Dear friends and supporters,
2014 was a landmark in the development of the Initiative for Democratic Socialism (IDS). A year after a series of popular uprisings against austerity measures came to a close we decided that it was time to establish a new and explicitly socialist party. Since its founding congress on March 8th 2014, we have participated in three different elections that presented a real strain and a new challenge for both the organisation, as well as the newly established United Left coalition. The electoral year began with the European elections in May and although the United Left did not achieve the high threshold for entry into the European Parliament, the coalition achieved a surprising result of 5,5%. To put it differently, on its first elections, almost 22.000 people in Slovenia supported an openly socialist coalition, something almost inconceivable only a couple of years ago.
Early parliamentary elections followed in July and provided an even more satisfactory result. United Left managed to enter parliament and gain 6 MPs in the 90-seat assembly. Achieving more than 52.000 votes (5,97%) on its first parliamentary elections, the United Left tied (to a margin of a mere 60 votes) with the Social Democrats as the fourth strongest parliamentary group. Finally, local elections in October 2014, perhaps most difficult and specific for a new party, devoid of an established regional network, provided for another relative success of the United Left, yielding comparable results to the previous two nation-wide votes. The coalition achieved 22 mandates in city councils across Slovenia, establishing its first steps on the local level in the process.
The Parliamentary group of the United Left considers itself a socialist opposition and is a voice of progressive policy proposals that other political parties are unwilling or unable to propose. Since August, when the National Assembly constituted itself, the parliamentary group initiated several several resounding policy proposals. To mention a few: initial steps to the return of a more progressive taxation policy, official recognition of Palestine statehood, equal legal and social rights to LGBT couples, a successful establishment of a parliamentary commision of inquiry into a multi-million euro thermal powerplant project, notorious for corruption allegations and environmental hazard.
Chief among our strategic projects is the establishment of a front against the privatization process. The incumbent government, under pressure from the European Commission, plans to privatize the remaining sectors of the national economy, including key infrastructure and systemic banks, thus endangering thousands of employments and further diminishing sovereign state economic policy. While routinely outvoted in parliament, the United Left mobilized in a wide public campaign, resulting at the moment in more than 12,000 signatures against the privatization process and massive public attention.
Also worth mentioning is the international campaign against TTIP. Slovenia was fourth among the EU member states to achieve itâ€™s share of signatures for the Stop TTIP citizenâ€™s initiative. We have managed to engage a broad array of civil society organizations that have joined their forces in a common campaign against the treaty.
As a result of all these activities United Left is currently enjoying even higher ratings (8%-10%) than it recieved on the early parliamentary elections. Having said that, the Initiative for Democratic Socialism and it's partners in the United Left are now facing a great challenge in expanding themselves in terms of file and rank organization. Our presence on the local level as well as our understanding of local issues are far from satisfactory and will demand further organisational innovations. Although socialist ideas are enjoying a comeback, we are well aware that the decades of the neoliberal turn have left their mark through the post-socialist transition and a decaying system even before that.
With prospects of Syriza gaining a parliamentary majority and perhaps Podemos in Spain following suit, it seems that next year will be one of great opportunities for building a common progressive front of the European periphery (some domestic solidarity with Syriza here).
In particular we extend best wishes to our comrades from Croatia, who have established an initiative of their own - The Workerâ€™s Front (RadniÄka fronta) that aims to participate on parliamentary elections in 2016.
Let 2015 be a year of workerâ€™s solidarity!
Initiative for Democratic Socialism,
Working Group for International Cooperation