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Political uprising shakes Ukraine to its foundation (updated March 2)

"In the coming days and weeks there will be a wave of political analysis on the left that will frame the overthrow of the regime of Yanukovych as a pro-imperialist scheme being swallowed by a gullible population. The strong presence of extreme right-wing forces among those protesting the regime will be presented as proof positive. This will resemble the many simplistic analyses describing the course of the 'Arab Spring', particularly in Syria."

By Roger Annis

February 24, 2014 -- A Socialist in Canada, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- It is the aftermath in the Ukraine of the remarkable popular uprising Ukraine uprising that has torn down the authoritarian regime of President Viktor Yanukovych. The parliament that supported him has voted to remove him from power and has appointed a temporary replacement. Now it has issued a warrant for his arrest.

Ukraine: Regime fall followed by fresh chaos

Police clash with Maidan protesters, January 19, 2014.

By Tony Iltis

March 1, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- After failing to violently crush mass protests in Kiev’s Independence Square, which have been raging since November 21, the regime of Viktor Yanukovich collapsed on February 22.

The protests began in opposition to Yanukovich’s decision to back out of a Free Trade Agreement and Association Agreement with the European Union. But in the face of police brutality, the protests evolved into a general expression of anti-regime discontent. The movement was initially known as Euromaidan (“Eurosquare”) but later just Maidan, reflecting this evolution.

The movement also has an anti-Russian character, fuelled by the likelihood that in place of the proposed agreements with EU, Yanukovich was planning to take Ukraine into a Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

On February 27, parliament elected a new government of opposition politicians and defectors from Yanukovich’s party. Before the parliamentary vote, acting-president Oleksandr Turchynov presented the new government, headed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in the square on February 26. They received a hostile reception.

Party of the European Left’s fourth congress: building unity to build hope

By Dick Nichols

February 24, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When the 200-plus delegates finally voted on the two main documents presented to the fourth congress of the Party of the European Left (EL), held on December 13-15, 2013, in Madrid, there was a faint murmur of surprise at the degree of support received. After all, the EL is a mix of different but related political sensibilities, bringing together “anti-capitalist, communist, socialist, ecologist, feminist, eco-socialist, republican and other democratic forces”[i].

Its affiliates embody different national political cultures and are based on all sides of the widening north-south and east-west economic and social ravines that cross Europe, the European Union and the Eurozone. Moreover, it is only 10 years old, created in 2004 in a forced march driven by the process of European integration and the need to compete with other European “party families”.

Alexis Tsipras' program for the European Commission presidency: 'A mandate for hope and change'

Programmatic declaration of Alexis Tsipras, candidate of the Party of the European Left for the presidency of the European Commission

The following document was released in January 2014. Alexis Tsipras is also leader of the radical left party Syriza.

* * *

By Alexis Tsipras

Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal on February 21, 2014 -- The Party of the European Left elected me candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission, at its fourth congress December 13-15, 2013, in Madrid.

It is an honour and a mandate. The honour is not only personal. The candidacy of the leader of the main opposition in Greece [Syriza] symbolises recognition of the sacrifices made by the Greek people. It also symbolises solidarity for all the people in Europe’s south who are suffering the catastrophic social consequences of the Memoranda of austerity and recession.

Alexis Tsipras: End austerity to regain democracy! For a democratic, social and ecological Europe!

Left.gr -- Alexis Tsipras, president of SYRIZA and candidate of the European Left party for the precidency of the European Commission, spoke on January 18, 2014, in a debate organised by the Dutch Socialist Party in Amersfoort. Here's the full text of his speech.

* * *

Your invitation, which I appreciate a lot, came at the right moment. Not because, as you might know, I am candidate of the European Left for the presidency of the European Commission. But because, yes indeed, democracy in Europe is in retreat. And this is the reason, the purpose and the real meaning of my candidacy: to end austerity to regain democracy.

Democracy is in retreat. And the reason is neoliberalism.

1. It is neoliberal austerity that causes recession, zero or low and jobless growth. With the Netherlands expected to reach in 2017 the real economic output level of 2008. Austerity brought youth unemployment in the Eurozone to the unprecedented 25%.

2. It is, also, the lack of transparency, lack of legitimacy and lack of accountability and credibility of the European institutions. The European Union is distant from the peoples of Europe in all respects. It has alienated its citizens. That’s why the people react with apathy, distrust and euroscepticism.

Álvaro García Linera: A message to the left of Europe and the world

Álvaro García Linera at the congress of the European left in Madrid on December 14, 2013.

By Álvaro García Linera, translated by Marie-Rose Ardiaca

Transform! Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission-- The vice-president of the Multinational state of Bolivia Álvaro García Linera gave a speech at the fourth congress of the Party of the European Left, which took place in Madrid on December 13-15, 2013.

