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SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' London speech: 'Our pragmatism is subject to our vision for radical change'

[For more discussion of SYRIZA, click HERE.]

By  Alexis Tsipras

March 15, 2013 -- Left.gr -- Comrades and friends, Europe is on edge. Two worlds collide. On one side stand the productive forces of democracy, the people fighting to create a society of justice, equality and freedom. On the other side, a neoliberal biopolitical project unfolds. Its aim is to control bodies and minds through the politics of fear. To discipline human life in its entirety. To intensify the exploitation of labour and to increase the profits of capital. 

I am privileged to address you here in the heart of London today to declare that we are part of the experiment of democracy. 

We in SYRIZA believe that radical democratic changes are the only way out of the crisis for the people of Europe. 

This is not an optimistic illusion. 

It is the compelling conclusion of rational argument and detailed analysis. 

Eastern Europe: Mass protests topple Bulgarian government, zombie uprising in Slovenia

Mass protest in Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, February 17, 2013.

March 15, 2013 -- Left Unity, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In the last week of February 2013, after days of protests across the country, the Bulgarian government headed by Boyko Borisov resigned. Mariya Ivancheva looks at how it happened and what comes next.

From the beginning of February, Bulgarians in most big cities have been out in the streets, protesting against increased electricity and heating bills. While the increase has happened gradually throughout 2012, in January 2013 the bills were considerably bigger than they would normally get. The price formation was transparently written down on the bill, but what angered many is that a significant amount of money was charged not for energy per se but for various taxes and tariffs.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Die Linke salute Hugo Chavez's socialist vision

Above: March 6 press conference by Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Front de Gauche, Left Front) on the death of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez Frias.

l’Humanité interview with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, spokesperson Front de Gauche (Left Front), France, translated by Dick Nichols

March 7, 2013 -- You have always supported the revolutionary process in the Venezuela, why?

We need to place the Bolivarian Revolution in its continental and historical context. The collapse of state communism was presented to the whole world as the end of history for communist and socialist sentiment and aspiration. But the flame flared up again in South America because the new age of capitalism had made that continent its proving ground. Neoliberalism was tried out there by military dictatorships on the one hand and by Operation Condor and CIA acts of violence on the other. The policies which then got applied were the same everywhere: free and unbridled competition, monetarism and deregulation, leading the whole continent to disaster. It is in this context that the revolutionary flame flared up again. Bolivarian Venezuela has occupied a special place: not only has been it been built on democratic foundations, but it has outmaneuvered the criminal plans of the opponent by peaceful and popular action.

Left Bloc: 'Portugal’s left must respond to a rising tide of rebellion' (updated March 14)

According to rally coordinators, some 500,000 protesters filled the Lisbon boulevard leading to the Finance Ministry on March 2. Many chanting "It's time for the government to go!" and "Screw the Troika, we want our lives back", referring to the lenders from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Introduction by Dick Nichols, European correspondent, Green Left Weekly, based in Barcelona

March 12, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Whenever there’s a protest in Portugal you are almost certain to hear the haunting song, "Grandola, Vila Morena" (“Grandola, sunburnt town”), with its line “who most rules within you, O city, is the people”. On Saturday, March 2, at massive protests across Portugal, "Grandola, Vila Morena" was sung by more voices than ever before.

Sortu and Basque left nationalism’s strategic relaunch

For more coverage of the Basque struggle, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

By Dick Nichols

March 5, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Nearly 10 years after the Spanish high court outlawed its previous political organisations, Basque left nationalism has finally given birth to a new legal party—Sortu (“to create” or “to be born” in Basque). The new arrival is a powerful progressive force for Basque independence—socialist, feminist, ecologically aware and staunchly internationalist.

Its goal is an independent socialist Basque-speaking state that unites the three northern Basque regions in the French department of Pyrenees Atlantiques with the four southern Basque regions covering Navarra and Euskadi (the Basque Autonomous Community) in the Spanish state.

France: New Anti-Capitalist Party congress wrestles with challenge of the Left Front

[Click HERE for more analysis and discussion of French politics.]

By Dick Nichols

February 15, 2013 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The four years since the founding of France’s New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) have been a roller coaster rise and fall for the organisation, which was created in 2009 on the initiative of the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR), the former French section of the Trotskyist Fourth International.

The party’s rapid early growth seemed to confirm the premise on which it was founded — tens of thousands of France's workers and young people wanted to get active against capitalism’s crises and crimes, but were wary of existing left organisations and looking for a new sort of political home.

Basque Country: Movement for sovereignty and socialism on the rise

For more coverage of the Basque struggle, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

February 18, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Oskar Matute (pictured above) was elected to the Basque parliament in the election of October 21, 2012, as a candidate for Euskal Herria Bildu (EH Bildu, Basque Country Reunification). He was previously a member of parliament from 2002-2009 with Ezker Batua-Berdeak, a united-left grouping. His is spokesperson for Alternativa, one of the founding members of the EH Bildu coalition, which has achieved spectacular electoral results since its legalisation in May 2011. EH Bildu won 25% of the popular vote in the October 2012 Basque election -- capturing 21 out of 75 seats.

