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latest news

Singapore
Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew dies

31/03/2015: Apologist for neo-liberalism and autocracy

  Singapore

France
Elections punish Valls and Hollande

31/03/2015: Department results show need for fightback against austerity and racism

  France

 Venezuela
Alcedo Mora must be found alive!

30/03/2015: Urgent need for international solidarity

  Solidarity, Venezuela

Netherlands
Election setback for Labour Party

30/03/2015: Main parties guarantee austerity - A mass party of the Left with a socialist programme needed

  Netherlands

Germany
20,000 people give ECB “the finger”

28/03/2015: Big demo and blockade against the reopening of the Central Bank

  Germany

 Video
Interview with a Greek socialist

28/03/2015: The Syriza government and the Troika and building the Greek Left

  Greece, Video

South Africa
NUMSA & WASP discuss international experiences of new workers’ parties

27/03/2015: South Africa’s metalworkers union in discussion with WASP and CWI

  Africa, South Africa

Obituary
Harald Mahrer (1974-2015)

27/03/2015: An active, critical and inspiring comrade

  Obituary

 Video
Dave Nellist on Russia Today TV

26/03/2015: Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) standing throughout Britain in May elections

  Britain, Video

Norway
Lessons of the pilots’ strike

25/03/2015: A struggle against outsourcing

  Norway

Israel
Netanyahu mobilises far right to win election

25/03/2015: New coalition will face unresolved crises and bitter struggles

  Israel / Palestine

China
Demand release of arrested women activists

24/03/2015: Has the commemoration of International Women’s Day also now been outlawed in China?

  China

Italy
The instability of domestic capitalism

24/03/2015: Political vacuum pushes FIOM to take initiative

  Italy

Sweden
Central bank rates cut "panic measure"

23/03/2015: Eurozone’s QE intensifies currency wars

  Sweden

Greece
Varoufakis’ “erratic Marxism” is not the answer

23/03/2015: Necessary to clarify ideas upon which successful struggles of European working class will be conducted

  Greece

Tunisia
Twenty three killed in terrorist attack

20/03/2015: Down with terror! Down with capitalism!

  Tunisia

Belgium
No agreement reached between unions and government over austerity

20/03/2015: New action plan against right wing government takes off

  Belgium

Ukraine
Conflict unresolved after ’Minsk-2’ agreement

18/03/2015: Only independent working-class mass movement can remove the region’s authoritarian rulers

  Ukraine

Ireland North
Public sector workers strike against austerity

18/03/2015: For a second day of strike action in the run-up to the May general election!

  Ireland North

 North Cyprus
New strike wave against cuts

17/03/2015: Workers determined to stop austerity

  Cyprus, Solidarity

 Brazil
Urgent solidarity protests needed

17/03/2015: Faced with lack of water for the people, Sao Paulo water company SABESP cuts costs, sacks more than 500 workers and victimises trade union activists

  Brazil, Solidarity

 Scotland
Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) leaves Solidarity

16/03/2015: Tommy Sheridan departs from principled socialist position with call for “lending vote" to cuts-making SNP

  CWI, Scotland

Britain
What lies behind UKIP?

14/03/2015: Its Tory-oriented anti-immigration, anti-EU rhetoric has been adapted to a right-wing populism aimed at winning voters fed up with the political establishment

  Britain

Ireland North
Massive public sector strike against austerity

13/03/2015: Socialist MPs in Southern Ireland Parliament send message of support to strikers

  Ireland North, Ireland Republic

Ireland South
Marriage equality referendum set for May

12/03/2015: Poisonous bigotry must be challenged

  Ireland Republic

Ireland North
Stormont government crisis on eve of public sector strike

11/03/2015: Struggle can force politicians back from austerity measures

  Ireland North, Ireland Republic

Iran
Independent workers’ organizations statement about minimum wage

11/03/2015: Increasing demands for a living wage

  Iran

Ireland North
13 March public sector strike against austerity

10/03/2015: Dead-end of rightwing, sectarian politics - new anti-sectarian party which fights for working class needed