* * *

Please allow me hail this meeting of the European Left and, in the name of our President, of our country and of our people thank you for inviting us to exchange a whole body of opinions and ideas on the platform of this most important Congress of the European left.

Please allow me to be blunt but also to put forward proposals.

How do we see Europe from the outside? We see a Europe that is flagging, we see a demoralised Europe, withdrawn and turning inwards yet very self-satisfied, and we see a Europe rather apathetic and tired. These are very ugly and harsh words -- but that is how we see Europe.

Bosnia’s magnificent uprising: Heralding a new era of class politics?

Mass protest in Tuzla, February 7, 2014.

By Michael Karadjis

February 13, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Beginning on February 5, mass protests led by workers and retrenched former workers in the privatised factories, along with students and other citizens, have rocked most major industrial cities in Bosnia, notably Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica, Bihac and Mostar.

Spain: Si, se puede! ‘White tide’ defeats Madrid health privatisation plan

By Dick Nichols

February 1, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- Victories in the never-ending struggle against the sell-off of public services in southern Europe are rare. So when one comes along that is as big as the recent defeat of the Madrid regional government’s scheme to privatise hospital and community health-centre management we should celebrate it to the full.

Towards a European ecosocialist action network

European Ecosocialist Conference Jan 2014

Delegates to European ecosocialist meeting, January 19, 2014.

By Andrew Burgin

January 25, 2014 -- Left Unity via Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The increasing ecological crisis and impending environmental catastrophe that we all face, is leading more on the left to recognise that we have to be both red and green in our politics – we have to be ecosocialist. One without the other is not going to work.

Basque Country: Huge march advances struggle for peace, national rights

By Dick Nichols

January 19, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For decades the People’s Party (PP) of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has believed it has a reliable gun in its political holster—unbending opposition to anything that could be portrayed as linked to Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA), the left-nationalist armed organisation responsible for more than 800 deaths in its 50-year-long fight against the Spanish state.

However, since ETA’s declaration two years ago of a permanent ceasefire, this particular weapon has started to backfire on the Spanish state’s ruling conservative party.

Belgium: Left parties to form united electoral ticket

[For more on Belgium, click HERE.]

Statement by the LCR-SAP secretariat

December 31, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The end of the tunnel is far from being in sight. We are only at the beginning of a gigantic offensive by European capitalism against the world of labour, youth and women. Since 2008, in the European Union (EU), more than 2 billion private bank debts have been transformed into public debts, and these debts serve as the pretext for a ferocious austerity.

The sacrifices imposed on the majority of the population aggravate deficits and recession. But the dominant class continues to pursue them. Why? Because its objective is not purely economic but strategic: it wishes to break social resistance, dismantle what remains of the “welfare state”, reduce the public sector to its simplest expression and structurally weaken the trade unions. The drift of the employers’ discourse on competitiveness is revealing: for the bosses, it is no longer enough that “labour costs” are aligned with other European countries — it is henceforth in the context of the world market, faced with the “emergent” capitalism of China and elsewhere, that workers on the old continent should be “competitive”.

The EU, capitalist war machine

Ukraine: Russia or the European Union? Reject a choice between ‘lesser evils’

By Aleksandr Buzgalin

December 24, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As this article is being written the outcome of the resistance remains undecided, but the author is certain that, one way or another, the present Ukrainian authorities will draw closer to the European Union. Meanwhile, one thing is clear: the profound problems of Ukraine, and of Russia’s relations with it, will not be solved as a result.

A tragedy turning into farce? Or farce as tragedy?

Ukraine is shot through with contradictions. For the second time in 10 years Kiev has become the scene of mass protest actions and of clashes with the authorities. But the events of late autumn 2013 are only superficially similar to those of 2004. The situation has grown far more complex.

Europe: Socialism and the European left -- an interview with Murray Smith

Joonas Laine of the Finnish publication Revalvaatio interviews Murray Smith on socialism, the European Union and the perspectives of the European Left.

December 12, 2013 -- Revalvaatio -- Murray Smith is a Scottish socialist who has been involved in leftist politics in various Western European countries since the 1960s. Since 2009 he has lived in Luxemburg, where he takes part in the activities of the left party déi Lenk and was elected to be the party’s representative in the European Left Party’s executive bureau in 2010.

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France: ‘Third pillar’ established in Front de Gauche

On December 1, 2013, 100,000 people joined a march organised by the Front de Gauche to demand a "fiscal revolution" -- tax the rich -- and to oppose a January 1, 2014, increase in the regressive indirect value-added tax.

