Swoboda hopes for left-wing swing ahead of 2014 EP elections
By Gaspard Sebag | Thursday 26 April 2012
Looking ahead to the 2014 European elections, Hannes Swoboda (Austria) expressed his hope for a “new left revival” one hundred days after having taken over at the helm of the Socialists and Democrats’ group in the European Parliament. Swoboda also shared his views on the need for a different economic policy, an industrial policy at European level and suggested using new instruments, such as the European citizens’ initiative (ECI) to fight against youth unemployment as a way of breaking with “traditional politics” and engaging with citizens.
“My task is in the coming two years to prepare the [S&D] group for the European elections,” Swoboda told a small group of journalists. He believes the political left has a chance of making a breakthrough and banks on the victory of Socialist candidate François Hollande in the French presidential elections to give the left momentum.
One of the S&D’s top priorities under Swoboda’s leadership will be to push for “another economic policy,” one that focuses more on investment, particularly in education and research. Unsurprisingly, he said the introduction of a financial transaction tax (FTT) is “high” on the agenda. Conceding that the fight will be “hard,” he hopes that the FTT will be “as comprehensive and as strong as possible”. Swoboda believes both the European Central Bank and the European Investment Bank could be more active. Calling for a new industrial policy at European level that goes in an environmentally-friendly direction, the S&D leader stood up to claims that industry is “passé”.
ECI TO FIGHT YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
Swoboda believes it would be a “good idea” to use the new participative ECI instrument to ask the European Commission to come up with a legislative proposal to tackle the high level of youth unemployment. He thinks that a “guarantee” should be created in order to ensure that young people leaving university have access to internships and traineeships in case they are unable to find a job. Building upon the idea of increasing participation in politics, Swoboda believes that his group should find a way of enabling citizens to have a say in the selection of the Socialist candidate who will be presented for the position of Commission president in 2014.
Finally, the S&D leader called for support to the democratic developments in the Southern Mediterranean. “We have to help citizens there,” he said.