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Europe

Ireland: Socialist Workers Party calls for a `broad radical left party'

Joe Higgins.

By the Socialist Workers Party (Ireland)

June 11, 2009 -- The election of Joe Higgins as MEP and the defeat of Fianna Fail in Dublin indicates that the political landscape is changing. The recent elections represent a seismic shift in Irish politics. Ever since 1927, Fianna Fail has dominated the working-class vote but this has now changed -- most probably forever.

Even before the current economic crisis, the Fianna Fail vote had entered a long slow decline. At the height of the Celtic Tiger, for example, Bertie Ahern scored less votes than Charlie Haughey. When the crash hit, Fianna Fail dropped all pretence of populism and launched an aggressive attack on working-class conditions.They have now paid dearly for this.

The electoral base of the Greens has also been decimated. The Greens claimed that they are in government to help save the planet from environmental decay. But they have stood over decisions which have cut the public bus service. They have also voted for cuts in education spending, even while defending the absurd bail out of the banks. Their removal from local authority councils is therefore well deserved.

European election: 60% abstain; gains for the right; revolutionary left wins seats in Portugal and Ireland

[See also ``European election: British left discusses urgent need for left unity'' and ``Ireland: Socialist Workers Party calls for a `broad radical left party'''.]

June 9, 2009 -- Socialist Resistance/International Viewpoint -- There was a broad popular abstention in the European elections. Nearly 60% of voters did not vote. Because of this, only a deformed vision of the real relationship of forces in Europe is possible. But it confirms the crisis of legitimacy of the European Union and of the governing parties that implement their policies within this framework, writes François Sabado. Other tendencies emerge, initially a rise of the right across Europe.

The right won in the big countries where it governs: in Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Poland, Austria and Hungary. In Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia and Cyprus, the parties of the right also came first.

Anti-capitalist European Left: capitalists not workers must pay for the crisis

May 6, 2009 -- British left groupings Socialist Resistance and the International Socialist Group have joined the Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, Scottish Socialist Party and others of the European anti-capitalist left in endorsing this statement for the European elections. The statement was agreed at a conference in Strasbourg on April 3, 2009.

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It's not for people and workers to pay for the crisis, the capitalists should pay!

The next European elections will be held during the worst crisis capitalism has known since 1929. Economic, social, financial, banking, food, climatic, it is a global, general crisis.

Once again, the ruling classes want to make workers and peoples pay for the crisis. Governments have given hundreds of billions to banks but at the same time millions of layoffs fall on employees. Unemployment is going through the roof. The purchasing power of wages is falling. The destruction of public services continues.

It's not for people and workers to pay for the crisis, the capitalists should pay!

This policy of European Union institutions has been rejected by the "No" votes in France, the Netherlands and Ireland.

We reject the plans of EU governments that save banks and not people.

We put forward an emergency social and democratic plan:

Scottish Socialist Party: ‘Little Britain’ politics and the left

By Alan McCombes

April 24, 2009 -- Voters who want an isolationist Britain will be spoiled for choice in the European elections on June 4th. On the far right, the BNP and UKIP both demand an independent Britain. Left of centre parties that want British withdrawal include Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Parry and the NO2EU Yes To Democracy coalition. While these four parties promote British independence, the Free Scotland Party campaigns for an independent Scotland outside the European Union.

What should be the attitude of Scottish socialists towards Europe? Should the left back British separatism? And does the NO2EU Yes To Democracy campaign represent a progressive step forward?

(Updated May 3) Ireland & Britain: Car workers occupy plants over jobs -- Support Visteon workers!

May 3, 2009 -- Workers at Visteon, following a four-week battle, have gained a victory. After the occupation of the Visteon plants and 24-hour picketing when the company announced its liquidation, Ford/Visteon bosses were finally forced to concede to the workers' demands. Workers in Enfield and Basildon have already voted in favour of the deal, while those at Belfast will be voting soon. Below are reports and videos that recount events as they unfolded.

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(Updated April 2) Eric Toussaint on G20: `Putting a fresh coat of paint on a world that is collapsing'; police attack protesters

London on March 28, 2009. Protest organised Put People First, an alliance of more than 150 unions, and attended by 35,000 people. Photo by Xinhua.

Stop press April 2

George Monbiot: G20 protests: Riot police, or rioting police?

