Sunday, July 19, 2009

The left - dead in two European countries at once?

Interesting coincidence, in two different countries the left is today being described as dead.

Firstly, Italian entertainer and blogger Beppe Grillo claims the Italian left is a "funeral vehicle" in an interview with the SPIEGEL. For him, the leaders of the opposition, the leftist politician Walter Veltroni and his successor at the leadership of the Partito Democratico (PD), Dario Francheschini, are only marionettes of Berlusconi and lock themselves in their homes for fear of the citizens. Grillo proposes to become leader of the leftist party himself but the PD plainly refused his membership application. Seemingly unimpressed, Grillo says he doesn't need support of a party. A large readership of his blog, millions of young citizens according to him, are supposed to be his campaign support.
Indeed, Grillo thinks that the Italian parties belong to the past. He stands for a new model of "democratic dictatorship" from below, which is based on consultations of the public via the internet. His blog, which is maintained in Italian, English and Japanese and which offers Grillo-merchandise to his fans, already functions as a point for consultations and reference. In future posts, this blog will further investigate the political rise of Grillo, his party program and his personnality.

Secondly, in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche, the French Philosopher Bernard Henri-Lévy talks about the "death" of the French Parti Socialiste. In contrast to Grillo who seems like a political outcast in Italy, Henri-Lévy's popularity has made him widely known in France by his anagram BHL (like leftist politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, DSK). For BHL, Socialist leader Martine Aubry is the "guardian of a morgue". In order to adapt to the changes of political life, the Socialist party has to change its identity, beginning with its name. The new identity should be re-founded on the three principles antifascism, anticolonialism and antitotalitarianism.
BHL was an adviser to the Socialist candidate for the presidential elections in 2007, Ségolène Royal, and would like to see her come back to power and recreate the party from the ashes.

His interview comes at a time in which the French Socialist Party is again struck in a deep crisis of identity. Over the last week, Socialist MP Manuel Valls has continuously criticized Aubry's leadership, giving the party a week of negative headlines in the French press. Meanwhile, the French MEPs in the European Parliament were the only ones in the S&D group to refuse MEP Jerzy Buzek as a new Parliament President, further undermining their questionable standing in the S&D group.
Only one person profits from the fall of the socialists: French President Nicolas Sarkozy who has a problem less to care about as the left is destroying itself.

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