The Post-1989 Radical Left in Europe: Results and Prospects (Part II)

1. The new political geography of the European radical Left

The political and economic crisis traversing Europe has not led only to the advance of populist, xenophobic and far-right forces. At the same time, it has prompted major struggles and protest demonstrations against the austerity measures imposed by the European Commission and implemented by national governments.

Especially in southern Europe, this has encouraged a renaissance of the radical Left, as well as notable electoral breakthroughs. Greece, Spain and Portugal, along with Ireland and, in a lesser key, other countries, have been the scene of imposing mass mobilizations against neoliberal policies. In Greece, more than forty general strikes have been called since 2010.

In Spain, millions of citizens participated in a huge rebellion beginning on 15 May 2011 that gave rise to the movement later called the Indignados. The demonstrators occupied Madrid’s main square, the Puerta del Sol, for a good four weeks. A few days after their action began, a similar protest movement took to the streets in Athens, at Syntagma Square. And in both countries, the social struggles effectively laid the foundations for a subsequent growth and affirmation of the Left.

On the other hand, although the trade union movement faced a common situation – official post-crisis measures had caused the same social disasters in the countries of Europe – it did not have the political will to formulate a shared platform of demands and to organize a series of continent-wide mobilizations. The only partial exception was the general strike of 14 November 2012 in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta, which was also supported by solidarity actions in France, Greece and Belgium.

At a political level, the anticapitalist Left stuck to its course of rebuilding and regrouping its forces in the field. New formations inspired by pluralism took shape and came to constitute a wide arc of political subjects, at the same time securing greater democracy through the principle of ‘one person, one vote’.

In 1999 the Left Bloc (BE) in Portugal brought together the most important forces to the left of the Portuguese Communist Party, and in the same year the foundation of The Left marked a fresh departure in Luxemburg. In 2004 Synaspismos and a range of other anticapitalist forces in Greece came together to form Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left (although its fusion into an actual party occurred only in 2012).

In May 2004, the foundation of the Party of the European Left initially associated fifteen communist, socialist and ecological parties, with the aim of building a political subject that could unite the main forces of European militant Left around a common programme. At the present time, political organizations from twenty countries are part of it. [1] This regroupment had been preceded, a few months earlier, by the creation of the Alliance of the Nordic Green Left, involving seven parties from northern Europe.

Apart from the European Left coalition, there is also the European Anticapitalist Left (EACL), a smaller formation launched in 2000 and consisting of more than 30 (often diminutive) Trotskyist organizations. Its chief promoters were the Left Bloc in Portugal, the Unity List/Red–Greens in Denmark and the New Anticapitalist Party in France. In the European Parliament, representatives of these forces have joined the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group. [2]

A few years later, the most radical components of the German SPD and the French Socialist Party (PS) [3] split away and rapidly adopted positions to the left of the leaderships of the Party of Democratic Socialism (in Germany) or the French Communist Party. This encouraged the launch of The Left (Die Linke – DL) in Germany in 2007 and of the Left Front (FdG) in France in 2008. Also in France, the transformation of the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) into the New Anticapitalist Party(NPA) in 2009 may be ascribed to the same vision as that of certain typically class-oriented forces of European Communism: that is, to focus political initiatives on important new contradictions bound up with social exclusion.

In Italy, also in 2009, the newly founded Left Ecology and Freedom(SEL) brought together three elements: the moderate wing of Communist Refoundation Party, a group of dissidents from the Left Democrats (DS); and the Federation of the Left (FdS), an alliance between the Communist Refoundation Party and three smaller political movements. In Switzerland, a similar process was completed in 2010 with the foundation of The Left (AL).

