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municipal council

France's municipal elections: New shoots in the rubble?

By Dick Nichols

April 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- After the first round of the French municipal elections (March 23, see here for coverage in Green Left Weekly), the media mainstream obsessed about the rise in support for the xenophobic and racist National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen. The only other stories found worthy of comment were the collapse in support for the ruling Socialist Party (PS) of president François Hollande and the surge in the abstention rate—to a record 36.5%. (This endnote[1] explains the French two-round voting system as applied to municipal elections.)

According to the Le Monde analysis of that vote, the PS would face losing 90 towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants at the second round (March 30). The FN had a chance of winning between ten and 15 of these.

United States: Kshama Sawant -- 'Not enough to boo Democrats, we have to pose a real challenge'

Click HERE for more on Kshama Sawant's election campaign and those of other socialists around the world at the municipal level.

April 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal --  Kshama Sawant spoke on labour and independent politics at the 2014 Labor Notes convention, April 4-6, in Chicago. Sawant was elected as a socialist to the Seattle City Council in November 2013. She is an adjunct professor of Seattle Community College and a member of American Federation of Teachers 1789.

Production by the Labor Video Project http://www.laborvideo.org.

United States: Victory in Seattle inspires Chicago Socialist Campaign

Nearly 100 people met at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum on January 22 for the founding meeting of the Chicago Socialist Campaign. Photo by Isaac Silver.

By Andrew Mortazavi

January 24, 2014 -- In These Times -- If a socialist can win an election in Seattle, why not Chicago? That was the spirit at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Jane Addams Hull House Museum on January 22, where close to 100 Chicagoans gathered for the founding meeting of the Chicago Socialist Campaign.

Drawing on the example of Seattle’s Kshama Sawant—who in November became the first socialist in recent memory elected to a city council—the campaign seeks to run a socialist candidate for alderman in Chicago’s 2015 city council race. Activists also plan to use the electoral effort to amplify the demands of popular movements in Chicago, such as the call for a $15 minimum wage.

United States: Chicago Teachers Union votes for independent political and electoral activity

Chicago Teachers Union members during their strike against Democratic Party mayor Rahm Emanuel's assault on public schools.

By Marilena Marchetti

January 14, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- The Chicago Teachers Union wants to shake up the city and state political establishment. In a sweeping majority vote, representatives of the union's 23,000 members passed a resolution to launch an independent political organisation (IPO). The goal of the initiative is to unite progressive groups, non-profit organisations and trade unions around political campaigns that have the potential to sustain social movements and activism, rather than empowering Democratic Party candidates who have turned their back on teachers and public education.

The resolution concludes:

RESOLVED that the Chicago Teachers Union, along with key allies in the progressive labour movement and among progressive community organisations will launch an independent political organisation (IPO) that is capable of leading strong electoral and legislative campaigns to benefit working families, our active and retired members, and our communities, and be it further

United States: Socialist councillor Kshama Sawant's inauguration speech

Democracy Now! interviewed Kshama Sawant on January 6, 2014, prior to her inauguration.

Click HERE for more on Kshama Sawant's election campaign and those of other socialists at the municipal level.

By Kshama Sawant, Seattle

January 6, 2014 -- Vote Sawant

My brothers and sisters,

Thank you for your presence here today.

This city has made glittering fortunes for the super wealthy and for the major corporations that dominate Seattle’s landscape. At the same time, the lives of working people, the unemployed and the poor grow more difficult by the day. The cost of housing skyrockets, and education and healthcare become inaccessible.

This is not unique to Seattle. Shamefully, in this, the richest country in human history, 50 million of our people – one in six – live in poverty. Around the world, billions do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation and children die every day from malnutrition.

United States: How socialist Kshama Sawant defeated her capitalist opponent

Click HERE for more on Kshama Sawant's election campaign and those of other socialists.

January 5, 2014 -- Black Sheep Radio -- Just a few weeks after Kshama Sawant was victorious running as a socialist for the Seattle City Council, and on the eve of her inauguration on January 6, 2014, we interviewed Anh Tran, Sawant’s assistant for the campaign. Tran also served as the volunteer coordinator for Sawant when she ran for the Washington State Legislature in 2012, so talking to Tran we were able to get a sense of the wider arc of the Seattle election.

