A meeting of the elected members of the Presidium of the Socialist International took place in Madrid on Monday 13 June, hosted by SI Vice-President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain and Leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE, with the participation of departing President of the Socialist International António Guterres, who chaired the meeting; the SI Secretary General, Luis Ayala; SI Vice-President Deniz Baykal (CHP, Turkey); SI Vice-President Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas (PRD, Mexico); SI Vice-President Massimo D'Alema (DS, Italy); SI Vice-President Alfred Gusenbauer (SPÖ Austria); SI Vice-President László Kovács (MSzP, Hungary); SI Vice-President George Papandreou (PASOK, Greece); SI Vice-President Horacio Serpa (PLC, Colombia); SI Vice-President Ousmane Tanor Dieng (PS, Senegal); SI Vice-President Rolando Araya (PLN, Costa Rica); SI Vice-President Pia Locatelli (SIW); Member of the SI Executive Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (SPD Germany); Member of the SI Executive Enzo Amendola (IUSY); Member of the SI Executive Trinidad Jiménez (PSOE, Spain); Member of the SI Executive Christoph Zöpel (SPD Germany); and Felipe González, former Prime Minister of Spain.
The meeting was specially convened in advance of the date on which António Guterres officially assumes his new responsibilities as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Wednesday 15 June, so leaving the Presidency of the International.
Expressing the honour he felt at having served as President of the Socialist International since November 1999, Guterres said that he was handing over his office and its responsibilities to the elected members of the Presidium before going on to take up his new international humanitarian role. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and the other members of the Presidium warmly thanked Guterres for his important contribution as President and wished him well in the tasks ahead.
The Presidium, which will collectively assume the political leadership of the International until the next Council, opened the process for the election of a new President in accordance with the Statutes, and to this end decided: (a) to appoint an Electoral Commission which will receive the candidatures for President, formed by SI Vice-President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as Chair; SI Secretary General Luis Ayala; SI Vice-President Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas; SI Vice-President Helen Clark; SI Vice-President László Kovács; SI Vice-President Ousmane Tanor Dieng; Member of the SI Executive Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul; ex-officio SI Vice-President Fikile Mbalula (IUSY); and an SIW ex-officio Vice-President to be nominated; (b) to immediately declare open the process of registration of candidates for President, which will close on 5 October 2005; (c) to hold a meeting of the elected members of the Presidium on 10 October to receive the report by the Electoral Commission; and (d) to hold the next meeting of the Council on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 December 2005 which will elect the President, at a venue to be decided at a later date.
Members of the Presidium also took the opportunity in Madrid to hold exchanges on current critical developments regarding Europe on the basis of a perspective presented by Prime Minister Zapatero; took note with satisfaction of the agreement reached within the G8 group of nations concerning the cancellation of the debt of a number of the poorest countries, an issue which the Socialist International has long called and campaigned for; and received an overview from the SI Secretary General of the principal activities to be carried out by the International in the coming months.