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Europe

Greece wins breathing space, but made to pay high cost

Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble looks on as Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis speaks.

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

By Duroyan Fertl

February 28, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Greece’s new SYRIZA government submitted its list of proposed economic reforms to the Eurogroup (the finance ministers of eurozone nations) on February 23 as a precondition for its international creditors to approve a four-month loan extension. The deal was signed on February 20.

With Greece’s existing loan arrangement expiring on February 28 and bankruptcy looming, a last-minute deal was finally agreed after three weeks of intense negotiations. The talks had been characterised by daily — sometimes hourly — twists and turns, claims and counterclaims, leaks and threats.

No, SYRIZA has not surrendered

syriza

By Tom Walker

February 2015 -- Red Pepper, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Surrender! Capitulation! Betrayal! Syriza hasn't even been in office for a month, but already the obituaries are being written. Some on the left, of course, had written them long before January's election. Syriza, you see, has failed to declare the revolution. So far, so familiar.

But over the last few days some more sensible forces seem – as with the coalition deal in the early days of the Syriza government – to have got a little carried away in their horror at this week's debt deal, believing the German government's crowing rhetoric that Syriza has suffered total humiliation.

This is a deal that has been described in quite the opposite terms by Greek prime minister Alexis Tspiras: he called it "a decisive step, leaving austerity, the bailouts and the troika". Unless he has quite suddenly and unexpectedly taken leave of planet Earth, there is more going on here than meets the eye.

David Renton: Learning to think like a revolutionary

Syriza election reaction Italy

By David Renton

February 23, 2015 -- Lives; running, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- When I was young, I used to believe that I knew what a revolution would look like.

It would begin with a bitterly unpopular government and a political system which allowed no space for dissent to be expressed. Anger with the government would rise and, with it, popular organisation, until the will of the people would be like a great wave of water overwhelming every wall put up by the enemy. An alternative revolutionary government would be formed; it would derive its support from the workers, winning other classes to their side because of the wholly principled way in which it would deal with every social question.

Greece: ‘Another energy is possible’ -- SYRIZA committed to ‘ecological transformation’

For more on SYRIZA, click HERE

By Sean Sweeney

February 18, 2015 -- Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (USA), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- During its first days in office, SYRIZA has taken actions that suggest it is willing to confront the European Union’s neoliberal approach to energy and to embark on a new course. New Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has also stated his government will restore collective bargaining agreements and stop 300,000 planned layoffs.

The SYRIZA government has said it will stop the proposed sell-off of the Public Power Corporation (PPC), which is 51% publicly owned but had been targeted for full-on privatisation in 2016. “We will halt immediately any privatisation of PPC”, energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis told Greek television a few hours before officially taking over his portfolio. “There will be a new PPC which will help considerably the restoration of the country’s productive activities”, he said.

European Left: Greece bridging agreement first step to ending austerity

The Party of the European Left said: 'We are continuing to follow our work of rallying together all over Europe against austerity'.

February 26, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The SYRIZA government's list of reforms, drawn up as part of its temporary four-month loan extension deal, was accepted by the Eurogroup on February 24.

SYRIZA: 'For us, "structural reforms" are the fight against corruption and corporate tax evasion'

For more on SYRIZA, click HERE

[February 25, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Paul Mason, writing on the February 24 SYRIZA government letter to the Eurogroup, outlining the reforms it intends to carry out, comments: "As flagged before it looks like [the Greek government] will be allowed to carry out the humanitarian aspect of Syriza’s so-called Thessaloniki Programme – i.e. anti-poverty measures. This, plus one of the most aggressive anti-tax avoidance offensives ever planned in the western world, is the centrepiece of Yanis Varoufakis’ plan.

["If the Greek government is allowed to use €10bn in an earmarked fund to recapitalise the banks, then the issues that remain are ones that demarcate the radical left from the centre: privatisations, trade union rights, universal healthcare, pensions and the minimum wage...

Greek drama: A preliminary review of the first four weeks of the SYRIZA government

 Isidoros Diakides.

