Since they first came into being in 1679, political parities in modern sense have to date prevailed the political arena of the overwhelming majority of countries across the world. Given their complexity and fluidity in developments, as well as their increasing liveliness and mounting impact, party politics not only are of decisive influence to the internal and external policies of various countries, but also have become an increasingly important factor in the changes in international relations and the world pattern. The outgoing year of 2006 has witnessed new changes and developments in world party politics, which have generated multiplex effects on regional and global situation. At the turn of the year, staff correspondent of Party Building Journal had an interview with Ma Wenpu, Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee on this subject.
Q: Would you please give us a brief account of the general situation and new trend of development of the world party politics in 2006?
A: Yes, with pleasure. The global situation in 2006 has been calm and stable in general but not without changes. The trends toward world multipolarity and economic globalization continued to develop in depth amid twists and turns, with contradictions and problems of all kinds abstruse and complicated. In this context, party politics over the world has become more animated. New significant changes appeared in the development of political parties though the general situation remained basically stable. Party politics has become an increasingly important factor that affects international relations, rendering an outstanding platform for different political thinkings as well as different cultures and civilizations to engage and impact one another.
These changes in party politics have reflected some new tendencies that deserve our attention. First, it has become a universal phenomenon that domestic situation and international state of affairs are getting more interlinked. The variations in the national political arena of some countries, major powers in particular, are exerting an ever-increasing impact on the regional and international situation. Secondly, political parties not only care about economic and social development in their own countries, but are directing more attention to some major issues that bear heavily on the global and regional development. Thirdly, political parties of all descriptions are better aware of the need to improve party building and theoretical innovation. Many parties are getting more interested in bilateral and multilateral inter-party communications as a way to explore roads of development that fit their respective countries. It is worth mentioning that the new achievements scored by the Communist Party of China in building socialism with Chinese characteristics and in building the Party itself, especially the whole range of new theoretical attainments of the CPC, put forward by the leading collective of the CPC Central Committee with Hu Jintao as the General Secretary, have drawn a great deal of attention from various political parties across the world and have become a bright spot in the development of world party politics.
Q: General elections were held in many countries in 2006. Some were quite intensely contested. What is your observation of these elections?
A: Globally speaking, 2006 has been a year of voting. Major elections were held in more than 50 countries, most of which involved intensive rivalry among contesting political parties. There were cases where election results were disputed as the incumbent and the challenging parties ran neck and neck in the polls. It also happened in some countries that the new elections have produced a minority government with a majority opposition. In some countries political parties split and regroup frequently over government formation, disturbing the shaping of the new government. Through the elections, new governments came into being with alternated parties in some countries, while some parties remained in office with changed leaders in some other countries. In a few cases, elections even set off social unrest.
Looking at different regions, we can find that party politics and patterns of political parties in developed countries underwent certain readjustments, with party struggles in the United States and Japan intensified and the influence of socialist parties in Europe on the rise. Most developing countries experienced relatively smooth development in terms of party politics, with left wing forces in Latin America keeping on the rise and cross-party ruling coalitions appearing in quite a number of African countries, showing more diversified forms of government. In Asia, significant changes were witnessed in the development of party politics in certain countries, yet the general situation has on the whole remained stable.
The new developments in party politics as I mentioned above have not only affected the domestic and foreign policies of the countries concerned, to the extent of causing political, economic, cultural and security policy readjustments, but also will trigger off changes in the political situation of the given regions or beyond.
Q: How was the general situation concerning the communist and left wing parties in 2006?
A: Since the dramatic changes of the USSR and Eastern Europe, the ruling parties in extant socialist countries have conducted profound reflection on the cause of the changes. On the one hand they persist in the socialist orientation, and on the other hand engage in theoretical exploration and practical innovation proceeding from the new historical conditions as well as their own national conditions. From a global perspective we could see that with painstaking explorations in the past decade, some communist parties have managed to tide over the most difficult period and are mostly in stable situation. They have come into a new phase of exploration in socialist theory and practice. We are happy to see that in 2006 the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) both scored gratifying achievements in their national development. The two parties successively held their respective tenth and eighth congresses in which they summed up their experience of renovation and opening-up and mapped out their goals and tasks for economic and social development. They also elected their new central collective leadership. The two parties laid much stress on the need to strengthen party building and to enhance their ruling capacities. The CPV has set party building as the central task for the newly elected Central Committee. And the LPRP stresses that the ruling capacity of the Party should be constantly enhanced. Both parties have their positions further consolidated. At the same time, other ruling communist parties have also made fresh efforts to carry out theoretical innovations and to practice new policies. The communist parties in certain developed countries are enjoying better environment for existence. Communist forces in the former USSR and the Eastern European region are recovering, and most of those in developing countries have gained a foothold and some of them have even made some progress.
As I have said earlier that in 2006 left wing forces have maintained their growing momentum in certain parts of the world. In Latin America, Rafael Correa, the candidate of the Proud and Sovereign Fatherland Alliance Movement (PAIS) of Ecuador won the general election and became President of the country; President Charvez of Venezuelan was reelected; the candidate from the left-wing Sandinista National Liberation Front Daniel Ortega acclaimed victory in the national election in Nicaragua and returned to Presidency after 16 years; the Chilean ruling coalition succeeded to stay in power through elections; and President Lula of Brazil also won his reelection — all indicating that the left force of Latin America is on the rise. Meanwhile, socialist parties in some European countries also won elections one after another, demonstrating recovery to some extent. Yet on the whole, left wing forces are still in a phase of growing. That the right outweighs the left continues to be the feature of the world pattern of political parties.
