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By Enzo Traverso

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But while the role and remit of the European Parliamentary Group was clear, the NELF’s role and identity was less so. Founded in Madrid in 1991, it was broadly defined as a grouping of democratic socialist (as opposed to social democratic) parties. Drawn from 17 countries, almost entirely communist or former communist parties, or parts thereof, the Forum was valued for its open discussion, equal cooperation and the possibilities that it presented – for example, in campaigning against unemployment – without any of the centralised constraints of previous international communist organisations.

In fact, the Eurocommunists were on a trajectory towards social democracy, and the left parties in Europe today, which have found a common position and electoral stance on Europe and the nature of its integration, usually originate in, or are the continuity of, those communists who did not pursue the logic of Eurocommunism. Today’s ‘left’ parties are those which have chosen rather to redefine and redevelop anti-capitalist politics in the post-Soviet era. The first public statement of principles, endorsed by more than one communist party without the agreement of the Soviet leadership, was the Joint Declaration of the Italian and Spanish Communist Parties of 12 July 1975.

During Yeltsin’s confrontations with the Russian parliament in 1993, the CPRF became increasingly influential, participating in the National Salvation Front, a communist–nationalist alliance which wanted to stop shock therapy, reconstitute the Soviet Union and stop making concessions to the West. This grouping commanded the support of around a third of the parliamentary deputies. 29 But although Zyuganov 22 The New European Left had succeeded in establishing the CPRF as the leading force on the left he had not yet managed to defeat the nationalists and secure communist leadership of the opposition.

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