The public discussion took place on May 8th in Zagreb's Europe house, focusing on the #DemLeftSEE's core question, i.e. how to renew the Left in the region? Despite the debate emphasizing the Croatian context in terms of activism and politics, a regional perspective was given with voices from Romania and Macedonia. Participants opened the debate with statements relating to the seeming decline of social democracy in Southeast Europe and the rest of the continent. Many of the talking points however took into consideration possible solutions towards the cooperation between established social democratic parties with grassroots movements, newly formed Left parties, activists and civil society on the Left.
Panelists particulary discussed the possibilities of Left coalitions and what established parties would gain from attracting new membership in terms of progressive ideas. As was the case during previous discussions within the #DemLeftSEE initative, panelists agreed that there is a lot of infighting going on in the parties but also the movements and that this fighting is rarely programmatic but often personal. However, according to one panelist the avenues of cooperation are easily identifiable, but they are not being discussed within the structures and there was general agreement that the space for these types of discussions is quite scarce.
With several interventions from the public, the panel continued discussing the question on how activists can make established parties listen to the issues from the streets and what the mechanisms could be to do so. Following the debate, on the next day #DemLeftSEE activists came together with youth members from established Left parties in Croatia and trade union activists to discuss exactly this question from the debate.
We looked at possibilities, where the positions from the #DemLeftSEE platform could be used in Croatia and where the entry points for socio-economic issues in Croatia could be identified. This marked the first of such national encounters between activists and party members in terms of programmatic and values-based discussions, the objective being to analyze where the positions and demands from the #DemLeftSEE platform could be applied in society.
The public discussion was live-streamed on #DemLeftSEE social media channels and can be found here. Updates on future #DemLeftSEE events can be found here. Similar events focusing on encounters between Left actors are planned in the near future in Prishtina and Sarajevo.