by Lorenzo Strik Lievers and Roberto Cicciomessere
36TH RADICAL PARTY CONGRESS
ABSTRACT: A vital requirement for the transnational "new party" is that of succeeding in defining statutory rules and an organizational model apt to achieve the unprecedented aims, tasks and way of conceiving politics which it pursues. The difficulties which this implies, both theoretical and relative to the party's concrete current reality, are obvious. On the other hand, it is equally obvious that the drafting of the new statute should occur through an in-depth and complex debate, taking into account all the different experiences which already coexist in the radical party.
The following notes mean to be neither organic nor exhaustive. They simply mean to represent a first list of problems, or rather a sort of collection of material, which should make it easier to start such a debate. They are the result of the integration of two texts, one by Roberto Cicciomessere and the other by Lorenzo Strik Lievers, of the remarks sent by Gianfranco Dell'Alba, and of discussions featuring the participation of Sergio Stanzani and Angiolo Bandinelli. The overall editing work was performed by Lorenzo Strik Lievers.
The key points on which to formulate the debate on the Radical Party's statutory choices seem to be the following:
- the models of the existing international and transnational organizations;
- the underlying principles, to date, of the Radical Party's statute;
- the Radical Party's current reality;
- the type of political action outlined for the Radical Party, on the basis of which to decide the type of political and organizational structure to build.
POLITICAL/ORGANIZATIONAL MODELS OF THE "INTERNATIONALS" AND OF INTERNATIONAL NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
The existing international nongovernmental organizations are shaped on three political/organizational models, according to the definition provided by Antonio Papisca:
- Unitarian or transnational
The statutes of the Socialist International and of the existing European parties (European Popular Party, Federation of Christian Democratic parties of the Community (PPE); Federation of liberal, democratic and reformist parties of the European Community (ELDR); Union of socialist parties of the Community) range from a consequent application of the confederal model (the socialists) to its more or less complete integration with elements that are typical of the federal model (federation of liberal-democratic parties, and - even more - European Popular Party), despite the fact that the "federal" norms are in practice not implemented.
- In all the statutes of the "European parties", enrolement is reserved to national political parties (the Socialist Union also envisages the enrollment of associate parties, observing parties, of the socialist parliamentary group of the European Parliament, of the "socialist associations and organizations" recognized by the Union). Only the statute of the PPE vaguely hints at individual enrollments ("the Party is open to anyone who shares its fundamental political ideologies and endorses its political program").
- As regards the powers of the "European party" vis-à-vis the member parties, in the case of the socialist Union they are limited to the voting of recommendations. The latter, adopted by the political bureau with a majority, are not binding for the member parties. National parties must justify any failure to comply with the recommendations adopted with a majority by the Union's Congress. "Binding decisions" for the enrolled parties may be adopted on a single occasion: when the Congress passes them with a majority of 2/3 of voters at the unanimous proposal of the political bureau.
In theory (but only on paper) the ELDR and the PPE envisage effective powers for the European structure as far, for example, the European context is concerned.
The statutory organs of these organizations are very similar, and generally provide for the following:
- general Assembly of the enrolled (Congress);
- political bureau;
- general Secretariat, more or less influential according to the importance attributed to the role of the President;
The delegates at the Congress and the members of the political bureau are obviously appointed by the national parties on the basis of pre-established national quotas. Funds come chiefly from the fees of the national parties.
To find statutes that are closer to the federal model or to the unitarian/transnational one, ones needs to look at non-party organizations such as Greenpeace International and Amnesty International.
STICHTING GREENPEACE COUNCIL (Dutch association) has a prevalently federal structure, based on national organizations, with organs that are typical of a foundation; the board of directors (5 members expressed by the two areas in which the national organizations are gathered - North America/Pacific and Europe - which meets at least twice yearly), the Council (formed by the representatives of the national organizations, paid by the latter, which meets once a year), and the managing board, the executive organ formed by a director, a vice director, a secretary and a treasurer, each assisted by their own staff. The statute's peculiarity lies entirely in the prevalently financial rules which shape the relationship between the foundation and the national organizations. The latter, in order to be part of the Council, must be in the conditions of self-financing themselves, and of financing the central structure according to well-established fees. Other financial bonds concern the use of funds on the part of the natio
nal organizations: a maximum of 76% for national campaigns and structures; no less than 24% for international campaigns and services supplied by the foundation.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL is a federal, unitarian/transnational type of organization, based on sections (each formed by at least 20 members), associated groups and individual members. The direction of the organization is entrusted to the international Council (which meets every two years and is formed by representatives of the sections, according to a well-defined ratio with the number of groups or individual members they represent), while the execution of the decisions is the task of the international executive Committee. The international Secretariat, directed by a general secretary, deals with current affairs, under the direction of the international executive Committee. Only sections that pay the yearly membership fee have a right to vote in the national Council. It is explicitly stated that the responsibilities on judgements regarding violations of human rights belongs to the international organs, and not to the sections, the groups or the members of the country concerned.