The same kind of path was tried in Britain, with the foundation of the Respect Party in 2004 and Left Unity in 2013. The trend even crossed the Bosphorus, where Kurdish activists came together in 2012 with several movements of the Turkish Left to form the People’s Democratic Party (HDP); this rapidly became the fourth political force in the country, achieving 10.7 per cent of the vote in the elections of November 2015. [4]

The year 2014 saw the emergence of the United Left in Slovenia and Podemos in Spain. The latter is rather a special case, since it claims to go beyond the traditional definition of a party of the Left, but it presented candidates for the first time in the last European elections and has joined the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament. Finally, in October 2015, a new electoral coalition called the Anti-Austerity Alliance – People Before Profit (AAA-PBP) put an end to the long feud between the Socialist Party (PS) and the People Before Profit Alliance (APBP).[5]

The plural model, so different from the monolithic, ‘democratic centralist’ party of the twentieth-century Communist movement, quickly spread to most forces of the European radical Left. The most successful experiments have been not so much those that simply unify small pre-existing groups and organizations as genuine recompositions driven by the need to involve the vast, scattered network of social subjects and to weave together different forms of struggle. This approach has been victorious in so far as it has attracted new forces, drawing in young people, bringing back disillusioned militants and assisting the electoral advance of the newly created parties.

In the German elections of 2009, Die Linke won 11.9 per cent of the vote – three times more than the 4 per cent achieved by the Party of Democratic Socialism seven years earlier. In the French presidential elections of 2012, the candidate of the Left Front, Mélenchon, achieved the highest vote obtained by any party to the left of the Socialist Party since 1981. And in the same year, Syriza began the rapid ascent that took it to 16.8 per cent in the May elections, 26.9 per cent in June and eventually 36.3 per cent in January 2015, when, uniquely for a European anticapitalist party since the Second World War, it formed a government as the majority partner. [6]

Excellent results were also achieved in the Iberian Peninsula, where the Spanish Plural Left (a new electoral bloc headed by Izquierda Unida) crossed the 10 per cent threshold in the 2014 Euro-elections, and Podemos came within a whisker of 8 per cent. The total votes gained by all Leftist forces was even larger at the general elections of December 2015. On that occasion, Podemos has reached 12.6 per cent, Popular Unity (PU) - the latest denomination taken on by Izquierda Unida – 3.6 per cent, and various local electoral lists - among which there where In Common We Can (ECP) (Catalonia – 3.7 per cent); Commitment-We Can-It is Time (C-P-É) (Valencia – 2.6 per cent); In Tide (EM) (Galicia – 1.6 per cent); Basque Country Unite (EH Bildu) (0.8 per cent) - that altogether have almost collected 9 per cent of the vote.

As to Portugal, the Unitary Democratic Coalition totalled 8.3 per cent in the general election of October 2015, while the Left Bloc, with 10.2 per cent, scored its best result ever, becoming the third political force in the country. This result has been confirmed at the presidential elections of January 2016, when the latter party has once again surpassed 10 per cent.

Plural left experiments, always characterized by a clear opposition to neoliberalism, have also born fruit in local ballots. A good case in point was the French regional elections of 2010 in the Limousin, when the Front de Gauche coalition and the New Anticapitalist Party together achieved 19.1 per cent in the second round, and the municipal elections in Spain, where the Madrid Ahora and Barcelona en Comú lists (including both Izquierda Unida and Podemos) won the two largest cities in the country. In both cases, broad alliances driven by the rank and file made it possible to overcome differences between the national leadership groups.

Parties that chose not to bloc with other political forces have also sometimes achieved notable electoral results in the past decade. In the Netherlands, for example, the Socialist Party (SP) rose to 16.6 per cent of the vote in 2006, in the wake of its call for a ‘no’ vote in the referendum on the European Constitution; and in Cyprus the AKEL general secretary Demetris Christofias won the presidential elections of 2009 with 33.2 per cent in the first round vote and 53.3 per cent in the second. Chrstofias’s term in office ended in major setbacks, however, since he was unable to end the conflict that has divided the island since 1974, and explicitly bowed to the Troika’s demands on the economy.