Tristan Parish and Rachel Evans spoke to Oskar Matute about EH Bildu and the Basque battle for independence, dignity and socialism.

* * *

How did EH Bildu form and why did it achieve such good results?

France: As Hollande takes the social-liberal road, what prospects for the left?

France's Socialist Party President Francois Hollande with the Left Front's Jean-Luc Melenchon.

By Murray Smith

February 7, 2013 – KritiskDebat (Denmark ) and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It is just over seven months since the Socialist Party’s Francois Hollande capped his victory in the presidential elections by winning a working majority in the elections to the National Assembly.

It probably seems longer to him. It has been a hard half-year. Hollande won the election by standing on a program that was distinctly on the left by the standards of the Socialist Party. Partly this was to position himself as a clear alternative to his conservative opponent Nicolas Sarkozy. To a not insignificant degree it was to hold the SP electorate against the strongest challenge from the left for thirty years, in the shape of the Left Front (Front de gauche) and its presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Catalonia: Fight over right to decide political future intensifies

[For more coverage of Catalonia, click HERE, and Spain, HERE.]

By Dick Nichols

February 6, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Political tensions within the Spanish state have reached a new pitch following the January 23, 2013, declaration by the Catalan parliament of Catalonia’s sovereign right to decide its own political future. Antagonism is intensifying between the Catalan and national Spanish governments and polarisation continues to increase among and within all main political forces.

The 135-seat Catalan parliament adopted the “Catalan People’s Declaration of Sovereignty and Right to Decide” by 85 votes to 41 with two abstentions. It was supported by the governing conservative nationalist federation, Convergence and Union (CiU), the independentist Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), the left coalition Initiative for Catalonia-Greens and United and Alternative Left (ICV-EUiA), and by one of the three representatives of the left-nationalist Popular Unity Candidacies (CUP).

Ireland: Socialist Party leaves the United Left Alliance

[Click HERE to read more on the development of the United Left Alliance.]

By Henry Silke

January 30, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On January 26, the Socialist Party (affiliated to the Committee for a Workers International, CWI) posted an article on its website announcing the end its membership of the United Left Alliance. This was one of the least surprising political developments on the Irish left as the Socialist Party (SP) had been steadily moving away from the alliance for more than a year.

The SP has given two reasons for leaving the alliance.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: The Guardian interview


Jean-Luc Mélenchon interview, the Guardian by lepartidegauche

On December 17, 2012, the British Guardian posted the above interview with the leader of France's Front de Gauche (Left Front), Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

To the crucible: an Irish engagement with the Greek crisis and the Greek left

Syriza poster, Synaspismos office in Athens, Helena Sheehan on the streets with Syriza in Athens.

[For more discussion of SYRIZA, click HERE.]

By Helena Sheehan

January 21, 2013 -- Irish Left Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal at the author's suggestion and with her permission -- A monumental drama is playing out before our eyes. It is a true Greek tragedy. The plot: A society is being pushed to its limits. The denouement is not yet determined, but survival is at stake and prospects are precarious. Greece is at the sharp end of a radical and risky experiment in how far accumulation by dispossession can go, how much expropriation can be endured, how far the state can be subordinated to the market. It is a global narrative, but the story is a few episodes ahead here.

Greece: Stathis Kouvelakis on tasks facing SYRIZA following its electoral breakthrough

December 7, 2012 -- Socialist Resistance -- The London branch of SYRIZA hosted a public meeting, "Shock therapy and popular uprising: Greece at the Crossroads", on December 7, 2012. Videos of the four keynote speakers Costas Douzinas, Stathis Kouvelakis, Seumas Milne and Marina Prentoulis are available.

Above, Stathis Kouvelakis sets out the tasks facing SYRIZA following its electoral breakthrough.

Other speakers were (to view the videos click on the links below):

Seumas Milne argues that the neoliberal capitalist model is facing defeat due to the resistance it is creating and its failure to end austerity.

Marina Prentoulis explains the relationship between SYRIZA’s electoral advances and the movement on the streets.

SYRIZA activist Yiannis Bournous on historic responsibility of the left in Greece; Alexis Tsipras interview

For more discussion and analysis on the political crisis in Greece, click HERE.

December 14, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Sibylle Kaczorek and Jody Betzien, from the Australian Socialist Alliance, interviewed Yiannis Bournous in Athens. Yiannis is a leading activst in the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), Greek's rapidly growing left party.

Syriza came close to winning elections in June 2012 on the basis of rejecting the brutal austerity being enforced on the people of Greece. Instead, a coalition of three parties (Greece's tradition conservative party New Democracy, its social-democratic rival PASOK and a right-wing split from Syriza, the Democratic Left) was formed, committed to greater austerity measures.

Yiannis is also a member of the central political committee of Synaspismos, one of Syriza's affiliate groups, and a member of the executive board of the European Left party. He spoke on the situation in Greece and Syriza's perspectives.