  Ireland North

  Video
Dublin ROSA demonstration on International Women’s Day

10/03/2015: Ruth Coppinger, Socialist Party TD (MP) speaks along with other activists

  Ireland Republic, Video, Women

 International Women’s Day 2015

09/03/2015: Articles from CWI sections celebrating IWD

  Women

Greece
Syriza’s first months in power

07/03/2015: The working class and social movements must enter the struggle for their rights

  Greece

Netherlands
Wave of student protests

05/03/2015: For democratic reforms and end to budget cuts

  Netherlands

Austria
The year starts with antifascism

05/03/2015: Right-wing Ball events, PEGIDA, and neo-nazi Violence: A Month of Intense and Successful anti-fascism in Austria

  Austria, Venezuela

 Greece
Vodafone strike declared “illegal”

04/03/2015: “None of this will intimidate us - we will struggle until we win collective bargaining”

  Greece, Solidarity

Russia
50,000 march in Moscow after shooting of Boris Nemtsov

03/03/2015: As economic crisis deepens, social explosions loom

  Russia

Kurdistan

Kurdish ‘Intifada’ in Iran

www.socialistworld.net, 10/09/2005
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Oppressed workers and poor resist regime

Tim Lessells, Socialist Party, England and Wales

There has been serious and violent unrest for over a month now in the predominantly Kurdish inhabited region of the Iranian state. This uprising has been largely ignored by the western media.

According to Human Rights Watch, 17 people have been killed during protests in recent weeks. Iran Focus (11/08/05) reports the deaths as follows: “Three anti-government protesters shot dead in Oshnavieh on July 26, two killed in Baneh on July 30, one shot dead in Sardasht on August 2, and 11 killed in Saqqez on August 3.” Given the lack of any independent media in Iran it is impossible to verify any of this – the numbers killed are likely to be much higher. Kurdish organisations have issued a statement that claims 50 deaths.

Demonstrations in many towns and cities were reported – with youths and political opponents chanting anti-government slogans and fighting running battles with the Iranian police. In retaliation for the police killings and repression, government buildings were attacked. The police and paramilitary forces are reported to have fired indiscriminately into crowds - wounding hundreds as a consequence. This was the case in Saqqez on the 3rd August. Some organisations claim that helicopter gun-ships also fired onto the crowds.

The Iranian state forces have massively increased their presence in the region and this is adding to the tension. Reportedly, 100,000 troops were deployed, as well as ‘special forces’ and helicopter gun-ships. The Kurdish region is now effectively under martial law. Some Kurds are reportedly fleeing the region and, if the violence escalates, a flow of refugees out of the region can be expected.

On August 9th there was a commercial shutdown across the region in response to the state killings and repression. Numerous journalists, political, human rights, women’s rights and labour activists were arrested. No doubt there are hundreds of prisoners, especially from amongst the young people, resisting state repression, who now find themselves in the regime’s notorious dungeons and torture chambers. The authorities have also closed down two Kurdish language newspapers.

The spark for this month long ‘intifada’ was the brutal murder of political activist Shivan Quederi, on July 9th. Iranian state forces shot him three times, and then tied him to a military vehicle and drove around the city of Mahabad.

There are, of course, other contributing factors to this uprising – not least the long time national oppression of the Kurds within the Iranian state. The economic situation remains dire – the Kurdish region is badly underdeveloped and unemployment is high. This underdevelopment is a deliberate political weapon used by the regime. A UN report states that “regions historically occupied by Kurds ...seem to suffer disproportionate inadequacy of services such as water and electricity and unsatisfactory reconstruction efforts”. (Reuters, 30/07/05)

Iraq and Turkey

Events in Iraq and Turkey are also having a knock on effect. In northern Iraq, Kurds have had autonomy for over a decade now. Despite the in-fighting between rival Kurdish factions in the mid-90s, the population were at least free from Saddam Hussein’s rule, and, as a result, they enjoyed relative peace and prosperity under the protection of US/UK imperialism. (During Saddam’s brutal rule, some reactionary leaders of the main Kurdish organisations also collaborated with Saddam). The Kurds are now seemingly progressing towards their place in a new ‘Federal Democratic Iraq’.