Another turnaround that has shaken the geography of the European Left would have been at least as unpredictable a few years ago as Syriza’s governmental victory in Greece. In primary-style elections held in September 2015, 59.5 per cent of British Labour Party members and registered supporters voted in favour of Jeremy Corbyn as their new leader. In the country where Tony Blair ruled the roost twenty years ago, a self-declared anticapitalist has now occupied the top post in the Labour Party, the most left-wing in its history. This extraordinary turn of events represents a further significant example of the revival of the Left.

At the level of the EU, the general advance of the radical Left was confirmed at the last European elections in 2014. Its total number of votes reached 12,981,378, or 8 per cent, with an increase of 1,885,574 over 2009. [7]

Even by the sole criterion of the number of elected deputies (6.9 per cent, or 52 MPs), the European United Left/Nordic Green Left is now the fifth political force in the European Parliament, up from the seventh in 2009. [8] It thus comes behind the European People’s Party (29.4 per cent), the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (25.4 per cent), the European Conservatives and Reformists (9.3 per cent) and the Alliance of Democrats and Liberals for Europe (8.9 per cent); but ahead of the Greens/European Free Alliance (6.6 per cent), Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (6.4 per cent) and Europe of Nations and Freedom (5.2 per cent).

There are some negative elements that cloud this picture, however. In many countries of Eastern Europe, the radical Left still expresses a marginal, if not totally isolated, position; [9] it is remote from social struggles, lacks roots in local areas and the trade unions, is unknown to the younger generation, and is repeatedly shaken by a damaging sectarianism and rending internal divisions. In other words, it has no immediate prospect of development.

This situation is reflected at the polls. In six countries – Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Estonia – the radical Left has garnered less than 1 per cent of the vote, while in others such as Croatia, Slovakia, Lithuania and Latvia, it has hardly fared better. It also remains very weak in Austria, Belgium and Switzerland, and in Serbia the Left is still identified with the Socialist Party led for many years by Slobodan Milošević.

The reality we face in Europe is therefore extremely heterogeneous. In the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean Basin – with the exception of Italy – the radical Left has expanded significantly in recent years. In Greece, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus, its forces have consolidated themselves and may be recognized among the principal actors in the political arena. In France, too, it has regained a reasonably significant role in society and politics. Meanwhile, in Ireland, the progressive (though moderate) republican nationalism of Sinn Fein (SF), which collected 22.8 per cent of votes in the 2014 Euro-elections, has acted as a barrier to the advance of conservative forces.

In Central Europe, the radical Left has managed to retain considerable electoral strength in Germany and the Netherlands, but its weight is limited elsewhere. In the Nordic countries, it has defended the positions it secured after 1989 (around 10 per cent at the polls), but it has proved incapable of attracting the diffuse popular discontent, which has been captured by the extreme Right instead.

The main problem for the radical Left remains further east, however, where, with the exception of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia in the Czech Republic, and the United Left in Slovenia, it is virtually non-existent and incapable of moving beyond the spectre of ‘actually existing socialism’. In these circumstances, the eastward expansion of the EU has decisively shifted the political centre of gravity to the right, as we can see from the rigidly extreme positions taken by East European governments during the recent crisis in Greece and with regard to the arrival of people fleeing war-torn regions.

2. Beyond the Eurozone enclosure?

The conversion of radical Left parties into broader, more plural organizations has been useful in reducing their fragmentation, but it has certainly not solved their political problems.

In Greece, when the government headed by Alexis Tsipras took office, Syriza intended to break with the austerity policies adopted by all the administrations, centre-left, ‘technocratic’ or ‘centre-right’, that had succeeded one another since 2010. However, because of the huge size of the public debt, the concrete application of this turn was immediately subordinated to negotiations with the international creditors.

After five months of exhausting talks – during which the European Central Bank again stopped providing credit to the central bank in Athens, causing branches of Greek banks to dry up – the leaders of the Eurozone imposed a new bailout plan containing all the economic provisions that Syriza had been firmly opposing. Since 2010, the parliamentary arc of political forces that has accepted the Brussels memoranda has been wide indeed. From left to right, they have bowed to the inexorable logic of austerity: New Democracy, the Independent Greeks (ANEL), The River, the Democratic Left, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, and finally even Syriza. [10] Not even the vigorous response at the consultative referendum of 5 July 2015 (when 61.3 per cent of Greeks said a firm ‘no’ to the Troika’s proposals) served to bring about a different outcome.

