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 European Election Manifestos

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PostSubject: European Election Manifestos   Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:22 am

Following on from the listing of links to national party manifestos I thought it might be worthwhile to provide a thread for links to, and maybe discussion of, European Party election manifestos.

Here's the Party of European Socialists' manifesto for the June elections. I've also included a link to a site that describes the innovative way in which input for the manifesto was sought. Rather than a centrally produced document put together by the party leaderships, the views of PES party activists, progressive NGO's and the European Trade Union movement were sought.

PES Manifesto for June 2009 European Parliament elections.

Consulation process for the PES manifesto.*



* please excuse the sound effects asociated with the Christmas Greetings - you'll know what I mean when you click the link!
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:36 am

Thanks and great idea to get a wider selection of parties. I wonder could we get some questions going on what ye stand for and want to do and all that. I'm not sure I understand socialism anymore since all the talk of 'socialism for those too big to fail' i.e. the banks etc.
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Fri Jan 09, 2009 5:13 am

Well remember Audi that the PES and their members like Labour advocate a completely different kind of socialism to the Socialist Party and other far-left groups. If I am not mistaken, PES's socialism is less extreme and is more akin to social democracy than the far-left's dictatorship of the proletariat. Not to insult or demean either side but unless you acknowledge that essential fact you will never come close to understanding socialism.

It would probably also be helpful to discard any reference to the bailouts as socialist.
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:59 pm

evercloserunion wrote:
Well remember Audi that the PES and their members like Labour advocate a completely different kind of socialism to the Socialist Party and other far-left groups. If I am not mistaken, PES's socialism is less extreme and is more akin to social democracy than the far-left's dictatorship of the proletariat. Not to insult or demean either side but unless you acknowledge that essential fact you will never come close to understanding socialism.

It would probably also be helpful to discard any reference to the bailouts as socialist.

You're right, ECU. The Party of European Socialists is a pan-European party that brings together the socialist, social democratic and labour parties of the European Union, including the Labour Party in Ireland. These are the mainstream Left parties in Europe most closely associated with the Trade Union movement, for example. The PES is also the second largest political force in the European Parliament.

The essential differences between the PES parties and the Far Left is that the PES rejects the class war approach of these parties and long ago adopted parliamentary democracy over revolution and the market over a command economy. The PES parties are the architects of the European Social Model of interventionist government, social solidarity and comprehensive public services.
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Sat Jan 10, 2009 2:56 am

evercloserunion wrote:
Well remember Audi that the PES and their members like Labour advocate a completely different kind of socialism to the Socialist Party and other far-left groups.
You mean the non-Loonie type of Socialism, don't you? There's no need to use euphemisms :-)
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:42 am

Desmond O'Toole wrote:
evercloserunion wrote:
Well remember Audi that the PES and their members like Labour advocate a completely different kind of socialism to the Socialist Party and other far-left groups. If I am not mistaken, PES's socialism is less extreme and is more akin to social democracy than the far-left's dictatorship of the proletariat. Not to insult or demean either side but unless you acknowledge that essential fact you will never come close to understanding socialism.

It would probably also be helpful to discard any reference to the bailouts as socialist.

You're right, ECU. The Party of European Socialists is a pan-European party that brings together the socialist, social democratic and labour parties of the European Union, including the Labour Party in Ireland. These are the mainstream Left parties in Europe most closely associated with the Trade Union movement, for example. The PES is also the second largest political force in the European Parliament.

The essential differences between the PES parties and the Far Left is that the PES rejects the class war approach of these parties and long ago adopted parliamentary democracy over revolution and the market over a command economy. The PES parties are the architects of the European Social Model of interventionist government, social solidarity and comprehensive public services.

Parliamentary Democracy? In my visions I see this as the evolutionary cul-de-sac of politics. Ask Respvblica - Anarchism and Localism will burst upon the scene anytime soon we're hoping. Massive centralised democracies ... phew! Monoliths that are unintelligible, unmaintainable, secret-society and elite-inducing because they are The Black Arts.... I think we could do with some simple machines of localism etc.
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:49 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
Parliamentary Democracy? In my visions I see this as the evolutionary cul-de-sac of politics. Ask Respvblica - Anarchism and Localism will burst upon the scene anytime soon we're hoping.

Hi Aud. Some people have been predicting the collapse of parliamentary democracy for over a century now especially around the time of each new crisis in capitalism. In all that time there ha sben precious little evidence of any "burst[ing] upon the scene" of anarchism, at least of any sustainable type.

