Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
Photo: Die Linke/Flickr
It all started with a group of six intellectuals who took the initiative for the Tsipras list. One of them is Barbara Spinelli, the daughter of Altiero Spinelli who is considered one of the founding fathers of the European Union and was a political prisoner during fascism. Barbara Spinelli herself is famous for European matters, she published a lot of articles and essays on the state of the EU. Besides Spinelli, there is Andrea Camilleri, a famous writer, Marco Revelli, a university professor who is popular on the left, Guido Viale, an economist famous since the 68 movement, Paolo Flores d’Arcais, a magazine editor and the sociologist Luciano Gallino. These six wrote a manifesto to address citizens, sharing ideas of the left.
The attempt to unite all left parties for the last elections failed, so we are not in parliament any more. This is different from other European countries where you have “Die Linke” or “Front de Gauche”. In Italy, we don’t have a common party, therefore they called on the basis of left values. They decided to ask for individuals to form the list, and not parties, but they were invited to support it. The first task was to get the attention of all the people from the left who don’t vote any more.
The single most important point is that: we don’t want to quit the Euro but we want to reopen the discussion on different political and economic paths. We are citizens living with this economic policy and the social situation is not bearable any more, so we want to discuss the European treaties.
Roberto Marenesi: In the beginning, parties were not allowed to initiate groups, but social movements were.
One in particular is called ALBA, which was founded several years ago and exists in all major Italian cities. ALBA started the process and I am the representative of ALBA Bologna, so I made a call for a first meeting. All over Italy, there were events where you could sign the manifesto. We organized a first assembly in February, and a second one a month later together with the initiators and a lot of people came. From there, we started the organizational work and we collected signatures to register the list for the elections – and we succeeded.
Raffaele Garino: I was with ALBA and I also joined the process from the beginning.
Claudia Giordano & Giusseppe Scrivo: We were active with “Comitato Articolo 33”, which was in a movement for public schools. The name refers to article 33 of the Italian constitution which grants public education to everyone. Last year we promoted a local referendum that wanted to stop the shifting of public money to private and catholic schools. We won the referendum, but it was not binding and the municipality ignored us. We joined the list after signing the manifesto, and many others of the movement did the same.
There are people from parties as well, but the first request of the founding committee was that people should not represent their party. If you are candidate you are not the candidate of one particular party but of the list. Unfortunately, this wasn’t always easy and there were some attempts of parties to sponsor their own organizations, in particular by PRC and SEL, which are the two most important parties on the left. But it is not really an issue. The most difficult problem we are facing now is the inclusion of people who were not organized before. We are trying to find public spaces for people to meet and to let them participate.
In Bologna we have a nice group with over a hundred volunteers who are organizing the electoral campaign in the city and the province. And in the province of Bologna, 1.500 people have signed the statement of support for the European elections.
In every city and important centre, we are trying to organize a committee which is autonomous in its decisions and with the campaign. This is an experimental way to make decisions; we are also trying to build online debates about every issue. So this is a new way to try to engage people, to engage citizens and give them the power to decide for themselves.
Initially, there were four proposals and the decision was made for “L’Altra Europa con Tsipras” through an online voting. We want the reference with Greece and the Greek situation. We consider it important for three reasons: First, Greece is the cradle of Europe. Second, Greece is the place where the worst attack is happening to people because of the austerity. Third, we want to show that we are with Tsipras, because Tsipras and SYRIZA are the strongest movement to oppose austerity.
No, it is not symbolic, it is something concrete and real, but it is not enough. The European Parliament won’t change anything alone but it is a starting point. Giving representation to left voters in Europe is something concrete. It is also a starting point to reconnect the parliament with the movements. We have a lot of movements here but they are weak as nobody is bringing their demands to the institutions. If we look at left history, institutions are not the only place where we fight battles, they are only one of the places. To change the balance of powers within the institutions is important but there are other places too. We are not going to change the treaties through winning elections, we have to do it from the bottom up.
We hope! A part of the movement started with politics again because they hope that there will be a left party in Italy again. Of course that all depends on the electoral campaign and the results.
We see no difference between the Renzi government and previous governments. But we see a major threat to democracy right now. Renzi made an electoral reform with the major right party, and this reform favours big parties over smaller ones.
So the two main tasks of a real left party should be, first, to defend democracy through the constitution. The Italian constitution is one of the best, because it contains social rights. The first article states that “Italy is a Democratic Republic, founded on work.” The second task is to tackle unemployment by a different employment policy. It should not randomly create jobs, but work associated with ecological transformation. So we are seeking a new model of development, which sees ecology and employment together.
The official position is, that a part of people who vote for the Five Star Movement are people from the left. We want to win back those votes, as we believe that these people vote for the movement out of protest against the big parties. This is the official position. If we agree in the future on certain points with the Five Star Movement we won’t have a problem with that.
But probably the Five Star Movement will not vote for any kind of initiative coming from other parties, because they think they are better than all other parties and movements and they don’t want to talk to them. They always say that they are only working on one point, and then another, so they don’t cooperate. But this is a kind of personal statement.
We have a lot of movements, but most of them are related to the territory where they started. The most important right now is the “No TAV” movement. There is an environmental and a health problem related to building the TAV because the tunnel they are building contains toxic materials. And people against TAV consider this train useless because there is already a train connecting this route. One of the leaders of the “No TAV” movement is one of our candidates. Another important movement right now is about homelessness. During the last weeks and months in Rome, a strong movement started that was confronted violently by the police. Last Saturday, a man even lost his hand during a protest. There is no political answer to all these issues: to the housing problem, to the TAV problem, to the jobs problem, there is just repression. Many times, these movements like TAV are treated as “NIMBY” – not in my backyard. There is an intention from the state to reduce those questions to regional ones. On the other hand there is a real problem with the lack of networking between the movements. For example, we have the issue of homelessness in Bologna and in Rome, but they don’t really communicate much.
Tspiras list is trying to bring together these kind of movements, to connect them, but it is really hard because many want to be autonomous and there are specific issues related to the local situations. So we want to connect different kinds of experiences, but we need to give autonomy to these different kinds of movements as well. Tsipras list is trying to build something which is common to connect them. Some of our candidates come from these different movements and experiences and they are now all together in one list, so this is the first step to create a network.
The police spend little of their time making arrests, and most crimes are not solved, writes Alex Vitale – their real purpose is social control.
Many important things happened on conference floor, reports Alex Nunns – but you wouldn’t know it from reading the newspapers
Radhika Desai says Capital by Karl Marx is still an essential read on the 150th anniversary of its publication
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Universal credit isn’t about saving money – it’s about disciplining unemployed people
The scheme has cost a fortune and done nothing but cause suffering. So why does it exist at all? Tom Walker digs into universal credit’s origins in Tory ideology
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum
The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes
Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference
Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki
Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers
Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going