Swiss parliamentarians say they are disappointed at the lack of substance to come out of talks held on the sidelines of the World Social Forum in Brazil.This content was published on February 3, 2002 - 18:39
The Parliamentarian's Forum took place alongside the Social summit in Porto Alegre, the alternative conference to the World Economic Forum that is taking place in New York City.
Switzerland sent one of the biggest European delegations of parliamentarians to the meeting, with five members of the House of Representatives joining several hundred of their counterparts from around the world.
Swiss cut short
Saturday's discussion began with strong condemnation of the United States-led war in Afghanistan. Some 80 speakers managed to expound on a plethora of global issues to which they are opposed: war, capitalism, liberalisation and indebtedness of poor countries.
Given the burgeoning length and repetitiveness of the speeches, organisers decided to cut the time allowed at the podium.
Pierre-Yves Maillard from Switzerland's Social Democratic Party was only left with three minutes, time he used to implore for the survival of public services.
The penultimate speaker was Switzerland's Patrice Mugny from the Green Party, who only had two minutes at his disposal. The Genevan ecologist called for the creation of a fund to allow parliamentarians from poorer countries to attend the conference.
However, no one in the conference hall seemed to be listening to his suggestion.
Social Democrat parliamentarian, Rudolf Strahm, was disappointed by the conference's lack of results. "We haven't achieved any of our aims," he said. "There was no common strategy, no plan, and no way of pursuing the debate."
He added that the lack of order at the parliamentarians' gathering did not compare favourably with the meeting of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), which he said was well organised. "It was notable for the quality and professionalism of the propositions formulated."
The real actors in the movement against globalisation are not parliamentarians, the unions or parties, Strahm observed. Rather, they are NGOs who can provide a concerted, ethical opposition to globalisation.
A disappointed Mugny said that concrete issues need to be discussed if the level of debate is to be raised.
There is certain to be another Parliamentarian Forum running parallel to the third World Social Forum. However, after Saturday's debates, it is not certain whether there will be much enthusiasm for it.
by Hansjörg Bolliger, Porto Alegre
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