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Europe

Greece in the eye of the storm (the Greek left, SYRIZA and the limits of the concept of ‘left reformism’)

SYRIZA rally. Photo by SYN Flickr.

By Paul Kellogg

November 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, originally published as six notes at PolEcon.net. Republished here with Paul Kellogg’s permission.-- An economic crisis of enormous proportions has erupted in a first world country in the global North. The scale of the economic crisis in Greece has few modern equivalents, and is at the root of a massive social and political upheaval. Navigating that crisis poses difficult challenges for the social movements in Greece, and has important lessons for activists around the world. The article that follows is an attempt to provide information that can assist those, unfamiliar with the situation in Greece, in navigating this situation.

Germany: Red Pepper interviews new Die Linke co-leader Katja Kipping

Emma Dowling speaks to Katja Kipping, new co-chair of Germany's Left Party (Die Linke)

November 2012 -- Red Pepper -- With 76 seats out of 622 in parliament, Die Linke is Germany’s fourth-largest party. It was founded in 2007 in a merger between the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice (WASG). Members of the PDS were predominantly East German and many had also been members of the Socialist Unity Party, the former ruling party of East Germany. WASG, meanwhile, was predominantly West German and made up of trade unionists and social movement activists, as well as social democrats who had left the German Social Democratic Party.

Behind the rise of the Galician Left Alternative: Interview with Xosé Manuel Beiras

Xosé-Manuel Beiras.

For more on the Galician Left Alternative, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

Xosé-Manuel Beiras interviewed by Daniel Raventós, translated for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Dick Nichols

Xosé-Manuel Beiras, 76, has been a prominent figure nationalist left politics in Galicia since the 1960s. In 1963 he helped found the Galician Socialist Party (PSG, Partido Socialista Galego), illegal under the Franco dictatorship, and later became its international secretary and then general secretary (1971-77).

In 1982 Beiras participated in the founding of the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG, Bloco Nacionalista Galego), entering its leadership. In 1985 he was elected as a BNG candidate to the 75-seat Galician parliament, and was re-elected in 1989, becoming the BNG’s parliamentary spokesperson. Upon further re-election in 1993 Beiras was also elected as the BNG’s national spokesperson at its seventh national assembly.

Spain: Inspiring rise of the ‘Galician SYRIZA’ (+ AGE program)

For more on the Galician Left Alternative, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

By Dick Nichols

November 5, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On the morning of October 22, the day after elections to the parliaments of the Basque and Galician autonomous communities of the Spanish state, the TV and radio political pundits were struggling to be wise. Their powers of analysis were not tested so much by the rise of EH Bildu, the Basque left-nationalist coalition—the polls had predicted its vote of 25%. The disorienting new phenomenon was result for the new Galician Left Alternative (Alternativa Galega de Esquerda, AGE).

Just six weeks old and already widely dubbed the “Galician SYRIZA”, AGE won 14% of the vote and nine seats in the 75-seat parliament. The average of poll predictions for AGE before the election was three to four seats and 6 to 7 per cent of the vote.

Spain: As two-party system breaks down, what prospects for a ‘Spanish SYRIZA’?

Demonstrators march to the Spanish parliament against austerity measures announced by the government in Madrid, September 26, 2012.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

October 28, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The economic, social and territorial crisis in the Spanish state is morphing into a crisis of the two-party system that has provided Popular Party (PP) or Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) administrations for the last 30 years. Basque, Catalan and Galician nationalist forces (left and right), and the United Left (IU) and Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) parties are gaining support. However, only a brave gambler would put serious money on the future evolution of this crisis. While the two-party set-up has been severely weakened, a replacement party with enough popular support to impose a different solution has yet to emerge.

Europe: Greece, Spain, Portugal – the arc of resistance to austerity hardens

 On September 25-26-27, 2012, up to 50,000 demonstrators tried to encircle the parliament, calling for the resignation of the government and declaring “democracy kidnapped”. There were violent clashes with police.

Read more by Murray Smith. Read more analysis of Greece, Spain, Portugal and France.

By Murray Smith

October 16, 2012 -- Frontline, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- It sometimes seems as if Europe’s sovereign debt crisis has been going on forever. But in fact it really only manifested itself in 2010, a result of the bailing out of private banks with public money and other public spending due to the crisis. And in May of that year Greece became the first country to ask for help and to receive so-called “aid” – really, it cannot be repeated too often, loans that must be paid back – from the now infamous "Troika", the IMF-ECB-European Commission.

Basque Country: Behind the rise of the EH Bildu left coalition

EH Bildu's main election rally.

By Dick Nichols

October 22, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On October 21, in probably the most powerful performance in the history of Basque politics, the left nationalist coalition Euskal Herria Bildu (EH Bildu, Basque Country Assembly) won 25% of the vote and 21 seats in the elections for 75-seat parliament of the Basque Autonomous Community (Euskadi) in the Spanish state. The rise of the EH Bildu came at the expense of all other parties.

