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Belgium: Eight questions on trade union independence and politics

Document of the General Federation of Belgian Labour (Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique/Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond, FGTB/ABVV) in Charleroi and Sud-Hainaut, Belgium

[For background, see "Belgium: Class trade unionism seeks political expression".]

October 22, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The Charleroi and Sud-Hainaut regional organisation is the second biggest of the FGTB in membership terms (102,000). It has just printed 10,000 copies of a pamphlet whose key passages are reproduced below.

1. Can trade unions get involved in politics?

¿Por qué el gobierno 'Roji-Verde' de Noruega ha sido derrotado por la coalición de derechas?

Escaños obtenidos: SV – Partido de Izquierda Socialista; A – Partido Laborista; MDG – Partido
de los Verdes; FRP – Partido del Progreso; H – Partido Conservador; V – Partido Liberal; KRF
– Demócratas Cristianos; SP – Partido del Centro. Fuente:

[In English at Haga clic aquí para más artículos en español.]

Por Asbjørn Wahl and Roy Pedersen

September 20, 2013 -- Transform!, translated by -- El gobierno de coalición Roji-Verde de Noruega, cuya plataforma política fue calificada, cuando asumió el poder en el 2005, como la más progresista de Europa, ha sufrido una amarga derrota en las elecciones parlamentarias del 9 de septiembre. Una coalición de partidos de centro- derecha y derecha, en la que se incluye un partido populista, ha obtenido una sólida mayoría y está actualmente gestionando la plataforma política del nuevo gobierno.

Belgium: Class trade unionism seeks political expression

Daniel Piron, the Charleroi regional secretary of the FGTB.

By Daniel Tanuro

October 17, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- In the social and political history of Belgium, May 1, 2012, could mark a milestone. On that day the leaders of the Charleroi regional branch of the socialist trade union General Federation of Belgian Labour (Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique/Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond, FGTB/ABVV) — the second biggest in the country, with 102,000 members — publicly broke with the social-democratic party and called for a rallying of the left to the perspective of a new broad, anti-capitalist force to the left of the Parti Socialiste (PS) and the Greens. An unprecedented thunderbolt… and not without consequences.

May Day speeches in Belgium are generally unsurprising but like all rules, this has its exceptions. On May 1, 2012, in Charleroi, a big stone was thrown in the water by Daniel Piron, the regional secretary of the FGTB. Before stunned and furious social-democratic leaders, and in the presence of several hundred enthusiastic trade unionists, Piron denounced the austerity policies with which the PS has collaborated for 25 years without a break.

Right gains in Austria's paradoxical election result

By Walter Baier

October 2, 2013 -- Transform! -- The outcome of the September 29, 2013, Austrian parliamentary elections must seem paradoxical all across Europe.

Despite the – by comparison – favourable economic data, the ruling “Great Coalition” of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and conservative Peoples Party (ÖVP) was punished. Its share of the votes fell back from 55 per cent to less than 51. The SPÖ at 27 per cent remained the largest party, however is now sitting in a parliament with four right-wing parties, which hold 108 out of 183 seats altogether.

The German-nationalist, racist Freedom Party (FPÖ) scored better than expected at 20.6 (+3.0%) per cent. It managed to retrieve the majority of the votes it had lost after 2005 lost to the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), which had been founded by Jörg Haider. In Styria, however, the FPÖ topped the poll to become the party with the most votes, spectacularly gaining from the electorate of both the ÖVP and SPÖ. Notably among workers and employees, the FPÖ replaced the SPÖ as the strongest party.

Crónica de una jornada con Nicolás Maduro

[In English at Haga clic aquí para más artículos en español.]

VÍCTOR RÍOS Y MIGUEL RIERA | septiembre 2013 -- De Nicolás Maduro, presidente electo de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, se sabe muy poco en España. Apenas cuatro trazos, aportados principalmente por los medios de comunicación de masas hostiles al proceso revolucionario. El Viejo Topo quiso conocerlo, y el presidente venezolano aceptó ser entrevistado sin poner la menor traba.

