European left

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Party of the European Left
European Left logo
Party leader Heinz Bierbaum
vice-chairman Paolo Ferrero , Pierre Laurent , Anna Mikkola , Margarita Mileva , Maite Mola , Natasa Theodorakopoulou
Treasurer Brigitte Berthouzoz
founding May 8, 2004
Place of foundation Rome
Headquarters Square de Meeus 25, 1000 Brussels , Belgium
Affiliate foundation transform! europe
Alignment Democratic socialism ,
communism ,
left politics
Colours) red
Parliament seats
Government grants 1,594,189 € (2016, preliminary)
EP Group GUE / NGL

The Party of the European Left , usually abbreviated as European Left ( EL ), is a European political party that was founded in Rome on May 8, 2004 as an amalgamation of 15 European member parties from the left spectrum. Today the EL has 25 parties with a total of almost 500,000 members. Members in the German-speaking area are the German party Die Linke , the Communist Party of Austria , the Swiss Labor Party and the Luxembourgish déi Lénk .

In the European Parliament , the members of the EL member parties form the Confederal Group of the European United Left (GUE / NGL). Since the 2019 European elections , the GUE / NGL has been the smallest parliamentary group in the European Parliament with 39 members (as of February 1, 2020). However, the group also has independent members. The EL is not limited to the member states of the European Union , but also has members e.g. B. in Switzerland , Turkey and Moldova .

The aim is the development of an “alternative social and political model to capitalism ” and activity against “growing militarization and war ” as well as commitment to “ environmental protection and respect for human rights ”.

President of the EL has been Heinz Bierbaum from the German party Die Linke since December 15, 2019 .

The EL candidate for the office of President of the European Commission in the 2014 European elections was Alexis Tsipras from the Greek party Syriza .


At the founding congress no full agreement could be reached on the statutory definition of membership in the EL. Parties and individuals can join the EL. The latter was initially controversial. The French PCF advocated purely corporate membership, while the PDS in Germany advocated the possibility of forming EL groups with members not belonging to the PDS. This dispute has now been resolved. EL members who do not belong to any of the member parties pay an increased EL contribution of at least 24 euros per year. A European association of individual members strives to overcome the status of the party party and sees itself as a network that works to align the focus and activities of the party and its member parties more closely to the European level.

Member parties


As of March 30, 2020

country Political party European
BelgiumBelgium Belgium Parti Communiste
(Resignation decided at the party congress on July 30, 2018;
is still a member of the EL.)
- -
BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria Balgarskata Leviza - -
DenmarkDenmark Denmark Enhedslisten - de rød-grønne
GermanyGermany Germany The left
EstoniaEstonia Estonia Eestimaa Ühendatud Vasak Party - -
FinlandFinland Finland Suomen communists puolue - -
Left alliance
FranceFrance France Parti communiste français -
GreeceGreece Greece Syriza
ItalyItaly Italy Partito della Rifondazione Comunista - -
LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg Déi Lénk -
Moldova RepublicRepublic of Moldova Moldova Partidul Comuniștilor din Republica Moldova not in the EU -
AustriaAustria Austria Communist Party of Austria - -
PortugalPortugal Portugal Bloco de Esquerda
RomaniaRomania Romania Partidul Socialist Român - -
SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland Swiss Labor Party not in the EU
SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia Levica -
SpainSpain Spain Izquierda Unida
Partido Comunista de España
Esquerra Unida i Alternativa
Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic Strana Demokratického socialismu - -
TurkeyTurkey Turkey Sol Parti not in the EU -
HungaryHungary Hungary Magyarországi Munkáspárt 2006 - -
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom Left Unity not in the EU -
BelarusBelarus Belarus Belarusian United Left Party "Just World" not in the EU -
*were elected for Izquierda Unida , within the electoral alliance Unidos Podemos .

Parties with observer status

As of March 30, 2020

country Political party European
BelgiumBelgium Belgium Mouvement Demain - -
ItalyItaly Italy Sinistra Italiana -
SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia Komunistická strana Slovenska - -
Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic Komunistická strana Čech a Moravy
Cyprus RepublicRepublic of Cyprus Cyprus Anorthotiko comma Ergazomenou Laou
Northern CyprusTurkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Birleşik Kıbrıs Partisi not in the EU -
Yeni Kıbrıs Partisi -

Partner parties and movements

As of March 30, 2020

country Political party European
GermanyGermany Germany Marxist left - -
FranceFrance France Ensemble! -
République et socialisme - -
AustriaAustria Austria The change - -
HungaryHungary Hungary A BAL - Balpárt - -
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom Democratic Left Scotland not in the EU -

Individual members

In addition to parties, the EL also allows individual membership of people. The European Parliament lists the non-party German MP Stefan Eck and the French MP Younous Omarjee ( PCR ) as members of the EL.