In addition to the federal and transnational nature of the last two international organizations considered, another element which separates them from the party "Internationals" is the special attention which the statutes devote to financial matters. The possibilities of existence for this type of structure which, for understandable reasons, cost much more than national organizations of the same size, is closely linked not only to the soundness of the objectives, but also to their capacity to raise considerable funds. Rules such as the ones that link the exercise of the rights of representation to the quantity of funds raised, which would appear unacceptable in traditional national organizations, become the central and vital element for transnational structures that are not directly connected to the centres of party power.
This qualified attention given to the problem of money enabled the political survival of the only nongovernmental international organizations which have managed to create a solid financial basis, based both on a diffused contribution, on donations, but also and especially on an economic activity which includes industrial sponsorship and the quest for governmental contributions.
THE UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES OF THE RADICAL PARTY'S STATUTE
At this point, it is appropriate to advance a few remarks on some of the underlying principles of the Radical Party's statute. Obviously, it is a statute which cannot, for the most part, be used for the transnational party. It had been conceived, in 1967, for a party operating in the Italian national context, containing rules for the party's participation in the elections. Above all, however, more than as a means to regulate the life of the tiny party which the Radical Party was then (slightly over 200 members), it had been conceived as a sort of political-theoretical manifesto: it proposed a model of political organization which was different compared to all the existing parties in Italy, and was proposed with a view toward creating a vast party in which all Italian progressivist forces, through a deep renewal, could unite to achieve an alternative in government. It should be remembered that, considering that these were its features and its political nature, this statute was not entirely applicable, not has
it ever been fully applied, not even to the "Italian" Radical Party, which, in the respect of the statutory guarantees, has here and then introduced transitory norms or modifications to the original text. Clearly, it cannot be the statute of the transnational radical Party. Nonetheless, the principles which inspired cannot but represent a key model in conceiving the new rule of the new party. The 1967 statute envisages a party which, more than "democratic", is based on a rule of freedom, on the free assumption of personal responsibility, a non party, federal and federative, self-financed party.
THE PARTY BASED ON FREEDOM
This is the part of the statute-manifesto of 1967 which has always been most rigorously and completely applied; and it is the part which distinguishes itself more clearly from the prevalent ways of understanding politics; since, for obvious reasons, it is the one that more than others maintains its validity in time in the transnational Radical Party, it is the one which we will hereafter chiefly analyse.
No party discipline.
The radical Party's statute definitely rules out the concept of party discipline, i.e. that which, ultimately, represents a principle of militarization of thought, which remains such even if it is a "democratic militarization" decided by a majority. The member of the Radical Party as such, i.e. when he has no executive functions, has the sole duty to accept the statute, pay the membership fee and join or create radical associations; members are not forced to apply the decisions taken by the party, not even with the largest majorities (duties which, to varying degrees, continue to exist for the party's bodies and for the associations which are part of it). People join the radical party in order to pursue political objectives which are freely chosen; it is an enrollment which aims to enhancing one's own possibility of acting, but such that does not force to support, out of party discipline, positions which are not shared and which no majority can order to accept against conscience. To use an expression by Pann
ella, according to its statute, the Radical Party is a place in which people associate to govern an objective, a choice, and achieve it, not a place in which to be represented, according to the prevailing logic of continental democracy, which is, not incidentally, proportional. Thus, the Radical Party is never the tutor or the guarantor of the consciences: one joins it freely, and no one has the right to previously examine that which is not a request, but an information of enrollment; and no one may expel another person from the party. Clearly, this implies that the party does not guarantee any coverage, does not assume political or moral responsibilities for its members, who are entirely responsibles for their actions and for their political positions. The political confrontation among them is never sanctioned "juridically" in the party; it remains a simple political confrontation, without any residues.
Yearly enrollment in view of few, binding objectives.
It is according to this logic, which, more than being "democratic" aims to ensure freedom, that a decision becomes binding for the radical associations; in other words, it becomes the party's decision proper only when the congress or the federal council adopt it with a vast qualified majority. The question is not that of establishing by majority the "party's official position", which all members are then bound to by discipline; the question is verifying on which initiatives and objectives such a wide and generalized consent of the members can be obtained in order for it to have sense for the party as a whole - means of a common will - to adopt them, whereas on the subjects on which such generalized consent is not achieved, the party as such does not intervene. Hence the principle according to which the yearly congress pinpoints a limited number of objectives, the ones which are the object of a general consent of the members; and joining the party does not mean joining, once and for all, an organization whic
h is the bearer of values or truths, it is not like joining a sect or a church; it means joining it as a commitment on the objectives chosen for the ongoing year.
