Andreas Loverdos at SPD Conference #Rhodes

Andreas Loverdos at SPD Conference #Rhodes

Comrades, Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank you on behalf of the Movement for Change and its President Mrs. Gennimata for coming here to this land blessed by nature and richly graced by history, to attend this conference, and all of us together, you Germans and us Greeks, we will honor the great party of European social democracy, the political party, the political movement that played a decisive role in the creation of modern-day Europe, the Europe that has in operation pioneering and creative institutions of financial and political integration and social solidarity.

This Europe has been shaped by us. The pioneering forces of social democracy. Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt, François Mitterrand, Felipe González, Andreas Papandreou, Jacques Delors, Mario Soares, and today Gerhard Schröder and Kostas Simitis.

Through our own progressive and social policies we have deterred the social inequalities that prevailed after the end of World War II and in the long run we have contributed to the fall of the Dark Curtain that separated our continent from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic.

When we exercised government power for long periods of time through our principles and practices, we implemented the triptych of our values with tangible results. Economic development with social justice and full respect for the democratic freedoms of European citizens, which means that we have carried two crosses on our backs for decades: those of growth and social justice.

In recent years, however, these achievements have been jeopardized. The economic crisis has hit many EU countries and international competition in general deprives Europe of the ability to secure the demands of millions of middle-class people, while at the same time terrorism and immigration threaten EU member states, posing major issues of security and order. Under the pressure and influence of those problems in many European states, political forces with illiberal and antisocial agendas have come to the forefront of political life. And populism has become a capital power in many countries. We have a painful experience. Populists from left and extreme right prevented Greece’s exit from the crisis and threw her into a second crisis at cost of at least a hundred billion euros.

Populism is neither left-wing nor right-wing. This is our experience. The Czech Republic, for example, teaches the same thing, namely, that regardless of political origins, populist parties and politicians who preach the easy hate speech and the promise of everything are being formed. Reason is on a downward path. Here, us, Social Democrats are under great pressure. The biggest one. That is why we need to reconsider our political agenda. Development, protection of middle classes, redistribution, solidarity, immigration, security must be placed on our political agenda. And they define our autonomous but also cooperative, where necessary, political path.

The European elections of May 26 are a first-class fight to halt these phenomena. Us Social Democrats are fighting a great battle. Our path is fraught with many difficulties. Too many. But our path is also fraught with successes. Spain, Finland and soon Greece will be good examples.

We are all fighting the battle to keep social democracy as a dominant ruling political power. And us, Greek men and Greek women know that the Social Democratic Party of Germany taught the principles of social democracy and the denunciation of populism.

And I am sure we will succeed because Europe, like my country, needs both the electoral and ideological victory of social democracy. We are the spearhead of the progressive social ideas and we will implement them. Not on populism, not on extreme right, not on the right, but on the center and the center-left, yes on social democracy.