United States: In 2013, workers tried new angles and alliances

North Carolinians mobilised against an anti-worker (and anti-woman, anti-civil rights) legislative assault by bringing thousands of protesters to the state capitol every week for “Moral Mondays”, with close to a thousand arrests. Photo by Ajamu Dillahunt.

By Jenny Brown

December 30, 2013 -- Labor Notes -- Lean meanness stalked workplaces. The political and economic outlook continued dismal. But the year was marked by workers trying new things and setting higher standards, for their employers, their unions, and—in the case of low-wage workers—their pay.

Unemployment ticked down slightly, but the jobs created paid worse than ever. Mainstream media reported with amazement that jobs that once paid the bills, from bank teller to university instructor, now require food stamps and Medicaid to supplement the wages of those who work every day.

California Walmart worker Anthony Goytia spoke for many when he said it’s no longer pay cheque to pay cheque for him and his co-workers, but payday loan to payday loan.

United States: The electoral opening for the left

Kshama Sawant.

By Jason Netek, Chicago

December 16, 2013 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- There is a lot of debate among socialists in the United States about just how to engage in this country's rigged electoral game, if at all.

In a time when the revolutionary left is numerically small, some socialist groupings have made a fetish out of participating in elections, local and national, in attempts to realise their ambitions of becoming the party of the US working class all by themselves. Others have made a fetish out of not engaging in any kind of electoral work for lack of a viable mass workers' party or else as a permanent boycott of the objectively pro-capitalist electoral system in the United States.

Venezuela: Chavistas celebrate important victory in municipal elections

By Ewan Robertson, Caracas

December 10, 2013 -- Venezuelanalysis.com -- Supporters of Venezuela's revolutionary government celebrated their victory in the municipal elections held on December 8. Analysts have commented that results indicate President Nicolas Maduro has “reconnected” with the social base of the Chavista movement.

The first results announced gave the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) victory in 58% of the country’s municipalities. The PSUV and its allies gained more than 49% of the total vote share versus 43% for the opposition.

After the results were announced, President Nicolas Maduro gave a televised speech from the Plaza Bolivar in central Caracas to celebrate the win.

“Without a doubt we’ve obtained a great victory today, the people of Venezuela have said to the world that the Bolivarian revolution continues with more strength than ever,” he said.

Maduro mentioned that the right-wing opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition had now lost four national elections over the past 14 months.

He also responded to opposition leader Henrique Capriles’ argument that the municipal elections would be a “plebiscite” on the government’s mandate: “There you have your plebiscite, Caprichito, fascist. I hope that he learns about humility and shows his face to the country and resigns from the political leadership of the MUD.”

Barry Sheppard: US socialist wins Seattle race in political shake-up

By Barry Sheppard

November 21, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Kshama Sawant, an openly declared socialist, was elected to the city council in a major United States city, Seattle, in November’s ballot.

You need to go back to the first half of the 20th century to find anything similar in the US.

The Indian-born Sawant ran as an activist. She first drew attention as part of the Occupy Seattle protests that included taking over a downtown park and a junior collage campus in 2011.

Occupy has faded as an organised movement, but many of those inspired by it have organised on other fronts. These include opposition to foreclosures, support for strikes and demonstrations by fast food workers, and opposition to coal trains coming through the Seattle area for Asian export.

Activist councillor

Sawant has been in the midst of these actions. It was activists from such struggles who formed the backbone of her campaign.

A few days after her victory in the tight race was confirmed, the new city council member stood with Boeing workers rallying against the company. Boeing’s International Association of Machinists workers had voted down a concession’s contract by a large majority.

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.

United States: Seattle socialist Kshama Sawant defeats Democrat incumbent

KEXP Interview with Kshama Sawant.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal congratulates Kshama Sawant and US Socialist Alternative on their important and inspiring success in the Seattle City Council election.