It would be interesting to develop a historical analysis on the way in which these principles have been experienced, through the years, in the party. We would probably reach the conclusion that for many of the members and officials, the enrollment has not been perceived as "yearly", in relation to the single objectives of the year, but rather as a commitment in a long-term political work, important in itself more than the specific objectives of the year (it is important to remember, among other things, that if the interpretation which has always been given of the value of the enrollment is the above, art.4 of the statute establishes that the party's congress must decide not only its "specific objectives" but also, more generally, "the guidelines and the political orientation"; and as of 1980, the statute is preceded by a "Preamble" which represents a very general declaration of principles and intentions). In any case, it is unquestionable that the characteristic of an organization based on the safeguard and
on the underlining of the freedom and responsibility of each has always been strictly respected in the Radical party.
Needless to say, this characteristic should be, if anything, even better developed in the Radical party when it becomes transnational and transparty; such that its very possibility of existing seems to be linked to its capacity to be a place of free convergence between different individuals who remain different.
To avoid sliding into party power, separation between party and representatives in parliament.
According to the statute of 1967, the binding deliberations are such only for the party's organizations - the associations - and obviously for those who, by accepting executive roles in the party, assume the responsibility for their application.
If the absence of a party discipline for the members corresponds to a non-ideological way of conceiving politics, which leaves personal conscience and responsibility all that belongs to them, it is with another goal that the statute radically excludes that the radicals elected in parliament or in other representative assemblies can be bound by any party discipline. In this case, the concern is that of safeguarding the direct and personal responsibility of the elected member with regard to his electors. The party proposes the candidates to the electors: but if it claims to subordinate the elected members, who have received the mandate of the electors, to its directives, this means denying the democratic rule, and the power of the elected member is overrridden by the power of an organized minority, in theory that of the party's members, but more probably that of its leaders. Here lies the basis of the party usurpation of the democratic institutions.
Consistently with these statutory principles, the first stage of the radicals' presence in the Italian parliament had highlighted the incompatibility between parliamentary mandate and executive roles in the party, as these implied discipline toward the congress' deliberations; thus, the parliamentary radical was considered a "weakened" radical in his powers of party member. Parliamentarians were in fact radically excluded from the party's bodies. This interpretation of the statute was then relinquished because of the difficulties arisen with the subsequent enlargement of the parliamentary representation, which in 1979 suddenly brought the party's entire leadership in Parliament. It is self-evident which problems the self-exclusion from the party's leadership of most of its most authoritative personalities could involve.
The problem arises under different forms now that the Radical party, by not competing in the elections, no longer has "its" representatives. If there remains a fundamental democratic claim that the parliamentary is called to be responsible toward the electorate and not to the party he ran on, as far as the Radical party is concerned, the question of a discipline ensuing from the imposition of a party which controls the reelection of the parliamentarian can no longer arise. On the other hand, the enrollment of a parliamentarian to the Radical party can have no either sense but that of the assumption of a free commitment to carry out a number of battles together with the other radicals; unless it is understood in a purely symbolic way, the sign of a generic affinity. Having explained the individual's position inside the party, it seems useless to specify that for the parliamentarian the duty to respect party discipline is lesser than for any other.
If anything, there remains the theoretic problem of whether it is coherent for a parliamentarian to assume executive functions. On the one hand, obviously ruling out that, like any other member, the parliamentarian is bound to a "party discipline" which forces him to automatically follow the directives of others, there is no obstacle which prevents him from assuming, in the context of his independent determination, an executive office to enforce the deliberations which he has taken during the congress together with the others. There is a difficulty, however: the party's executive organs are bound to apply the deliberations which the federal council can assume after the congress, and in conditions established also in contrast with the decisions taken by the congress. In this case, the parliamentarian who has executive functions could really find himself bound to decisions other than those which he would independently make. It is probable, however, that it is appropriate that considerations linked to the pract
ical life of the party prevail over such considerations, which had, in the past, suggested to relinquish the "separation" between parliamentary mandate and executive offices.
THE FEDERAL AND FEDERATIVE PARTY.