Former member parties

As of June 22, 2019

country Political party
BelgiumBelgium Belgium Communist Party Party work stopped in 2009, no longer listed as a member from December 2013
Parti Communiste Resignation decided at the party congress on July 30, 2018; is still listed as a member of the EL.
GermanyGermany Germany German Communist Party ended observer status on February 27, 2016.
FranceFrance France Gauche Unitaire merged with PCF in autumn 2015
Parti de Gauche resigned on July 1, 2018
GreeceGreece Greece Ananeotiki Kommounistiki ke Ikologiki Aristera merged into Syriza in 2013
ItalyItaly Italy Partito dei Comunisti Italiani Renamed Partito Comunista d'Italia in December 2014
L'Altra Europa con Tsipras disbanded before the 2019 EU election , replaced by La Sinistra (not a member of EL)
PolandPoland Poland Młodzi Socjaliści disbanded in 2015, thus the observer status expired
San MarinoSan Marino San Marino Rifondazione Comunista Sammarinese merged with Sinistra Unita in 2012, was still a member until 2018; Sinistra Unita was merged into the Sinistra Socialista Democratica in 2017.
SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia Stranka za ekosocializem in trajnostni razvoj Slovenije (TRS)
Iniciativa za Demokratieični socializem (IDS)
went up in Levica in 2017
HungaryHungary Hungary Hungarian Communist Workers Party Resigned May 1, 2009


Period country Political party
2004-2007 Fausto Bertinotti ItalyItaly Italy PRC
2007-2010 Lothar Bisky GermanyGermany Germany The left
2010-2016 Pierre Laurent FranceFrance France PCF
2016-2019 Gregor Gysi GermanyGermany Germany The left
since 2019 Heinz Bierbaum GermanyGermany Germany The left

EL members in the European Council

From January 2015 to July 2019, the EL provided Alexis Tsipras from the Greek party Syriza as a member of the European Council .

Background - controversies - perspectives

The initiative to found the EL came primarily from parties that have long been working together in the GUE / NGL in the EU Parliament and within the framework of the New European Left Forum (NELF), such as the Italian Rifondazione Comunista (PRC), which also hosted the founding congress in Rome. It was based on the assessment that a social opposition could no longer take effect in the context of the nation states that were losing their sovereignty, but had to be formed at the European level. However, this stance does not meet with unanimous support among the left in Europe, which is why the creation of the EL was accompanied by numerous controversies.

Differences in the European question

Although it also includes parties from countries outside the EU, the EL operates within the legal framework of the EU. This factual acceptance of EU institutions is met with sharp rejection in parts of the left, since the attitude towards the EU in general is one of the most controversial political questions within the left. The EL fundamentally advocates a united social and democratic Europe as distinct from the neoliberalism of the Maastricht Treaties and the EU Constitution , although there are different shades among the member parties.

In general, it is noticeable that a “pro-European” stance is to be found primarily in the official positions of the left-wing parties in Central Europe - in which, however, there are also oppositional currents - while a general Euro-skepticism mainly dominates in parties on the southern and northern periphery do not want to join the EL. This applies to such diverse forces as the very traditional oriented, on orthodox Marxism-Leninism retentive Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) and on the other hand, for example, the former communist Swedish Left Party , which is a more culture-left, left-socialist , ecological and feminist Profile, but just like the old communist forces of other countries, relies on the defense of national sovereignty against the EU.

In addition, there have also been strong opposition voices against the EL in EL parties such as the PRC, the French PCF or the small KPÖ in Austria. In addition, in some of the parties involved, the establishment of the EL was not discussed comprehensively on the grassroots, but it was carried out by the leadership, which aroused criticism of the procedure. From the ranks of the communist forces of the competing European anti-capitalist left , the objection is therefore being raised that the EL causes a division rather than a unification of the left in Europe. Another merger of communist parties in Europe, the initiative of communist and workers' parties in Europe, took place in 2013.