At the G20 protests in London only one group appears to be looking for violent confrontation – and it's not the protesters.

Red Pepper: Death in the City

Britain: New left alliance for EU elections

Bob Crow.

March 24, 2009 -- Spectrezine -- Last week saw the launch of the ``No2EU -- Yes to Democracy'' electoral front, which is critical of the European Union and opposed to the Lisbon Treaty. The alliance is an initiative of Bob Crow, head of Britian's biggest transport union, the RMT. Below, Crow explains why activists have taken the decision to challenge British Labour Party complaceny on this viciously anti-working class treaty.

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It's not every day I agree to head up a new left-wing EU-critical electoral alliance to stand in the European elections, but it wasn't a decision taken lightly. My union has been following developments in the European Union for many years and has debated the impact of EU treaties and various directives each year at its annual general meetings. Many RMT members have suffered as the result of EU diktats such as the one which led to the privatisation of our rail network.

Another left is possible: The protests in France and the New Anti-Capitalist Party

Workers protest in Marseille during France's second national strike in two months, on March 19, 2009, to demand a boost to wages and greater protection form the crisis. Photo: AFP.

By Nathan Rao

March 23, 2009 -- It would be wrong to see the massively successful protest actions in France on March 19 as distant and exotic, of no particular relevance to us here in Canada. With the economic meltdown heralding a new political era, and with most of the country's left and social movements still stunned and disoriented following their embrace of the misguided and failed Liberal Party-led coalition plan, the French experience is instructive and inspiring.

(Updated March 17) Irish left responses to recent armed attacks in northern Ireland

By Kerry Fitzpatrick

Belfast, March 13, 2009 -- Green Left Weekly -- The killing of two British soldiers and a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer by Irish republicans opposed to the peace process have threatened to destabilise the political situation in the six counties in the north of Ireland still claimed by Britain.

British soldiers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar were shot dead on March 7 in an attack on Massereene Barracks in county Antrim, with responsibility claimed by the Real Irish Republican Army, which split from the IRA in 1997 in opposition to the peace process that sought the end the decades-long armed conflict.

This was the first political killing of a British soldier or security force member in the six counties since 1998.

The soldiers, hours away from being deployed to Afghanistan, were collecting a pizza delivery at the barracks gate when they were shot. Two other soldiers and the two pizza delivery men were also shot and injured.

Birth of the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France: a reportback from participants

Toronto, February 18, 2009 -- Left Streamed -- The founding conference of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA, New Anti-Capitalist Party) was held just outside Paris over the weekend of February 6-8, 2009.

[For more analysis of the NPA, click HERE.]

The conference marks the conclusion of a process initiated following the encouraging election results (1.5 million votes) of the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire's (LCR, Revolutionary Communist League) candidate in the 2007 presidential elections, 34-year-old postal worker Olivier Besancenot.

This process has involved thousands of activists and interested individuals organised in hundreds of committees across France. The new party begins its life with some 10,000 members and in a context of deepening economic crisis and a big wave of strikes and protests against the hard-right government of president Nicolas Sarkozy.

France: New Anti-Capitalist Party launched; Responses to French Socialist Party's shift to the right

The question in the graphic for a poll published by Le Figaro asks: “over the last month which of the following personalities was the best opponent to Nicolas Sarkozy?”. The New Anti-Capitalist Party's Olivier Besancenot came out on top for the fifth month in a row. From Liam Macuaid's blog.

By Sam Wainwright

Paris, February 14, 2009 -- On the weekend of February 7-8, more than 600 delegates and as many observers attended the founding conference of France’s New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), held at la Plaine-Saint-Denis in the working class suburbs to the north of Paris.

Less than a week before, on January 29, around 2.5 million people took to the streets across the country in a nationwide strike against the efforts of the President Nicolas Sarkozy's government to foist the burden of the capitalist economic crisis onto working people.

`For international solidarity between workers' -- British left debates Lindsey oil refinery strike wave (updated Feb. 7)

Below are a range of views from the British and Scottish left on the strike wave that erupted at the Lindsey oil refinery and rapidly spread across the country. Statements from Socialist Resistance, Scottish Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, Respect MP George Galloway, the Socialist Party, the Morning Star, Lenin's Tomb blog and the Socialist Unity blog.