Quote :
Massive centralised democracies ... phew! Monoliths that are unintelligible, unmaintainable, secret-society and elite-inducing because they are The Black Arts.... I think we could do with some simple machines of localism etc.

Governmental systems are large and complex because the world we inhabit and the issues we have to deal with are large and complex. As a socialist, I don't believe that we can afford to retreat into conspiracy theories, elites-bating and stories of black arts. Sorry!
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:59 am

Desmond O'Toole wrote:
Governmental systems are large and complex because the world we inhabit and the issues we have to deal with are large and complex. As a socialist, I don't believe that we can afford to retreat into conspiracy theories, elites-bating and stories of black arts. Sorry!
Hi Desmond. O don't worry, you won't get much conspiracy theorising from me. The fact that Governmental infrastructure HAS to be so big and complex to me leads naturally to pieces of systems that are open to abuse (see our Regulator thread - bileful at present but reason will eventually emerge hopefully) or that are unknowable because they are so big and cobwebby in the corners. Wouldn't you agree ? Sometimes no one knows what's going on.

I don't think a crisis in capitalism will necessarily shift Parliamentary Democracy in the end rather a swell in education levels.

And then there is the free market. This is an idea and the reality is that the market often needs public controls of some kind. It would be great if ideally there would be perfect choice and excellent information but we'll be a good while before all those channels are set up (I'm thinking of the phenomenon of gazumping)
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:11 am

Desmond O'Toole wrote:
Auditor #9 wrote:
Parliamentary Democracy? In my visions I see this as the evolutionary cul-de-sac of politics. Ask Respvblica - Anarchism and Localism will burst upon the scene anytime soon we're hoping.

Hi Aud. Some people have been predicting the collapse of parliamentary democracy for over a century now especially around the time of each new crisis in capitalism. In all that time there ha sben precious little evidence of any "burst[ing] upon the scene" of anarchism, at least of any sustainable type.

Quote :
Massive centralised democracies ... phew! Monoliths that are unintelligible, unmaintainable, secret-society and elite-inducing because they are The Black Arts.... I think we could do with some simple machines of localism etc.

Governmental systems are large and complex because the world we inhabit and the issues we have to deal with are large and complex. As a socialist, I don't believe that we can afford to retreat into conspiracy theories, elites-bating and stories of black arts. Sorry!

Not anarchism, but from time to time facism and/or war. And at those telling moments the Social Democratic parties sadly went to war against each other with resulting slaughter. There seems to be a lot of interest in localism. Is this a reaction against the centralisation that is occurring in the EU. Read an interesting article on Norwegian agriculture today, and the principles of localism were being applied to agriculture.

The flu is at me: I'd like to chat more on this, but the bed is calling me.
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:14 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
Hi Desmond. O don't worry, you won't get much conspiracy theorising from me. The fact that Governmental infrastructure HAS to be so big and complex to me leads naturally to pieces of systems that are open to abuse (see our Regulator thread - bileful at present but reason will eventually emerge hopefully) or that are unknowable because they are so big and cobwebby in the corners. Wouldn't you agree ? Sometimes no one knows what's going on.

I do indeed agree with your point. There is a lot to our systems of government, the operation of the economy and its relationship to our societies that is not-known or even unknowable and yes this, inter alia, offers the opportunity for abuse. But then I think that this is a property of all complex social systems and does not in itself invalidate them. The legitimacy of such systems for me is the degree to which they vindicate the rights and dignity of the individual and advance the common good and also the extent to which the system itself offers the means by which that which undermines or threatens these rights can be addressed.

Whiel I dont think that parliamentary democracy represents the end of history, I do believe that it is the best functioning system for political, social and economic organisation that we have yet been able to devise.

Quote :
I don't think a crisis in capitalism will necessarily shift Parliamentary Democracy in the end rather a swell in education levels.

And then there is the free market. This is an idea and the reality is that the market often needs public controls of some kind. It would be great if ideally there would be perfect choice and excellent information but we'll be a good while before all those channels are set up (I'm thinking of the phenomenon of gazumping)

I agree with your point here as well. There is no economic system that offers even the possiblty of perfect knowledge or access to information. That is the theoretical conceit of neo-liberalism and its grand aunt, monetarism, and is one of the the primary reasons why unregulated markets are inherently dysfunctional even when measured against their own prediction models.
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:24 am

cactus flower wrote:
Not anarchism, but from time to time facism and/or war. And at those telling moments the Social Democratic parties sadly went to war against each other with resulting slaughter. There seems to be a lot of interest in localism. Is this a reaction against the centralisation that is occurring in the EU. Read an interesting article on Norwegian agriculture today, and the principles of localism were being applied to agriculture.