This is the part of the 1967 statute which has not been applied, except to a very limited extent, and which has, through the years, been mostly eliminated from the statute itself. This is not the appropriate time to reconstruct the reasons, which are all linked to the Radical Party's Italian affairs, for which it has been decided to relinquish the figure - fundamental in the original statutory model of 1967 - of the regional Parties, in the existence of which the Radical party would have been, in theory, a federation of fundamentally autonomous territorially-based parties.
A thing we should bear in mind is that there would be no actual possibility today, even if we wanted to, to make the Radical Party into a federation of independent political realities present in several countries and cemented on the Radical Party's objectives as common objectives. This is impossible because such political realities do not exist.
Without wanting to analyse the crucial issue of the role to be given to the territorial dimension in the transnational party, we need to mention another element of the Radical Party's original statutory model: the figure of the radical association, freely formed by a minimum number of members in order to pursue specific, independently established objectives. The statute lays down, as the only duty of each member of the radical party, along with the respect of the statute and the payment of the fee, that of joining an association or contributing to the formation of a new one. It is a key rule. On the one hand it enhances the aforementioned principle, according to which political relations inside the Radical Party should be based on freedom: members are not automatically, bureaucratically assigned to one or the other structure of the party for territorial reasons, or for reasons that have to do with their age, sex or other, but choose to join one or the other according to the objectives which each association
pursues. It is the principle of the "theme" enrollment, as typical of the radical organization. On the one hand it raises the problem, too often eluded in the Radical Party's history, of the need for each member to be urged and to some extent "forced" to assume an active position in the party's life (already the choice of one or the other association is an important act in this sense), in order for the party to express the potentialities it contains.
Lastly, it should be remembered that the position occupied in the radical statute by the figure of the non-radical association, whose members are not, as such, members of the party, and which joins the party on a federate basis, possibly even in view of a single of the objectives which it pursues. This federative relationship implies the definition of specific terms in which the federate organization participates in the party's decisional moments, as well as of the financial and political commitments which it takes on itself.
THE SELF-FINANCED PARTY
The statutory choice of limiting the party's sources of financing to the proceeds of the membership fees, the further contributions of members and sympathizers and to those of particular initiatives proposed by the party's executive organs, such as the choice of ensuring the greatest possible transparency in the budget, is the result of the will to guarantee in all senses the party's political independence with respect to the pressures which occult funds inevitably bring about. Similarly, the statement according to which the party should base itself on self-financing and not on public financing ensuing from the presence in the institutions aims to defend the party from the danger of turning the choice of having a parliamentary representation into a compulsory, no longer free choice; from the danger, in other words, of transforming the party and its leadership into an appendix of the institutions.
The fact that it has not been possible for many years to avoid the Radical Party's life from depending on public financing has caused serious problems from this point of view; and in another sense it now raises extremely serious problems both in terms of principle and of practice, now that the transnational radical party, with its choice of not competing in national elections, can no longer claim its share of public financing.
THE TRANSNATIONAL RADICAL PARTY TODAY
On the basis of such elements, it is possible to try to define some of the peculiar characteristics of the transnational radical party, to isolate those elements of the theory of the organization developed in the radical debate which seem unconvincing or which in any case have not been buttressed by satisfactory results, and lastly to advance a few political/organizational hypotheses on which to carry on the debate.
In the light of the political and statutory decisions assumed by the Radical Party in the congresses of Bologna and Budapest and in the Federal Councils, a political and organizational model with the following three characteristics has been outlined:
1) "Transparent" finalities and objectives (not indifferent) compared to those of the national parties, in the sense that they fully accept, without dimming them, the historical reasons and the essentially territorial and electoral political interests of these organizations; the radical party means to assume prevalently transnational specific interests, without "invading" the field and the aims which belong to the national political organizations (elections) or to the "Internationals" (cooperation between ideologically similar parties, on the basis of the common interest to acquire greater power in intergovernmental or parliamentary international institutions); the "transparty" nature, meant not as a "transversal presence" in order to influence the choices of more parties, but as "complementarity" of the Radical Party compared to the national parties (in the sense of intervening only on those subjects where a transnational action is more difficult), is therefore consequential and instrumental to these aims o
f the transnational party.
2) Identity which recognizes itself both in those individual and social "urgencies" for the construction of the transnational party capable of offering convincing solutions for the great problems of our time which better highlight a global interdependence (human rights, ecology, militarism, world hunger...) than in those interests for the enhancement and the democratic reform of supranational institutions (U.N., European Union...) which some of the most aware sectors of the leading classes are bearers of; therefore a party which needs to be simultaneously a party of militant and institutional political mobilization which bases its identity and originality on two key concepts: political nonviolence and the internationalization of positive law ("right to life, life of rights");
3) Organization based on a "unitarian/transnational" type of structure, which does not exclude federal hypotheses, with prevalently individual enrollments and possible federative agreements with other organizations and associations. But unlike all international organizations above considered, the radical party has, to this moment, ruled out an organizational model which, albeit federal, is based on sections on national and territorial basis.
