In Greece, the EU constitution was ratified by the parliament on 19th April 2005.
Most Greeks apparently believe that "the European Constitution" is something they should know about. However, the two main parties want the ratification process to be parliament-centred, and as a result there has not been a great of public discussion.
There has been some 'public relations' type advertising, promoting the idea of Europe as something that exists 'for me', like an article of consumption.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Synaspismos both oppose the proposed European Constitutional Treaty. The KKE is anti-EU in any case. The Synaspismos is pro-EU and has a strong tendency in it that would favour ratification of the proposed Constitutional Treaty. However, the recent leadership change in the Synaspismos has meant predominance of the 'left' tendency that is opposed to the proposed Constitutional Treaty on the grounds of its institutionalising neo-liberalism.
This objection to the Treaty is also put forward by the Hellenic Social Forum, and by ATTAC-Hellas in its recently published pamphlet.
The Chamber for Environment and Sustainability and the Law School of the University of Athens is organizing a seminar on 'European Constitution and Sustainability' on Tuesday 10th May.
(A note following the above-mentioned meeting)
Last night, 10th May, may have been a catalytic occasion. There was, at the University of Athens, what many people think was the first proper public meeting on the European Constitution to be held in Athens. (ATTAC's meeting last year featuring Antonis Manitakis
(The person speaking in the photograph is not Manitakis but former Europarliamentarian Michalis Papagiannakis. Manitakis is on his left, looking thoughtful).
The May 10 2005 meeting was convened by the former head of the Council of State Mr. Michalis Dekleris, and featured as speakers among others advisors to former Prime Minister Kostas Simitis Georgios Papadimitriou and Nikos Alivizatos.
Mr. Dekleris has come out unambiguously as an opponent of the present procedures for acquiring a European Constitution. On national sovereignty grounds.
This brought him into conflict with Messrs. Papadimitriou and Alivizatos, whom he had invited to his meeting. Mr. Papadimitrious gave a spirited defence of the 'democratic' credentials of the European Union and the European integration process, something Mr. Dekleris clearly found in no way convincing. And Mr. Alivizatos spoke about the European Union as the necessary counterweight to 'the superpower', meaning the United States, subordinating in the familiar manner, every issue of substance to his own private conception of how the geopolitical battle with 'the superpower' ought to be waged.
I made a brief intervention, indicating that I had with me copies of ATTAC's 'No' pamphlet in Greek. They were eagerly grabbed up. I should have brought three times as many with me, as the auditorium was packed. A number of people left their telephone numbers with me so that I could contact them and give them a copy of the pamphlet.
A public meeting featuring Dekleris and Manitakis on the subject 'European Constitution: Who will be the Defender of Greek National Sovereignty' could be a crowd-puller, and is, I believe, feasible.
Last Edit: May 26, 2005 23:13:38 GMT -5 by Wayne Hall
Poland’s letter to France: please say “oui!” Krzysztof Bobinski 23 - 5 - 2005
Polish ex-presidents and German philosophers are making the case for a French referendum “yes”. But where are the British? Krzysztof Bobinski writes from Warsaw.
We’ve all had the dream. The train we need to catch is standing at the station, just about to move off. But we keep getting held up and stay stuck on the platform as it moves away. That’s the way I feel about the referenda on the European Union’s constitutional treaty now taking place in various EU member-states.
The “yes” side has to win in each country holding a referendum (or parliamentary vote) for the treaty to go into force – in France (29 May) and in Holland (1 June) and in Denmark and in the United Kingdom and here in Poland (25 September) and … . But the “no” side, it seems, “only has to be lucky once”.
Convinced that the defeat of the treaty will mark a major blow for the union which Poland joined only twelve months ago I watch helpless as the Left in France gets it into its head that the treaty is aimed at its social model and thus threatens to vote “no”. The Dutch, meanwhile, have a collective nervous breakdown and set out to punish their politicians by also voting “no”. While the Danes and the Irish and the Portuguese bravely say they will go ahead with their referenda the British – even pro-Europeans among them – seem all too relieved not to have to have a referendum in the event of a French “no”. “The treaty ratification timetable will be dead,” says Denis MacShane, until recently Tony Blair’s gaffe-prone (and half-Polish) Europe minister.