The nationalist and pro-capitalist Kurdish leaders in Iraq are currently in favour with imperialism, but this will not necessarily remain the case. What the extent of their autonomy actually amounts to in the future Iraq is yet to be seen. There are disputed issues, including the city of Kirkuk (and its oil fields) which is potentially explosive. Nonetheless, to the Kurds inside the Iranian state who continue to suffer under the brutal Iranian dictatorship, the situation for Kurds in Iraq appears to be much better.

In Turkey there is also some movement on the Kurdish question. According to an interview with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Commander, Murat Karayilan, (AFP, 12/08/05), the PKK is ready to lay down arms if the Turkish army ends the crackdown on its militants and if Ankara guarantees the rights of the Kurds. Meanwhile, whilst rejecting any possible let up in the military campaign against the PKK, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently pledged that the Kurdish conflict would be resolved with "more democracy". The Kurdish people can have no illusions in the Turkish ruling elite, which has oppressed them for decades. But to the Kurds in Iran, the situation in Turkey may look like progress. They must feel somewhat left behind and forgotten about compared to their brothers and sisters in the Turkish and Iraqi states.

"It is tragically ironic that while the United States now supports Kurds in Iraq who are embracing democratic principles and institutions deemed critical to Iraq’s future, Kurds in Iran, Syria and Turkey, striving for similar rights and freedoms, are marginalized and left at the mercy of repressive regimes" so says the Washington Kurdish Institute (09/08/05). The lack of consistency in the US’s mission to ‘spread democracy’ throughout the Middle East is thus picked up on, even by a nationalist, pro-capitalist institution such as this.

In reality, the US only wishes to ‘spread democracy’ when this is directly in accordance with its interests (such as in the ‘Orange Revolution’ in the Ukraine and the ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia. As the majority of people in the Middle East, Latin America and elsewhere in the neo-colonial world are all too aware the US is certainly not a consistent proponent of democracy. It has in the past supported the most ruthless and bloody of regimes, (Saddam Hussein’s Iraq being such an example), and it continues to support the likes of Saudi Arabia. Kuwait, the tiny country that the US and its allies ‘liberated’ in the first Gulf War, only extended the vote to women this year! Despite the lively rhetoric of President George W. Bush, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, about ‘spreading democracy’, US imperialism has not all of a sudden been transformed into a tool of liberation for the oppressed peoples of the world. The economic and military-strategic interests of US capitalism remain the determining factor in its foreign policy.

The silence of imperialism and the media over the recent events in the predominantly Kurdish inhabited region of Iran can be partly explained by US imperialism’s fear of yet more instability in the Middle East. Reporting on the Kurds plight in Iran could threaten to spread the uprising elsewhere – to destabilise the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Anything that could be interpreted as US imperialism encouraging the Kurds in their struggle could ignite a massive and uncontrollable fire. The repercussions would threaten the interests of American and European capitalism in the region – this, in turn, would impact on the world economy. The current nation states in this region could be split apart – the major powers of Iran and Turkey could in these circumstances be forced to enter the conflicts in a desperate attempt to gain control of the situation. This is a situation that US imperialism would understandably rather avoid.

Having said this, it is not ruled out that US imperialism is presently meddling in the explosive situation in Kurdish areas of Iran, for its own class ends, of course. As we know from the situation in Iraq, prior to imperialism’s overthrow of Saddam, and in the ensuing chaos since, US imperialism will lean on different peoples in the region, including the oppressed Kurds, to further its class interests and often playing a ‘divide and rule’ game.

Unfortunately, the main political organisations in the Kurdish region of the Iranian state look towards imperialism in its different guises (the US, EU and the UN) to resolve the Kurdish national question. Whilst an alliance of convenience is possible between imperialism and the Kurds in Iran, this will be short lived, and it will be imperialism that calls all the shots.

