The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s two-year engagement with the progressive activist community in Southeast Europe has yielded some concrete results in the last few months. A set of actionable positions and policy proposals has been formulated and presented to the public through discussions with other leftist actors and via a specialized website and social media channels for further dissemination and community-building.
Another milestone in the process was establishing links between the local political struggles that were discussed in the #DemLeftSEE and broader national and transnational initiatives that deal with the topic of the renewal of the established and non-established Left in Europe. The first event of that kind took place in Munich on March 20.
The debate featured a discussion of the positions from the #DemLeftSee’s platform, the recent debate around the #NoGroKo campaign in Germany, and the overall outlook to harmonize relations between various actors on the Left. The panelists and participants grappled with the question of why the Left has, for the most part, struggled in confronting today’s considerable challenges, including violent nationalism, neoliberalism, and the rise of a new populist right.
The participants agreed that this is a challenging time for the political Left, but also a time with many new opportunities. Change, if it stems either from old or new leftist political parties or movements, needs to be European, democratic, and focusing on core leftist priorities, like labor rights.
In that context, it was noted that many social democratic political parties in Southeast Europe have lost their basic support and that if they want to change the narrative, they need to start addressing real problems. The debate ended with the conclusion that the challenges leftist parties and movements face are both different and interconnected, that there are important lessons to be drawn from looking at the (South)east part of the continent, and that supporting citizen/social mobilizations are a chance for the established Left to regain legitimacy.
More comments and statements from the debate will be in a video that we will prepare shortly. The #DemLeftSEE initiative will continue in the next months with several local and regional events.