El Viejo Topo

Balearic Islands (Spain): Attack on language rights provokes indefinite teachers’ strike, citizens' revolt

By Dick Nichols

October 1, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The school year should have already begun on the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula), but it hasn’t. Since September 16, high school and primary teachers have been on an indefinite strike.

On September 30, after an earlier mass meeting of the cross-union Teachers’ Assembly voted to stay out, the strike entered its third week.

The day before, the Balearic Islands saw their biggest ever demonstrations, when at least 100,000 came out to support the teachers and to protest against the education and language policy of the regional People’s Party (PP) government of Jose Ramon Bauzá and his education minister Joana Maria Camps.

Venezuela: A day with Nicolas Maduro

Nicolas Maduro interviewed by Spain's El Viejo Topo' Víctor Ríos and Miguel Riera, translated by by Tamara Pearson for

September 26, 2013 -- Very little is known about Nicolas Maduro, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in Spain. [There’s] scarcely four lines, mainly contributed by the mass media which is hostile to the revolutionary process. Spain's El Viejo Topo wanted to get to know him, and the Venezuelan president accepted the interview without any hassles.

Why Norway's 'red-green' government was defeated by the right-wing coalition

Seats won: SV – Socialist Left Party; A – Labour Party; MDG – Green Party; FRP – Progress Party; H – Conservative Party; V – Liberal Party; KRF – Christian Democrats; SP – Centre Party. Source:

By Asbjørn Wahl and Roy Pedersen

September 20, 2013 -- Transform! -- The red-green coalition government in Norway, whose political platform when it took power in 2005 was called the most progressive in Europe, experienced a bitter defeat in the country’s parliamentary election on September 9. A coalition of four centre-right and right-wing parties, including a right-wing populist party, gained a solid majority and are now negotiating the political platform for a new government.

Germany: Far-left Die Linke becomes third biggest party in parliament

Members of the left-wing Die Linke celebrating their victory over the Greens, and the demise of their rivals the FDP.

September 23, 2013 -- The Local -- Despite dropping a few percentage points since 2009, the socialist Left party (Die Linke) celebrated becoming the third biggest party in Germany's parliament after the September 22 general election.

For a party well-used to being excluded from post-election celebrations, the atmosphere at Die Linke's election party was first of tense excitement, and then of triumph.

As the first exit polls were announced, the edgy, warehouse-like brewery venue in Berlin's trendy Prenzlauer Berg district erupted in whooping that the socialist Die Linke would likely beat the Greens to become the third-biggest political party in the German parliament.

The first estimates of the election's result placed Die Linke at 8.5 per cent - down half a percent from their last poll score - but half a point ahead of the Greens.

A specially impassioned roar of approval came with the news that the business-friendly FDP had dropped to 4.5 per cent, meaning the liberal party, natural rivals to the socialist Linke, will not be able to enter the Bundestag at all.

This will be the first time the FDP are not represented in the Bundestag since 1949.

Catalonia: Showdown with Spanish state looms after huge protest

[For more coverage of Catalonia, click HERE. For more on Spanish politics, click HERE.]

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

September 16, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On September 11, Catalonia’s national day (the Diada), around 1.6 million Catalans linked arms to form the Via Catalana (Catalan Way), a 400-kilometre human chain demanding a referendum on independence for the country.

Britain: Left Unity discusses what politics for a new left party?

By Felicity Dowling

August 11, 2013 -- Left Unity -- We face the probability of a terrible decline in the social wealth of the working people in the UK, a critical change in the life experience of working-class people. Hunger, want and fear are coming back to this and other countries. Thousands have signed petitions supporting the call for a new political formation under the banner of Left Unity. On November 30, hundreds of founding members of this new party will inaugurate it, determine our political direction, our priorities and the nature of the organisation itself.

