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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

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Vodafone strike declared “illegal”

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

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

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

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Quebec
Towards a hot spring

02/03/2015: Disrupt them like they disrupt us!

  Quebec

Greece
“Yes there was a different choice!”

02/03/2015: Socialist policies needed, not deals with the Troika

  Germany, Greece

Scotland
Why Tommy is wrong to call for a vote for the SNP in May

27/02/2015: Philip Stott Socialist Party Scotland

  Scotland

Greece showdown

26/02/2015: Niall Mulholland interviewed NICOS ANASTASIADES, of Xekinima (CWI Greece), just as Syriza leaders agreed a four-month bail-out extension with the EU.

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Libya
War-torn country becoming new hub for IS activities

25/02/2015: Libyan people bearing the brunt of NATO’s fiasco

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Europe
Eurozone time-bomb

25/02/2015: Mired in recession, the eurozone is haunted by the spectre of stagnation

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Greece
Syriza retreats under Troika threats

24/02/2015: Popular mood shows anti-austerity, socialist policies would win huge support

  Greece

Britain
Labour MP shows contempt for workers

24/02/2015: Three decades ago he debated with Militant leaders who warned about degeneration of his party

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Germany
Pegida at an end?

24/02/2015: German racist mobilizations split but danger continues

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History
The political legacy of Malcolm X

21/02/2015: 50 years after his assassination

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Stop arrests of government opponents!

20/02/2015: Respect the right to freedom of speech!

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Five Dublin anti-water charge protesters jailed

20/02/2015: International solidarity protests needed!

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Congo
Forty two killed during street protests in January

20/02/2015: Senate quashes Kabila’s plan to extend presidency

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What does Tsipras’s endorsement of Prokopis Pavlopoulos for President signify?

19/02/2015: Economic and social crisis requires independent pro-worker, socialist policies!

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2015 Socialist Party Congress:

19/02/2015: Preparing the forces to fight capitalist austerity

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Ireland
Socialist questions Taoiseach on political policing

18/02/2015: International solidarity protests continue

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Terrorist attack in Copenhagen

18/02/2015: United struggle needed against right-wing policies

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Is ‘Podemos’ the Spanish Syriza?

16/02/2015: Dangers of “moderation” and domestication

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“Dogs of war” unleashed in Jobstown

16/02/2015: The Gardai have simultaneously targeted the community of Jobstown, the anti-water charges movement and the Anti-Austerity Alliance

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Opposition leader imprisoned

16/02/2015: Government conspires to quell growing opposition

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Erwiana’s court victory – now to step up the struggle for migrant rights!

14/02/2015: Hong Kong court finds employer guilty of torture-like crimes

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Interview with Paul Murphy TD following arrest

13/02/2015: Socialist Party (CWI) and AAA TD Paul Murphy speaks following five days of political arrests of anti-water

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If the Troika does not back down?

13/02/2015: Let the Greek people decide!

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India
Massive defeat for ruling BJP in Delhi election

12/02/2015: Result reflects growing mass discontent

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Brazilian housing movement presents Kshama Sawant with flag

12/02/2015: MTST one of Brazil’s most important social movements

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Ruth Coppinger challenges government over political policing

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CWI Latin American summer school 2015

12/02/2015: 8th Latin American school largest ever held by the CWI on the continent

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Turkey

Brutal reality behind the West’s much-praised AKP government model

www.socialistworld.net, 30/03/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Turkey’s governing ’Justice and Development Party’ (AKP) is presented as a model of “successful democracy” by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In fact, it is a brutal model of repression against Kurdish and left activists and is presented as way of dealing with the democratic aspirations of the Arab and North African spring.

Kai Stein, CWI

On Sunday, 18 March, police brutally attacked Kurdish rallies, arrested 100 people. In Istanbul, a district official from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the main Kurdish party in Turkey, was killed after he was struck on the head by a police tear gas canister.

Kurds all over Turkey were celebrating Newroz, their New Year festival. Traditionally, it is much more than a celebration: it is a mass gathering, like a demonstration, with many dancing and marching for Kurdish rights. As part of the increased repression against Kurdish people over the last year, police tried to suppress celebrations on Sunday. However, 40,000 rallied in Diyarbakir. Tens of thousands came together in different cities.

This shows that protests are continuing despite increasing state pressure. Following accusations against people of belonging or supporting the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an alleged political offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the number of people arrested has risen dramatically in recent years from 16,000 in 2005 to more than 60,000 in 2010. In 2005, 17 children were jailed but 1,023 children were imprisoned in 2010, most of them accused of throwing stones against police and taking part in illegal demonstrations. In March 2012, Raci Bilici, the acting chairman of the south-eastern chapter of Turkey’s Human Rights Association reported: “The number of detentions doubled last year, and torture and sexual harassment of prisoners is on the rise.” [Economist, 24 March.]

