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The Socialist Party and European Social Democracy on the brink of divorce

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To analyse. The tweet, which went almost unnoticed, dates back to May 4: “We salute the rallying dynamics of the French left in which the @partisocialiste participates, with a view to the legislative elections. » The Party of European Socialists (PES) thus reacted to the constitution of the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes), which brings together the Socialist Party, Europe Ecologie-Les Verts and the French Communist Party under the leadership of La France insoumise (LFI ) by Jean-Luc Melenchon. Founded in 1992 and chaired by the Bulgarian Sergueï Stanichev, the PES, which brings together thirty-four parties, aims “the strengthening of the socialist and social-democratic movement in the European Union [UE] and the rest of Europe ».

PS membership, officially still “reformist”, at Nupes, marks a divorce with the Social Democratic family. According to the definition of Jacques Delors, former Minister of Economy and Finance of François Mitterrand, social democracy results from“a double compromise between labor and capital, the State and the market”. Conversely, LFI is based on a radical break with capitalism.

” Incomprehension “

When Sweden and Finland, led by Social Democrats, want to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the PS joins Mr. Mélenchon, who pleads for France to leave. An earthquake that aroused many questions and reservations among the “sister” parties, but few public comments, with the exception of Michael Roth, SPD chairman of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee, who exclaimed: “How can the PS ally with this populist? »

At the PS congress in September 2021, the Social Democrats of Europe were conspicuous by their absence. And during the presidential campaign, only the socialist prime ministers Pedro Sanchez (Spain) and Antonio Costa (Portugal) showed their support for Anne Hidalgo. “There is a form of misunderstanding among our partners, linked to our institutions, observes Gilles Finchelstein, Managing Director of the Jean Jaurès Foundation. Why this four-round election? “This will accentuate the isolation of the PS, emphasizes Alain Bergounioux, President of the Socialist University Research Office, some parties seeing it on the same slope as the Pasok [Mouvement socialiste panhellénique]Greek »which had sunk, in the legislative elections of January 2015, with 4.7% of the vote.

Read also: Nupes program in the legislative elections: points of convergence and disagreement between LFI, EELV, the PS and the PCF

We are far from the golden age of the end of the XXe century: in 1997, of the fifteen EU countries, twelve including France – were led by social democrats. But a battle then opposed Lionel Jospin, who defended his socialism loud and clear – it was the “Europe’s most left-wing prime minister”proudly affirmed, in 2000, Mr. Mélenchon, its Minister Delegate for Vocational Education –, to Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder, apostles of a “third way” center opening. A cleavage in the form of a cluster bomb. To the left of the reformist parties appeared anti-capitalist parties: Syriza in 2004 in Greece, Die Linke in 2007 in Germany, Podemos in 2014 in Spain. In 2015, Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the British Labor Party on a very radical line, fervently supported by LFI until his ousting in 2020.

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