* * *

Portugal: el Bloco pide un gobierno de izquierda

www.bloco.org.

[In English at http://links.org.au/node/3112.]

Por Dick Nichols, Lisboa, traducción para www.sinpermiso.info por Gustavo Buster

09/12/12 -- Un fantasma recorre Portugal: el fantasma de Grecia y de Syriza, el partido de su izquierda radical. Todos los poderes de la Europa neoliberal, encabezados por la canciller alemana, Ángela Merkel, han entrado en una alianza impía para exorcizar ese fantasma.

Acompañada por los representantes de las grandes empresas alemana, Merkel no tuvo otro remedio que durante seis horas soportar el asedio de los manifestantes en Lisboa el 12 de noviembre. Felicitó al Primer Ministro de Portugal, Pedro Passos Coelho, por su "valentía" al aplicar los programas de austeridad (una "historia de éxito"), e instó al líder político más impopular del país a no ceder un ápice.

Basque Abertzale Left: Towards peace in the Basque Country

On November 14, 2012, reports the weekly news bulletin of the Abertzale Left nº101,15,000 people demonstrated in Bayonne under the slogan of “Hurbildu bakera, Giza eskubide guztiak, euskal preso eta iheslariak Euskal Herrira” (On the path to peace, all human rights, Basque prisoners and refugees to the Basque Country). The biggest demonstration in demand respect for the rights of prisoners and refugees to ever occur on the streets of Bayonne. The demonstration was led by the families of prisoners who carried photos of their loved ones.

By Gorka Elejabarrieta, head of the International Relations Department of the Basque Abertzale (Patriotic) Left

'The Greek people are at the epicentre of the capitalism crisis'

Speech given by Eric Toussaint at the SYRIZA youth festival in Athens on October 6, 2012 (transcript below). More than 3000 people were present to listen to four speakers: Marisa Matias, EU deputy, member of the Left Bloc (Portugal); Lisaro Fernandez, miners’ union leader (Asturias, Spain); Alexis Tsipras, president of SYRIZA (Greece); Eric Toussaint, president of Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt (CADTM, Belgium).

* * *

By Eric Toussaint, translated by “Snake” Arbusto and Judith Harris

October 6, 2012 -- We are now experiencing one of the worst crises of the worldwide capitalist system. But capitalism will not die a peaceful, natural death. Crises are part of the metabolism of capitalism. Only conscious action by the people can destroy and supersede capitalism in order to open the way to democratic socialism.

The Greek people are currently at the epicentre of the capitalism crisis. The way in which the Greek people mobilise to confront and respond to this capitalism crisis will be a crucial factor for finding a solution at the international level. You are at the epicenter of both the crisis and the solution to this crisis.

Catalan elections: A stride forward for national and social justice

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras campaigns for ICV-EUiA leader Joan Herrera campaign central act in Barcelona. Photo by Laura Guerrero.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

November 30, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Most pre-election polls picked the main trends in the November 25 elections for the135-seat parliament of Catalonia. What they underestimated—massively—was the strength of those trends, and for two reasons. It was not clear how large the expected increase in voter participation would be and right until the last minute up to 30% of voters were undecided.

As things turned out these critical elections stirred political passions so much that participation reached a record of just under 70%--5% above the previous high for a Catalan parliamentary contest. From early morning long queues formed at polling stations as 610,000 more people than in 2010 lined up to make their point (an increase of 11%).

Scotland: Radical Independence Conference unites left

November 25, 2012 -- Counterfire -- More than 800 delegates gathered in central Glasgow, Scotland on November 24 to attend the Radical Independence Conference and launched a campaign for a radical vision of Scottish independence. Speakers from a broad range of campaigns and struggles provided strategies for winning voters to independence whilet calling for a progressive social, economic and environmental transformation of the country in the interests of ordinary people.

A rejection of neoliberalism in a post-independence Scotland was a recurring theme throughout the event, which skilfully mixed packed rallies with wide-ranging breakaway workshops on topics such as "women and independence", "wealth of the commons: a Green economy for a progressive Scotland" and "organising the 99%".

A mass movement

In the opening plenary Peter McColl, rector of Edinburgh University, called for a mass movement against neoliberalism, saying that independence was part of a better future for Scotland. Trade union activist Cat Boyd told how she became radicalised by taking part in the anti-war movement which exposed "the true nature" of the "war obsessed machine" that is the British state.

Portugal: Left Bloc debates call for a left government

Delegate votes during the Left Bloc's eighth national convention. Photo from www.bloco.org.

By Dick Nichols, Lisbon

November 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A spectre is haunting Portugal ― the spectre of Greece and of Syriza, its radical left party. All the powers of neoliberal Europe, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise this spectre.

Accompanied by representatives of German big business, Merkel ran the gauntlet of protesters in Lisbon for six hours on November 12. She congratulated Portugal’s Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho for his “courage” in applying austerity (a “success story”) and urged the country’s most unpopular political leader to stick to his guns.

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