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Winning votes - Winning elections

Family photo of PES Secretaries General Conference

In the interests of improving the lives of people living in Europe, the PES Political family is working together to increase the number of countries in which its member parties are in government. This means winning elections, or winning enough votes to form a government; something which Swedish PES member party SAP achieved at the end of 2014. That party, which is the leading partner in the Swedish Government coalition hosted the PES Secretary Generals met in Stockholm on 28 April to discuss the best ways to win elections and return to a Socialist or Social Democrat majority leadership in Europe.

Within the member parties the Secretary Generals are responsible for the running of the party and deciding their tactics ahead of the elections. They shared the innovative methods they have been using to hear the view of their members, gain members, organise campaigns and win elections. They also compared different models of forming governments, and of hearing the views of party memebers, including the ‘Ideas Workshop’ in Belgium, and Primaries in Portugal.

Achim Post, PES Secretary General said: "2015 will be a very important year with many general elections. Exchange of best practices is very important for PES member parties. This is why we are pleased to have been welcomed by Carin Jämtin in Stockholm for the 7th Conference of Secretaries General. She and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven showed how successful the 2014 SAP campaign was and how to keep strong links with the voters and citizens by being an open and engaging Party".

What is ahead?

As well as hearing from parties who have won elections, they also heard from those who have elections coming up. A key election is the UK, the outcome of whose election could have an important influence on the future of Europe. The Secretary General Iain McNicol presented via skype – showing the grassroots-funded, progressive, positive campaign which the UK Labour Party has run. All leaders express their solidarity with the Labour party and expressed their strong desire to have Ed Miliband in Number 10 Downing Street on 8 May.

‘The PES is about much more than the offices in Brussels. Our leaders, members and activists are the heart and soul of our party.  We offer them our solidarity and support to help in their election fights.’ said Sergei Stanishev – PES President.


Prime Minister visit

The meeting was honoured to receive a visit from the Prime Minister Stefan Löfven whose government is prioritising implementing progressive social democratic policies - investing in housing/infrastructure, introducing a Youth Guarantee – that after 90 days unemployed young people will be in education, have a job  or both. The next Swedish budget will be gender balance screened – the first of its kind.

Their Secretary General Carin Jämtin showed her counterparts from other parties the election campaign they ran in 2014 and explained how they achieved such positive results. With a strong presence on the doorstep, and a good social and traditional media campaign, they won back the trust of voters. Their campaign focused on education, health and jobs – key issues to those who share their social democratic values.

Carin Jämtin, SAP Secretary General said – "It's important and rewarding that we get the opportunity to exchange experiences and views with each other. It was especially interesting to get a report from Labour in England that are in the middle of an election campaign. They, like many of us, have put forward a strong digital presence in their campaign. Combining social media with real life interactions will be even more important in future campaigning."

The PES Secretary Generals will continue to meet and work together for a prosperous Europe. They hope that next time they do, the British, Portuguese, and Spanish colleagues will be have won votes, and elections. 

List of participants

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