By Adam Novak
PRAGUE — The second all-Czechoslovak meeting of Left Grouping, an informal network of left and Communist Party groups and platforms, took place in the Slovak capital Bratislava on April 13.
There was a striking contrast between the optimism of the Slovak groups, able increasingly to relate to a public identifying the market reforms as against Slovak national interests, and the Czechs, seemingly isolated amid growing right-wing sentiments and a general retreat from politics.
Some of the Czech groups are offshoots of the ruling Civic Forum movement and remain reluctant to directly oppose its economic reform, including its attack on the working population. Their fear of being labelled social demagogues by the right-dominated media is also behind their continued reluctance to work with platforms inside the Communist Party.
A consensus declaration of the meeting stated that the federal government has no right to continue with its plans to introduce a new constitution. Referring to the split within Civic Forum and the severe narrowing of its base and political breadth since the 1990 elections, Left Grouping claims the parliament no longer represents the broad movement the population originally voted for.
During the meeting, deep differences on the question of national rights within Czech-Slovak federation emerged. Though relations were friendly, Slovaks supported their government's demands for a loose confederation based on two national republics, while Czechs supported a concept based on the self-managed community as the basic unit. Slovaks said this blurs the national distinction and makes the Prague-based federation the highest political authority.
The largest groups present were the Slovak Party of the Democratic Left (the old Slovak Communist Party) and the Czech Communist Party. Other groups included Slovakia's Workers' Forum, Union of Socialists and Social Democracy and the Czech groups Left Alternative and the Green Platform in the CP.
Although the grouping bridges the major divide of left politics — current or recent membership of the Communist Party — many organisations, including the Czech Social Democratic Party, refuse to participate while CP groups are present. Left Alternative accepts only observer status for the same reason. The anarchist groups, the major current with any youth support, consider most of the participating groups Stalinist.
The association is supported by the publishers of Left Alternative's Polarita, the Communist Party's Nase Pravda and the Trotskyist Fourth International's magazine, Inprecor. Breaking into the mainstream media remains very difficult for the left, especially in the Czech Republic, so the groups pledged to exchange information and articles regularly.
Left Grouping will next meet in May in Prague.