Shortly after the results of the European Parliament elections have been made public the most astonishing thing is the defeat of the socialist parties in Europe.
Imagine that you have a economic crisis caused by lack of regulation and which according to economic theory requires social(ist?) policies, imagine that you have the head of the executive who is a conservative and who has led the Union through last years, rising unemployment, delocalisations… who do you think would be expected to rise? The right?
The socialists have only themselves to blame for their failure: they played defensive when they should have attacked. Now more than ever it was the time to have a clear program for the recovery of Europe and to play the European card. In France, UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany… they could have hidden their weaknesses by rallying behind a project for Europe. Instead they decided to run national campaigns where, for different national reasons, they were weak and vulnerable.
When the president of the European Commission was conservative and weak the socialists could have taken advantage of the situation to come up with an alternative candidate who could have personified their program for the European recovery. In national politics people would kill to stand against a weak president in times of crisis of neoliberalism, timing could not be more suitable! Yet the socialists decided not to move and play conservative.
It is a lost opportunity for the socialists but also for Europe. Had the socialists been more daring they could have managed to give a new vision and leadership for Europe which would have been good for them and for the Union. Neither will happen. Without a clear program, the right won thanks to not being contested. It will be difficult and anti-democratic to push Barroso out of the European Commission when the EPP has such a majority in the European Parliament.
I’m convinced that socialists have pages to write in European history but in order to do so they have to be able to articulate their message more clearly, update it to the XXI century and have leaders who in times of crisis can stand up and lead the boat.
It was the time to think out of the box and they preferred to stay inside and hope for the best. And the best doesn’t happen by itself: if you don’t play, you don’t win.