Good points again (God, this is soooo much better than debating on p.ie!).

Your point about the failure of mainstream Left parties in Europe to avert war and indeed the positive relish with which war has been sought by some social democrats/socialists is very important. That's part of the reason why I use the quote from PN Rasmussen in my signature which is taken from the speech he made to us in Madrid at the beginning of December. I've never had any tme for the romanticised internationalism that plagues so much of the Left and have always believed in strong international institutions, including a reformed UN and a more deeply integrated European Union, which are able to establish and develop a system of international law that is capable of making war a distant memory.

On localism. One of the fascinating but little explored values of the EU is, of course, the principle of subsidiarity. I'd maintain that much of the alienation that local people feel from politics and the disenchantment with our democratic institutions that this causes arises from failures and centralising tendencies not at the European level, but at the national level.

Quote :
The flu is at me: I'd like to chat more on this, but the bed is calling me.

Lemsip, cloves, whiskey, sugar and hot water ... and my very best wishes for your recovery!
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:07 am

Desmond O'Toole wrote:
Auditor #9 wrote:
The fact that Governmental infrastructure HAS to be so big and complex leads me naturally to believe that areas and pieces of our systems become open to abuse or become unknowable because they are so big and cobwebby in the corners. Wouldn't you agree ? Sometimes no one knows what's going on.

I do indeed agree with your point. There is a lot to our systems of government, the operation of the economy and its relationship to our societies that is not-known or even unknowable and yes this, inter alia, offers the opportunity for abuse. But then I think that this is a property of all complex social systems and does not in itself invalidate them. The legitimacy of such systems for me is the degree to which they vindicate the rights and dignity of the individual and advance the common good and also the extent to which the system itself offers the means by which that which undermines or threatens these rights can be addressed.

That's well expressed for this time of the night about systems and their complexity. I'm going to start ranting now about how the mechanic put a piece from a Corolla into my Starlet and told me it was a special imported piece so was extra costly. I hate that but that's the power that 'experts' have in the darkness of the systems that we've built I'm afraid. The socio-political edifices we've erected are much more complex than a Japanese engine too so there's a universe more there to exploit but I see your point about vindication of the rights and dignity of the individual yet I think there is an argument to be had there with you over that too.

Even though there is a rule of law that is equitably enforced and even though there are other social and legal systems that look after us when we need them to - health, education, welfare, the courts, I still feel that as we get more educated we get a more refined view of our wants and desires (not always though) and our needs may change. They may become simpler. This is the double-edged sword of education or of the adoption of a different (say, more affluent) lifestyle, or a sudden shift in perhaps legal culture - what happens when circumstances change and you've become accustomed to that lifestyle or culture or you expect something more because you're more educated yet that something isn't coming ?. I'm wondering if such a shift on a socially tectonic scale isn't before us and whether the System will be flexible enough to cope.

I'm kind of thinking there in particular of participatory democracy; I'm baffled as to why there aren't more calls from top and bottom to get more people's opinions and input into more of the picture - it just seems a logical progression for a successful democracy to me. I believe the Brazilian people at least in some major urban areas get to participate in a system of participatory budgetting.

You'd have to admit, such a scheme here is just unthinkable to get off the ground ! You and I and others meeting once a year and voting on whether the county council spends more on education, less on roads, more on water, more on energy, less on farming etc. It won't happen from the top down anyway.

Quote :
Whiel I dont think that parliamentary democracy represents the end of history, I do believe that it is the best functioning system for political, social and economic organisation that we have yet been able to devise.

Maybe the next bit will have to emerge.

Quote :
Quote :
I don't think a crisis in capitalism will necessarily shift Parliamentary Democracy in the end rather a swell in education levels.

And then there is the free market. This is an idea and the reality is that the market often needs public controls of some kind. It would be great if ideally there would be perfect choice and excellent information but we'll be a good while before all those channels are set up (I'm thinking of the phenomenon of gazumping)

I agree with your point here as well. There is no economic system that offers even the possiblty of perfect knowledge or access to information. That is the theoretical conceit of neo-liberalism and its grand aunt, monetarism, and is one of the the primary reasons why unregulated markets are inherently dysfunctional even when measured against their own prediction models.
So the neolibs are selling something out of the future, the devils? Because though it will take time, those dysfunctions in the market will ease with knowledge and information I suppose. Again you can't beat localism for no better example of how this is dealt with. To almost finish at the point I started with, in a small rural community, a mechanic who rips you off will do so at a heavy gamble. Because if word goes around that Johnny ...