History has shown, time and again, that the Kurds can have no trust in imperialism. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, ‘The Treaty of Sevres’, in 1920, promised the Kurdish people their own independent state. Imperialism did not deliver on this and the Kurds were betrayed. The Kurdish people were divided up between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Armenia. Imperialism has created the modern Kurdish national question and it is unable to resolve it.

‘Mahabad Soviet’

Not only has Western imperialism betrayed the Kurds. The ruling bureaucratic caste of the Soviet Union, led by Joseph Stalin, left them to be crushed in 1947. The so-called ‘Mahabad Soviet’ was a mini-Kurdish state, established in 1946, with its capital in Mahabad (a city now in the Iranian province of West Azerbaijan, but which is predominantly Kurdish). This Kurdish republic was established following World War Two when part of Iran was still occupied by the Red Army. However, the Stalinist elite in Moscow abandoned support for the new independent Kurdish state in 1947 after signing a deal with the Shah of Iran to grant them access to oil and gas. After the Soviet Union withdrew its support the ‘Mahabad Soviet’ was soon invaded by the Iranian military and its leaders were hung.

More recently, Western imperialism backed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war – including supplying the Ba’athist regime with chemical weapons, which were subsequently used against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988, killing over 5000.

The Kurds in northern Iraq rose up against Saddam’s regime in the first Gulf War of 1991, after the US said it would support them. The US then did a deal with Saddam, allowing his forces to massacre thousands of Kurds. The same happened to the Shia who had risen up in the south of Iraq. After forcing Saddam out of Kuwait, US imperialism decided to call a halt. It preferred a much weaker unitary Iraq under Saddam’s continued brutal rule than the destabilisation of the entire region. In particular, imperialism feared the repercussions in Turkey, a NATO member and important strategic and economic ally. The Kurds in Turkey would have been greatly spurred on by the Kurds in Iraq if they had gained independence.

The Kurdish people have shown a massive willingness to struggle. They refuse to lie down and be defeated. The Kurds within the Iranian state fought like tigers in the revolution against the Shah. After the Islamic (counter) revolution in 1979 they prevented Ayotollah Khomeini’s troops from invading the region until 1982. There are countless other examples of heroic uprisings and brave guerrilla fighters who have died in the struggle. Unfortunately, willingness to struggle, bravery and self-sacrifice are not enough. The necessary political leadership, with the correct programme and tactics to bring about victory, has always been lacking.

Instead of looking towards imperialism, the Kurdish people must instead look to the working class and poor masses of the region and the entire world for support. To smash the theocratic dictatorship the Kurds need the support of the powerful Iranian working class and student movement. Likewise, for the Iranian workers to succeed, they need to win over the oppressed national minorities within the current Iranian state firmly to their side. This means that they must rally to the defence of national minorities and support their just demand for self-determination. The working class movement, not imperialism, is the natural ally of oppressed peoples.

A socialist programme, which includes the right of nations to self-determination, can win support from across all the peoples of the Middle East. A socialist programme aim would win support for a democratically planned economy to dramatically raise living standards, and would also aim to win support for democratic and national rights - which can only be won and secured under socialism.

A mass uprising against capitalism - against dictatorship, against national oppression and against women’s oppression, could spread socialist revolution across the region and beyond. The success of the socialist revolution requires the building of mass parties of the working class, armed with a correct Marxist programme. This is the crucial task that socialists are faced with – to start the construction of such parties today.

  • Down with the theocratic dictatorship!
  • For a mass revolutionary struggle that unites the working class, poor masses, students and oppressed peoples across the Iranian state!
  • Self-determination for the Kurdish people!
  • For a socialist confederation of the Middle East!


