30,000 buses, countless cars, special trains – maybe as many as 2.5 million Americans are coming to Washington to witness the inauguraiton of President Obama. It’s very cold but people don’t care because they are warm inside. I am among those who have made the journey to share the feeling of hope. Apparently an extraordinary 70 % of Americans now support President- elect Obama.
The American people’s expectations of this President of Hope are sky high. The risk of disappointment is real. But I believe he can manage those expectations, he underlines it will be hard. He says it will take time. But I believe he and his administration are determined.
We are facing the most severe recession for 80 years, and with it a devastating increase in unemployment. Obama’s proposed economic stimulus package is very ambitious. But it is also necessary for giving a helping hand to Main St as well as Wall St.
I think there is a message for us in Europe.
Europe will have to do more to tackle the recession. The PES has already proposed a more ambitious plan than the current, and rather over-hyped, European Recovery Plan. We need to coordinate investments and policies among all European Governments to create new jobs, as well as do more at the EU level. If the United States of America can have a large and ambitious recovery plan why can’t our 27 EU member states?
At the same time, Barack Obama can’t achieve his ambitions without Europe. We have an obligation to take actions to combat the recession, to fight for social justice, to make a new effort for peace, especially in the Middle East, and to achieve our climate change and energy commitments.
It’s exciting, the opportunity for Obama and his ‘Yes we can’ attitude to bring about better policies on both sides of the Atlantic and common actions to tackle global crises.
It should also inspire European social democrats and socialists to have more confidence in our own message of hope. Talking to people around Europe I get a very positive response to our Manifesto for the European elections “People first - A new direction for Europe”. But there's still a long way to go.
It’s world history happening here in Washington, and I am proud to say even before the event ‘I was there’. And the point is we can make that history happen by contributing to that positive change …