XXIV Congress of the Socialist International, Cape Town
For a new internationalism and a new culture of solidarity
30 August-01 September 2012
The XXIV Congress of the Socialist International opened on Thursday 30 August 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa. Over four hundred participants from more than one hundred political parties and organisations gathered for the event that took place under the heading of ‘For a New Internationalism and a New Culture of Solidarity’.
The Congress, which runs until Saturday 1 September, is being hosted by the African National Congress (ANC) in the year of its 100th anniversary, the first Congress in the history of the International to take place in Africa.
The agenda includes four key themes: ‘For an economy with jobs, growth and social protection: the social democratic response to the financial crisis’; The struggle for rights and freedoms: strengthening representative democracy and gaining new democracies in the world’; ‘For a common road to peace, sustainability and cooperation: the need to secure multilateralism’; ‘For a new internationalism and a new culture of solidarity among people and between nations’.
The Congress first observed a minute’s silence in memory of John Atta Mills, Ghana’s inspirational president, and reflected on his commitment to democracy, his party and country.
Socialist International President George Papandreou opened the Congress, thanking our hosts the ANC, and expressing his gratitude for the warm welcome received. The Congress would in the morning focus on the first theme, the economy, and after lunch, elections would take place for the posts of the SI Secretary General and SI Vice-Presidents.
Deputy President of South Africa and the ANC, Kgalema Motlanthe, gave a welcoming speech on the democratic movement in Africa and across the world. He recognised that poverty and inequality were terms now not only associated with the developing world but, since the financial crisis, frequently also used to describe situations in the developed world.
Papandreou then delivered a speech in which he stressed the continued need to work in solidarity in order to resolve the problems of the global market. Remarking that many still believed this was a fight between the market and state, a false dichotomy, he stated it is in fact a fight between two clear choices: the market either serves the powerful few or is remodelled to serve the common good and to the benefit and freedom of all the population.
For an economy with jobs, growth and social protection: the social democratic response to the financial crisis
He was followed by keynote speakers on the first main theme, Prime Minister of Belgium and SI Vice-President, Elio de Rupo and Phil Angelides, Chair of the US Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission; SI Vice-President Ségolène Royal; Trevor Manuel, Minister of Planning of South Africa; leader of CHP, Turkey, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu; and SI Vice-President Alfred Gusenbauer (SPOe, Austria).
After lunch the Congress reconvened for the election of the SI leadership. SI President George Papandreou was re-elected unanimously by a show of hands, and graciously accepted the vote for his continued presidency.
Candidates for the post of Secretary General, incumbent Luis Ayala and Vice-President of the SI, Mona Sahlin from the SAP, Sweden, gave their electoral presentations. A vote then took place by secret ballot, overseen by the Electoral Commission, which included a representative from each continent. The election was won by Luis Ayala.
On Friday 30 August, Head of the Electoral Commission of the SI, Tero Shemeikka, from the Finnish Social Democratic Party, SDP, announced the results of the Presidium elections. A list of those elected at the Congress is available here.
Continuing discussions on the Financial Crisis
After elections we returned to our first main theme. On this, the Congress heard from Sergei Stanishev, President of the PES; SI Vice-President Beatriz Paredes (PRI, Mexico); Hannes Swoboda, President of the S&D Group in the European Parliament; Ouaffa Hajji, the new President of the SI Women; Carlos Eduardo Vieira da Cunha (PDT, Brazil), SI Vice-President; Fatallah Oualalou (USFP, Morocco), former Finance and Economy Minster of Morocco; Manuel Laguarda, SI Vice-President (PS, Uruguay); and Purificación Causapié (PSOE, Spain).
Friday 31 August 2012
The Congress of the Socialist International continued on Friday 31 August, with participants hearing a keynote speech from Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa and the ANC. Zuma began by expressing his honour of hosting this Congress that is bringing together progressive forces from around the world. He spoke on the positive aspects of globalisation, such as the shift in economic power and the emergence of new global players. However, globalisation, he said, also brought negative ramifications, such as a rise in inequality, increasing job insecurity for women, and youth unemployment. Jacob Zuma stressed that we must respond to these global challenges ‘in line with the theme of this congress, the New Internationalism and a New Culture of Solidarity’.
The struggle for rights and freedoms: strengthening representative democracy and gaining new democracies in the world
Speeches were then heard on the second main theme of the Congress from Navinchandra, Ramgoolan, Prime Minister of Mauritius, Mauritius Labour Party; Marian Lupa, Moldova PDM; Sukhbaataryn Batbold, former Prime Minister of Mongolia, Mongolian People’s Party; Stefan Lofven, Chair of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, Sweden; Yasmine Durate, ANC; Mian Raza Rabbani, Pakistan People’s Party; Juan Moscoso del Prado, Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, PSOE, Spain; Mohamed Ghaleb Ahmed Alsaqladi, Yemeni Socialist Party; Ibrahima N’Diaye, African Party for Solidarity and Justice, ADEMA-PASJ, Mali; Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, Chair of the Nationwide Social Deomcratic Party, OSDP, Kazakhstan; and Zita Gurmai, President of PES Women.