In a structure of this kind, the bodies, which obviously have decision-making powers, not just powers of "recommendation", should be prevalently elected directly by the single associates with "federal" types of corrections as far as any representatives of the federate associations and the parliamentarians are concerned. It has been theorized that, with the radical party's exit from national institutions, and therefore with the absence of public funds, the structure's funds should consist in prevalence of the fees and contributions of the members (though donations and contributions from associations, lists or federate or non-federate lists or groups have not been excluded). As a consequence, the minimum associative basis which can guarantee the radical party's self-financing has been estimated to be 50.000 members, with a certain prevalence in countries with strong currencies.
LIMITS OF THE RADICAL PARTY'S POLITICAL/ORGANIZATIONAL MODEL
This political and organizational model has revealed, during the first stage of the construction of the transnational party, elements of weakness as fas as the three characteristics considered are concerned.
1) Aims and objectives - The absence of supranational parliamentary institutions where the democratic debate can effectively take place and equipped with real legislative powers makes it problematic, for an organization such as the radical party, which does not want to limit itself to agitation and denunciation, to seek political and legislative outcomes for its campaigns. The experience provided by the campaign against world hunger has no doubt proven the high value and the usefulness of the positions of international bodies, void of powers, such as the European parliament, but at the same time the extreme difficulty of causing effective government acts to ensue from such deliberations of the EP, despite the fact that they had been passed by very large majorities. Hence the need to resort to national interlocutors and to representative institutions which, however, on the one hand, individually, are not apt to provide an effective and global solution to the major political subjects of out time, and on the ot
her hand repropose the need to have some form of national structure or in any case some form of influence in national parliaments. It has been attempted to overcome this handicap on the basis of the radical party's transparty conception, theorizing the possibility of providing parliamentarians from different countries with the party's "service", i.e. the possibility of advancing identical legislative initiatives simultaneously in the various parliaments. It has been aptly remarked that the initiative of single parliamentarians or even of entire parliaments threatened by totalitarian forces (for example in Croatia) would be tremendously boosted by this service of "mutual assistance", coordination and promotion. An attempt in this direction is represented by the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world by the year 2000; such initiative, which started off as a specific initiative targeted at Russia, has become a generalized and far-reaching political proposal. However, despite the e
ndorsement of hundreds of parliamentarians, it still cannot successfully take off as a real political battle. The greatest obstacle to the success of this or of other initiatives is represented by the resistance of most parliamentarians of the Western countries (to a lesser extent in the new parliaments of the former communist countries) to become active and organized subjects of another party, though a transnational one and one that does not compete on a national scale. The most obvious solution to try to override this difficulty would be the creation of transnational leagues, joining the radical party on a federate basis, uniting parliamentarians and political militants on specific battles. However, apart from the difficulties of maintaining different organizations which should have autonomous and separate organizational structures, this theoretic model sacrifices precisely the fundamental premise of the transnational party, which is that of being "complementary" with respect to the national parties and no
t external or alien to them.
2) Identity - The supposed existence of a political demand for a transnational party with a strong supranational, Europeanist, federalist and nonviolent identity, not necessarily linked to specific political campaigns, has not been buttressed by facts. Also, in the international leading class, a sufficiently motivated component has not emerged with regard to the problems of the enhancement and democratization of supranational institutions.
The "opinion polls" carried out on significant samples such as the 40.000 deputies of most parliaments of the world, the addressees of 5 issues of a newspaper published in 14 languages, has to date given inadequate results, with the (significant and important) exception of several new parliaments of the former communist countries. The reasons for these diverging results should be investigated through an in-depth analysis.
3) Organizational model - First of all, it should be pointed out that contingent situations have hindered the debate on new statutory instruments. In practice, the Radical Party has used those parts of the old statute which are still effective, albeit in the presence - with the Congress of Bologna of January 1988 - of the unambiguous decision to become a transnational subject. With the Congress of Budapest in April 1989, no statutory modification has been operated, except that of envisaging the possibility of a collegial assumption of statutory powers on the part of the Secretary, the Treasurer, the President of the Federal Council and the President of the Radical Party. This situation has made it impossible to experiment new organizational models, and therefore to test the possibility of developing analyses and new hypotheses. It can only be remarked, therefore, that the project of self-financing the party prevalently through individual membership fees which should come from at least 50.000 members, represe
nts a hypothesis which has not been supported neither in the radical party's previous experiences nor in those of the existing nongovernmental international organizations.
