Partito dei Socialisti e dei Democratici

Party of European Socialists

The Party of European Socialists (PES) is a European political party comprising of thirty-three socialist, social democratic and labour parties from each European Union member state and Norway. PES forms a parliamentary group in the European Parliament, the Socialist Group, which is the second largest grouping with over 200 MEPs.

The Party was founded in 1992 and is led by Poul Nyrup Rasmussen MEP. However the history of the Socialist Group goes back to the beginning of the European Parliament in 1953. Until the 1999 European election it had been the largest group elected in Parliament. The group is currently led by Martin Schulz MEP.


In 1952 the Socialist Group was formed and in 1973 the Confederation of Socialist Parties was founded, later becoming the Party of European Socialists in 1992. The party had done well in elections, being the largest single group in Parliament, until 1999 after the Santer Commission crisis.


In 1953, the European Parliament had been established (as the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community), socialist Paul Henri Spaak was elected as its first President. The social democrats within the chamber established the Socialist Group to work and vote together. Guy Mollet MEP was elected as its first chair and a bureau and secretariat was established in Luxembourg. In 1961 the socialists attempted to produce a common European Socialist Programme but were eclipsed by the applications for enlargement. Their 1962 congress pushed for greater democratisation and powers for Parliament though it was only in 1969 that this possibility was examined by the member states. In 1964 the first woman chair was elected: Käte Strobel MEP. In 1971, once more a socialist, Walter Behrendt, is elected President of the Parliament.

In 1973, Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined the European Community bringing in new parties from these states. The enlarged Socialist Congress meet in Bonn and inaugurated the Confederation of the Socialist Parties of the European Community. The Congress also passed a resolution on social policy, including the right to decent work, social security, democracy and equality in the European economy. In 1975 Socialist Georges Spénale was elected President of the Parliament.


With the first direct elections to Parliament coming in 1979, the Confederation approved the first common European election manifesto. The manifesto had aims to ensure a right to decent work, fight pollution, end discrimination, protect the consumer and promote peace, human right and civil liberties. They following year they won 113 of the 411 seats making them the largest single group. The Confederation approved its first statue in 1980 and the accession of Greece, then Spain and Portugal in that decade brought in more parties. Socialist Piet Dankert served as Parliament president between 1983 and 1984. In the 1984 election they won 164 of the 518 seats.

In 1987 the Single European Act comes into force the Socialist Group begin co-operation with the People's Party Group in order to generate the majorities demanded under the cooperation procedure. With the exception of the 1999-2004 People's-Liberal coalition the post of President of the Parliament has been split between the EPP and PES from this point on, with the PES Presidents being Enrique Barón Crespo MEP, Klaus Hänsch MEP and Josep Borrell Fontelles MEP. This left-right coalition has dominated Parliament for this period.

Creation of the party

In the 1989 election they won 180 of the 518 seats. In 1992, with the creation of the European Union, the Confederation was transformed into the Party of European Socialists. The first manifesto of the party concentrated on job creation, gender equality, environmental and consumer protection, peace and security, regulation of immigration, discouragement of racism, fighting organised crime and democracy. They went onto win 215 of the 626 seats in the 1994 election, the largest and most cohesive group, and Pauline Green MEP was elected Group President, its second female leader.

In 1999, the Parliament sparked a crisis when it refused to approve the Commission's handling of the EU budget. Allegations of corruption centred on two socialist members of the Commission (Commissioner Édith Cresson and Commissioner Manuel Marín), leading PES to view it as an attempt to discredit them ahead of the 1999 elections. So while the People's Party withdrew support from the Commission to force the member's resignation, the Socialists defended the Commission and attempted to bloc that move with Pauline Green MEP attempting a vote of confidence in the Commission. During this period the two parties took on a rare government-opposition dynamic with the Socialists taking on the position of the government-supporting party. However they eventually withdrew their support which forced the resignation of the Santer Commission.

In the following elections, the People's Party defeated the Socialists, taking 233 seats to the Socialists' 180. 2004 brought in a further 10 member states and new parties with them. In the 2004 election the Party lost again, winning just 200 of the 732 seats.

Historical leaders

Presidents of the Party of European Socialists and its predecessors.

President State National party Term
1. Wilhelm Dröscher Social Democratic Party April 1974 January 1979
2. Robert Pontillon Socialist Party January 1979 March 1980
3. Joop den Uyl Labour Party March 1980 May 1987
4. Victor Constancio Socialist Party May 1987 January 1989
5. Guy Spitaels Socialist Party February 1989 May 1992
6. Willy Claes Socialist Party – Different November 1992 October 1994
7. Rudolf Scharping Social Democratic Party March 1995 May 2001
8. Robin Cook Labour Party May 2001 April 2004
9. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen Social Democrats April 2004 -

Presidents of the Socialist Group in Parliament;