Old and new milieus

These disputes point to the basic problems of today's left in Europe. While the conservative, liberal and social democratic forces in all countries tend to have the same positions with the same social target groups, the left finds itself in a situation in which it is confronted with different social reference systems, historical and socio-cultural frameworks in the individual countries.

A particularly vivid example of this is Greece. There the important communist KKE was able to assert itself surprisingly well after 1990 with a very "orthodox" line. Their share of the vote in elections is over five percent and has been rising again in recent years. Their politics combine social protest with a strongly anti-imperialist orientation. On the one hand, it can rely on the still relatively intact old traditional milieus in the working class and in the agricultural sector. On the other hand, the presence of the KKE has only brought about the degree of organization and the radical politicization of large sections of the workforce in recent years. Its goal is Greece's exit from the EU, the establishment of a participatory-democratic form of government and a socialist “people's economy” and the creation of new geopolitical alliances as an antipole to US and EU imperialism and the march through of multinational corporations . The framework for this project is the formation of an “Anti-imperialist, Antimonopoly Democratic Front” into which various progressive forces are to be integrated. The KKE took a position of critical solidarity with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević and Serbia during the Yugoslav Wars. Journalist Liana Kanelli , who represents a more patriotic Marxist orientation, has come to a seat in parliament on the KKE list. Issues such as migration, racism etc. play a very important role for the party, especially in recent years, and are dealt with in numerous publications, mostly in the party newspaper Rizospastis (The Radical). Opposite it is the somewhat smaller left-wing party Synaspismos (SYN) belonging to the EL , in which former KKE members and people from other left currents have come together. In recent years, SYN has developed an ambivalent profile that combines a perspective of socialist democracy with topics such as ecology, feminism, minority issues and human rights. On the other hand, unlike the KKE, which is further to the left, the SYN has a positive attitude towards the EU. On the part of the KKE, the SYN was repeatedly accused of nationalistic behavior with regard to the question of the naming of Macedonia . SYN's supporters tend to be found among the more educated classes in the urban environment. The situation is similar in Portugal. There, too, the traditional communist PCP draws the majority of its votes from the old industrial belt around Lisbon and the rural Alentejo (although the tendency to dissolve these old social structures leads to noticeable slumps), while the new Bloco de Esquerda (BE), from undogmatic forces of partly Trotskyist , partly Maoist and partly reform communist origins, mainly finds support in the urban and “ civil society ” left, which is often involved in movements . The BE has emerged in parliament primarily with initiatives in the areas of drug policy and abortion - more “green” issues that the old communists and their clientele are not or only marginally interested in.

This socio-cultural break between the old and the new milieus with interests directed against neoliberal capitalism, which is particularly evident on the southern European periphery, also plays a role in France and shapes the conflicts there both within the PCF and between those who compete with it Parties of Trotskyite provenance. The decline of what was once the strongest workers' party, the PCF, began around 1980, when structural social change led to a progressive erosion of the old industrial milieus (parts of which then also showed solidarity with Jean-Marie Le Pen's political agenda , to which the PCF temporarily tried to respond that she, in turn, carried out populist campaigns against Moroccan “drug traffickers” etc.). In the mid-1990s, the PCF attempted to counter the downward trend triggered by this and exacerbated by the collapse of the Eastern Bloc through mutation , change and renewal, in which it turned to new topics and areas of conflict such as ecology , feminism , and anti-racism and gave them a reformist profile tried to integrate. However, the sections of the population involved in these "alternative" policy areas are generally very skeptical of parties, especially when such parties as the PCF at the end of the 1990s support governments that are not fundamental alternatives to the neoliberal mainstream , but at most this tendency mitigate. The PCF still achieves its best election results in the old industrial regions. This is what the traditionalist and nostalgic opposition in the party invokes, calling for a return to the profile of a militant workers' party of the old style with anchoring in the company and trade unions , while on the other hand the minority movement of the refondateurs calls for a more consistent, more radical turn to the new left- wing movement. Trotskyist also between the projecting came with some spectacular election successes competing parties origin, Lutte Ouvrière (LO) and the now in the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste risen Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) gapes such a contrast. The strictly Trotskyist LO operates almost exclusively in the old industrial environment with a clear (lately somewhat softened) demarcation from " petty bourgeois " forces, while the more colorful, alternative LCR influx mainly among wage earners in the public service (e.g. post office, transport) , in education and health care, in the area of ​​the middle classes with a higher level of education and strong social commitment. (Like the Portuguese BE, the LCR is one of the founders of the European Anti-Capitalist Left, which, in contrast to the EL, sees itself as the coordination of the “alternative left” in Europe.)

