Eastern Central Europe has more or less completed the phase of so-called “transformation” from state socialism. After 1989, these countries took the path of parliamentary democracy with multi-party systems and the rule of law, becoming members of the European Union and NATO. But have the lofty promises of European integration been fulfilled?
Is the European vision limited to economic integration with a common currency? Is not a democratic and social European project needed just as badly? Has the EU and its standards really taken effect in the new member-states as far as workers’ rights, women’s equality, and the non-discrimination of minorities is concerned?
These questions are asked in politics far too rarely. Many have the feeling that politics is conducted over their heads and mostly serves economic interests. A widespread disillusionment about politicians and political institutions restricts participation in political life. Populists have filled this vacuum with their calls for “clean politics” and “defence of national values”. Often, problems are blamed on social minorities: Roma, Jews, homosexuals.
The political Left in the region is highly fragmented. Parties to the left of Social Democracy generally receive little support in elections. Leftists capable of delivering critiques of capitalism and thorough analyses are often isolated. Networks between them are poorly developed. We seek to offer spaces for dialogue and networking by bringing protagonists to the table who otherwise are generally distant from each other.
We support attempts to develop shared, cross-sectoral standpoints on important questions and professionalize trade union work. We encourage women to get involved in more active participation in politics, so that their interests are effectively taken into account. We help the LGBT community demand European legal standards, expand their competence in this field, and find allies.