By Dick Nichols

December 5, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The formation of a “third pillar” in the Front de Gauche (Left Front) was finalised at a November 23-24 conference in Saint-Denis of delegates from four of the Left Front’s smaller affiliates: Alternatives (Les Alternatifs), Convergence and Alternatives (Convergence et Alternatives), the Federation for a Social and Ecological Alternative (Fédération pour une Alternative Sociale et Ecologique) and the Anti-Capitalist Left (Gauche Anticapitaliste).

The 200-strong conference, which gave the name Together! (Ensemble!) to the new formation, also involved unaffiliated activists from the social movements and trade unions, all members or supporters of the Left Front.

Britain: Successful conference forms Left Unity party; Richard Seymour reports

Around 400 members attended the founding conference of Left Unity.

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal will carry more reports of the founding conference of Left Unity.]

By Liam Mac Uaid

December 1, 2013 -- Socialist Resistance --  The first indication that Left Unity is different from most other left-wing organisations came very early in its November 30 founding conference. Ken Loach, the person who is seen as having given the inspiration for the launch of the new party, proposed that we shouldn’t take a decision on which of the political platforms to endorse. Ken lost the vote and conference moved on to next business. There was no dramatic tension, no sense of impending crisis. It would have been hard to imagine a similar scene at a Respect conference. It was a very promising omen.

Alexis Tsipras: Left can unite to build a better Europe

"Europe needs an anti-austerity and anti-recession front, a solidarity movement for its working people, north and south" -- Alexis Tsipras.

Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece's Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left, has announced he is standing presidency of the European Commission on behalf of the European Left Party. This article appeared in the November 28, 2013, Guardian.

* * *

More than 1000 young people a day are joining the ranks of Europe's unemployed. In the past four years the army of jobless people across the continent has grown by more than 10 million.

In Greece, despite the government's claim that austerity has been a success, the 2014 budget imposes new public spending cuts and more job losses. The economic and humanitarian catastrophe is unprecedented in peacetime: 27% unemployment, 60% youth unemployment, a 25% shrinking of GDP, 40% reduction in family income. And, even after relentless pain, the debt-to-GDP ratio is almost 180%. It was only 120% in 2010 when the first austerity measures were imposed.

France: 'We need a tax revolution', says Left Front's Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Part 1.

[For more on French politics, click HERE.]

November 24, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Leader of France's Left Front (Front de Gauche) Jean-Luc Mélenchon was interviewed on November 9, 2013, about the March 2014 municipal elections, and the disputes that have erupted within the front around them. For further detail, see "France: As National Front support grows, strategy struggle erupts in Left Front".

Denmark: Red-Green Alliance big winner in municipal elections

Map of elected representatives of the Red-Green Alliance.

By Anne Rehder, international secretary, Enhedslisten (Red-Green Alliance, Denmark)

November 20, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Denmark's municipal and regional elections on November 19 were a historic success for the Red-Green Alliance (RGA or Enhedslisten). We are now a nationwide party with representatives in all regions and corners of Denmark. With an increase in votes from the previous election in 2009 from 2.3% to 6.9%. The RGA now has seats in 79 municipalities and all regions of Denmark, up from only a presence in 10 municipalities and one representative in the capital region around Copenhagen. The total number of city councillors has gone from 14 to 119 and from one regional elected to 15.

Furthermore the results grants the RGA a seat in the National Organisation of Municipalities, which negotiates the economy of the municipalities with the government and has been tolerating one austerity budget after the other even though it previously had a majority consisting of the Social Democrats (SD) and the Socialist People's Party (SPP). This gives the RGA a change to break the austerity consensus.

France: As National Front support grows, strategy struggle erupts in Left Front

Part 1.

By Dick Nichols

November 6, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- October was a month of sharp shifts in French politics. On October 4, a poll in the French weekly Nouvel Observateur showed the xenophobic and racist National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen leading voting intentions for the 2014 European elections with the support of 24% of those interviewed—up 3% in six months.

On October 13, in the second round of the by-election for the canton of Brignoles (in the Mediterranean department of Var), the FN easily defeated the mainstream conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), by 53.9% to 46.1%. Until 2011 Brignoles had had a Communist Party (PCF) mayor, but in this election the main left candidate, with a PCF background and supported by the Socialist Party, could only manage 14.6% in the first round.

Luxembourg: Election opens new political chapter

Symbol of the anti-capitalist party déi Lénk.

Click HERE for articles by Murray Smith. For more on Luxembourg click HERE. For more on Europe, click HERE.

By Murray Smith

November 1, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Legislative elections were held in Luxembourg on October 20. The immediate outcome was that the ruling (practically non-stop since 1945) Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) looks headed for the opposition benches. A new three-party government is in the making, under the aegis of the Democratic Party, the most thoroughgoing liberal party in Luxembourg and the big winner in these elections, obviously taking votes from the CSV.

The anti-capitalist party déi Lénk (the Left) made less spectacular but solid progress.

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