Sweden: Fighting spirit at CWI section’s Congress

Copenhagen climate summit a focus for the party

A socialist answer to the climate threat was one issue in focus at the Congress of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden), 30 October – 1 November. The Congress showed an impressive breadth of reports about the crisis and struggle in Sweden and globally, and the fighting spirit was high.

"We have big tasks to discuss at this Congress. The elections next year, the new wage negotiation rounds – which can break the present ebb in class struggle – and our intervention at the climate summit in Copenhagen", said Elin Gauffin in opening the Congress.

Just over 100 people from different parts of the country participated during the weekend. For the first time, the party discussed and decided on resolutions about the climate as well as on LGBT rights. Resolutions were also agreed on the political situation in Sweden, party building and recruitment, plus on the elections in 2010.

International visitors at the Congress were Clare Doyle from the International Secretariat of the CWI and comrades from Iceland and Belgium.

The Congress noted the Social Democratic congress taking place at the same time, continuing its adaption to the right-wing government, for example in supporting profit-making private companies running hospitals and schools. In contrast, our Congress dealt with how the crisis and the policies of the government hit working families, and the need for struggle.

The first discussion was on global perspectives. "There are now one billion starving people in the world, at the same time as banks again have record bonuses and their shares are rocketing. To stop a financial collapse demanded the biggest rescue operations ever seen, something that is impossible to sustain. Whatever the media and politicians says, the crisis is far from over", said RS chair PerAke Westerlund in his introduction.

In the following discussion many excellent contributions were made, covering for example Pakistan, the crisis in the Baltic states and the mass struggle in Iran. Greetings were read out from CWI comrades in Brazil and Asia. A positive feature was that a majority of contributions were made by female comrades.

Friday continued with commissions, for example on the work of party councillors, youth campaigns and the situation at workplaces and in unions. In the afternoon RS and the LGBT struggle was discussed. Lina Westerlund introduced the discussion and, among others things, she raised the birth of ’LGBT-socialists’, a big step forward for the party work on these issues.

The day ended with a rally on the climate crisis. Arne Johansson stressed the seriousness of the climate threat, pointing out that only democratic socialist planning can manage all the conversion needed. Johanna Evans outlined the plans for the intervention in Copenhagen at the summit ’COP15’ and Clare Doyle added further examples of how capitalism kills and the urgent necessity of a socialist approach and programme. The discussion focused on these issues and on the important task of intervening in Copenhagen in December with the aim of re-establishing the CWI in Denmark.

Saturday and Sunday

The second day started with a discussion on the resolution ’Swedish perspectives – prepare for class struggle’. "The central bank counts on stable growth, but also believes 160,000 more will be unemployed in 2011 compared to 2007", said Per Olsson in leading off. He also analysed the contradictory mood of today, with few powerful protests and strikes, but a growing anger from below.

Contributions were made on youth unemployment, with RS tand Elevkampanjen (ISR Sweden) stepping up the campaign ’Youth demands jobs and a green future’. Other speakers raised the crisis of trade union leadership. One example was the LO (Swedish Trade Union Federation) region in the north, whose "march for jobs" gathered less than 30 participants.

Several contributions reported on present struggles – protests against cuts in Gothenburg, the garbage collectors’ strike in Stockholm and the strike at Lagena in Haninge, the health cuts protest in the mid-north and the struggle against wage cuts for elderly care workers in Lulea. The sharp contradictions in the upcoming wage rounds were discussed in many contributions.

In this discussion, greetings were made by a representative of SP, the Swedish section of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International. Other guest greetings during the Congress came from the Ethiopian Refugee Association and from Foro Latinamericano.

The next discussions were on party building, the elections and party finances. Growing membership and new branches were reported. The target agreed was to have 100 more members by September next year. On finance, we decided on a drive to raise membership fees and to recruit more subscribers for our weekly paper. The last item on Saturday was the collection, raising 82,500 SEK (€8,250).

On Sunday, Clare Doyle from the International Secretariat gave the CWI report, starting with the dramatic events around the student movement developing in Austria. She gave many examples of the enormous work and sacrifices made by comrades around the world, for example in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. She also reported on steps forward both in terms of the expansion of the headquarters of the CWI and in new developments in, among other places, Quebec, Malaysia and Brazil.

The Congress provided important tools and inspiration for our continued work. It showed the strength of our party, with many young comrades contributing and also an increasing number of female members. Young and female members were also elected on to the new national committee.

Immediately after the Congress, we start our yearly campaign for subscriptions for our paper. The target is to recruit 300 new standing order subscribers, plus another 100 who will commit themselves to paying for nine months or more. Now also starts the all-important mobilisation for Copenhagen.

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November 2009