On September 13, in Prague, in a café that used to be a carpenter’s workshop, we held a seminar entitled “How to Democratize Europe”. The seminar was organized by the School of Alternatives from the Ecumenical Academy in Prague with cooperation of local groups from DiEM25 (DSC Praha and DSC České Budějovice). The moderator of the evening was Ivona Remundová, activist and documentarist formerly part of the No Bases Initiative.
The goal of the event was to present diverse views on the state of Europe and the possibilities of solving its problems held by people close to or engaging with the DiEM25 movement. DiEM25’s diverse body of members, philosophers, economists, political scientists, and activists attended the event.
Philosopher Michael Hauser, who has attended several events organized by DiEM25, started with a historical introduction of the EU Treaty and an enumeration of its neoliberal principles. He compared the DiEM25 proposals stated in the Manifesto with leftist representatives supporting Lexit (those on the Left who supported British exit from the EU). He gave the example of Greece as an EU economic and financial capital, and then dealt with the situation in the UK after Brexit and discussed the difficult task faced by Jeremy Corbyn, as the current representative of Lexit. He considers DiEM25 to be a platform from which a genuine European internationalism could arise.
Human rights activist and DiEM25 member Alena Krempaská from Bratislava (Slovakia) considered not only the democratic deficit, but also the privatisation ideology that has spread not only in Eastern Europe when privatising public services, but also in Greece where privatisation is necessitated by EU pressure. In this situation, she drew attention to the threat that the power of fascist parties will increase.
The Economist and Coordinator of Prague´s DSC Jiří Šteg then dealt with the structure of EU institutions and the lack of transparency in their administration. He criticized the attitudes of European politicians during the migration crisis, showing their disparity and unpreparedness, which led to a crisis of so-called “European values.” He expressed pessimism about the possibility of democratizing the EU, arguing that the Lisbon Treaty should be abolished and a new European Constitution created, which is in line with DiEM25’s intentions if the democratization of the EU is to become a possibility.
DiEM25 Coordinator from České Budějovice´s DSC Antonín Hořčica then presented basic principles of DiEM25 movement as included in the Manifesto and informed those present about recent DiEM25 activities. He also introduced our European New Deal paper, for which a Czech translation was made available to seminar participants. The European New Deal was explained as a stabilisation program proposed by DiEM25 as necessary for Europe to pave the way towards a new European democratic constitution.
After the introductory lectures of the panellists, there were questions and answers where possible future scenarios in Europe were discussed with DiEM25´s possibilities to promote their intentions. One option proposed was to develop into a formal political party, while another was to be an umbrella force for a wide coalition between parties, and a third was to become the creator of professional studies with the possibility of influencing political parties and European institutions. Recently in the Czech Republic, the left-wing parties (socialist and communists) have shown that they are not interested in the DiEM25 movement, and only the Pirates and the Green Party are supporting DiEM25. From the right-wing parties, only liberals (TOP09) are pro-Europe oriented, but they are more or less the politicians of the “more Europe” ideas of the existing EU establishment. Other political parties are anti-EU and nationalists and some are even xenophobically oriented.
The speakers’ presentations were fascinating and thought-provoking. We noted that we should try to increase the public participation, paying more attention to the promotion of the next DiEM25 event. The event was highly beneficial because it operated as an exchange of views and experiences between representatives of DiEM25´s DSCs from Prague, Bratislava and České Budějovice.
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