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For international solidarity between workers

Socialist Resistance statement

Germany: Die Linke, Hesse and the `super election’ year

Oskar Lafontaine

By Duroyan Fertl

January 29, 2009 -- Germany kicked off a “super election year” on January 18 when voters in the western German state of Hesse returned to the polls for the second time in twelve months. The new election had become necessary after months of negotiations to form a coalition government collapsed late last year, when four parliamentary members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) rebelled against a plan to form government with the assistance of the far-left party, Die Linke.

The SPD had benefited in last year’s poll from voter rejection of the racist scapegoating and law-and-order politics of the ruling right-wing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Prime Minister Roland Koch. Despite its vote, however, the SPD still lacked the numbers to form government, even with its preferred allies, the Green Party, and the SPD’s leader in Hesse, Andrea Ypsilanti, turned to Die Linke for support.

France: From the Revolutionary Communist League to the New Anti-Capitalist Party

This contribution was written as part of preparations for the January 2009 congress of the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR). The congress agenda includes the political “self-dissolution” of the LCR, to set the stage for the new challenge of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA). The authors of this piece belong to the generation of activists from the 1960s and 1970s; so while principally addressed to members of the LCR, it may be of interest to many others. It first appeared in the January 2009 International Viewpoint, the magazine of the Fourth International.

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By Daniel Bensaïd, Alain Krivine, Pierre Rousset, François Sabado and others 

Present-day Russia needs a renewal of the feminist movement

By Anna Ochkina, translated from Russian for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Renfrey Clarke

January 1, 2009 -- In the Soviet Union feminism was elevated to the status of official state policy and ultimately was destroyed as an ideology and a social movement. The dominant concept was one of a general, global equality; as a result, a separate movement for the rights of women simply could not exist. The feminist reference points of Soviet social policy took the form of a set of rights for women: employment in the workforce on an equal basis with men; political rights; equality before the law, and so forth. The gaining of formal rights, however, resulted in the restricting of particular, specific rights of women, which in practice proved very difficult to realise.

France: New Anti-Capitalist Party `a very exciting initiative'

Interview by Jim Jepps

December 22, 2008 -- There's been surprisingly little discussion in the UK on the launching of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste or NPA) over the water in France. I thought I'd take a look at this interesting and significant new development and so I spoke to John Mullen, the editor of Socialisme International, to see if I could find out more.

You recently attended the French launch of the "New Anti-Capitalist Party". How did it go?

The official founding conference will be in January 2009. For the moment there are 400 “committees for a new anti-capitalist party” all over France. The Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) was the force which proposed and coordinated the foundation, and will dissolve itself into it in a couple of months time. I attended the November national delegate meeting as one of the delegates for my town.

Indigenous-majority Greenland wins self-government

By Ray Bell

December 1, 2008 -- Bella Caledonia -- One of Scotland’s largest neighbours has just voted for independence. I don’t mean England, or Ireland, or Scandinavia, but a country which is bigger than all of these combined. And I use the term “neighbour” loosely, because it is a good few hundred miles across the Atlantic from us, and very few readers will have ever been there.

Greenlanders voted by 3-1 for almost total independence in late November 2008. I say “almost”, because while they don’t get control of defence or foreign policy, they get control of just about everything else. 32 areas of government will be handed over to them. Every political party, but one, in Greenland backed the “yes” vote. Who couldn’t sympathise with this statement that senior politician Hans Jakob Helms made?

“Home rule was a compromise, it’s a simple fact that home rule has reached its limit and there’s a need for more room for self-government.” 

Applied to Scotland, it appears that even the majority of Unionists support this position. The result makes Greenlandic independence pretty much inevitable.

Greece: Left prospects in the post-PASOK era

By Michalis Spourdalakis

In the last few years, the political alignments in the European Union (EU) countries have changed drastically. In the 1990s, social-democratic parties and centre-left political forces were dominant. Under the banners of “progressive governance” or “modernisation” these parties ruled numerous countries and dominated the political scene on the continent.

Today, it is no secret that after long years in government, these political forces, what some like to call the “governmental left” are, to say the least, in retreat. It is indeed no secret that social democracy is in deep crisis: the recent congress of the French Socialists proved that this party is going through a period of self-questioning over the issue of its leadership, but also that it had nothing new to offer or, as a conservative daily commented, it appears as if “it does not think any more”.

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