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Europe

Why Scottish votes will be decisive in the outcome of the UK general election

Rally for A Just Scotland. October 18, 2014.

By Alister Black, Edinburgh

May 4, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International journal of Socialist Renewal -- Britain's May 7 general election is set to be the closest in living memory. In the polls, the two leading parties, Labour and the Conservatives (Tories), are within points of each other. The polls have not shifted despite the best efforts of Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband to secure a breakthrough.

Why are the polls so close?

The Tories are facing a challenge from the far-right UK Independence Party (UKIP), which blames immigrants for all the ills of society and demands Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. But it is the rise of the Scottish National Party (SNP) that has been the big story in this election.

Scotland has traditionally been a stronghold for the Labour Party. In the 2010 election, it returned 41 seats compared to the SNP’s six.

This time, the polls are promising a shock. The SNP look set to win 41-52% of the vote.

Ukraine: 'Before Maidan, Ukraine was more democratic', says Volodymyr Ishchenko

A toppled statue of Vladimir Lenin in Ukraine.

Volodymyr Ishchenko interviewed by Javier Morales

April 27, 2015 -- LeftEast, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Javier Morales: How do you think that Ukrainian society is assessing the consequences of the Euromaidan revolution? Has there been any change in their attitudes in the past year?

Greece: Panagiotis Lafazanis -- SYRIZA 'will not bow down, neither will it surrender'

lafazaneiro

Panagiotis Lafazanis.

For more analysis and discussion on SYRIZA's struggle against austerity, click HERE

By Panagiotis Lafazanis, minister of reconstruction of production, environment and energy.

April 29, 2015 -- CRASH magazine, translated by The Greek Analyst, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Panagiotis has been involved in negotiating with Russia for a gas pipeline to Greece. He is a member of SYRIZA's Left Platform grouping. The Greek version can be found on the website of the ministry, here.

Greece: Referendum on the cards if EU deal not reached

Part 1.

For more analysis and discussion on SYRIZA's struggle against austerity, click HERE

By Dick Nichols

May 4, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On April 27, in a three-hour appearance on private TV channel Star TV, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras spoke extensively about the challenges confronting the government led by SYRIZA, the Coalition of the Radical Left.

The program, beginning with a grilling of Tsipras by interviewer Niko Katsinikolao and ending with questions from a 50-strong audience, is available above and below with simultaneous English translation.

British election: Labour Party prefers Tory government than deal with Scottish nationalists

May 2, 2015 -- Irish Republican News, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- With just days to go before a potentially historic Westminster general election on May 7, a further rise in support for the Scottish National Party (SNP) is already creating a crisis in British politics which will likely have implications for Ireland.

Most recent polls indicate that the SNP will sweep almost all of the 59 Westminster seats in Scotland, and is well placed to win the balance of power in London. The development appears to have taken the British establishment by surprise and thrown the opposition Labour Party into chaos.

All but one or two of the 59 MPs elected by Scotland could now be won by the SNP by the time counting concludes, creating a political imperative for independence which is directly comparable to the 1918 "Sinn Fein" election in the aftermath of the Easter Rising in Ireland.

A confused Labour Party leader Ed Miliband told a television election special that he would refuse any pact with the SNP -- even if it meant giving up the chance of power to David Cameron’s Conservatives (Tories). On May 1 he repeated that there would be “no deals or coalitions”.

Ireland: Left discusses how to win a radical new republic

May 1, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ireland's left, under the impact of the mass movement against water charges that has thrown traditional politics into turmoil, is discussing how it can organise to seriously challenge for power.

On May 1, in Dublin, five trade unions involved in the Right2Water (R2W) campaign are hosting a conference to discuss a “Platform for Renewal” for the general election due within the year. There will be guest speakers from SYRIZA, Podemos and the European movement against water privatisation.

R2W includes the radical left, Sinn Féin, other left politicians and the extensive network of anti-water charges grassroots groups in towns and communities across Ireland. R2W has mobilised four massive protests in since October 1, 2013, which have rocked the establishment.