President State National party Term
1. Guy Mollet French Section of the Workers' International 1953 1956
2. Hendrik Fayat Socialist Party 1956 1958
3. Pierre Lapie French Section of the Workers' International 1958 1959
4. Willi Birkelbach Social Democratic Party 1959 1964
5. Käte Strobel Social Democratic Party 1964 1967
6. Francis Vals French Section of the Workers' International 1967 1974
7. Georges Spénale Socialist Party 1974 1975
8. Ludwig Spénale Social Democratic Party 1975 1979
9. Ernest Glinne Socialist Party 1979 1984
10. Rudi Arndt Social Democratic Party 1984 1989
11. Jean-Pierre Cot Socialist Party 1989 1994
12. Pauline Green Labour Party 1994 1999
13. Enrique Barón Crespo Spanish Socialist Workers' Party 1999 2004
14. Martin Schulz Social Democratic Party 2004 -


PES is of course founded by socialist parties and hence carries that tradition. Their headline policy is New Social Europe, of a "fairer, more inclusive, and more dynamic society" for Europe. It is based on a report written by PES President Poul Nyrup Rasmussen and former President of the European Commission Jacques Delors and has ten principles;

  • 1. "Rights and duties for all": Outlines that PES does not wish to leave society to be shaped by market forces, but instead advocates rights and duties to hold together a modern welfare society. Government has a duty to ensure citizens have access to public services and to protect their rights. In return, government expects citizens and other actors to contribute to the welfare society. Businesses have a right to fair competition in a transparent and stable environment. Their duty is to contribute to public finances, aid full employment, increase skills in their workforce and aid society through corporate social responsibility. As for the individuals, they have a right to participate fully in society and the workforce while their duty is to advance through education and training.
  • 2. "Full employment": Realise full and high quality employment in the context of a modern welfare state. Labour markets would be made more dynamic though inclusive polices of security and support, including fighting age discrimination. The EU and its member states would have to provide conditions for "smart, green growth and the EMU would be geared towards coordinated economic polices of high growth and job creation.
  • 3. "Investing in people": Focus on improving the abilities of low-skilled workers rather than just concentrating on opportunities for the highly skilled. Education, training and social tools would be used, not just to improve the skills of citizens, but to fight social exclusion and reach full employment - PES state that "Those who need high quality education most – the poor and disadvantaged – are still those who receive it least in many European countries."
  • 4. "Inclusive societies": Policies at all levels to aim to tackle the exclusion of groups such as the elderly, ethnic minorities or those from poor communities. Provisions for healthcare, social services and childcare would be provided with new legislation examined for its social consequences rather than a strictly economic outlook.
  • 5. "Universal child care": Provisions for high quality, affordable, child care to be made available to ensure children have a good start to education while freeing parents to enter paid employment. This would also be helping equal rights for men and women and help the EU deal with its demographic changes.
  • 6. "Equal rights for women and men": Greater gender equality to improve women's status in the workplace and their pay. PES sees this not just as a "moral imperative" but as a "key to solving the demographic challenge, to strengthening democracy and ensuring higher welfare for families"
  • 7. "Social dialogue": Maintaining the presence of organised labour, seen as "invaluable". PES wants to encourage social dialogue between employers and employees to help rights, employment and economic growth. This to make a more inclusive and dynamic workforce.
  • 8. "Making diversity and integration our strength": Fight all forms of xenophobia and encourage tolerance to people, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. Sustainable migration policies and a respect for diversity are seen as contributors to economic and social goals such as integration and anti-discrimination. PES sees the EU having a huge responsibility in managing migration and its causes abroad.
  • 9. "Sustainable societies": Fighting climate change to assure social justice, environmental protection and economic progress. Rising energy prices would hit the poorest hardest and PES state that the EU should take a leading role in a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement.
  • 10. "An active Europe for people": PES see the EU as more than just a market place but rather something that can bring "greater shared prosperity for people, stronger social cohesion and social justice." This would be done through competition, but not between member states, cooperation, but not against social protection and solidarity through the EUs cohesion.


There are thirty-three member parties from all the twenty-seven member states and Norway (however, the Smer party is currently suspended). There are a further six associate and seven observer parties. PES is an associated organisation of the Socialist International. Ecosy is the youth organisation of PES and PES Women is the party's women's organisation.

The parties meet in the party Congress twice every five years to decide on political orientation, such as adopting manifestos ahead of elections. Every year that the Congress does not meet, the Council (a quarter Congress) shapes PES policy. The Congress also elects the party's President, Vice Presidents and the Presidency.

The President (currently Poul Nyrup Rasmussen MEP) represents the party on a daily basis and chairs the Presidency, which also consists of the Secretary General, President of the PES group in Parliament (see below) and one representative per full member party and organisation. They may also be joined by the President of the European Parliament (if a PES member), a PES European Commissioner and a representatives from associate parties and organisations.

The Leader's Conference brings together Prime Ministers and Party Leaders from PES parties three to four times a year to agree strategies and resolutions.

Parliamentary Group

The parliamentary group consists of 215 MEPs, the second largest group in Parliament, from all but two member states. It is led by a President, currently Martin Schulz MEP, and a Bureau of Vice-Presidents.