HYPOTHESES FOR THE DEFINITION OF A NEW POLITICAL/ORGANIZATIONAL MODEL FOR THE RADICAL PARTY
These preliminary remarks highlight the need for the transnational radical party's political/organizational model to fulfil a series of requirements.
1) AIMS AND OBJECTIVES.
Following are some possible guidelines to be used for a debate, some of which are in contrast and some of which complete each other.
a) Agreements with national organizations.
A starting point could be that the hypothesis of the "transparent" party compared to national parties, despite the difficulties encountered to date, should be entirely confirmed in the above established terms. In this case, the question arises whether such hypothesis should be applied not only or not exclusively on the basis of individual initiatives of single parliamentarians, but rather on the basis of agreements with the national organizations which to some extent acknowledge the radical party's "complementary" nature with regard to its objectives. This hypothesis should be codified and regulated in the radical party's statute with a bit more imaginative mechanisms compared to the merely confederal or federal ones. It is unquestionable that this relationship should be based on effective and mutual interests. Therefore, it is necessary to determine whether the statute as well should explicitly envisage automatisms, for example in the electoral endorsement of those deputies or parties which have established
an organic relationship with the radical party. In any case, this would not eliminate the obstacle of the "resistance" shown by single parliamentarians or parties to associate to another party, albeit not competitive from an electoral standpoint.
b) Providing an organization also on a national basis?
It is possible, on the other hand, to question this notion of "transparency". It is only legitimate to doubt whether a "transparency" such as the one theorized today is not a factor of difficulty, a choice which could be consistent with the nature of organizations such as Amnesty, but inconsistent with regard to that of a party (in the sense of a part opposed to other parts).
It is not that easy, especially for an organization which aims to be a political party, to draw a clear-cut line between "national sphere" and "transnational sphere" of action. The transnational party can certainly not accept that the transnational sphere, the one in which it wants to prompt political struggle, be understood as a sort of negative resultant, i.e. as a marginal, to some extent irrelevant, residue compared to the national political confrontation, so much that it is easy to achieve transparty convergences on it. In its logic, it will want to promote political initiative and political confrontation on the ones which, in a national perspective, it judges to be the central nodes, whatever their links with the terms of domestic politics. In many cases, the intertwining between the two spheres would turn out to be very tight.
An example: the alternative between party power and democracy based on the rule of law. If the transnational party perceives it as an issue which overrides the limits of the single "domestic policies" and takes on the characteristics of one of those issues which shape the major guidelines of the world, it is no doubt up to it to coordinate, on a transnational scale, the political campaigns to carry out on the subject in the various national spheres. There would be no talk of "transparency", in that case; the question would be taking sides, dirtying one's hands, creating oneself friends and enemies in the various national spheres. Or take the antiprohibitionist struggle on drugs: a transnational campaign par excellence. However, in different situations (as in the case of Italy during the last legislature) it can become one of the most important discriminating elements precisely of domestic politics....One is immediately reminded of a series of examples of issues for which there can be no clear-cut separation
between national and transnational dimension of the political struggle. And the sense of the existence of a transnational party is precisely that of creating the possibility of the political struggle on a transnational scale; i.e. that which the existing transnational organizations do not do.
The question, in other words, is that of reconsidering the relationship between the domestic and the transnational dimension of the political action; a fact which can imply consequences for the relation which can and must exist between the militancy in the single national parties and the one in the transnational party. These considerations cannot but be connected to a crucial question from the point of view of the statute: if it is true that the transnational political struggle should, in practice, be carried out essentially in the various national institutional fora, because that is where the power, the force, the decisional seats are, should the radical party, and in what form, organize its own struggle, and therefore organize itself in the various national seats? If the decision were that of not providing itself with an organization also on a national scale - in which to give concrete value to the transparty characteristic - is there not the risk of leaving the party deprived of effective political instru
Clearly, the dangers which the party's transnational character would be exposed to by taking this direction are obvious. In the presence of an organization also on a national scale, the risk is that the name of the transnational party could become a simple coverage for essentially national political operations. From this standpoint, one should ponder the example of the statute of Amnesty, which is - true - organized on a national basis, but with the prohibition for each national organization to deal with the problems of their relative country. For obvious reasons, it would be meaningless to reproduce this model in the Radical Party. Nonetheless, it might be useful to examine the hypothesis of enabling any national organization of the Radical Party to assume, as such, initiatives regarding the problems of their country only in the presence of a strong consent on them, previously acquired in the party on a transnational scale.
