Socialist congress members vote in favour of legalising cannabis

At a party congress, members of the Flemish socialist party SP.A surprisingly voted in favour of legalising the soft drug cannabis. This happened after a proposal by the Young Socialists was adopted, but despite pressure exerted by party leaders to give it thumbs down.

The SP.A is holding its party congress in the Brussels Magdalenazaal 3 months before the 25 May elections. The congress is meant to finetune the election manifesto and to discuss and vote on amendments. A proposal by the SP.A youth section to legalise selling, possessing and using cannabis was accepted, although the vote was very tight. The Young Socialists argue that a legalisation will get the drug out of the criminal grey zone. They cite foreign examples that show that it makes consumption drop in the long run.

SP.A party leader Bruno Tobback (photo) preferred to focus on the many other issues that were discussed. He says the SP.A is bringing a new, modern message. "We know we need more cuts and new reforms, but we only want to do this on the condition that this is to everyone's benefit. Hence our slogan "social welfare"."

The Flemish socialists focus on pensions (after a 42-year career, and not depending on a particular age) and flexible working (e.g. for those that have been very ill or had a physical setback).