Q: You mentioned earlier that political parties in various countries are getting more interested in multilateral exchanges and co-operation. Would you explain in more details in this connection?
It became one of the conspicuous features of party politics in the world in 2006 that political parties with congenial interests and values stepped up interactions through international conferences and other forums, with increasing attention to and involvement in regional and international affairs. At the beginning of the year, the Socialist International held a council meeting at which it laid down its work agenda for promoting global governance and setting up mechanism to cope with global challenges. In September, the 4th International Conference of Asian Political Parties was successfully held in ROK, attended by more than 80 political parties from over 30 countries. The conference called for efforts to build a new Asia of lasting peace and shared prosperity. In November, more than 60 left wing political parties, including the Communist Parties of Cuba, Russia and Greece, the Workers Party of Belgium and the Communist Workers Party of Hungary, met at an international conference in Portugal for an in-depth discussion on the changes in the international situation. There were many other similar events in 2006 that involved participation of multiple political parties.
In the contemporary world where global challenges and shared interests increase day by day and multilateral stages in the international arena are getting more vibrant, multipartite exchanges and co-operation among political parties become more meaningful both as an effective way to enhance each party’s influence, and as a venue for in-depth exploration and discussions to address global issues and to urge their respective governments in the settlement of various international problems. The CPC holds a positive attitude towards international co-operation among political parties. In 2006 we dispatched over a dozen Party delegations to multilateral events of political parties held in different parts of the world, where we had frank and open communication and in-depth deliberations with parties from other countries on international and regional issues of common concern. Parties involved regard such events quite helpful.
Q: The tide of globalization surges forward vigorously, bringing profound shock to all forces in international politics. What are its impacts on party politics?
A: Whether a country can fit in with the progress of economic globalization and win the initiative in the process will not only determine its domestic economic and social development, the rise and fall of its comprehensive national strength and its international status, but will also render a profound impact on the shaping of the structures of the region and the world at large as well as on the development trend of international politics. Facing such challenges, political parties of some countries are confronted with greater shocks. Party politics is exposed to an all-directional impact. As far as the numerous developing countries are concerned, globalization means to some of them unprecedented opportunities for development. But at the same time, it is uncovering all the long-accumulated problems and contradictions. Some ruling parties that are limited by the national conditions and their own capacity are not adequately capable to effectively cope with the contradictions and problems. Some newly emerged political forces ascended to political stardom in leaps and bounds, altering the political ecology of the related countries. The ruling parties of developed countries are also confronted with a complicated situation of intensified economic and social contradictions. Trade protectionism and xenophobia began to gain ground in certain countries and there appeared a rising tendency of “looking inward”. Becoming skeptical about whether the democratic systems long practiced in their countries can still ensure their security and stability in the era of globalization, some people shifted their political trust to forces that have fairly strong tints of extremism and nationalism, resulting in the rise of such forces. From the long-term point of view, economic globalization will continue to exert greater and deeper impact on party politics in various countries.
To comply with the deep changes brought about by globalization, major political parties around the world are dedicating themselves to enhancing their governing capacity in the hope to gain and consolidate their ruling positions by initiating reforms. They are also trying hard to search for economic and social development modes that best suit their national conditions. In this regard, political parties in different regions and of different types have adopted various tactics and have achieved different outcomes.
Q: You have mentioned that our Party’s theoretical innovations have received much attention from foreign political parties. Would you please tell us more about it in connection with the CPC’s international exchanges in 2006?
A: Throughout the year of 2006, our Party has adhered to the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, put into effect the scientific thinking on development in all fields and rallied people of all ethnic groups for the primary task of the Party, i.e., to develop the nation and to stride for new achievements in the building of socialism in the economic, political, cultural and social aspects. Consequently, China’s comprehensive strength and international status have been further improved. Setting special store on the building of its ruling capacity and the maintaining of advanced nature, the CPC has achieved new results in theoretical innovation such as the ideas of putting people first, upholding the scientific thinking of development, building a socialist harmonious society, building a new socialist countryside, building an innovation-driven country, cultivating socialist morals and promoting the building of a harmonious world. It is fair to say that China under the leadership of the CPC is becoming a more and more important force in the maintenance of world peace, prosperity and stability. Being one of those who work for the external relations of the Party, I have a keen appreciation of this inference. The positive experience and theoretical innovations of our Party attract attention and discussions of parties of all descriptions on both bilateral and multilateral occasions of inter-party exchanges. An increasing number of political parties desire to learn more about the essence of these theoretical innovations and are ready to share with us their experience and lessons in party building and state-governing. Inter-party exchanges have not only been an important facilitator of state-to-state relations, but also become a key channel for understanding and affecting the changes of party politics as well as the trend of social and political thinking.
In 2007 the CPC is willing to join hands with other political parties the world over, through strengthened communication and co-operation, to advance the all-round development of inter-state relations, to facilitate the development of world party politics and international and regional situation towards peace and stability, and to make greater contributions to promoting the building of a harmonious world of lasting peace and shared prosperity.