On to the 22nd of May

24 November 2013

On to the 22nd of May

The final decision will be for the SP National Congress to make on February 22nd, but I was still pleased yesterday by the decision of the party council to nominate me to head the list of SP candidates for the European elections next May 22nd. I want to use this opportunity to thank all of the members of the party council for their continued confidence. This brings with it also responsibilities: together with the branches we must therefore ensure that SP voters don’t stay at home on polling day. If you want to put an end to the chilly neoliberal wind blowing through Europe, then our voices must become stronger, including within the European Parliament. In this, every vote counts.

Euroscepticism is ‘hot’, which is why last week the PvdA (Dutch Labour Party) managed to come out with a report which looks to put an end to budget fetishism by agreeing norms on the maximum permissible level of unemployment. This is, once again, typical PvdA: when we could still have changed the 3% deficit ceiling, Labour was under no circumstances prepared to cooperate with the SP on this issue. In the European Parliament its MEPs voted for economic governance, including the 3% limit and the sanctions which will enforce it. Now they regret it, but of course repentance comes always after sin.

As for parties such as Labour’s centre-right partners in government the VVD, none of this makes the slightest sense. At yesterday’s VVD Congress the party was suddenly once again a fan of Europe and even former European Commissioner Frits Bolkestein flatly denied that there were or ever had been differences of opinion within their ranks. This is also telling: if the VVD wants to scrap unnecessary regulations, you can count on this being the social rights which still offer some degree of protection or laws beneficial to the environment. To the enormous transfer of powers via economic governance, the VVD sees no need to make any change. For the VVD, budget fetishism is a matter for celebration: with every austerity measure the state shrinks further and the VVD moves nearer to its goal.

The SP is well out in front in this, being the only left Eurocritical party. The so-called centre parties are in confusion and the Green Left and D66 are openly in favour of a federal Europe. So we can make gains in next May’s elections. We have, however, one huge opponent: the non-voter. I see it as my task from now onwards, certainly after yesterday’s nomination, to make it repeatedly clear that for a democratic and social Europe one little act is needed: putting a cross by the SP list. A little bother, but one potentially with big results.

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