Globalization and the nation state

In Italy, the PRC has so far been able to better integrate the various milieus, but here, too, tensions are visible between parts that mainly relate to the new social movements in the stream of globalization criticism, but in turn come into conflict with their radical parts because they are electoral politics have to deal with the concerns of sections of the population with more “realpolitical” interests, and the more orthodox “Ernesto current” anchored in the traditional milieu of the former PCI Communist Party, which in a milder form represents a basic tendency similar to that of the Greek communists. The first direction, which constitutes the majority of the party, is primarily concerned with the new forms of social conflicts in globalized neoliberal capitalism and the milieus involved in them. The neo-communist innovators rely on the cross-border, multi-vocal, intrinsically pluralistic movements against capitalist “ globalization ”, encompassing a variety of individuals and groups with diverse interests and needs , which they see as a kind of laboratory for the experimental development of new forms of cooperative society . The traditionalists, on the other hand, tend to stick to “block thinking” with clearly defined collective individualities. An example of this is the dispute over the interpretation of “globalization” in the content-related discussion. The innovators around Fausto Bertinotti see globalization as a qualitatively new phenomenon that is going hand in hand with fundamental changes in capitalism: new technologies, the shrinking of old industries, global mobility of transnationally intertwined capital, the dwindling of the regulating function of the nation states , general precarization of work and the Life - circumstances that affect all societies worldwide. The CP traditionalists, on the other hand, interpret globalization only as an intensified form of imperialism; In other words, they see powerful and competing nation states , which act as a political instrument for the interests of their large corporations, as the driving force behind the unlimited global enforcement of capital interests. So they tend to assume an external balance of power and consequently rely on counter-defense by defending the nation-state sovereignty of “ peoples ”, because they see the nation state as the only reliable protection against the robbery of corporations.

The situation is different again in the Scandinavian countries, where broad sections of the population of all social strata show a strong negative attitude towards the EU and an energetic will to defend the welfare state and democratic achievements of these countries. That is why the “alternative” left generally attaches great importance to maintaining or regaining national sovereignty . This explains why the Swedish Vänsterpartiet, for example, although its political orientation in terms of the range of topics is closer to the Italian Rifondazione Comunista overall , takes a similar stance on the EU issue to the otherwise ideologically completely different Greek KKE.

Weakness in Eastern Europe

The EL has a strong interest in gaining a foothold in the new EU countries in Eastern Europe, precisely because these countries play an important role as low-wage locations . In most of these formerly “ real socialist ” countries , forces to the left of social democracy are irrelevant. If so, then they in turn represent different social constellations than the Western parties.

The strongest left-wing party in the eastern EU countries is the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) in the Czech Republic, in which strong tensions can be observed and precisely the question of joining the EL, which has not yet been decided - as was the discussion about the party's position on the referendum on the Czech Republic 's accession to the EU - caused turmoil. The basis to which the KSČM owes its electoral successes consists primarily of the " losers of the turnaround ": pensioners, unemployed, parts of the rural population. With them it serves nostalgic moods, which the centrist party leadership around the chairman Miroslav Grebenicek tries to balance with the claim to be recognized as a modern democratic party. In January 2004, the then deputy party chairman and now MEP Miloslav Ransdorf was sent to Berlin to prepare for the establishment of the EL. Ransdorf, the leading head of the pro-European modernizer wing, signed the EL founding appeal there. He was then accused of having acted unauthorized and without a mandate. Nevertheless, a KSČM delegation took part in the EL founding congress in May 2004, which it left with a scandal: it did not agree to the condemnation of Stalinism in the founding document. The party then carried out an online survey on the wording in question on its website, in which seventy percent of the participants voted in favor of the EL wording. It can be assumed that the typical KSČM clientele does not have internet access. The process, however, shows how difficult it is for the party, who oscillates between nostalgic traditional references to the lost real socialism and the search for a realistic reorientation, to arrive at a binding position on the EL. Lately there have been signals that the KSČM wants to intensify its cooperation with the EL and is considering full membership in the long term.

On the other hand, the Hungarian Communist Workers' Party , which in 2004 had also criticized the condemnation of Eastern European real socialism but had initially participated in the EL, withdrew from the EL with effect from May 1, 2009. At the EL meeting in Luxembourg from September 24 to 27, 2010, the Bulgarian Left was accepted as a member.