Is it all inevitable? Can anything be done to influence campaigns in other countries which have a direct bearing on our future? Maybe public appeals? The Poles have emerged as the whipping-boy in the French campaign. Well, not all Poles – just the odd-job men and the builders and other handymen willing to do the work for a fraction of the pay that a Frenchman would ask.
Enlargement of the European Union to the east is apparently to blame for this threat to the French way of life. So Poland, after years of doing all the European Commission asked of it in the way of acquis communautaire preparations, and sailing into what it saw as a safe harbour after a couple of centuries of historical hard luck is now part of the problem? Do people in western Europe really think they were better off in a Europe divided by the “iron curtain” and living under a cold-war regime which threatened a nuclear holocaust if the leaders of the then superpowers thought fit to go to war?
The least we in Poland could do was to write an open letter explaining to the French that this constitutional treaty was about more than plumbers it was about the future of a uniquely successful project which has enabled people to live peacefully together. It has also provided those of us, who through “no” fault of their own, have had to put up with two particularly nasty totalitarianisms in the last century with a secure perspective of modernisation and growth. The usual suspects agreed to sign: film director Andrzej Wajda, writer Ryszard Kapuœciñski, Lech Wa³êsa, the electrician and former president. The letter was duly published in Le Monde.
Contrary to the fears of those like Jacques Delors, the former head of the European Commission, who warned that the letter would only harm the pro-treaty cause, a few days later the “yes” campaign went back into the lead. Who is to say the views of almost all of Poland’s foreign ministers after 1989 didn’t help to reverse the trend?
Then, a phalanx of heavyweight German intellectuals – led by by Gûnter Grass and Jûrgen Habermas – hove into view with another Le Monde missive. “Does the majority of the French people really want to line up with the nationalists of the right and left. That would be a betrayal of reason which the French will in future be unable to forgive themselves for” they exclaimed incredulously.
It seemed that a dialogue was beginning to develop. Why shouldn’t the British join in? With the “no” campaign going full speed ahead and the “yes” camp demoralised by having the Blairites insist the campaign be put off till after the election, wouldn’t this be the moment to drop the French a line and raise the pro-European banner in the United Kingdom?
But this is where the problems began. Almost everyone I contacted said it was a bad idea. There were two main arguments. A quite daft one was laid out by John Kay in the Financial Times: that while it was ok to vote “yes” in Britain, it would be even better to have the French themselves ditch the constitution; after that everyone would salvage the useful bits. The other, maybe more realistic, was that the French and the British dislike each other so much that any advice to vote “yes” would have the opposite effect and vice versa.
One committed pro-European in Britain wrote to me:
“Atavistic sentiments are such that, for example, if I were to read a letter from French people urging me to vote yes it would be the one thing that would tempt me to vote no. Rejection of “Anglo-Saxon” Europe is a feature of both the yes and the no campaign and, if I were a French ‘no’ campaigner I would use a letter from Brits to say ‘if the British want you to vote yes it’s got to be bad for you’. I know it should not be thus but mutual antipathy remains very strong.”
No letter from London urging the French to vote “yes” along the lines of the Polish or German message appeared. This is a pity. Nations (or rather some of their citizens) writing letters to nations is not a bad way of defining the project and telling ourselves why we want it to continue. The lack of contact between the various campaigns, the provincial nature of our national debates all shows we need to talk across frontiers if the European project is to survive.
The train may be slowly drawing away from the station but I still believe letter-writing has a future. In any event, we in Poland will be needing some letters to bolster our own “yes” campaign this autumn.
Post by Wayne Hall on May 31, 2005 23:36:52 GMT -5
> Today a majority of French electors voted NO to the European > constitution! This is a victory for all european democrats.