However, it is obvious that the true problem is that of the dynamics which this or that associative reality creates. We thus return to that which for many years, possibly always, has been one of the greatest shortcomings and failures of the radical party: the qualitative and quantitative insufficiency of its associative life, such as - we have already underlined it - the statute calls for. If we succeeded in creating a strong network of transnational associations (not based on territory but on subjects) or in any case associations strongly characterized by the transnational dimension, even the problem of possible forms of national coordination would take on a different value. From another standpoint, lastly, with regard to hypothesis a), one should take into account the irreplaceable value, in this stage, of the direct, individual enrollment to the transnational party, i.e. of the fact that the political choices which characterize the radical party are perceived by each member as an individual matter, and wh
ich do not necessarily call for the mediation of national party bodies.
c) The question of the recognition as a transnational party.
It is indisputable that one of the most relevant problems which the party is confronted with is that of finding its own transnational institutional sphere of action; a forum, or a multitude of fora, in which to act, and in which, in the meanwhile, to acquire political "visibility" outside and above the national sphere. We have already commented on the impossibility, at the time being, of solving this problem adequately. From this viewpoint, however, a hypothesis which needs to be probed concerns the possibility for the radical party of obtaining the recognition on the part of supranational institutions of a consultive status or of a different and new status. Already at the time being, the Preamble of the European Convention on the recognition of the juridical personality of the nongovernmental international organizations of the Council of Europe states that NGOs "carry out an activity which is useful to the international community [...] and contribute to the achievement of the aims and principles of the Char
ter of the United Nations and of the Statute of the Council of Europe". Article 2 of the Convention specifies that the juridical personality of an NGO such as it is acquired in the state in which it has its statutory seat, should be recognized in the other states which have signed the Convention. A breach has therefore opened in the wall of the juridical interstatualism - states Antonio Papisca - by envisaging a new figure for the international juridical regulation: nongovernmental organizations of "international usefulness". Identical remarks should be developed as regards the recognition of NGOs consultive status in the United Nations system.
The question now is to ask ourselves whether such precedents can authorize to hypothesize forms of juridical recognition of the transnational radical party as organization of "international usefulness" on the part of more strictly political supranational institutions such as the European Parliament. Apart from the statutory statement, therefore, this "breach" would open up the possibility of a strong political initiative for the recognition, along with the national parties, also of transnational parties as bearers of new interests and federalist benefits; as far as we are concerned, obtaining a recognition on the part of the UN or of the Council of Europe could enhance our international political credibility.
These questions, incidentally, have been countered by the opinion according to which it is not in our interest to pursue a recognition as Non Governmental Organization, because of the ineradicable difference in nature between a party and an NGO. The social reason of the latter, it has been remarked, is that of being the bearer of sectional instances with the aim of stimulating, from outside of the political establishment, the political class and the government to make this or that decision. Our party, on the contrary, aims to be a political and governmental class, and reducing it to an NGO would mean taking for granted that it will always remain confined to a marginal role with respect to decisional fora. An example of this is our campaign against the death penalty, which should not and cannot be identified with Amnesty's campaign, failing which our reason of existing as a party would fall.
It should not be neglected, moreover, from another point of view, that art. 138 A of the Maastricht agreements states that "political parties on a European scale are an important factor for the achievement of integration in the Union. They contribute to forming a European conscience and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union". Such article has been strongly advocated by the political parties of the three Internationals, presumably to ensure themselves E.C. funds. In any case, it is an important recognition of principle, which could possibly open up interesting perspectives for us, the only real "European-scale party", not limited to the current E.C. Europe, apt to "promote integration inside the Union".
This is not the appropriate moment to tackle that which is the fundamental political problem of the congress. We will simply underline the fact that the statutory and organizational decisions cannot but depend largely on the answers which shall be given from this point of view.
3) ORGANIZATIONAL MODEL.
The congress as financial and organizational problem.
As we know, the question of self-financing should influence the drafting of the statute both as regards envisaging decisional procedures, not too expensive bodies, and for that which concerns the sources of financing.
It has been already remarked in the past that it was probably not conceivable to mechanically repropose the yearly holding of the congress in the new statute, for obvious reasons linked to the costs of an effectively transnational congress (currently a congress like the one held in Budapest, with simultaneous interpretation and translation of the documents into five languages, costs no less than L.1 billion).
If, therefore, the summons of the congress can no longer occur on a yearly basis, there arises the question of the parallel expiry of the members' enrollment to the radical party, which, according to the current statute, is linked to the passage of the congress motions. One hypothesis is that of envisaging the enrollment not to the radical party but to the radical party's congress, with different fees for the yearly contribution to the campaigns or initiatives of the political body which should assume the responsibility of the political orientation in the gap between the different sessions of the Congress. This mechanism would enable to envisage two levels of enrollment; the first, very costly, which would entitle to participate in the congress with the right to vote, the second which would entitle to delegate a member to vote.
