Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus - AKEL
by Alekos Christou
I would like first to address to you all warm comradely
greetings from the CC of AKEL, the party of the working
people of Cyprus.
At the same time, please permit me to thank the comrades of
the fraternal party, the CPG, for the invitation to take
part in this international meeting and at the same time to
congratulate them for this initiative. It is an initiative
which, in our view, will contribute greatly to the more
general effort to achieve a common approach and common
action by workers' and communist parties to defend and
improve the gains of the working people.
I would like to begin my remarks on the topic under
discussion by informing you about the recent parliamentary
elections in Cyprus (on 27 May), which are of course
related to this topic.
The results of the parliamentary elections showed that our
party AKEL, after 15 years, is again the first party in
Cyprus with 34.7%. This result obliged the two parties of
the so-called centre to support our candidate for Speaker
of Parliament, the General Secretary of AKEL, who was
elected by a 60% vote. It should be noted that this is the
first time in the history of the Cypriot Republic that the
Speaker of Parliament has been elected from our party.
This result made it even more important for us to consider
the conditions under which it happened.
One the one hand the media gave their full support to the
party in power, and on the other, the entire state
machinery was placed at the disposal of the far right
governing party, which, despite this assistance, lost the
elections with its percentage of the popular vote falling
in relation to the previous elections.
The contribution of the progressive-left labour movement to
this result was of decisive significance. The relationship
the self-evident and natural relationship to which I will
refer in detail later on between the party and the labour
movement functioned in the most substantial and practical
way and succeeded in convincing the working people of the
need to vote for our party's ballot.
Another positive element emerged from this result: through
the collaboration of the three progressive parties in
electing the Speaker of Parliament, the doors were opened
for collaboration between these progressive democratic
forces in electing the President of the Republic or any
other election that is conducted within the next year and a
half. It is now certain that, as party cadres, we have the
obligation to protect this effort, by means of which we
will not win only the presidential elections but at the
same time it will also mean the isolation of the far right.
The action of communists in the labour movement is
necessarily affected by the relationship between the party
and the trade unions. I'd like to stress the fact that this
is a relationship which we regard as self-evident and
Of course, as communists, we could develop action and take
initiatives to defend the gains of the workers without the
existence of this self-evident relationship. But such
actions and initiatives would not be as effective or have
the same practical value as they do when we are part of the
very machinery of the trade union movement, having an
opportunity to exercise direct ideological guidance on the
working people in our daily activity. Therefore this
relationship between the trade unions and the party is a
connecting link, decisive and necessary to realising our
It is obvious that this relationship, even though we
consider it self-evident and natural, is going through a
crisis. Beyond the countries of Western Europe in which
this crisis has existed for years, it has now begun to
appear recently in the former socialist countries. This is
not accidental, since this relationship was for years one
in which the trade unions were dependent on the party.
Taking into account these unfortunate experiences, it is
time for things to start being put in order; this certainly
does not mean that we are overlooking the particularities
and problems that exist in each country.
In our country, Cyprus, this relationship was born with the
establishment of the first guilds since the first guild
organisations were created by the first Communists and the
organised Communist Party of Cyprus. The largest trade
union organisation in the country is PEO which, together
with the farmers', youth and women's organisations,
comprise the Popular Movement. PEO is regarded by the Party
as the backbone of the Popular Movement, and operates
independently of the party, with its own statutes, its own
separate leading bodies.
The comradely relationship between PEO and AKEL is known to
all and was sealed by the participation of high-placed PEO
cadres in AKEL's Central Committee and Political Bureau.
But things are not always rosy, and it has happened on not
a few occasions in the past and the present, and will
certainly happen again in the future, that there have been
differences of approach, more with regard to tactics than
substance, on issues related to the working people.
But these differences have never been such as to create
insurmountable problems in the relations between PEO and
the party, precisely because in the minds of the grass
roots, the working people themselves, the two are
On the basis of this relationship, which is generally
agreed to function well, we Cypriot communists have our own
springboard that we use to develop substantial action on
It is also generally accepted in Cyprus that AKEL is the
party of the working people not in name only, but also in
essence, since through it, PEO can determine its policy and
ensure the support of the working people.
Having said those few words about Cyprus, I'd like now to
talk about the international situation in which, as I
mentioned earlier, a crisis exists. Taking into
consideration our own experience of membership in the World
Federation of Trade Unions, I would dare to say that some
confusion exists even in the left movement on both the
European and global level. And when one evaluates
objectively what is happening in some left-wing trade union
movements and what their approaches are on many issues, one
will see that there is in fact confusion. One will also see
the need for this international meeting and the discussions
taking place today. In support of this view, I would like
to cite some examples. What direction and what approach
does the European trade union movement have to the
I.C.F.T.U. and the European Trade Unions?
How is the action of these movements assessed?
What common action has there been against globalisation and
I think we all know the answers to these questions.
It is regrettable that many left-wing trade union movements
are not merely asking, but begging on bended knee, to
become members of the European Trade Unions and the
I.C.F.T.U. And for what? Just to say that they are members
of these organisations. But these are organisations in
which a technocratic approach prevails, which transforms
the working people into statistics, far from any substance
and with no reference to the need for class awareness or
further demands on the part of trade union organisations.
There is no substantial proposal regarding globalisation
and to deal with the coalitions, assessing the effects on
the working people as natural.
On the other hand, we too have our weaknesses. It is not
enough to submit random proposals. It is not enough for us
to confirm the need to strengthen the role of class trade
union organisations and the need to develop international
solidarity. We must convince people that we have the
strength to put what we say into practice.
It is obvious and has been proved historically that in
order to deal effectively with these problems and for us to
mount essential, or more essential, action as communists in
the labour movement, all our acts must to take on coherence
within unity of action.
We must formulate common positions, on an international
level, on all the burning problems that plague the working
A common approach is required which will be a guide to
action by class and trade union organisations.
In order for all the above to be achieved, I propose the
creation of a working group which, after evaluating the
discussion and views to emerge from this meeting, will
study and formulate a plan of action that will be able
ultimately to provide answers to all these questions.
It is time, I believe, for the worldwide class trade union
movement to mount its counter-offensive.
We, as communists, are resolved to support this effort in