Three different political platforms have been published in the run-up to this founding conference of Left Unity to try to put forward the best way for us to move forward. A platform is a set of ideas that a group wants to put forward to be considered at the founding conference. Political discussion helps us all understand the tasks facing Left Unity, and the range of political opinion within the organisation. Solidarity and inclusiveness will help us all make the most of these discussions. Each member has a right to comment and any group of ten can produce an alternative platform.
What are the differences between the platforms? This post will, I hope, lay the positions of the three platforms side by side so that people can compare them directly.

Greece: Political resolution of the first congress of SYRIZA

Over July 10-15, 2013, congress delegates of SYRIZA, the coalition of radical left parties in Greece, voted to form itself into a unitary party. This is the political resolution from the congress. Translation by For more coverage of the congress, click HERE. Read Alexis Tsipras' speeches to the the congress HERE..

1. The conference of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) is a continuity and a breakthrough in its course, which started in 2000, continued with its official founding in 2004, and was sealed when it took on the historic responsibility to deliver the Greek people from the catastrophic neoliberal memoranda policies that have turned our country into a debt colony and led its creative, social, and productive forces to marginalization.

Greece: Syriza after its founding congress -- views from the party's left

Alexis Tsipras addresses the SYRIZA congress.

For more on Syriza, click HERE. Read Alexis Tsipras' speeches to the the congress HERE.]

By Stathis Kouvelakis

July 18, 2013 -- Contretemps via International Viewpoint -- This article reflects on the founding congress of Syriza as a political party, rather than a coalition of fourteen organisations, which took place on 10-15th July 2013.

Grecia: El congreso de Syriza une sus fuerzas para un gobierno de izquierda

Alexis Tsipras.

[English at and]

Un Congreso que ha transformado a la izquierda griega Durante el fin de semana del 10-14 de julio, en el primer congreso de Syriza (Coalición de la Izquierda Radical), era obvio que la historia se estaba escribiendo continta indeleble. Este ha sido el congreso que cambió a la izquierda griega.

Ante el reto de sus perspectivas de crecimiento, que le abren la puerta de un futuro gobierno, la coalición de izquierda tomó la decisión de convertirse en un partido. Y ello explica la dinámica de este primer congreso, en el que todo se ha puesto sobre la mesa: desde los principios fundacionales hasta la orientación política y los estatutos. Y, por su puesto, en el que todo se ha discutido y clarificado las diferentes posiciones, siempre con una pasión típicamente griega.

Eyewitness report: 'Things have gone very quiet in Greece, haven’t they?'

Syriza congress: Alexis Tsipras (left), Manolis Glezos.

See also Helena Sheehan's "To the crucible: An Irish engagement with the Greek Left" published in January, 2013. For more on Syriza, click HERE.

By Helena Sheehan

July 29, 2013 -- Irish Left Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- “Things have gone very quiet in Greece, haven’t they?” So many people said that to me in the past six months or so. I responded that there was a lot going on, even if international media weren’t covering it. There were civil mobilisations of teachers and transport workers, as well as rising unemployment, emigration and impoverishment, being met with continuing protest, strikes, occupations.

Even so, I sensed a lull in the rhythm of resistance, since the big demonstrations opposing the passage of the third memorandum last autumn. Obviously people couldn’t keep going at that pitch all the time, but how many were succumbing to exhaustion, despair, defeat? How many were quietly going about their work in solidarity networks, policy development, political education?

Greece: Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras' call for a united left party (+ intro speech)

Alexis Tsipras addresses the congress.

The following speech was presented by party leader Alexis Tsipras to the Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) first national congress on July 13, 2013. One of the major decisions to be made at the congress was the question of forming a single united left party from the many left organisations that to that point operated as part of the coalition. Click HERE for a report on the congress.

* * *


Do you know what the message from the outside is? The message from an agonising and fighting society, with all the things that are going on in it?