* * *

November 15, 2013, Seattle, Washington -- Vote Sawant -- Today’s King County elections ballot count saw the Socialist Alternative candidate for Seattle City Council, Kshama Sawant, pulling further ahead of 16-year Democratic Party incumbent, Richard Conlin. The socialist candidate has now won 88,222 votes compared to Conlin’s 86,582. After today’s count was released, Richard Conlin announced he was conceding the race.

[Washington state votes by mail, and a majority of ballots typically come in after election day and will be counted until November 26 as long as they are postmarked November 5 or earlier.]

Western Australia: Socialist councillor re-elected in Fremantle

For more on socialists in municipal councils, click HERE.

By Alex Bainbridge

October 20, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Socialist Alliance Western Australia's co-convenor Sam Wainwright was re-elected to the Fremantle municipal council on October 19. In the other wards, progressive councillors defeated conservative opponents, and Greens Mayor Brad Pettitt was also returned.

Wainwright won 58% of the vote in his ward compared to 33% at the 2009 poll. Wainwright's absolute vote also increased from 438 votes to 602 this year.

Over the last four years Wainwright has made a priority of organising and promoting community campaigns and supporting council initiatives such as a dramatic increase in the cycling budget. He has been a strong supporter of the Fremantle Road to Rail campaign and helped promote a community-owned wind farm at North Quay.

He introduced the Workplace Values policy which recognises the right of council employees to trade union representation and job security, and set a target for the employment of Indigenous people.

Wainwright has vigorously defended the Warrawee Women's Refuge which battles to maintain funding levels, and introduced policy to include and respect people with disabilities.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: John Minto for Auckland mayor -- 'We need a Kiwi socialism'

[Click HERE for more coverage of politics in Aotearoa/New Zealand.]

By Daphne Lawless

August 24, 2013 -- Fightback, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The latest opinion polls put John Minto – teacher, veteran activist and MANA movement candidate – in third place in the race for mayor of Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland, to be held on October 12, 2013. Why has John Minto decided to run for the most powerful urban office in Aotearoa/New Zealand? He hesitates for quite a long time before answering – he calls it “the hardest question”.

It’s certainly not a question of seeking the limelight. A recent interview in the NZ Herald by Michelle Hewitson focussed relentlessly on delving Minto’s personality – and bringing up what John calls “the wallpaper of history” about his 30-year activist career. So he seems quite relieved that Fightback is interested in his campaign’s politics.

United States: Socialist local candidate wins 35% of vote, enters run-off

By the Kshama Sawant Campaign for Seattle City Council

August 8, 2013 -- Votesawant.org -- Seattle voters sent a clear message to an out-of-touch political establishment on August 6 that they are fed up with business as usual, and are looking for an alternative to corporate-pandering politicians like Richard Conlin. Kshama Sawant, who was recently written off by The Seattle Times as “too hard left for Seattle”, won a stunning 35% of the vote, a number that will likely rise as late ballots are counted.

[Sawant is a member Socialist Alternative, the United States affiliate of the small international Committee for a Workers International (CWI).]

A majority of primary voters voted against 16-year Seattle City Council incumbent, Democrat Richard Conlin, who despite a massive fund-raising advantage and name recognition, received only 49%. Sawant and a second challenger to Conlin, Brian Carver, won the majority of the vote in the City Council Position 2 race.

[Sawant will now participate in the two-candidate run-off election with Conlin to determine who takes the contested position.]

“Working people in Seattle have a clear political choice for a change. If you want to fight for an alternative to the status quo, join us in the struggle for a citywide $15/hour minimum wage, a major expansion of public transit by taxing Seattle’s millionaires, increased investment in affordable housing, and implementing rent control”, said Sawant.

In defence of the transitional method

Sue Bolton speaking at a rally for refugee rights in September. Photo by Aneleh Bulle. 

[See also "How socialists work to win mass support" and "'Transitional Program': 'a program of action from today until the beginning of the socialist revolution'".]

By Dave Holmes

[This talk was presented on January 18, 2013 at the Socialist Alliance (Australia) national conference, held in Geelong.]