For more on SYRIZA, click HERE

By Isidoros Diakides, Greek Solidarity Campaign (Britain) co-chair

February 24, 2015 -- Greek Solidarity Campaign, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Greek epic has already acquired all the features of an exciting action thriller, with all the appropriate drama (and hubbub), with constant surprises, twists and turns. And we still are at the opening scenes.

The exhilarating SYRIZA win, with thousands of activists across Europe gathering in Athens on election day to be part of "history in the making”, the cliff hanger on the night as to whether SYRIZA would secure an absolute majority, the breathtaking speed with which the new government was formed and hit the ground running, all helped to set the scene and the pace of the thriller.

SYRIZA's debt deal: breathing space or capitulation? Three assessments

20 varoufakis2 r w Greece gets its deal.. But if the details wrong were finished
Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

February 23, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal --  The interim deal between European authorities and the SYRIZA government of Greece has caused controversy on the left, with accusations of "capitulation", sell out" and worse from some sections. Below are three assessments from the left that offer a more sober analysis.

Greece gets its deal... but if the detail’s wrong ‘we’re finished’

By Paul Mason

February 20, 2015 -- Channel 4 --- The eurozone and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have done a deal with Greece, extending its bailout for four months in return for a commitment to run all policy measures with significant economic impact past the lenders. The second part of the deal has to be done on February 23, by Greece submitting a list of proposed measures.

Ukraine: Kyiv, Russia sign shakey ceasefire

 Most civilian casualties have been caused by the land and air bombardment of populated areas in the east by Kyiv government forces.

More on the political situation in Ukraine.

By Tony Iltis

February 14, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France emerged from negotiations in Minsk, Belarus on the morning of February 12, after 16 hours of talks, and announced that agreement had been reached for a ceasefire in Ukraine's civil war.

The conflict has divided Ukraine since the overthrow of the unpopular, but democratically elected, president Viktor Yanukovich in February last year.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin told journalists that “despite all the difficulties of the negotiation process, we have managed to agree on the main issues”, the February 12 Moscow Times reported.

Mike Treen: SYRIZA victory in Greece a blow to austerity

Crowd at SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' victory speech, January 25, 2015. Photo by Vivian Messimeris/GLW.

By Mike Treen, director UNITE union (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

February 5, 2015 -- Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The longer the SYRIZA government can survive and resist the better chance working people throughout Europe can act to remove right wing austerity governments and mobilise their own power through their unions and communities to create an alternative to the Europe of capitalism, recession and despair.

Vincenç Navarro: Why Podemos is a big threat to Spain's political establishment

Pablo Iglesias, Credit: La Veu del País Valencià (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Pablo Iglesias. Credit: La Veu del País Valencià (CC-BY-SA-3.0).

Click for more on Podemos and politics in Spain.

January 28, 2015 -- EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, London School of Economics, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal  -- Following SYRIZA’s victory in the Greek election on January 25, a number of commentators have turned their attention toward Spain, where the left-wing Podemos party, which originally emerged from the Indignados protest movement, has been receiving strong polling numbers since the end of 2014.

Here Vicente Navarro writes on the growth of Podemos and his role in shaping the party’s economic program. He argues that the anti-austerity and pro-democracy narrative put forward by Podemos has deeply resonated with the Spanish electorate, and that the party now poses a major threat to Spain's political establishment.

Greece: European elites declare war on SYRIZA government; Thousands rally in Athens

Thousands of protesters gathered in front of the parliament building in Athens on February 5, to show support for the new SYRIZA-led government after the European Central Bank announced its decision to reject Greek bonds as loan collateral from February 11.

For more discussion and analysis of SYRIZA's victory, click HERE.

By Dick Nichols

February 8, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- If anyone was still wondering whether European politics and a Europe-wide class struggle actually exist, reactions from all political quarters to the first two weeks of Greece’s new SYRIZA-led government would have cleared up any lingering doubts.