The message is: get done or we’re done for.

We’re watching you, we’re waiting for you, but we’re running out of time.

We’re sinking; we’re drowning.

The message is: it’s now or never.

The message is not just political: SYRIZA or memoranda.

The message is: SYRIZA or humanitarian catastrophe.

Because those shameless appointees of the lenders, those executors of the memoranda implementation, they have no shame at all.

They have no respect or pity for anything or anybody.

Greece: Syriza congress unites its forces for a left government

Syriza congress delegates vote.

By Pedro Filipe Soares (Left Bloc, Portugal), translated by Dick Nichols

July 19, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over the July 10-14 weekend, at the first congress of Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left), it was obvious that history was being written in indelible ink. This was a congress that changed the Greek left.

Faced with the challenge of rising growth opening the door to future government, the left coalition took the step of becoming a party. Hence this first congress, where everything was spelled out — from founding principles to political orientation and statutes. And, of course, where everything was discussed and different positions clarified, always with typical Greek passion.

Attendance: 3430 delegates. This statistic reveals the enormous commitment that the party invested into building this congress. Its deliberations lasted from July 10 to July 14, when 3412 delegates participated in the election of the president. It was an extraordinary sensation to enter that hall and feel the energy of the delegates, the intensity of the discussion and the attention given to all points of detail.

England and Wales: Reconquer the Labour Party or build a new left party?

By Phil Hearse

July 12, 2013 -- Socialist Resistance -- A supporter of the Morning Star/Communist Party of Britain (CPB), under the pseudonym "Michael Ford", has written the most substantial rebuttal of the proposal to found a new left party in Britain – “Left Unity’s Modest Flutter”, posted on the Left Unity site.

Weighing in at more than 9000 words Ford’s article assesses almost every conceivable objection, from the weighty to the absurd. By analysing his critique in depth we can be more precise about what the case for a new party actually is and on what basis it can be built.

Å bygge sosialisme for det tjueførste hundreåret: intervju med Michael A Lebowitz

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

[English at]

Michael A Lebowitz intervjua av Darko Vesić og Aleksandar Stojanović.

– Kapitalismen har vore i krise i mange år no, og dei kapitalistiske statane svarer på krisa med såkalla innstrammingstiltak. Ser me på dynamikken til kapitalismen dei seinaste femti åra, så var svaret på krisa på 1970-tallet det som no er kalla «nyliberalismen». Om ny vekst er svaret på krisa, kan me seie at nyliberalismen på 70-tallet hadde suksess. Men gjeld det same dagens «innstrammingstiltak»?

- Eg trur me må sjå på somme av premissa i spørsmålet. For det første meiner ikkje alle marxistar at kapitalismen som eit heile er i krise, i motsetning til kapitalismen i spesielle område. For det andre, om kapitalismen er i total eller partiell krise, kva er årsaka?

Galicia: Anova's bruising congress a ‘collective apprenticeship’

By Dick Nichols

July 7, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The mainstream media were taken aback: why was the first congress of the Galician left nationalist organisation Anova — the key component along with the United Left (EU in Galicia, IU nationally) in Galicia of the hugely successful Galician Left Alternative (AGE) — so heated and acrimonious, at times reaching the point of “shambles” (the term of the chairperson)?

How come the 16-month-old Anova — vital to AGE winning 14% of the vote in the October 2012 Galician regional elections and now at the point of overtaking the Galician affiliate of the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) in the polls — was having a congress marked by dissent from the rulings of the presiding committee, fierce lobbying of delegates and in-the-corridors distribution of four how-to-vote cards for different tickets for the national coordinating committee?

It was left to Xosé Manuel Beiras, historic leader of Galician left nationalism and Anova’s unanimously re-elected spokesperson, to help the media — and some shell-shocked delegates — grasp what had happened in the Congress Centre of Santiago de Compostela, capital of Galicia, on June 8-9, 2013.

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