Ireland's Irish Left Review is housing a discussion on what way forward for the left, from which the contribution below first appeared.

* * *

By Rory Hearne

Greece: European powers tighten the noose

For more analysis and discussion on SYRIZA's struggle against austerity, click HERE

By Stathis Kouvelakis

April 25, 2015 -- International Viewpoint, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Events in Greece have taken a dramatic turn, and insolvency is at the gates. On April 20, the Greek government issued a decree forcing local authorities to place cash reserves at the Bank of Greece.

Two days later, Dimitris Mardas, the deputy minister of finance in charge of state revenue, declared that €400 million was missing to pay for pensions and salaries at the end of the month. A few hours later, he said the money was found and that he was now trying to constitute cash reserves. But according to sources, Mardas informed SYRIZA members of parliament at a meeting that same day that the state reserves wouldn’t be able to make all payments in May.

Spain: Will fall of former IMF boss destroy People’s Party?

For more on politics in Spain, click HERE.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

April 27, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On April 16, a central member  of the Spanish economic and political establishment came crashing down. Rodrigo Rato, former deputy prime minister in the 1996-2004 People’s Party (PP) government of José María Aznar and head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 2004 to 2007, was detained on suspicion of tax evasion, concealment of assets  and fraud. At the same time it became public that Rato had also taken advantage of a 2012 government amnesty for tax cheats.

Although the former treasurer is no longer in detention, TV coverage of Rato being pushed into a police car like any other suspect continues to dominate comment in the bars and on the social media. Many commentators judge that his detention marks a turning point in Spanish politics.

Ukraine: Eyewitness to the war zone of eastern Ukraine

Residents of "October" district of Donetsk city hard hit by Ukraine army shelling speak to visiting media group on April 16, 2015. Photo Roger Annis.

More on the political situation in Ukraine.

By Roger Annis, Donetsk

April 20, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, a version of this article was first published at CounterPunch -- -- I have just returned from participating in a four-day reporting tour to the city of Donetsk and the countryside that lies between Donetsk and the Russian city of Rostov to the south and east.

Review: Why Scotland will never be the same again

The People’s Referendum: Why Scotland Will Never Be the Same Again
by Paul Geoghegan
Luath Press 2015
177 pages

Review by Alex Miller

April 16, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The UK-wide general election for the Westminster parliament scheduled for May 7, 2015, looks set to be a very close, perhaps even closer than the 2010 election that resulted in the Labour Party being replaced by a Conservative Party-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

How should leftwingers in Scotland vote in the UK general election?

April 14, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following articles were published in the April issue #86 of the Scottish Left Review, as part of a round-up of the various positions being proposed by sections of the Scottish left to advance a left agenda during and after the British general election to be held on May 7, 2015.

 

Netherlands: Socialist Party now 'biggest left party' after provincial elections

March 19, 2015 -- Socialist Party (Netherlands), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Speaking to party activists, in a celebratory mood as it became clear that the Socialist Party (SP) had once again recorded an extremely positive result in the provincial elections, party leader Emile Roemer told them:

This is an historic evening. We have become the biggest left party in the Netherlands. The SP is a powerful factor in the Senate. An ideal starting point for the SP to be elected to government at the next general election.

Both governing parties suffered strong losses, and Roemer reminded those listening that it had been Prime Minister "Rutte himself who made these elections into a referendum on his government. And the result is clear. The Netherlands has done with the policy of austerity. The government should not be sailing a different course, or any course at all, it should be passing the rudder on."

France: Jean-Luc Mélenchon's assessment of March 22 and 29 departmental elections

To improve the resolution of the subtitles, please press play, then click on the small "cog" in the right-hand bottom corner and change quality to 240p or higher. You may need to restart the video from the beginning. It is also best watched in full-screen view (click on the square on the far right-hand bottom corner).

[For more on French politics, click HERE.]