To avoid an Greek exit from the Eurozone, the Tsipras government agreed to further social sacrifices, a massive knock-down sale of public assets, and more generally a whole raft of austerity measures geared to the interests of international creditors rather than development of the Greek economy. [11]

On the other hand, a Greek exit from the Eurozone – a scenario that some envisaged, but only if negotiations with the Eurogroup broke down– would have catapulted the country into a state of economic chaos and deep recession. It would have been necessary to prepare well in advance for such a momentous decision, carefully weighing every eventuality and rigorously planning all the appropriate countermeasures. Above all, it would have been necessary to win over a large array of social and political forces and to count on their support – otherwise, the economic autarky that Greece would have been condemned to adopt for an unpredictable length of time could have opened even greater space for the neofascists of Golden Dawn.

The outcome of the negotiations between Tsipras and the Eurogroup made it abundantly clear that, as soon as a left-wing party wins elections and seeks to implement alternative economic policies, the Brussels institutions are ready to intervene and put a stop to them. In the 1990s, unconditional acceptance of the neoliberal credo aligned the forces of European social democracy with the parties of the centre-right. Today, by contrast, when a party of the radical Left comes to power, the Troika itself steps in to prevent the new government from tampering with its economic directives. To win elections is not enough; the European Union has become a cornerstone of neoliberal capitalism.

Following the Greek episode, there has been deeper collective reflection on the wisdom of keeping the single currency at any cost. Efforts are being made to understand which are the best ways of putting an end to the current economic policies, without abandoning at the same time the project of a new and different European political union.

The majority position among the parties of the radical Left remains that it is still possible to modify European policies within the existing context: that is, to do so without ending the monetary union that was achieved in 2002 when the euro came into effect.

Syriza is the most prominent force still holding this view: it had the opportunity in government to formulate and implement alternative solutions – despite improper pressure from the EU institutions to block any change – but it did not take into consideration the ‘Grexit’ option. In September 2015, Tsipras won the early elections he called following the conflict with a section of the party that opposed implementation of the Eurogroup memorandum proposals; he collected 35.5 per cent of the popular vote and returned to government with a cohesive parliamentary group, no longer exposed to the dangers of internal dissidence.

So, despite the higher rate of abstention (up 7 per cent since the previous election seven months earlier), and despite the fact that a good 600,000 fewer people voted than in the July referendum, Syriza has managed to retain the support of a sizeable section of the Greek people. However, the new vote of confidence they gave it will soon be put to the test as the axe imposed by the Eurogroup takes effect, and it is not too rash to predict the emergence of even more unsettled scenarios than those we have seen so far.

Syriza appears to have a two-pronged strategy to prevent the loss of support suffered by all other parties that implemented earlier Troika bailout programmes. The Greek government will seek to negotiate a substantial reduction in the public debt, in order to avoid the onset of a new deflationary cycle. And it will try to carry out a parallel agenda to the one imposed by Brussels, taking some redistributive measures that may limit the effects of the most recent memorandum.

In the light of what happened in 2015, there are objective grounds for arguing that this is a near-impossible mission. In any case, after the experience of the Tsipras government, and given the likelihood that the EU institutions will reject any restructuring of the debt, it has become clear that the Left also needs to be prepared for a possible exit from the Eurozone. It would be wrong, however, to think of this as the remedy for all evils.

Apart from Syriza, most of the principal forces in in the European Left Party share the view that it is possible to reform the European Union within the existing set-up; this is true of Die Linke in Germany, the French Communist Party and Izquierda Unida in Spain. Podemos, too, fits into this bloc, since its leadership is convinced that, if the Greek government had been joined by others prepared to break with Troika-imposed austerity, a space might have opened up to undermine what today seems so unalterable. The recent election result in Portugal – which has generated a hitherto quite unlikely alliance[12]: a minority government led by the Socialist Antonio Costa, with the external support of the Left Bloc and of the United Democratic Coalition – seems to have strengthened such hopes. A similar scenario cannot be excluded in Spain either, where at the moment negotiations between Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) and Podemos are underway.