European Greens on SYRIZA win: 'We want to cooperate with the new Greek government'

January 26, 2015 -- European Green Party -- The following statement on the victory by SYRIZA in the January 25 Greek election was issued by Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer, co-chairs of the European Green Party.

* * *

By handing Syriza a decisive victory, Greek voters have clearly opted for basic change in their country. We congratulate Syriza on their victory and express our hope that they will make the best possible use of the mandate they have received.

Greece: Why SYRIZA made the deal with the Independent Greeks (ANEL)

Photo: left.gr.

By Haris Triandafilidou

February 5, 2015 -- Transform!, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The first projections already revealed that the Greek election on January 25, 2015, would lead to a fundamental change of political direction. This turned out to be true even though the goal of achieving an absolute majority was just missed. Instead of the required number of 151 parliamentarians, SYRIZA won 149 out of 300 deputies in the parliament (Vouli).

German trade union leaders: 'Greece is not a threat but an opportunity for Europe'

Frankfurt, February 2, 2015 -- Transform!, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The list of first signatories includes seven out of nine presidents of Germany's trade unions, all members of the executive boards of DGB and IG Metall, plus (primarily Social-Democratic Party) politicians in Germany's Bundestag (parliament) and the European Parliament, including two vice-chairs of SPD, as well as numerous academics.

* * *

The political landslide in Greece is an opportunity, not only for that crisis-ridden country but also for a fundamental reassessment and revision of European Union economic and social policy.

Scottish independence: when, not if -- how Westminster lost Scotland

Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won a Referendum but Lost Scotland
By Iain MacWhirter
Cargo Publishing, 2014,
174 pages

Review by Alex Miller

February 4, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The independence referendum on September 18, 2014, has been hailed by many as the most important single event in the recent history of Scotland.

Socialists and World War I: Turn the imperialist war into a civil war

Industrial Workers of the World poster against WWI.

By Doug Enaa Greene

February 2, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It has been a hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. The centennial of the “war to end all wars” has seen countless commemorations of the millions of heroic soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for king and country.

Yet missing from all of the observances of the war are the deeper questions of its causes – to divide colonies among predatory ruling classes – and the heroism of those who opposed the mass slaughter. And for the left, that is how we should remember this 100th anniversary – but honoring those socialists and communists who fought against all the odds to end the slaughter.

Spain needs its own SYRIZA

Alexis Tsipras and Pablo Iglesias. 

Click for more on Podemos and politics in Spain.

February 2, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The victory of SYRIZA in the January 25, 2015, general election in Greece has led to widespread discussions across the Europe on the way forward for the left. In Spain, the rapid rise in the polls of the Podemos party has excited many. The following is one viewpoint on the meaning of the SYRIZA win for the Spansih left.

* * *

By Manel García Biel

Ireland: Sinn Féin leader calls for discussions on building left alternative; Anti-austerity campaign boosted

By John Hedges

January 29, 2015 -- An Phoblacht, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Sinn Féin national chairperson Declan Kearney calls in the February issue of An Phoblacht for formal discussions on building an Irish left alternative in the wake of the success of SYRIZA in Greece.

Writing in An Phoblacht, Declan Kearney says:

“This is the time for serious political discussion among progressive Irish political, community and trade union activists on ideas and strategies to ensure the future election of a Left coalition in the South ...

“Those on the progressive and republican Left need to make that change irreversible by altering the current balance of forces to create a new political realignment. That will only come about through popular support for a credible political alternative that can effectively challenge the conservative power blocs and their policies ...

Eyewitness Greece: SYRIZA announces dramatic changes, prepares for debt battle with EU

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras makes his victory speech, January 25, 2015. Photo by Vivian Messimeris/GLW.

For more discussion and analysis of SYRIZA's victory, click HERE.

By Dick Nichols, Athens

January 30, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It was the French Catholic daily La Croix that last week best described the size of the challenges facing Greece’s incoming SYRIZA government—they are “labours of Hercules”, a reference to the mythical Greek hero whose 12 feats against impossible odds made him immortal in the ancient world.

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