On the grander scale it should be the responsibility of government to push for as much knowledge and information to be made as easily available as possible. Even in this small neck of the euro woods we have plenty of FOI issues.
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Sat Jan 10, 2009 10:14 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
I'm kind of thinking there in particular of participatory democracy; I'm baffled as to why there aren't more calls from top and bottom to get more people's opinions and input into more of the picture - it just seems a logical progression for a successful democracy to me. I believe the Brazilian people at least in some major urban areas get to participate in a system of participatory budgetting.

You'd have to admit, such a scheme here is just unthinkable to get off the ground ! You and I and others meeting once a year and voting on whether the county council spends more on education, less on roads, more on water, more on energy, less on farming etc. It won't happen from the top down anyway.

You've certainly touched upon something here and I would agree that participatory democracy that extends citizen involvment beyond the occasional exercise of the franchise is something to be worked for. There is actually a lot of work going on at the European level on this one. From my own experience, I've observed that there are major differences in the views that public servants hold at various levels of government on what constitutes genuine citizen "consultation". At the level of my local South Dublin County Council consultation exercises are laughable and in central government the attitude that "consultation" is simply a metaphor for "telling" is also the dominant attitiude.

My experience of working with people in the European Commission has been quite different. There appears to be a greater awareness at the Europpean level (perhaps driven by the idea of subsidiarity and also the concerns as to democratic deficits) that "consultation" should involve a meaningful engagement of European institutions with European citizens.

Margot Wallstrom, Vice President of the European Commission, has played an important, but not unique, role in advocating this approach.. I've been involved in a number of pan-European projects myself experimenting with how lay citizens can be involved in developing the agenda and priorities of the EU institutions as a complement to the existing representational arrangements of MEP's and Mnisters on the one hand and NGO's/civil society organisations on the other.

It's still early days and there is resistance in some quarters to a more participatory European democracy, but those whoo are agitating for this development almost always find ourselves pushing at open doors.

Your other point on using participatory democracy to set the priorities of local authorities is something that I have done some work on myself. There is a five-year cycle of County Development planning that mirrors the electoral cycle. There are a number of proven techniques that can be used to engage a wide selection of citizens to assist the elected councillors and county management in constructing the County Development Plan. Some of the key principles are: (a) random selection of significant number of citizens reflecting the gender, age, social class and geographic make-up of the county , (b) payment or other reward for time volunteered, (c) comprehensive communications and decision-making by consensus, and (d) strong follow-up.

Other cities in Europe, like Roma and Wien, are well on the way to developing good systems to extend participatory democracy as a complement to the extising representational political model. It's a real shame that we are so far behind the curve in Ireland on this.

Quote :
So the neolibs are selling something out of the future, the devils? Because though it will take time, those dysfunctions in the market will ease with knowledge and information I suppose. Again you can't beat localism for no better example of how this is dealt with. To almost finish at the point I started with, in a small rural community, a mechanic who rips you off will do so at a heavy gamble. Because if word goes around that Johnny ...

Localism is fine ... at the local level :-). There has been some really good ideas coming out of this movement, such as the Slow Food campaigns that originated in Italy, farmers' markets, local direct democracy and so forth. But the principal problem with localism, of course, is that it is not scaleable to the national or continental levels. I see localism as a complement to the existing arrangements rather than as a model for their replacement.
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:03 pm

Quote :

You've certainly touched upon something here and I would agree that participatory democracy that extends citizen involvment beyond the occasional exercise of the franchise is something to be worked for. There is actually a lot of work going on at the European level on this one. From my own experience, I've observed that there are major differences in the views that public servants hold at various levels of government on what constitutes genuine citizen "consultation". At the level of my local South Dublin County Council consultation exercises are laughable and in central government the attitude that "consultation" is simply a metaphor for "telling" is also the dominant attitiude.

Decision-making structures in Irish Government are based on representative, electoral democracy. In my extensive experience of this, participatory exercises outside the core decision-making processes of local and national government are in the main well-meaning but marginal. That is not to diminish the value of these exercises, that often well prove their worth on the ground and tend to demonstrate the case for stronger citizen involvement.