In the view of others, the ‘Greek crisis’ – in reality, a crisis of democracy in the age of neoliberal capitalism – seems to prove that the existing EU model cannot be reformed: not so much because the relationship of forces is even less favourable to the anticapitalist Left since the eastward enlargement, as because of its general architecture. The economic parameters that have been imposed with growing rigidity since the signing of the Maastricht Treaty have inevitably reduced, or in some cases virtually quashed, the much more complex and composite exigencies of politics.

In the last twenty-five years, neoliberal policies cloaked in a deceptive technocratic, non-ideological garb have triumphed all over Europe, dealing heavy blows to its welfare state model. Individual countries have found themselves gradually stripped of important political and economic steering instruments, which are indispensable to launch public investment programmes that might change the course of the crisis. And on top of this, the anti-democratic practice of taking major decisions without seeking popular approval has become so entrenched that it now appears quite natural.

Those who consider the goal of democratizing the Eurozone to be illusory may still be a minority in the radical Left, but their ranks have been swelling over recent months. Alongside traditionally Eurosceptic forces such as the Portuguese Communist Party, the Communist Party of Greece or the Unitary List/Red-Greens in Denmark, there is now the Popular Unity (LE) breakaway from Syriza. Born in Athens in August 2015, it has recruited a considerable number of former leaders and members who opposed Tsipras’s decision to accept the dictates of the Eurogroup. But although it favours a return to the drachma, it remained outside the Greek parliament after the last elections, having notched up only 2.8 per cent of the popular vote.

At the same time, various intellectuals and political leaders have explicitly taken a position against the euro. [13] Lafontaine, for instance, has proposed a return (in a flexible form) to the European Monetary System (EMS): that is, the agreement in force before the adoption of the euro, which prescribed a controlled fluctuation of exchange-rates among various national currencies. The search for immediate solutions to end the stage of austerity, against the background of new and unacceptable pressures like those exerted on Greece, must nevertheless make provision for all that they entail. At a symbolic level, a return to the old monetary system might be seen as a first step to halting the whole project of European unity; and politically, it might prove a dangerous catalyst that works to the advantage of the populist Right.

Apart from the two forthright positions for and against ‘democratization of the euro’, there is a fairly wide range of opinion that would hesitate to offer a clear answer to the question: ‘What should be done if the things that happened in Greece are repeated in another country?’ Many worry that other parties or coalition governments might be subjected to the same blackmail as Syriza was, but there is also a widespread fear that, if it contemplates withdrawal from the Eurozone, the anticapitalist Left will alienate large sections of the population who are alarmed at the prospect of inflation and the resulting economic instability and erosion of their wages and pensions. Typical examples of this uncertainty are the shifting positions in recent years of the Left Bloc in Portugal and the Socialist Party in the Netherlands.

Although Mélenchon’s recent appeal, ‘A Plan B in Europe’, [14] is full of contradictions and obscurities, has given a further stimulus to discussion. Branding EU interference in Greece as a veritable ‘coup d’État’, it has proposed a permanent international conference to design the ways in which an alternative to the euro-based monetary system might become available if the need arises.[15] If, in the coming months, other social forces, political parties and intellectuals coalesce around this objective, the demand to leave the euro might in future become the banner of more than just the populist Right.

On the other hand, the conflict that erupted within Syriza might be reproduced elsewhere. Already there are signs of this in the internal tremors that have been affecting the Front de Gauche and the Die Linke. For the European radical Left, therefore, the risk of a new period of divisions might take concrete shape. This reveals the limits of the plural form that militant forces have adopted in recent years, with all its lack of programmatic definition. For the diversity of political positions and political cultures among the organizations that animate the new configurations may well require agreements about the strategy to be pursued; that will be difficult to achieve, but not impossible.