Certainly. > > It means a real change in the european context. Another Europe becomes > possible and our network will play a role in its definition. > > How should all european progressists react to the new situation? What > will be our next target? >
The next step is to organize meetings entitled: "We said which Europe we don't want. Now: Which Europe do we want?" Here in Greece, for example we could have a meeting (perhaps after the summer) including Mr. Michaelis Dekleris, former head of the Council of State, who supported the French 'NO' on Greek national sovereignty grounds, and Mr. Antonis Manitakis, who is part of the altermondialiste movement and works with the Social Forum. The idea should be that Mr. Dekleris has the problem, Mr. Manitakis is part of something that wants to be the solution.
This should be the approach towards all those who supported French NO on nationalistic grounds. You have a problem. Help us to be the solution to it. THE LOGIC HERE IS THE PRECISE OPPOSITE OF ELECTORALIST COMPETITIVENESS which might be appropriate if a Trotskyist, say, and a Lepen supporter, were both standing for office and each had to persuade electors to vote for them
"We said which Europe we don't want. Now: Which Europe do we want?" This means that the debate is among people who supported the French no to the "European constitution". Those who did not do so have excluded themselves.
Here in Greece that would mean that EU high-flyers (applying the criteria of their respective milieux) like Mrs. Anna Diamantopoulou of the Socialist Party and Mr. Michalis Papagiannakis of the Synaspismos are OUT. Henceforth they are spectators to our debate.
Which Europe do we want? We want a Europe of the Social Forums. That means we want Social Forum participation in the European integration process. For a start, we want it to be possible for a Social Forum representative to be European Head of State. Why should Jose Bove, for example, not be European Head of State? (Perhaps the social forum in France would choose him as their representative. And they again they might not.) Propose the formation of a Sovereign Council comprising 1) a representative of the social forum of each European Union member state and 2) the head of state of the country concerned. If the member state is a republic this would mean the president. If the member state is a monarchy this would mean the monarch. This Sovereign Council would choose the European Head of State from among themselves, the same way that the Cardinals choose the Pope. The European Head of State would not be an executive president like the French president. He would be non-executive like the German or Greek president.
If the parliaments of the member states object to being sidelined in this way this they could call for a national referendum in the member state concerned calling for the representative of the country's Social Forum to be replaced on the Sovereign Council by a representative of the national parliament. This would establish a process of healthy emulation between representative and deliberative democracies, breaking the monopoly of parliamentarianism.
I put these ideas down a couple of years ago, when the constitutional conference that produced the now-rejected "European Constitution" was just getting under way: See: www.spectrezine.org/europe/waynehall.htm
Call for regional forums for shaping of another Europe from below
(Participative assemblies for another Europe)
After the failure of the ratification process of the Constitutional Treaty in the referendums held in France and the Netherlands, the failure of the past European politics has become apparent. Quite obviously, we need a new politics in Europe, since the European elites ever more clearly threaten our common future. The unification of Europe must therefore be taken into its hand by the Europeans itself.
By way of the idea of assemblies from below, "participative workshops", decentralised, all over Europe, on the same day, we want to reach a first stage on the way towards a more social, peaceful, feminist and ecological Europe.
On this way, we want to reach the following goals:
*actions and mobilisations against European neoliberal policies *proposals for real democratic institutions *development of ideas for another Europe.
*To develop creative projects for the future for another Europe from below:
*in regional, self-managed initiatives all over Europe, with broad participation of social movements from globalisation-critical, ecological, feminist, peace-policy, church, development aid organisational, trade union, artistic and other contexts,
*in an open process
As far as content is concerned, we could discuss in common the following topical areas, for example
*democracy, participation, fundamental rights in the EU *fundamental conditions for European economic and financial policies *the fundamental prerequisites of social justice in Europe *European policies for maintaining the ecological fundaments of life on this planet *the contribution by Europe to peace in the world? *The institutions and structures that we need to that end?
Synchronisation with the process of the ESF at the EPA in Istanbul on 23rd-25th September, 2005
Regional forums by November 2005
On March 4th, 2006 an international Action Day of the regional forums all over Europe, synchronised with the ESF process
ESF in Athens in April 2006: adoption of a "strategy of Athens" which will build a counter point to the "strategy of Lisbon" and which would incorporate the results of the discussion processes of the regional forums.