Quote :
My experience of working with people in the European Commission has been quite different. There appears to be a greater awareness at the Europpean level (perhaps driven by the idea of subsidiarity and also the concerns as to democratic deficits) that "consultation" should involve a meaningful engagement of European institutions with European citizens.

Margot Wallstrom, Vice President of the European Commission, has played an important, but not unique, role in advocating this approach.. I've been involved in a number of pan-European projects myself experimenting with how lay citizens can be involved in developing the agenda and priorities of the EU institutions as a complement to the existing representational arrangements of MEP's and Mnisters on the one hand and NGO's/civil society organisations on the other.
I would be very interested in hearing some details of this. We recently took part in this Site in a live streaming EU event in which questions could be submitted by posters. A small step, but with interesting potential. In general my contacts with the EU suggest a top down hierarchy in which even elected representatives find it difficult to have their voices heard. The experience of the Parliament with our Mr. McCreevy would be an example. Direct citizen involvement in the EU is insignificant compared with the massively powerful and well funded lobby groups that infest Brussels.
Quote :

It's still early days and there is resistance in some quarters to a more participatory European democracy, but those whoo are agitating for this development almost always find ourselves pushing at open doors.
In certain circumstances yes: there are times when a participatory initiative is welcomed. BUt in general in the EU my impression is that there is an elementary confusion between participation and PR.

How in your view would you best reconcile citizen participation inter-election with an electoral system?

Quote :
Your other point on using participatory democracy to set the priorities of local authorities is something that I have done some work on myself. There is a five-year cycle of County Development planning that mirrors the electoral cycle. There are a number of proven techniques that can be used to engage a wide selection of citizens to assist the elected councillors and county management in constructing the County Development Plan. Some of the key principles are: (a) random selection of significant number of citizens reflecting the gender, age, social class and geographic make-up of the county , (b) payment or other reward for time volunteered, (c) comprehensive communications and decision-making by consensus, and (d) strong follow-up.

The idea of using focus groups prior to making a Development Plan has been tested amongst a number of other approaches. How should this type of participation fit into the Plan process, in your view, given that consultation prescribed in legislation as a process equally open to all through the making of written submissions ? How could payment of a limited number of selected individuals be acccommodated or justified under these circumstances? Have you any examples?

In the end of the day, these plans are adopted by majority vote of elected representatives, and not by consensus. Unless we do away with electoral democracy this is in my opinion a strong model. The alternative would be a more US model of voting by the electorate on individual ordinances.

What follow up do you have in mind? Lack of follow up is certainly a big weakness of most participatory approaches of all kinds.
Quote :

Other cities in Europe, like Roma and Wien, are well on the way to developing good systems to extend participatory democracy as a complement to the extising representational political model. It's a real shame that we are so far behind the curve in Ireland on this.
What are they doing in these cities by way of participatory democracy? What specifically could we learn from them?
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:42 am

Oh dear, I didn't mean to make that sound like such a grilling. But I would still be interested in answers to any of those questions. There is a dilemma as to how to reconcile democracy through elected representation and direct citizen participation.
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PostSubject: Re: European Election Manifestos   Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:57 am

Desmond O'Toole wrote:
Auditor #9 wrote:
I'm kind of thinking there in particular of participatory democracy; I'm baffled as to why there aren't more calls from top and bottom to get more people's opinions and input into more of the picture - it just seems a logical progression for a successful democracy to me. I believe the Brazilian people at least in some major urban areas get to participate in a system of participatory budgetting.

You'd have to admit, such a scheme here is just unthinkable to get off the ground ! You and I and others meeting once a year and voting on whether the county council spends more on education, less on roads, more on water, more on energy, less on farming etc. It won't happen from the top down anyway.

You've certainly touched upon something here and I would agree that participatory democracy that extends citizen involvment beyond the occasional exercise of the franchise is something to be worked for. There is actually a lot of work going on at the European level on this one. From my own experience, I've observed that there are major differences in the views that public servants hold at various levels of government on what constitutes genuine citizen "consultation". At the level of my local South Dublin County Council consultation exercises are laughable and in central government the attitude that "consultation" is simply a metaphor for "telling" is also the dominant attitiude.

I've found that your last statement is sadly so true so often and applies to all sorts of organisation. Acting on Feedback is often just lip-service, rarely anything more. There's such a rigidity of structure and a lack of will to change or modify that structure. If it doesn't bend it'll break though. Cast iron v. steel.
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