“We want a democratic debate”

Eva-Britt Svensson interviewed by Gaël De Santis.  Eva-Britt Svensson, Swedish MEP, on the reasons why she ran for the chair of the European Parliament on behalf of the GUE (United European Left).    


Gaël Gaël De Santis: You had been a member of the previous session of the European Parliament. So you have seen its political landscape change?

Eva-Britt Svenson. This Parliament is more conservative than before and we have more right-wing extremists in it. It saddens me to say it, but the situation is worse than it was in the previous assembly.

Gaël De Santis: Actually, over the last five years, with the suspension of the “working time directive” and the rejection of the port services directive, the United European Left and the social movement have achieved some success. How much room is there left to manoeuvre, now that the parliament has moved in the direction it has?

Eva-Britt Svensson: I believe that such successes can be repeated. It depends on how we fight for the political themes that matter to us. On how we can work together with unions, non-governmental organizations, etc. It depends on our political will. It will certainly be possible to do positive things in the next Parliament.

Gaël De Santis: And what will be the key issues for you?

Eva-Britt Svensson: The important thing is to work for a Social Europe, and to take the right decisions regarding climate change, before the World Summit in Copenhagen in December. But for the United European Left, however, we are fighting above all for a Social Europe. It is a struggle that is all the more relevant in the middle of a financial crisis.

Gaël De Santis: Your own country, Sweden, is taking on the presidency of the European Union for the next six months. What is your opinion of its programme?

Eva-Britt Svensson: We agree on the main priorities: the financial crisis and the climate crisis. But the situation of Social Security in Europe is dreadful, and the Swedish presidency does not give enough room to the problems faced by working people. For example, tackling poverty does not appear among the priorities of this presidency.

Gaël De Santis: What did your candidacy mean to you?

Eva-Britt Svensson: I knew well that with the electoral pact between the socialists and the conservatives, I didn’t have a chance. But with my candidacy, it was important for the left to show that we would not accept any back-room deals. We want a democratic debate. I met with the Greens and the Social Democrats. The Social Democrats had made a pact, so it was difficult for them to vote for me. The important thing for the Left is for us to show that we have a different opinion.

The original interview - ‘Nous voulons un débat démocratique’ was published by the French daily newspaper L’Humanité and reviewed by Kieran O’Meara for the website L’Humanité in English Eva-Britt Svenson received 89 votes, which means that 44 members of other political groups supported her candidacy.