3. Future Prospects

Other tensions exist within the radical European Left concerning relations with social-democratic forces. The key issue, constantly present at both municipal and regional level, is whether it is a good idea to take part with them in the experience of government; the obvious danger is that one will end up playing a subservient role, accepting, as in the past, negative downward compromises that erode existing gains in popular support and hand a monopoly of social opposition to the populist Right.

The government option should be considered, however, only if the conditions are present to implement an economic programme that clearly breaks with the austerity policies of the last decade. Any other decision would mean not having learned the lessons of the past years, when participation Socialist-led moderate executives compromised the credibility of the radical Left among the working classes, social movements and the weakest sections of society.

Faced with unemployment that in some countries has reached levels never seen since the war, it has become a priority to launch an ambitious plan for labour, supported by public investment, which has sustainable development as its guiding principle. This should go together with a clear change of direction regarding the job insecurity that has marked all the latest labour-market ‘reforms’; legislation should also be introduced to set a minimum threshold below which wages cannot be allowed to fall. Such measures would make it possible once again for young people to plan their future. There should also be a cut in working hours and a lowering of the retirement age, thereby restoring some elements of social justice to counter the unequal division of wealth that has continually grown under the neoliberal regime.

To confront the dramatic rise in unemployment, the parties of the radical Left should promote measures that tend to establish a citizenship income and basic forms of support for the less well-off – from a right to housing through transport concessions to free education – in such a way as to combat poverty and the ever more widespread social exclusion.

At the same time, it is essential to reverse the privatization processes that have marked the counter-revolution of the last few decades. All the common goods transformed from community services into means of generating profits for the few should be restored to public ownership and control. Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal on renationalization of the British railways, as well as the need everywhere in Europe to invest significant resources in schools and universities, indicate the right direction to take.

As regards the funding of such reforms, this could come from a tax on capital and on the non-productive activity of large corporations, as well as on financial transactions and income. It is evident that the first necessary means to this end is a referendum to abrogate the ‘fiscal compact’, and the cancellation of the chains imposed by the Troika. It would also be very important to block approval of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which, if it came into effect, could only worsen the situation further. [16]

At a continental level, a real alternative is conceivable only if a broad spectrum of political and social forces is capable of fighting for and achieving a European conference on the restructuring of public debt.

This can happen only if the radical Left develops, with greater resolve and consistency, a variety of political campaigns and transnational mobilizations. These should begin with the rejection of war and xenophobia – an even more decisive issue since the attacks of 13 November 2015 in Paris – and support for the extension of citizenship and full social rights to migrants arriving on European soil.

An alternative politics does not allow of shortcuts. For it is not enough to trust in charismatic leaders; nor does the weakness of today’s parties justify their countermanding by the institutions of the state. [17] It is necessary to build new organizations – the Left needs these as much as it did in the twentieth century: organizations that have an extensive presence in the workplaces; organizations that strive to unify the struggles of the workers and subaltern classes, at a time when these have never been more fragmented; organizations whose local structures are capable of giving immediate answers (even before legislation for general improvements) to the dramatic problems resulting from poverty and social exclusion. It will also help this to happen if the Left draws again on forms of social resistance and solidarity practised by the workers’ movement in other historical epochs.

New priorities also need to be defined, especially a real gender equality and thorough political training of younger members. The lodestar for such work, in an age when democracy is hostage to technocratic organisms, is the encouragement of rank-and-file participation and the development of social struggles.

The only initiatives of the radical Left that can really aspire to change the course of events have a single road before them: to build a new social bloc capable of stimulating mass opposition to the policies initiated by the Maastricht Treaty; and therefore to change at the root the dominant economic approaches in today’s Europe.



[1] For a list of the forces comprising the Party of the European Left, see http://www.european-left.org/about-el/member-parties .

[2] This group does not, however, include formations participating in the Initiative of Communist and Workers’ Parties, an alliance launched in 2013 that comprises – apart from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), its main component – 29 tiny orthodox Stalinist parties.

