The book presents a unique record of the history of the socialist family and its development within the uniting Europe. From the first meeting of the Socialist International Working group in 1951 to a fully fledged European party – PES, the narrative provides a record of bold political ideas and ambitious organisational steps. Both entail three grand turning momentums. The evolution of the ideology is shown in the context of the political development of the European Communities. The shift in conceptualisation of what the traditional consensus between capital and labour should be is being illustrated. In the post-war history, it was focused on “industrial democracy”, in the 1990s it evolved towards an agenda of “full employment”, which then in the 2000s became a paradigm of a “new Social Europe”. Looking at the current renewal processes of the PES family, it is possible to assume that the progressives are in search for a new mission that will illustrate their opposition to the neo-liberal financial capitalism. Hence the proposal of a new progressive social deal is likely to emerge and the book indicates the traditions in which such an alternative is to anchor in.
As for the organisation, the transition from the Working Group, through Office, Confederation – until the current PES has been a long, demanding process. For the parties united in the spirit of one ideology, but diverse in terms of national contexts of origin and organisational tradition, this has proven to be a great achievement to be able to consequently remain faithful to their principle “in solidarity, together we are stronger”. This is why a PES of today, a party with distinctive programme, successful pan-European campaigns and PES activists has been possible. Looking at the great reforms, the ideas that were carried or remain debates – one can only with excitement await the next stage enabled with the novelisation of the regulation on European political parties and the acceleration of their activism.
What makes the book exceptional, is that it builds a bridge in between the past and the future . This is possible thanks to the contributions of the PES Veterans – outstanding politicians and devoted activists, who have been shaping the movement and who have kindly agreed to take the author for a trip down their memory lanes. Their reflection about the history that they created together, as also their wishes for the PES of the future, which allow to capture the spirit of different momentums and is also an inspiration now – they ensure that the last PES election’s motto “People’s First” is also upheld in this homage.
The book « Europe, Our Common Future. Celebrating 20 years of the Party of European Socialists » was presented at the PES event in Albert Hall on Monday, 18th February 2013. The FEPS President, Massimo D’Alema offered the book to the PES President Sergei Stanishev and the PES Women President Zita Gurmai, standing along with Wim Kok (former Prime Minister of the Netherlands).
For more information, please contact the author Ania Skrzypek, FEPS Senior Research Fellow: ania.skrzypekfeps-europe.eu
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