January 18, 2013 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialist Alliance is currently engaged in a process of discussion and clarification with Socialist Alternative, with a view to exploring the possibilities of greater cooperation and unity. How this will ultimately develop is an open question. But I think it is fair to say that on both sides today there is a much greater interest in the political positions and approach of the other.

How to change a destructive system

By Sam Wainwright

[Sam Wainwright is an elected municipal councillor in Fremantle, Western Australia, and a member of the Socialist Alliance. This is a talk he gave on the topic of how to achieve social change in Australia.]

December 9, 2012 -- Socialist Alliance (Australia) -- It's pretty obvious for anyone that cares to look that capitalism is a socially destructive and ecologically unsustainable system.

Based on the unequal distribution of wealth, it condemns billions to living in poverty worldwide.

In more wealthy places like Australia, where workers have much higher incomes, capitalism invents products for us to spend money on just as quickly as we win a wage increase. That we have one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world is but one proof that it doesn't provide people with a meaningful existence.

Now the worsening climate crisis -- caused by capitalism’s endless accumulation of profit and wealth -- threatens the very basis of life on Earth.

Australia: Socialist Party local councillor re-elected in Yarra, Melbourne

Re-elected socialist municipal councillor Steve Jolly.

For more articles on socialists in municipal councils, click HERE.

Socialist Party member Mel Gregson interviewed by Ian Anderson

November 6, 2012 -- The Spark (New Zealand), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In the recent local elections of Victoria, Australia, socialist candidates won seats in Yarra and Moreland. Socialist Party councillor on the Yarra local council in Melbourne Stephen Jolly won his seat for the third time. [The Socialist Party is associated with the international Committee for a Workers International (CWI).]

* * *

The Spark: So the Socialist Party retained its municipal council seat held by Stephen Jolly, and lost its council seat held by Anthony Main. Can you break that down a bit more?

Mel Gregson: The campaign in Yarra was very successful with almost one in five voters across the city voting for us. We stood a team of five candidates, including current councillors Stephen Jolly and Anthony Main.

Australia: Socialist Alliance wins seat in Melbourne municipal council

For more articles on socialists in municipal councils, click HERE.

By Chris Slee and Selena Black, Melbourne

November 3, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- Socialist Alliance candidate Sue Bolton (pictured above) was elected to Moreland City Council in Melbourne’s northern suburbs in the October 27 municipal government elections. Bolton received 9.5% of the first-preference votes in the council’s north-east ward, which covers Coburg, Fawkner and part of Brunswick. Twenty-four candidates contested the four available positions in the ward.

Bolton came third on primary votes, behind Greens candidate Lenka Thompson with 14.37% and Australian Labor Party (ALP) member Michael Teti with 10.42%. Bolton came in ahead of Liberal Party member Rob Thompson, who mangaed 9.39%, despite spending up big on his campaign.

Although the ALP candidates generally exchanged preferences, a large number of people who gave their first preference to an ALP candidate disregarded the how-to-vote cards and gave their second preference to Bolton. Bolton clearly campaigned as a Socialist Alliance candidate.

Australia: Communist municipal councillor connects the local to the global

Tony Oldfield.

For more articles on socialists in municipal councils, click HERE.

Tony Oldfield interviewed by Federico Fuentes

September 22, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- As we walk into a cafe in the Sydney suburb of Newington, a young Afghan barista greets Communist Party of Australia (CPA) activist Tony Oldfield by name and asks how the recent local Auburn council elections went. After talking for a few minutes about which councillors were re-elected and which were not, the young man asks: “And how about you Tony?”

Only then does Tony point out that he too was elected.

In doing so, Oldfield became one of only four socialist local councillors in Australia at the present time.

Oldfield told Green Left Weekly that the origins of his election date back to the early 2000s, when “local Turkish community activists, leftists and some small business owners”, came together to form a community group opposed to the proposed Collex waste transfer station.

Their legal challenge against the waste dump was successful in the Land and Environment Court, but “the Carr Labor government brought in an act to parliament that overturned the court decision”.

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