2013. A Year of Transition

We start the year with a generalized feeling of confusion and uncertainness, and a pessimist outlook. The economical and political analysts have not been capable of announcing, with solid arguments or concrete projects, that 2013 will be a better year than this past one or, at the least, that an end to the crisis can be glimpsed.

If we look at the data published by international, European and national organisms, we see a political, economical and financial situation that induces us to think that 2013 will be a year of transition; transition in national, European and international policies.

As regards the national scope, everything seems to point to society continuing to rebel against the politicians and their dynamics, and against the stagnation of the traditional partisan structures. It is quite a paradox to observe that while the citizens are out on the streets, the politicians are entrenched in their offices.  They do not listen to the people’s demands and they do not adopt urgent measures to put an end to this crisis. In general, this attitude is directed at the entire political class, but it is far more critical of the majority parties. The criticism towards the Government, after twelve months of governing, is evident. Criticisms that are aimed at the Government and the PP for defaulting on their electoral program and, above all, for the deconstruction of the State of Well-Being. We watch in bafflement as the central-right Government nationalizes, that is to say, socializes the bank at the same time it privatizes such basic sectors of the State of Well-Being as are Health, Education or Social Services. Yet, faced with the dismantling of the well-being built by Spaniards over the last decades with blood, sweat and tears, the PSOE has been incapable, up to now, of offering a social-democrat, progressive alternative that could offer hope and enthusiasm in the midst of the stagnation provoked by the second Spanish transition in which we find ourselves immersed. All we see is the conceit of those in power, with a vision well rooted in proposals that belong in the past, and without sufficient generosity to cede the baton to new generations of Spanish socialists, new generations who long to contribute to the strengthening and adaptation of the party to the new political and democratic challenges our country and Europe face.

The year 2013 cannot be, and will not be, the year of quiet waiting. The PSOE must react and, when I say the PSOE, I mean its militants and followers who want to participate, alongside a great part of society, in the construction of a new model of change and modernity that will not be distracted by the rear view mirror of History and focus its headlights on successes of the past, rendering homage to itself with self-complacency while ignoring possible future solutions to the problems of the citizens of today and tomorrow. As Richard Rorty put it, when the left limits its role to watching and looking back, it is no longer the left.

And that is why, as soon as possible, in 2013 we need to set down the foundations for a radical change in the party to be able to affront 2014 and the upcoming elections, successfully. The dates for both the municipal and European elections are already set, and political logic indicates that general elections could be moved forward. It would be not be wise to ignore that, given the social, economical and institutional deterioration and the Catalonian nationalist challenge of 2014, the President of the Government may well decide to advance the general elections to face the situation of the country and the Catalonian suffrage. Therefore, 2013 is a year of transition, but also of action and preparation to remove the fatalism that has settled in the minds of many Spaniards and many progressive citizens.

This New Year will also be year of transition in Europe, the various changes and agreements approved by the European Councils last year will have to be set into motion (Fiscal Pact, European Stability Mechanism ESM, Bank Union…), they are all relevant decisions that must be followed up and analyzed. In 2013, elections to the European Parliament will be prepared, and I am convinced that, for the first time since the elections in 1979, European citizens are aware that their future, their dreams and their hopes depend, more than ever, on the pieces that will make up the Parliament in Strasburg. 2014 will witness the first commitment to obtain a real democratic and European legitimacy if we, the citizens, go to the vote well aware of our European dimension and identity. The democratic deficit of European institutions that is so aptly criticized can be resolved if we turn to Europe with new projects and with the support of a citizenship committed to the future.

It is necessary to promote a clearly European progressive movement without excluding the traditional parties. It is urgent to reinforce the European conscience -and this should not be the exclusive result of pooling all the national socialist parties together -, to stress the European interest and an institutional shaping above and beyond the initials and interests of the national and State parties. It would be good news if a pro-European platform was created in 2013 that reunited intellectuals, scientists, businessmen, social agents, journalists, politicians, women and men from the sphere of culture, representatives of civil society… all ready to debate the reason of being and the future of our beloved Europe. Their conclusions could be used to build the foundations of a new European progressive movement.

This year that commences cannot be tackled only from a national and European sphere, because world peace and solidarity must take up a great part of our commitment and our agenda this year. This must be the year of peace between Palestinians and Israelis. President Obama and the international community must concentrate their efforts almost exclusively on trying to resolve this historical conflict. Just as South Africa has managed to reconcile with itself and the world, Israel and Palestine should attract the pressing interest of all foreign actions of the main international actors. Without a doubt, there are other conflicts and focal points of tension to which our attention should be directed, among them, principally, finding a way to put an end to the civil war in Syria and immediately stop the endless bloodbath, destruction and violence. But finding a solution for the States of Palestine and Israel would facilitate the consolidation of peace in the Middle East, a region in dire need of hope and peace. Next to peace, solidarity should play a major role in the fight against hunger and poverty in 2013. This year will be decisive as regards the outlook for 2015, date on which the international community has to take stock of the goals achieved by the Millennium Development Goals (MDO).

And alongside peace and solidarity, 2013 must give an impulse to true democratic multilateralism and initiate the necessary reforms of the United Nations system. This is one of the goals set forth by the president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Vuk Jeremić, who has entrusted the council of wise men – to which I belong – with preparing a new General Assembly agenda to make this the home of democracy and democratic nations and the people of the world.

2013 cannot be a year of transition; events on all scales clamor for attention and urge us to make courageous decisions with a view to the future. We have to find sustainability in our way of life and in our political representation in order to avoid the suffering of inequality. And that is what I wish to contribute to with this webpage that I hope will become a tool for all those protagonists who fight to change the signs of the times and the forecasts for 2013.