April 7, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Front de Gauche (Left Front) leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon's assessment of the March 22 and 29, 2015, departmental elections in France.

Global campaign: ‘Free Otegi, bring Basque prisoners home’

By Emma Clancy

March 28, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An international campaign for the release of jailed Basque pro-independence leader Arnaldo Otegi was launched at a conference in the European Parliament in Brussels on March 24.

A statement calling for Otegi’s release was announced at the conference, which has been endorsed by international figures including former Latin American presidents, Nobel Prize winners, political representatives and former political prisoners.

The initial signatories include Senator José Pepe Mújica, president of Uruguay until his term ended in March; Fernando Lugo, president of Paraguay until he was ousted in a constitutional coup in 2012; and José Manuel Zelaya, former Honduran president deposed in a right-wing military coup in 2009.

The statement has also been signed by Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Mairéad Maguire.

SYRIZA's Euclid Tsakalotos addresses Sinn Féin's 2015 Ard Fheis

March 9, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Greece's deputy foreign minister Euclid Tsakalotos' (SYRIZA) address to Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2015. Introduced by Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan.

Ireland: Sinn Féin launches a 'People's Pact' for Westminster election

Click for more discussion of Irish politics.

March 30, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams TD points out that Sinn Féin's progressive politics is the only alternative to austerity.

Gerry Adams said:

Sinn Féin is totally and absolutely opposed to austerity north and south.

Any parties, which contemplate endorsing or supporting a cabinet of millionaires who are behind budget cuts, cuts to public services and cuts to social protections are ignoring the needs of the people in favour of narrow self-interest.

The people need to have the opportunity to have their say and their voice needs to be heard.

The parties at Westminster are committed to further austerity.

Sinn Féin’s progressive politics and commitment to the rights of citizens is the only alternative to that.

We want to see a society based on equality, inclusion and safeguards for children with disabilities, adults with severe disabilities and the long term sick.

Spain: Podemos leads left gains in Andalusia poll

Podemos’s lead candidate Teresa Rodriguez.

Click for more on Podemos and politics in Spain.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

March 25, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The March 22 regional elections in Andalusia, Spain’s most populous and second-poorest region, opened this year's critical election calendar.

This election cycle includes local government and 13 regional elections on May 24 and a September 27 poll in Catalonia that will double as an independence referendum. It will culminate in national Spanish elections in November.

The future course of politics in the Spanish state and Europe will greatly depend on the results of these contests.

Ireland: Sinn Féin fights welfare attacks in north, power sharing threatened

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness.

March 19, 2015 -- Hintadupfing/Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On March 9, Sinn Féin announced it would oppose the new welfare reform bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly, accusing its government partner – the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – of acting in bad faith on protecting welfare recipients.

The same day, Sinn Féin moved a Petition of Concern — supported by the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) — in the assembly to prevent the passage of the bill, which would impose cuts to welfare. This forced the DUP minister for social development, Mervyn Storey, to withdraw the bill and re-enter talks to resolve the stand-off.

Interview with SYRIZA leader: 'The aim is a truly united Europe'

Greece's parliament.

For more discussion on SYRIZA's struggle against austerity, click HERE

Antonis Markopoulos interviewed by Chris Spannos

March 21, 2015 -- TeleSUR English, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Since the Greek political party SYRIZA, the Coalition of the Radical Left, formed a government with the rightist Independent Greeks party on January 25, 2015, it has faced many challenges.

Greece: Radical Eric Toussaint to audit Greek debt

Zoe Konstantopoulou (centre) with Eric Toussaint (right).

By Eric Toussaint, translated by Christine Pagnoulle and Vicki Briault

March 21, 2015 -- Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The president of the Greek parliament, Zoe Konstantopoulou, has set up a commission to audit the Greek debt and has asked me to play an active part in it. I have accepted the role to assume its scientific coordination.

This commission was launched on March 17, 2015, in Athens. |1|Recently the Athens correspondent for Le Monde wrote,

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