While we await the final results of the European elections, it is obvious our socialist and social democratic family had a disappointing result.
We face a more conservative European Parliament, with a right that is more euro-sceptic and more nationalistic than before.
The low participation rate was a huge problem, especially for us. Our voters stayed away. They simply didn’t see the relevance of these elections. They did not see the political choices at European level - perhaps not surprising since these elections were mainly fought over national political disputes.
We had a European alternative, but it was not visible enough. Europe still needs a new direction. We are in the middle of a recession, and it will not go away. Wage earners are not to blame but they may end up paying the price. We will have 27 million unemployed next year unless we have a new and stronger European recovery effort. So we will continue our fight for more and better-coordinated investments in new jobs, and to save jobs. We will continue to stand up for social justice and equality. We will continue our fight for a global new deal, including a new strong global climate agreement in the coming months.
We have suffered a loss but we remain the second largest group in the European Parliament. We lost 3 percentage points overall, but we gained in ten member states including in the Czech Republic, in Sweden, in Greece and in Ireland where we are in opposition, and in Slovakia and Slovenia where we are in Government.
We need to reflect, and for our common European party to come forward with a renewed strategy and new ideas. But I say no to those who announce a profound crisis in European socialism. European citizens still depend on social democratic values for decent work, good schools, good health care and a clean environment. Europe still needs a society where everyone can participate, contribute and benefit. This is no time for dismantling our welfare states, it is time for strengthening them.
The centre-right cannot claim a victory for their policies. People are still worried about the crisis, and the crisis remains our number one priority.
The far-right made worrying gains in the elections. People still need us to stand up for respect and tolerance for all, and to continue to fight to protect all workers from the recession.
We need more PES, not less PES. We will make new efforts to strengthen our European political party because we must engage more than ever as a political family in European politics.