There are some negative voices stating that the project of founding such a party is in contradiction with the aims of the left and, as an extreme position, that PEL will be nothing more than a Party of the European Commission. Let us name KKE as an example.
The Czech Party of the Democratic Socialism (SDS) has studied the main arguments against the foundation of PEL, articulated by some communist parties. And further, we have analyzed the Regulation governing political parties at European level adopted on the 4th November 2003. I would like to present here our conclusions to three main negative arguments.
1) The main argument against the foundation of PEL sounds that the European Parties do not come into being by the free will and from the initiative of their potential members but due to a binding regulation of the EU. The argumentation goes further – the European parties are founded according to the Maastricht treaty, they must observe the principles on which the EU is founded.
We cannot accept this argument. Our reasoning is not that the assumptions are wrong. No, the assumptions are correct; there really are obstacles for the future development of the radical left parties. But the conclusion is wrong! Look at the national level. All national legal left parties fulfill the conditions of the national law. Otherwise they would be abolished by the highest courts and they would not obtain a single euro or crown from their national state. So if the argumentation were really correct, the radical left parties must have still gone underground on the national level. But they did not.
2) The second argument against PEL reads that the Party will be under constant pressure of the European Parliament. That the European Parliament will have the right to abolish the Party that will not observe the Principles of the EU. That PEL will not have the right to change its statute or program without permition of the EP.
This argument is in contradiction with the adopted Regulation dated 4th November 2003. There is no duty to ask when you want to change the statute or the program. The European Parliament cannot abolish the party at European level. So the only acceptable part of the argument consists in the fact that the European Parliament can exclude the PEL from the funding. OK, it can, under certain conditions, in a complex process of verification. We should fight against this article. But it is not an argument against the foundation of PEL. What could we lose? Maybe some funding in the future. But there will be no funding without PEL at all!
Someone could argue that the financial pressure would made the leaders of PEL “to sell the program” of the radical left, that it would lead to “social democratizing” the PEL. We would like to ask him: What do the left parties at the national level today?
3) The third argument often raised states that the Parties at European level will not be able to use their specific features according to their will and to their decision. This argument has its roots in Articles 7 and 8 of the Regulation. By course of Article 7, the funding of political parties at European level may not be used for the direct or indirect funding of other political parties and in particular national political parties. And Article 8 describes the nature of expenditure - appropriations may only be used to meet expenditure directly linked to the objectives set out in the political program.
We fully accept the contents of both articles. It would be surely pleasant for SDS as a small party if we could obtain funding from the EU, but we understand and support the idea that the European funding should contribute to forming of European awareness and to expressing the political will of the European citizens. And, to speak about the Article 8, we ask: Why should be funded something not written down in the program?
Those are the reasons why we cannot accept the third main argument against the foundation of PEL.
Concluding this paper, the Czech Party of the Democratic Socialism does not see any correct arguments against the foundation of the Party of the European Left. It does not mean that we can accept the Regulation governing political parties at European level dated 4th November 2003 without objections.
This Regulation is in contradiction to the main principle of democracy - to the division of the authority between the Parliament, the Government and the Court. The Regulation strengthens the supremacy of the Commission and the Council. It is another sign of the lack of democracy in the EU. We have to fight against it. And it should be a goal for the Party of the European Left.
Milan Neubert, Prague, 30. 3. 2004
Czech version here.