant perception of the European parties in power. It's the same perception that is continuously propagated by the mainstream media, which is that, only the parties from the "centre" should be considered "democratic", as if they have the "copyright" of Democracy. They are of course the same parties that completely adopted cruel austerity and have chosen to save banks instead of people. They are the same parties that criminalized demonstrations in Spain and Greece. They are the same parties that are trying to destroy the social state in Europe. They show us clearly how they realize democracy.
To another question, Swoboda says among other things: “The centre dominates the evolution of the policy in Europe. It's the centre right and the centre left. Secondly, one must observe that these aren't concrete proposals from the far left or the far right. Thye're a facade with no content. They're words and mainly negative words. We cannot build a strong Europe, a Europe that serves the interests of citizens, with words. We need actions, visions and concrete proposals. And we, the Socialists offer concrete proposals.”
Daul rushes to agree:
“... but, as Hannes Swoboda said, we can't manage policy just with slogans.”
Here is clear that, the political thinking of the European parties in power coincides perfectly by considering that they are the only ones that have concrete suggestions. This standardised "argument" is used all the time in Greece too by the parties of the government coalition. It is so standardised that ends to be a ... slogan.
This shows that there is a central management of the way with which the parties in power face the rival political forces in Europe, which means that, the parties in power in Greece - a country, which is the centre of the European crisis - are taking probably specific orders from the corresponding parties in Europe to use a specific rhetoric.
But this is also an indication of the unification of the neoliberal lobby, which is self-considered as "moderate centre" and thinks that it is the only one that has "realistic" proposals in contrast with the "far" Left for example. It's not a surprise since these proposals are totally favor big capital's interests which funds to a great extend those parties.
Socialists, especially, instead of criticize the proposals of the Left, they prefer to propagate that the Left has no proposals. This is also something that someone should expect, as Socialists appear that they are trying desperately to regain the "exclusivity" of the social sensitiveness.
An independent Left as a pure representative of people's anger against big capital interests, cannot be easily managed. Socialists, instead, can be good to everyone: on the one hand they vote every bill in favor of the big capital which funds them, on the other hand, they pretend that they fight for the majority's rights, throwing a few "crumbs" to the people to justify their "Socialistic" ideology and heritage.
Swoboda's anxiety to the next question is characteristic:
Journalist question: “On the other hand, during the crisis, it's a fact that a lot of people expected the Socialists to have a response. That response didn't come and you didn't act as the counterbalance to austerity.”
Swoboda: “We did respond, but we don't have the majority. That's why we are fighting for a social Europe, a Europe without austerity, a Europe that respects social rules, a Europe that wants to improve transform and change the directive on the posting of workers. We need to change Europe. We're not defending the Europe of today. We need change and that's our response.”
Swoboda forgot that the destructive IMF was brought by his colleague, president of the Socialist International, George Papandreou, that the head of IMF then was another "Socialist", Dominique Strauss-Kahn and that, the man who replaced Papandreou in the Greek Socialist Party (PASOK) leadership, Evangelos Venizelos, has chosen to adopt politics of destruction by making a coalition with the neoliberal Right in order to stay in power.
He also forgot that, Socialists in the euro-parliament allowed a nationalist, Nigel Farage, to monopolize the reaction against politics of destruction and therefore, allow his popularity reach high levels and gain high percentage for his party. Farage, for his own reasons of course, dared to say truths when his party had minimum power in the euro-parliament. Where were the "Socialists" then?
Additionaly, his rhetoric appears to be characterized with something that himself blames the Left and the "far": it is full of generalities, wishes and therefore without substantial proposals.
In a next question, journalist asks: “Mr. Swoboda, in Greece we've seen that the economic crisis has brought to the fore the Greek far left in the person of Alexis Tsipras who is the driving force. Do you not think today that in the end you will lose a whole section of your voters who will move to the far left? In addition, this Greek far left has a figurehead, Alexis Tsipras, who might stand as President of the Commission. Don't you think you could lose support?”
The answer of Swoboda: “Yes, in some countries like Greece we'll lose a few voters. That's true. It's because of the crisis but it's also the response to the crisis. I was, for example, against the Troika because it would like to destroy the social resources or to destroy the social state. That's why the far left has gained support. And that's why we, as Socialists, have asked the European Commission and the majority of contributors, the majority of the EPP and the Member States, to change the structure. Greece must be reformed, but without this destruction of the social state. We must clearly stop the work of the Troika. We must ask for practical reforms of the state, but there must be respect for the needs of the social strata. [...] What are Mr. Tsipras' alternatives? He can't propose any alternatives.”
What is remarkable here is that SYRIZA is considered far Left, despite the fact that its leader is a candidate for the leadership of the European Commission! But there is also a big contradiction in Swoboda's arguments since he states clearly that he is against Troika's policies and that these policies must change so that the destruction of the social state to be stopped, but instead of seeking a support from the "far" Left, which is coordinated to this perception, he insists on seeking alliances with the European People's Party, which is basically responsible for the adoption of those neoliberal, destructive policies through the whole Europe!
Next, Swoboda insists on the standardised "argument" concerning the lack of an alternative proposition from the Left, targeting personally Alexis Tsipras, but it seems that he ignores the fact that his Socialist colleague in the euro-parliament, Hoang Ngoc, quite recently, contradicted Othmar Karas of the European People's Party, who supported (as expected), that Tsipras has no realistic proposals. Ngoc said that SYRIZA's president came in Strasbourg with specific proposals.
Swoboda's answer to a next question clearly shows that Socialists are determined to support the neoliberal Right in Europe, excluding any possible alliance with the "uncompromising" Left:
Journalist: “When we see that the European United Left could become the third party, could overtake the Liberals and perhaps make unnatural alliances, could you see yourself making an alliance with that group?”
Swoboda: “No. We make alliances with parties in the centre. Of course, we have discussions about specific collaborations with the far left, if the far left can accept the rules of democracy, can accept the rules for participating in practical negotiations. But we've often found the far left in this Hemicycle making demands upon demands, but if the vote is needed to support a pragmatic solution, a compromise, they withdraw support. It's unacceptable.”
It would be useful if Swoboda could make clear what he means by saying "pragmatic solution" and "compromise". Does he mean the full retreat of the Socialists to the neoliberal doctrine? Who is the one who decides about the rules of Democracy? Banks or multinational corporations?