Other institutions

European Commissioners are meant to remain independent, however there has been an increasing degree of politicisation within the Commission. Six of the twenty-seven Commissioners belong to PES. These are First Vice-President Margot Wallström, Vice-President Günter Verheugen (Enterprise & Industry), Commissioner Joaquín Almunia (Economy), Commissioner Peter Mandelson (Trade), Commissioner Vladimír Špidla (Social) and Commissioner László Kovács (Taxation).

Parties in the Council of Ministers and the European Council are some times subject to coalitions. At present the following countries are led PES members (European Council member in brackets): Bulgaria (Sergey Stanishev), Hungary (Ferenc Gyurcsány), Lithuania (Gediminas Kirkilas), Portugal (José Sócrates), Spain (José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero) and United Kingdom (Gordon Brown). PES is in coalition in a further six countries: Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg. PES is, like the other parties, also present in other minor institutions such as the Committee of the Regions. There it has 110 members as of 2007.

Member parties

With 33 members it is the only political party to have a member from every EU state, although not all of them have elected MEPs (note: the EPP-ED is the only group to have elected MEPs from every country, but is not a single party).
State Name (original language) Name (English) abbr. MEPs
Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs Social Democratic Party of Austria SPÖ 7
(Flanders) Socialistische Partij Anders Socialist Party - Different sp.a 3
(Wallonia) Parti Socialiste Socialist Party PS 4
Българска социалистическа партия
Bălgarska Socialističeska Partija
Bulgarian Socialist Party BSP 5
Κίνημα Σοσιαλδημοκρατών
Kínima Sosialdimokratón
Movement for Social Democracy EDEK 0
Česká strana sociálně demokratická Czech Social Democratic Party ČSSD 2
Socialdemokraterne Social Democrats S 5
Sotsiaaldemokraatlik Erakond Social Democratic Party SDE 3
Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue Social Democratic Party of Finland SDP 3
Parti Socialiste Socialist Party PS 31
Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands Social Democratic Party of Germany SPD 23
Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα
Panellínio Sosialistikó Kínima
Panhellenic Socialist Movement PASOK 8
Magyar Szocialista Párt Hungarian Socialist Party MSZP 9
Magyarországi Szociáldemokrata Párt Social Democratic Party of Hungary MSZDP 0
Labour Party Lab. 1
Partito Socialista Socialist Party PS 4
Latvijas Sociāldemokrātiskā Strādnieku Partija Social Democratic Workers' Party of Latvia LSDSP 0
Lietuvos Socialdemokratų Partija Social Democratic Party of Lithuania LSDP 2
Lëtzebuerger Sozialistesch Arbechterpartei Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party LSAP 1
Partit Laburista Malta Labour Party MLP 3
Partij van de Arbeid Labour Party PvdA 7
Det norske Arbeiderparti Norwegian Labour Party DNA N/A
Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej Democratic Left Alliance SLD 5
Unia Pracy Labour Union UP 0
Partido Socialista Socialist Party PS 12
Partidul Social Democrat Social Democratic Party PSD 10
Smer – sociálna demokracia Direction - social democracy Smer 3
Socialni demokrati Social Democrats SD 1
Partido Socialista Obrero Español Spanish Socialist Workers' Party PSOE 24
Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti Social Democratic Workers' Party of Sweden S 5

(Great Britain)
Labour Party Labour 19

(Northern Ireland)
Social Democratic and Labour Party SDLP 0
Non-PES parties who sit with the PES Group in the European Parliament
Партия Български социалдемократи
Partija Balgarski socialdemokrati
Party of Bulgarian Social Democrats PBS 1
Giulietto Chiesa IND 1
Partito Democratico Democratic Party PD 9
Sinistra Democratica Democratic Left SD 3
Socjaldemokracja Polska Social Democracy of Poland SDPL 3
Samoobrona Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland SRP 1

Associate and observer parties

State Name (original language) Name (English) abbr. Status
Partit Socialdemòcrata Social Democratic Party PS Observer
Socijaldemokratska Partija BiH Social Democratic Party SDP Observer
Партия Български социалдемократи
Partija Balgarski socialdemokrati
Party of Bulgarian Social Democrats PBS Associate
Socijaldemokratska Partija Hrvatske Social Democratic Party of Croatia SDP Associate
Samfylkingin Social Democrat Alliance S Observer
Labour Party LP Observer
Vitality - Together MY Observer
Социјалдемократски Сојуз на Македонија
Socijaldemokratski Sojuz na Makedonija
Social Democratic Union of Macedonia SDSM Associate
Partito dei Socialisti e dei Democratici Party of Socialists and Democrats PSD Observer
Демократска странка
Demokratska stranka
Democratic Party DS Observer
Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz /
Parti socialiste suisse
Social Democratic Party of Switzerland SP/PS Associate
Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi Republican People's Party CHP Associate
Demokratik Toplum Partisi Democratic Society Party DTP Associate


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