Retrieved from "http://www.anothereuropeispossible.net/wiki/index.php/Call_for_local_assemblies_%28EN%29"
Greece's Conservative New Democracy government has embarked on a full-scale campaign of rises in taxation, cuts in benefits, abolition/privatization of pensions, extension of the working day, very perceptibly worsening living conditions for middle and lower social strata.
The process was initiated by the preceding Socialist government of Kostas Simitis and commentators in some Conservative newspapers have even begun to predict that the transference of support from these strata away from the Socialists to the Conservatives that was seen prior to the last national elections could continue, with Conservative voters moving their support to the Communist Party (KKE), the formerly pro-Soviet ('Stalinist') party with whom on many social and aesthetic issues traditional conservatives have much in common.
This movement of the Conservative grassroots has been paralleled by a trend at the leadership level of the Socialists to favour collaboration with and strengthening of the ex-Eurocommunist Synaspismos, and the spectrum of 'civil society' NGOs surrounding it (including the Hellenic Social Forum).
As a proponent of European integration, Simitis himself favoured such an orientation, which was most strongly opposed by the more nationalistic and populist rank and file of the Socialists, whose contempt for and distrust of the 'treacherous' and 'pseudo-Socialist' Synaspismos was hardly less than the corresponding hatred of the KKE for its 'revisionist' rivals.
The trend was greatly accelerated when prior to the last elections Simitis was 'persuaded' by media pressures to stand aside in favour of George Papandreou, ex-Foreign Minister and mild-mannered successor to his father the charismatic and demagogic Socialist leader Andreas Papandreou.
George Papandreou, who speaks Greek with American intonation, launched a high-profile and high-powered election campaign with an emphasis on 'participation' and new-technology-centred 'direct democracy'.
His subsequent shattering defeat by the Conservative Kostas Karamanlis changed Papandreou's image overnight from a super-glamour candidate to a lame duck, and this is an image he has diligently maintained, particularly in the eyes of the old populist wing of his party.
Simitis' total disappearance from public life since the coming to office of the Conservatives is in its way scandalous, considering that whatever the content of his economic policies, his support for the European integration process is undisputed, and his prestige in EU circles such that prior to last year's national elections in Greece (and even for a while afterwards) he was considered a serious candidate for the post of president of the European Commission.
A 'Strategy of Athens' counterposed to a 'Strategy of Lisbon' is an idea that fits very well with the realities of post-Simitis Greece, however realistic or unrealistic the idea that Simitis himself might be personally associated with it.
Another possible factor to weigh in considering the prospects for the 'Strategy of Athens' is the Greek presidency. The Greek President Karolos Papoulias was Andreas Papandreou's foreign minister. His occupation of the Greek presidency, for which the parliamentary support of both the Socialists and the Conservatives was required, represents an olive branch thrown out by the governing Conservatives to the old populist wing of the Socialists. This is symbolic politics in the same category as Karamanlis' participation in ceremonies commemorating incidents in the post-WWII Civil War against the Communists. As conservative commentators have noted: conciliatory gestures of this kind go over well with the 'Left' wing of the political class but it has yet to be seen how much ice they will cut in the final analysis with the electorate and with 'civil society'.
If, as is to be expected, the 'Strategy of Athens' gains some political support among members of the Socialist Party, the line to be taken is to argue that Socialist opposition to the present Conservative government base itself in the Social Forum, allowing the Synaspismos to hold the fort in the Parliament.
Socialists withdrawing their support from Parliament should call upon their Conservative counterparts to do the same thing, focusing their political energies in the institutions of 'civil society', the rank-and-file groups of the 'Athens strategy' and on the Social Forum. If the KKE derives the benefit from this in parliament, so be it.
Even in the (should one say?) unlikely event of these developments resulting in domination of the parliament by the Synaspismos and the KKE, there is the precedent of the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe to show what civil society's answer can be to the monopolization of a country's political structures by Communists.