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NEWS

Singapore: Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew dies
31/03/2015, Ravichandren, CWI Malaysia:
Apologist for neo-liberalism and autocracy

France: Elections punish Valls and Hollande
31/03/2015, Leila Messaoudi, from Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI France) website (updated 30 March):
Department results show need for fightback against austerity and racism

Venezuela: Alcedo Mora must be found alive!
30/03/2015, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Venezuela) reporters:
Urgent need for international solidarity

Netherlands: Election setback for Labour Party
30/03/2015, Pieter Brans, Amsterdam:
Main parties guarantee austerity - A mass party of the Left with a socialist programme needed

Germany: 20,000 people give ECB “the finger”
28/03/2015, by Michael Koschitzki, SAV – Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
Big demo and blockade against the reopening of the Central Bank

Video: Interview with a Greek socialist
28/03/2015, Nicos Anastasiades of Xekinima (CWI Greece):
The Syriza government and the Troika and building the Greek Left

South Africa: NUMSA & WASP discuss international experiences of new workers’ parties
27/03/2015, socialistworld.net:
South Africa’s metalworkers union in discussion with WASP and CWI

Obituary: Harald Mahrer (1974-2015)
27/03/2015, Sozialistische LinksPartei (CWI Austria) Reporters:
An active, critical and inspiring comrade

Video: Dave Nellist on Russia Today TV
26/03/2015, socialistworld.net:
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) standing throughout Britain in May elections

Norway: Lessons of the pilots’ strike
25/03/2015, Elin Gauffin, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
A struggle against outsourcing

China: Demand release of arrested women activists
24/03/2015, Sally Tang Mei-Ching, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong):
Has the commemoration of International Women’s Day also now been outlawed in China?

Sweden: Central bank rates cut "panic measure"
23/03/2015, Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
Eurozone’s QE intensifies currency wars

Tunisia: Twenty three killed in terrorist attack
20/03/2015, Statement by CWI-Tunisia:
Down with terror! Down with capitalism!

Ireland North: Public sector workers strike against austerity
18/03/2015, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast:
For a second day of strike action in the run-up to the May general election!

North Cyprus: New strike wave against cuts
17/03/2015, Özgür İnsanoğlu and Bahtiyar Girne, North Cyprus:
Workers determined to stop austerity

Brazil: Urgent solidarity protests needed
17/03/2015, Translation of a solidarity appeal from the LSR (CWI in Brazil):
Faced with lack of water for the people, Sao Paulo water company SABESP cuts costs, sacks more than 500 workers and victimises trade union activists

Scotland: Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) leaves Solidarity
16/03/2015, Statement from Socialist Party Scotland Executive Committee:
Tommy Sheridan departs from principled socialist position with call for “lending vote" to cuts-making SNP

Britain: What lies behind UKIP?
14/03/2015, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Its Tory-oriented anti-immigration, anti-EU rhetoric has been adapted to a right-wing populism aimed at winning voters fed up with the political establishment

Ireland North: Massive public sector strike against austerity
13/03/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Socialist MPs in Southern Ireland Parliament send message of support to strikers

Ireland South: Marriage equality referendum set for May
12/03/2015, Helen Redwood, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
Poisonous bigotry must be challenged

Ireland North: Stormont government crisis on eve of public sector strike
11/03/2015, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast:
Struggle can force politicians back from austerity measures

Iran: Independent workers’ organizations statement about minimum wage
11/03/2015, Statement by six Iranian workers’ organizations:
Increasing demands for a living wage

Ireland North: 13 March public sector strike against austerity
10/03/2015, Text of Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) leaflet, Belfast:
Dead-end of rightwing, sectarian politics - new anti-sectarian party which fights for working class needed

Video: Dublin ROSA demonstration on International Women’s Day
10/03/2015, socialistworld.net:
Ruth Coppinger, Socialist Party TD (MP) speaks along with other activists

International Women’s Day 2015
09/03/2015, socialistworld.net:
Articles from CWI sections celebrating IWD

Netherlands: Wave of student protests
05/03/2015, Bas de Ruiter, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands):
For democratic reforms and end to budget cuts

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Israel: Netanyahu mobilises far right to win election
25/03/2015, Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement, Israel-Palestine:
New coalition will face unresolved crises and bitter struggles