Civil society and statist left

It consists of parties with historically predominantly communist origins that have modernized and transformed. What they have in common is a pluralistic self-image, the recognition of the fundamental importance of democracy , the rule of law , the separation of powers and civil rights , a program of democratic socialism which , in addition to the theory of Karl Marx, also includes other approaches and justifications in ethical and religious value orientations, a reference to Traditions and objectives of the labor movement as well as topics such as ecology , feminism , migration and minority issues. They distance themselves fundamentally from the attempts made under “real socialism” to force a socialist society through the dictatorship of a privileged party and see the decline and collapse of these societies as a result of the lack of democracy and structures of civil society participation. They regard “civil society” as a crucial field of action for resolving conflicts and transforming society. Within the party there is a conflict between more parliamentary-oriented forces and a more “movement-oriented” wing made up of parties such as PRC and SYN, which see the main driving force of social change in independent social movements and primarily assign party politics a serving role vis-à-vis the movements.

On the other hand, there are the political forces, which remain more firmly attached to traditional models of interpreting social conflicts, attaching absolute priority to the “main contradiction” between wage labor and capital over conflicts over gender relations, ecology, migration, etc. and the power of (national -) See the state as an essential lever to assert the interests of the working population against capital. In this sense , their political strategy remains statistic , they defend “real socialism” as a guarantor of social security and cite political and economic mistakes as an explanation for its downfall, above all the pressure of imperialism and “betrayal” by the ideologically softened leadership elite. They refer primarily to traditional working-class and peasant milieus, although they sometimes show a willingness to form alliances with “patriotic” -conservative bourgeois circles to defend national sovereignty. The Communist Party of Greece, which is the most radical in this regard, has vigorously rejected participation in a European left party from the start, because it sees in it on the one hand submission to the EU and on the other hand an arrangement that undermines its Marxist-Leninist ideological principles.

See also


  • Birgit Daiber, Cornelia Hildebrandt (Ed.): From Revolution to Coalition - Left Parties in Europe (=  texts . Volume 52 ). Karl-Dietz Verlag, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-320-02240-2 ( [PDF; 1,3 MB ]).
  • Birgit Daiber, Cornelia Hildebrandt (Ed.): From Revolution to Coalition - Left parties in Europe. Twenty-five country reports . RLS Papers, Berlin 2010 ( [PDF; 5.0 MB ] Materials on European political education as a supplement to text volume 52).
  • Cornelia Hildebrandt: Left parties as subjects of transformation . In: Let's talk about alternatives: Contributions to critical transformation research 3 A publication by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, editor: Michael Brie / Mario Candeias, VSA-Verlag Hamburg 2016, pp. 190–220
  • Cornelia Hildebrandt: On the party political left in Europe . In: Europe - What's left? The European Union between disintegration, authoritarianism and democratic renewal. Westfälisches Dampfboot, Münster, pp. 220-250
  • Jürgen P. Lang : The Party of the European Left - Anatomy of a failed project. In: Yearbook Extremism & Democracy 29 (2017). Text online

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Full text of the Statute.
  2. Birgit Daiber, Cornelia Hildebrandt, Anna Striethorst (eds.): From Revolution to Coalition. Left parties in Europe . (PDF) Dietz-Verlag, Berlin 2010
  4. ^ Program of the Party of the European Left (EL). Archived from the original on August 21, 2008 ; Retrieved September 1, 2009 .
  5. European Left - Heinz Bierbaum new EL President, December 15, 2019
  6. Euronews. Retrieved December 15, 2013 .
  7. Archived copy ( Memento from May 31, 2019 in the Internet Archive )
  9. (PDF)
  10. ELP observer status ended - report from the 3rd day of the XXI. Party conference of the DKP. News website of the German Communist Party (DKP); accessed on February 27, 2016.
  11. Old camels, new alliances: Mélenchon's Parti de Gauche leaves the European Left Party
  12. Ananeotiki Kommounistiki ke Ikologiki Aristera
  14. An indispensable and radical decision - From the founding congress of the common party “European Left” on May 8th and 9th in Rome . f ( Memento from February 15, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) In: Disput , Members' magazine , May 2004
  15. ^ Giorgos Marinos, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the KKE
  16. DKP website , accessed on January 5, 2011.