(The seven regions of the Basque Country lie between Spain and France. The three provinces of Euskadi — Biskaia, Gipuskoa and Araba — plus the autonomous community of Navarra form its southern zone, Hegoalde, while three regions within the French department of Pyrenées Atlantiques form its northern zone, Iparralde.)

Over the years since the end of the Franco dictatorship the Basque left nationalist vote has varied greatly, depending whether the party representing it was legal or outlawed, or whether the movement was advocating an election boycott. Its highest previous vote for the Euskadi parliament was the 17.9% (14 seats) won by Eusko Herritarrok (EH, Basque Citizens) in 1998. In the October 21 election an extra 50,000 people voted for EH Bildu.

Richard Seymour: A comment on Greece and Syriza

Photo from Kasama Project.

[For more discussion of SYRIZA, click HERE.]

By Richard Seymour

October 9, 2012 -- International Socialism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal in the interests of promoting left discussion -- The “strategic perplexity” of the left confronted with the gravest crisis of capitalism in generations has been hard to miss.1 Social democracy continues down the road of social liberalism. The far left has struggled to take advantage of ruling-class disarray. Radical left formations have tended to stagnate at best. Two exceptions to this pattern are the Front de Gauche in France and Syriza in Greece. While the Front de Gauche did not do as well as many hoped, it did channel a large vote for the radical left in the presidential elections won by Hollande. Meanwhile, Syriza is potentially a governing party in waiting.

Portugal's Left Bloc: 'The people now have a goal: resignation of the government'

A million people protested across Portugal on September 15, 2012.

Resolution of the national board of the Left Bloc of Portugal, September 22, 2012, passed unanimously.

[The following articles and documents first appeared in the October 2012 issue of International Viewpoint, magazine of the Fourth International.]

1. The gigantic demonstration on September 15, 2012, [see article below], which cannot be compared to any other mobilisation in recent decades, turns the page of Portuguese politics. This was the response of the social majority to the government offensive, adopting a clear position against the Troika and demanding a break with the policy of impoverishment, austerity and destruction. The demonstration by the people in the streets did not demand time to slow down austerity, or the protection of the Troika: it demanded the end of the Troika in Portugal.

This was a signal sent to all the oppositions, to the financial markets, to Germany's Angela Merkel and the  International Monetary Fund (IMF), to the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission.

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on political and social situation facing Greece and Europe

September 27, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece's left party SYRIZA, visited the European Parliament as a guest of the United Left Group/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), the coalition of radical left parliamentarians in the European Parliament to which SYRIZA is affiliated. At a press conference, Tsipras discussed the current economic, political and social situation facing Greece and the European Union. Chaired by Gabi Zimmer, GUE/NGL president, from Germany's Die Linke party.

Holandés: Una resaca en lugar de un terremoto

Emile Roemer.

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3026.]

'Donde haya injusticia, allí nos encontraran'

Declaración del Partido Socialista holandés después de las elecciones de 2012

Un combativo Emile Roemer se dirigió a cientos de miembros del Partido Socialista en la sede Paard van Troje (Caballo de Troya) de La Haya. El SP conservó sus 15 escaños, a pesar de la feroz competencia con el PvdA (Partido Laborista) y el VVD (liberales de centro derecha). "Sí. Estoy muy orgulloso de este partido y de los millones de personas que votaron por nosotros", dijo Roemer. "Y sí, yo también estoy decepcionado, lo que es lógico cuando hace tan poco tiempo estábamos tan alto en las encuestas. Pero la decepción durará alrededor de cinco minutos Nuestra campaña para las próximas elecciones comienza -como siempre ocurre en el SP- hoy ".

Farewell Spain? Catalan independence march sends shockwave

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

September 17, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On September 11, the Catalan National Day, politics in the Spanish state suffered a massive shock: up to 2 million people (more than 25% of the population of Catalonia) marched through the streets of Barcelona shouting one word, “independència”. It was a day when countless Catalans discovered that others felt the way they did—it’s time to drop Spain for a state of our own.

Who were they? And why is support for an independent Catalonia—from 1990 to 2008 as low as 15% of the population in some polls—now running at around 50%?

Netherlands elections: A hangover instead of an earthquake

Dutch Socialist party leader Emile Roemer.

See also "Rise and rise of the Dutch Socialist Party".

Statement from the Dutch Socialist Party after the 2012 election: 'Wherever there is injustice, There we will be found'

Statement from the Dutch Socialist Party after the national elections 

September 12, 2012 -- A combative Emile Roemer addressed hundreds of Socialist Party members in the Paard van Troje (Trojan Horse) venue in The Hague (Den Haag). The SP held on 15to its  seats, despite a fiercely fought two-horse race between the PvdA (Labour Party) and the VVD (centre-right liberals). "Yes. I am extremely proud of this party and of the million people who voted for us", said Roemer. "And yes, I am also disappointed. That is logical when only a short time ago we stood so high in the polls. But that disappointment will last around five minutes. Our campaign for the next election begins – as is always the case with the SP – today."