One suggestion which could be taken from Greenpeace's statute is that of linking the right to vote in the "Congress" not only to a fee, but also to a specific level of self-financing. It cannot but be remarked that the Congress would thus become a sort of executive board. In this case, the assembly function would have to be attributed to another body, with powers of recommendation or binding powers only in the presence of certain majorities.
However, both schemes raise the problem of devising forms of participation on the part of the members to the life and decision-making moments which should not be too burdensome. The hypothesis of a "party by correspondence" is strongly buttressed by these premises. However, if it is banal to foresee communications structures based on a mailing system (on paper or computerized), it is more delicate to envisage the exercise of certain rights through the post or other communications means.
The quality and the sphere of the decisional process.
Taking for granted the impossibility of imagining a congress with the participation of all members, especially on a yearly basis, the question can be dealt with from another point of view, focusing on the necessity to safeguard the substance of the underlying principles of the radical party's historical statute. The most important thing, from this point of view, isn't so much the form of participations of the members in the congress - direct, through delegates or other - but rather that of maintaining the radical party's character as a political organization based on freedom. For this purpose, it is essential not to lose the characteristic for which the decisions that are taken as binding for the party are the only ones on which consent is and can be considered general, and represent not the prevalence of a majority on a minority, but that which represents the greatest common denominator, effective convergence, leaving each with the freedom to support different positions in matters for which there is no such
consent, thus avoiding any forced need for a party discipline. It should therefore be taken for granted that, in one form or the other, the congress proper should be a congress of few people, possibly even a few dozen people. The important thing is the "pre-congress debate". Or rather, the true congress moment is that of the "pre-congress" debate and votings. The congress of delegates simply represents the final moment, and to some extent the acme, the moment in which the decision on which there is a consent are ratified.
Having said that the party is neither a government nor a parliament which must decide on all matters, if there is no large consent on a certain issue this means that the party as a whole has no common position, and therefore no decisions are taken. It means that in the context of the party, there is no "lay unity of forces" on a given subject.
The question, then, is that of devising an articulated mechanism of assumption of initiatives and of determination of the common will. This is all the more necessary in a party which can have such a vast and multifarious quantity of stimuli to action such as that which is present in so many and so different countries. The rule and the custom could be those according to which a single structure of the party - an association or other - decides to take an initiative or propose to the entire party to take a given initiative. Consent, and especially the active enrollments which the initiatives receive in the other organizations of the party, establishes to what degree the initiative becomes the initiative of the party as a whole. In other words: the transnational party is no longer a place in which on a yearly basis it is decided what to do, or in which there is a single centre which sums up all the responsibility and burden of the political initiative. Rather, the party becomes a network of relations, an occasio
n offered to each and all. In this perspective, the transnational political substance is achieved when initiatives imagined and proposed, probably, in a single country and on the basis of the problems of that country, become the occasion for a commitment and common growth also in other countries: obviously on the basis of the emergence, of the discovery of oneself on the part of the "interests" (in the widest sense of the term) of activating a political presence on that given political front which should be not only national. Only in this way can it be imagined that the commitment of the single members, possibly first of all of the parliamentarians, in the transnational party, is experienced in general, not as a marginal supplement to the essential political commitments, but as something in which one feels truly involved.
Once again, however, from this point of view, it is essential to succeed in creating an effective associative life in the radical party.
On this crucial point, the work group has not achieved significant syntheses, apart from the suggestions contained in the above pages, and in particular for that which concerns references to the examples of the other international or transnational organizations.
The all-too elementary reflexion which, in this stage, can be submitted to debate, is that, to date, the model of self-financing outlined by the statute of 1967 has proven inapplicable to a political structure the size and the ambitions of the radical party. If, therefore, it is not possible to aim at solutions which depend, to some extent, on public financing to parties, and ruling out the forms of occult financing, it is necessary to ponder the hypothesis of finding resources through economic activities that are directly controlled by the party. It is self-evident that the question is that of forms of financing which - whenever possible - guarantee the party's independence on external political pressures; on the other hand they can pose serious, possibly even unsolvable problems, as regards the pre-eminence of the positions of power which, through them, are obtained by individuals who control its management from inside the party. And it is this reason for which such forms of financing had not been envisage
d by the statute of 1967. Hypotheses of this kind, therefore, could be taken into consideration only if it were possible to devise an adequate system of guarantees from this point of view.