[3] Oskar Lafontaine’s cartel Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative (WASG) came into being in 2005, and the foundation of the Parti de Gauche (PG) in France under the leadership of Jean-Luc Mélenchon was announced in November 2008 (its founding congress being held in February 2009).

[4] At the elections of June 2015, before the spiral of violence and assassinations triggered by President Recep Erdoğan, the HDP won an even larger share of the vote (13.1 per cent).

[5] For a map of the European Left, see Birgit Daiber, Cornelia Hildebrandt, Anna Strienthorst (eds.), From Revolution to Coalition: Radical Left Parties in Europe , Berlin: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, 2012; and, more recently, the special issue of Socialism and Democracy (vol. 29/3, 2015) edited by Babak Amini: The Radical Left in Europe.

[6] The only other example is the small state of Cyprus, where the Progressive Party of the Working People (AKEL) formed a coalition government in 2009.

[7] It should be noted that all the data in circulation about the election results – including those issued by the European Union – refer to percentages of the total number of elected deputies, not of the number of votes cast. One of the laudable exceptions to this practice is Paolo Chiocchetti, ‘The Radical Left at the 2014 European Parliament election: A First Assessment,’ in the online publication edited by Cornelia Hildebrandt: Situation on the Left in Europe after the EU Elections: New Challenges , Berlin: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, 2014.

[8] To these should be added two other Euro MPs from the Communist Party of Greece, who do not belong to the EUL/NGL group.

[9] The Eurodeputies of the EUL/NGL group come from only a half of the 28 countries making up the European Union.

[10] Margaret Thatcher’s famous slogan: ‘There is no alternative’ continues to materialize, like a phantom, even at a distance of thirty years.

[11] See the collective Preliminary Report, edited by the Truth Committee on Public Debt, the commission established on 4 April 2015 on the initiative of the former president of the Greek parliament, Zoe Konstantopoulou: http://cadtm.org/IMG/pdf/Report.pdf . A few weeks ago, the new Tsipras government decided to delete this important document from the official site of the Greek parliament.

[12] In Portugal of the 1970s, after the Carnation Revolution and the establishment of the republic, the Socialists never negotiated with political forces to their left.

[13] In addition to authors who have been arguing this for some time – see, e.g., Jacques Sapir, Faut-il sortir de l'Euro?, Paris: Le Seuil, 2012; and Heiner Flassbeck and Costas Lapavitsas,Against the Troika : Crisis and Austerity in the Eurozone, London: Verso, 2015 – there have been a number of recent interventions in this direction. In an interview in the famous German weekly Der Spiegel, entitled ‘Krise in Griechenland: Lafontaine fordert Ende des Euro’ (11 July 2015), Oskar Lafontaine did not beat about the bush in declaring that ‘the euro has failed’. In Italy, the recently deceased sociologist Luciano Gallino published an article explaining why Italy can and should leave the euro: ‘Perché l'Italia può e deve uscire dall’euro’, La Repubblica 22 September 2015. And in Portugal the influential Francisco Louçã – who for ten years was the main leader of the Left Bloc – was already publishing increasingly critical views before the outbreak of the Greek crisis. See his volume together with Joao Ferreira do Amaral: A Solução Novo Escudo, Alfragide: Lua de Papel, 2014; and more recently his article ‘Sair ou não sair do euro’, Público, 27 February 2015.

[14] The other four signatories were Oskar Lafontaine, the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Zoe Konstantopoulou and the Italian economist Stefano Fassina.

[15] The first meeting on the subject was held in Paris on 23-24 January 2016, but it has been disappointing both in terms of participation and of quality of the debate.

[16] Significant in this respect was the great demonstration of 10 October 2015 in Berlin, which mobilized 250,000 people against this commercial agreement.

[17] When Syriza came to power in January 2015, it had obtained 2,250,000 votes, but its total membership was no more than 36,000. Since its assumption of government responsibilities, the decisions democratically taken by the Greek party have been repeatedly overturned or disregarded.