Italy: The instability of domestic capitalism
24/03/2015, Marco Veruggio, ControCorrente (CWI Italy):
Political vacuum pushes FIOM to take initiative

Greece: Varoufakis’ “erratic Marxism” is not the answer
23/03/2015, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Necessary to clarify ideas upon which successful struggles of European working class will be conducted

Belgium: No agreement reached between unions and government over austerity
20/03/2015, Eric Byl, LSP/PSL (Belgian section of the CWI), Brussels:
New action plan against right wing government takes off

Ukraine: Conflict unresolved after ’Minsk-2’ agreement
18/03/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
Only independent working-class mass movement can remove the region’s authoritarian rulers

Greece: Syriza’s first months in power
07/03/2015, Andreas Payiatsos, from Xekinima (newspaper of the CWI Greece):
The working class and social movements must enter the struggle for their rights

Quebec: Towards a hot spring
02/03/2015, Deirdre and Bruno, Socialist Alternative (CWI Quebec):
Disrupt them like they disrupt us!

Greece showdown
26/02/2015, Article to be published in the March issue of Socialism Today (magazine of the Socialist Party, CWI in England and Wales):
Niall Mulholland interviewed NICOS ANASTASIADES, of Xekinima (CWI Greece), just as Syriza leaders agreed a four-month bail-out extension with the EU.

Libya: War-torn country becoming new hub for IS activities
25/02/2015, Serge Jordan (CWI):
Libyan people bearing the brunt of NATO’s fiasco

Europe: Eurozone time-bomb
25/02/2015, Lynn Walsh, article from Socialism Today (magazine of the Socialist Party of England and Wales):
Mired in recession, the eurozone is haunted by the spectre of stagnation

Greece: Syriza retreats under Troika threats
24/02/2015, Nicos Anastasiades, Xekinima (CWI Greece), Thessaloniki:
Popular mood shows anti-austerity, socialist policies would win huge support

History: The political legacy of Malcolm X
21/02/2015, Eljeer Hawkins, Socialist Alternative:
50 years after his assassination

Spain: Is ‘Podemos’ the Spanish Syriza?
16/02/2015, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Dangers of “moderation” and domestication

Egypt: Regime brutality on fourth anniversary of revolution
10/02/2015, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Masses will regain confidence and willingness to fight

Greece: Not a single step back!
08/02/2015, Statement by the Editorial Board of Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Conflict between SYRIZA government and EU escalates

Kurdistan: ‘Islamic State’ driven out of Kobanê
02/02/2015, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Will the end of Kobanê’s siege turn the tide against IS?

Greece: Why did Syriza and the KKE fail to reach agreement?
29/01/2015, Article from Xekhinima (CWI Greece) website [dated 26 January 2015] translated and slightly edited:
For socialist policies to end austerity nightmare!

Greece: Syriza comes to power, as old ruling parties collapse
27/01/2015, Niall Mulholland, socialistworld.net, interviews Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Left parties fail to form government - Syriza goes into coalition with populist right Independent Greeks

Cuba: Diplomatic relations with US restored, embargo eased
24/01/2015, Tony Saunois, CWI:
Threat of capitalist restoration accelerates

Russia/Ukraine: Facing a turbulent 2015
21/01/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
As death toll rises, economies plunge into freefall

Greece: Prospect of Syriza victory raises workers’ hopes
20/01/2015, Interview with Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
Mass intervention of working class to struggle for socialist policies is vital

Nigeria: The Massacre in Baga
19/01/2015, H.T Soweto, DSM (CWI in Nigeria):
Socialism or Barbarism

Germany: What is behind the ‘PEGIDA’ anti-immigrant demonstrations?
13/01/2015, Wolfram Klein, Socialist Alternative (SAV- CWI Germany):
Unions and Left must organise against racism and for jobs and decent living standards for all

Greece: Towards a Syriza government?
08/01/2015, Interview with Andros Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
General elections on 25 January