El ascenso ininterrumpido del Partido Socialista radical holandés: ¿una nueva vía socialista en el Primer Mundo o mero parlament

Emile Roemer.

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3010.]

Por Will Wroth, traducción para www.sinpermiso.info por Gustavo Buster

Septiembre 9, 2012 -- www.sinpermiso.info -- Aunque las elecciones legislativas se suelen considerar con demasiada frecuencia como "históricas" y sus resultados, celebrados como "avalanchas decisivas" o "terremotos políticos", cuando el polvo de la batalla se disipa, en la mayoría de los casos no es para tanto. Pero las elecciones legislativas en los Países Bajos el próximo 12 de septiembre parecen despertar todo tipo de expectativas.

La caída imprevista del anterior gobierno minoritario, el más derechista del que se tenga memoria y rehén del apoyo del Partido de la Libertad (PVV) del demagogo xenófobo Geert Wilders, ha provocado la convocatoria de unas elecciones que pueden producir un cambio inédito en el espacio político de la izquierda y unos resultados que planteen algunos problemas estratégicos fundamentales a los socialistas tanto en los Países Bajos como en el resto del mundo, al mismo tiempo que enfrentaran a la oligarquía económica y política del país a una realidad cuanto menos molesta.

Rise and rise of the Dutch Socialist Party: new perspectives for socialism or naïve, hip, left parliamentarism?

Cartoon of Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer that appeared in Quote, a Dutch business magazine. Caption reads: "If Roemer becomes prime minister, we’ll all move to Switzerland.”

September 1, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Although parliamentary elections are often billed as “historic”, and results hailed as “landslides” and “political earthquakes”, it usually turns out not to have been quite that dramatic when the dust settles. But the September 12 national elections in the Netherlands really do seem to be living up to expectations of that magnitude.

The unexpectedly early fall of the previous minority cabinet—the most right wing in living memory, and hostage to the support of xenophobic demagogue Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV)—has triggered an election that seems likely to usher in a radical realignment of the landscape on the left, and could realistically produce an outcome that poses some fundamental strategic questions for socialists in the Netherlands and beyond, while presenting an uncomfortable reality check for the country’s economic and political establishment.

Eyewitness account: SYRIZA and the Greek grassroots challenge to the politics of austerity

SYRIZA leader Alex Tsipras before speaking at a large assembly in the working-class suburb of Peristeri. Photo by Joanne Landy.

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

By Thomas Harrison and Joanne Landy, co-directors of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy (New York)

Thomas Harrison and Joanne Landy recently returned from a trip to Greece, where they met with activists and others to gain a better understanding of the popular upsurge against the Greek government's austerity program.

France: The rise of the Left Front (Front de Gauche) – a new force on the left

Jean-Luc Melenchon.

[Read more on French politics HERE.]

By Murray Smith

August 2, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Left Front (Front de Gauche) emerged onto the political scene at the beginning of 2009. As the Left Front to Change Europe, it was established by three organisations -- the French Communist Party (PCF), the Left Party (PG, Parti de Gauche) and the Unitary Left (GU) -- with the aim of standing in the European elections of June 2009.

Spain: Millions protest economic and political crisis; Audio: Spain's crisis, the popular fightback and its impact on Europe

Huge protest in Barcelona against new austerity measures, July 19. About 3.5 million people took to the streets across Spain on the day. Photo by Tim Gooden.


July 28, 2012 -- Dick Nichols, GLW/Links correspondent in Europe, interviewed by Melbourne 3CR radio's Solidarity Breakfast program on the political and economic crisis in Europe, the mass protests and strikes taking place.

* * *

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

Greece: Syriza shines a light -- radical left organises for power

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras serves food at an annual anti-racist festival organised by 250 civic organisations. Photo: Aggelos Kalodoukas.

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

July 2012 -- Red Pepper -- In Greece, a radical left coalition is actively preparing for power in society and in parliament. Hilary Wainwright reports from Athens.

Like a swan moving moving forward with relaxed confidence while paddling furiously beneath the surface, Syriza, the radical left coalition that could become the next government of Greece, is facing enormous challenges calmly but with intensifed activity.

South Africa's Democratic Left Front: 'Solidarity with the women and workers of Greece'

Statement by the Democratic Left Front (South Africa)

July 2, 2012 -- The Democratic Left Front (DLF – South Africa) expresses its full solidarity with the women, workers, progressive mass movements and the SYRIZA party of Greece as they face the deep effects of the EU-inspired austerity onslaught. The Greek austerity plan involves cuts of 11.6 billion euros ($14.5 billion) by 2014. This amount will come from brutal cuts in budgets for health, wages and pensions. It will also mean hundrends of thousands of job losses in the Greek public sector. This austerity plan is meant to make the workers and the poor pay.

South African workers and unemployed people have faced a similar onslaught for the last 18 years under neo-liberal African National Congress (ANC) rule.

In the June 17 elections, the anti-austerity SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) came a close second with 26.9% of the vote. The right-wing New Democracy won the elections with more than 29%, amid huge blackmail and threats from major European governments and financial institutions.

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