Communists from across Europe converged on Rome over the weekend to establish a new European-wide left party.
Sixteen communist and socialist parties officially launched a new European left party in Rome over the weekend. The Italian communist leader Fausto Bertinotto was unanimously elected leader of the new party, whose main themes are peace and social issues, the EU Constitution and building a common campaign platform for the European elections in June. "The European left must come out of the strategic defensive that we always find ourselves in," said Bertinotto whose Rifondazione Comunista Party along with the German Party of Democratic Socialism and the French Communists were the main initiators of the new group. The Italian said the new left must break the links with Stalinism which now represented oppression. "The break with Stalinism is meant to liberate the idea of communism from oppression and look toward the future." The European Left, with its aim of strengthening the radical left in an enlarged EU, is made up of parties from Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Spain. (EUobserver.com)