Author: Ben Knight
Germany’s SPD is convening major center-left figures from around the world to discuss how to combat the rise of populist nationalism. Chancellor candidate Martin Schulz called for a new, fairer globalization.
The fight-back against populist nationalism around the world starts here.
That was the message at the Progressive Alliance convention, which gathered at the Social Democratic Party (SPD) headquarters in Berlin on Sunday and Monday.
The convention brought together over a hundred major center-left figures from across Europe – including Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa – as well as representatives from the US Democratic party, the Indian National Congress, and the Socialist Party of Uruguay.
The speeches and panel debates was hosted by a galvanizing figure in Germany’s SPD – Martin Schulz – whose surprise announcement as the party’s chancellor-candidate in this September’s German election has re-energized the Social Democrats and brought them their highest poll ratings in a decade.
The Progressive Alliance is a network of over 130 political socialist and social democratic parties and organizations around the world, established in Leipzig in 2013 by the initiative of the German SPD.
Revolution against liberalism
In his speech on Monday morning, Schulz quoted British historian Timothy Garton Ash, who recently described the current political climate – defined by the 2016 Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency – as “a global counter-revolution against liberalism.”
Schulz identified globalization and its attendant inequalities as one of the root causes of this trend, arguing that an epoch of unbridled financial markets had allowed too much pressure on social and ecological standards. Meanwhile, nationalist movements had found it too easy to point fingers at scapegoats in the immigrants and refugees that have arrived in Europe in the past year.
As a solution, he called for the creation of a “new globalization … through the creation of social justice and overcoming poverty. That means we need accountability and transparency obligations for companies along the supply chains, the extension of social security systems, and the introduction of wages that can guarantee a standard of living.”
“We have to make clear that shutting ourselves away is no solution, because no wall can ever be high enough to permanently protect us from global problems,” the candidate added. “We must prove through practical action that we want to make our basic values and principles the standard of a new globalization.”
The speech was in keeping with Schulz’s campaign agenda so far that has seen the SPD seek to “correct” the Agenda 2010 labor market reforms introduced by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and which weakened Germany’s welfare state.