New left party from Slovenia



So first of all, pls tell us your party’s history? When and why did you found?

During the uprising in the winter of 2012–13 many different political groups were formed to join the protests against austerity measures and the right-wing government.

These protests wereaccompanied by deeply anti-political and moralistic claims about the corruption of the whole governing elite. After the overthrow of the government in March 2013 the radical democratic fervour of the movement faded and some political groups decided that it was time to build astronger programmatic agenda and to create a political party that would be capable not only ofgrassroot work but also of struggle on a more formal level. The political space on the Left has long been evacuated, and the time of mass protests and discontent seemed ripe to form a party.On May Day 2013, the Initiative for Democratic Socialism (IDS) was formed as a political group that launched a series of presentations, interventions and other programmatic work. One year later, all this culminated in the next step: a political party. On 8 March 2014 the foundingcongress of IDS took place in the Spanish Fighters Cultural Centre in Ljubljana, bringingtogether around 300 members, a large majority of which consisted of young members. The time and the place of the congress were no coincidence. 8 March, the International Women’s Day,should be an opportunity to stress the current predicament in which we witness a brutal attack onwomen’s social and economic rights. The same goes for our decision to hold the founding congress in an institution devoted to the memory of fighters in the Spanish civil war: if the late 1930s saw the idea of internationalism materialise in international brigades that consisted of 30.000 volunteers from more than 50 countries (among them 1.600 Yugoslavs), this spirit needs to be strengthened today in the light of the extreme right.

What is the background of the Party? Do you have any connection to the youth movements? (student groups or something like that)

As mentioned above, many of our members are young, members of a new generation engaged in politics and enraged by the current state of affairs in which the ruling classes of Slovenia only accommodate the neoliberal policies of the troika. In our broad assessment, the party consists of many political activists who had already been engaged in the counter-globalisation movement and in the more recent student occupation at the University of Ljubljana, but also importantly inthe above-mentioned mass uprising in 2012–13. This is the new political generation that is not burdened by the legacy of the end of Yugoslavia and nationalist mythology. More than simplynew faces, however, IDS promotes principles that are a lot less hierarchical than those usually connected to the party structure. Instead of a president, IDS has a coordinator who is its legal representative and the link connecting the coordinators of individual sectors, such asinternational relations, the economic program, regional expansion, agriculture, or ecology. The real political power is vested in the council, which is elected directly by the annual electioncongress and which has the greatest authority in the time between the congresses. Importantly, one of the major goals is to organise local initiatives that would be able to build the movement locally.

What is, or was, your aim at this election in May?

Our aim at the European Parliament election 2014 was minimal. Together with two other extra-parliamentary alternative parties, TRS (the Party for Sustainable Development) and DSD (Democratic Party of Labour), IDS decided to build a coalition of the United Left (ZL). We joined the Tsipras bid for candidacy in The Party of the European Left. Our goal was to promotethe united and socialist coalition beyond the official established parties and to reconceptualise and relaunch the concept of socialism. Despite the media blockage and scarce financial resources we managed to lead a number of important interventions which resulted in quite an impressive result at the elections: the United Left received 5,5 % of the votes, which gives us much hope for future engagement because our initiative has been established less than three months ago. We missed a mandate for 2 %, but this gives us a solid departure point for the Slovenian parliament elections that should take place before or immediately after summer recess. However, while the strategy for the future will be of utmost importance, we also need to continue with grassroot activities. We need to engage in many processes and many political arenas, all at the same time.

What is the most important thing in Slovenia that you have to change immediately? (you can say more issues not just one)

We should mention at least a few key points that are directed at the overcoming of the capitalist crisis and which should be implemented as soon as possible. These measures include thereclaiming and further development of the quality of public services for all; the introduction of multiple forms of direct democracy (such as the participative budget, the right to the city, orusers’ democracy); the establishment of economic democracy (such as cooperatives and workers’ self-management); an economic policy devoted to an environmentally sustainable development and full employment with a shorter working day; the minimum wage raise beyond 70 % of the average wage; the transformation and socialisation of banks; and, last but not least, the increasing progressivity of taxes. Some of these policies can be addressed in the local and national context, while others need the European or even global arena.

Do you have any relation with Mr Zizek?

We read his texts, agree on some points, disagree on others. We appreciate what he is doing inthe academy to open up the Leftist and Marxist discursive space; in domestic politics, however,he has not been very present.

What is your party’s relation to the European Left?

At the moment we are in good terms with representatives of The Party of the European Left, but as we are new, we are formally only in the process of becoming an observer. We appreciateimmensely the existence of a progressive Left that goes beyond the social democratic Third Way,which has long turned neoliberal, and that also offers an important stronghold from which we can tackle the politics of the extreme right on the European level.

Is there any chance to co-operate with other Marxist parties from Central-East Europe?

We would be happy to establish contacts with such collectives; some individual contacts already exist, especially on the ex-Yugoslav Left, but formally we are a new party, which means that a long process is ahead of us.