“Turkey has the highest number of arrested journalists in the world... The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is abusing the anti-terror law,” a report of Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) stated in January 2012. It continues: “Under the pretext of combating terrorism, dozens were jailed before being tried, above all in the investigations into the Ergenekon conspiracy and the KCK”.

The Ergenekon allegation was first used against the Kemalist forces, the traditionally secularist wing of the capitalist elite, within the state and military, who tried to defend their positions. Later on, it turned into widespread allegations of coup plots used also against left-wing journalists and many others. Those accused are held in prison without trial, in some cases for many years.

The policy of the AKP, in the direction of a slow but constant Islamisation of society, is a growing problem for women. When the AKP government was first elected in 2002, the immediate fears of attacks on women did not fully materialise. However, there is an ongoing deterioration of the situation. Domestic violence is rising and the number of ‘honour killings’ is increasing. “Though it is ranked the 16th largest economy in the world... Turkey ranks 122 out of 135 countries when it comes to male-female disparity,” the Turkish paper Hürriyet reported.

Despite all that, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised “Turkey’s successful democracy” as a source of “very strong support” for the countries of the region and a “real example” for them (Financial Times, 26 February 2012). On behalf of US imperialism, Clinton has no problems with thousands of BDP activists, including eight elected members of the national parliament and mayors, being imprisoned.

Change of course by Erdoğan’s AKP government

Up to the Turkish elections in June 2011, the AKP presented itself as moderate and democratic. Even Kurdish rights improved in some ways. For example, the Kurdish language was allowed to be heard on some radio programmes (although only speaking censored words).

Kurdish people hoped that Prime Minster Recep Erdoğan would announce a further ‘Kurdish Opening’. But even before the 2011 elections, the AKP government were preparing a new escalation of the war against the PKK with the creation of special forces. This escalation became much more widespread than expected by any commentator. After the elections, Erdoğan’s government escalated the war against the PKK and the repression against Kurdish people. (See article: “Turkey / Kurdistan: Erdoğan escalates attacks on PKK”)

The relative quiet of industrial disputes aided Erdoğan. The workers’ movement did not continue its significant steps forward in 2009 and 2010, when the Tekel workers fought privatisation and hundreds of thousands of workers flooded Taksim Square and many other places on 1 May, for the first time in many years. Smaller battles followed, but the relative stability of the Turkish economy helped to avoid bigger conflicts with workers.

The economy is still based on the huge influx of foreign investment linked to a deficit in the trade balance. Given the instabilities and prospects of international, especially European, economic turmoil, Turkey’s economy is highly vulnerable. A ten per cent current-account gap is a huge burden on the prospects for growth and the gap expanded faster than expected in March with rising oil prices. The backing Erdoğan received because of these economic developments does not have a solid base.

However, strengthened by the elections in June 2011 and empowered by the new role of Turkey in the region, Erdoğan felt strong enough to throw a final blow at the Kemalist elites. This went hand in hand with the use of more police state measures against Kurdish and Left activists and the escalation of the military war against the PKK.

Those forces on the Left who made big gains in and around the election times were targeted. The BDP, the main Kurdish party with big influence of the PKK, formed a ‘Work, Democracy and Freedom Bloc’ for the 2011 elections, giving three socialists the chance to enter parliament. Erdoğan hopes to counter the strengthening of the Kurdish and Left forces with police brutality.

“Zero problems” with dictators, a lot of problems with the Arab and North African Spring

The changes in the region are seen by many commentators as a political and economic chance for Turkey. However, first of all, this was a setback.

Since the AKP came to power, it has followed the objective of reducing conflicts with its neighbours, in an attempt to increase trade. This worked well with Syria, for example. It helped to position Turkey between Europe and the Middle East, including the Arab world. This increased the chances of Turkey playing more of a role as a regional power, competing with Egypt, Iran and others.

The AKP announced, once in power, its “zero problem with the neighbours” strategy. In practice, this meant there was no problem dealing with all the dictators and authoritarian regimes in the region and no problem dealing with Israel.

This strategy failed when confronted with the revolutionary movements in North Africa and the Middle East.

The Turkish regime tried to stick to its good relations with Qaddafi in Libya. It was the last NATO member to support the rebels. Turkish capitalists found themselves in an uncomfortable situation after the war.

Trying to learn some lessons from that, the Turkish regime followed the opposite route with Syria: it criticised Assad, demanding ‘democratic reforms’ and imposing sanctions. But this just openly marked the end of the “zero problems” policies, a collapse of trade with Syria and – instead of growing economic inter-relations – the destabilisation of the region flowing from the conflict within Syria.

The new regimes in Egypt and Tunisia were welcomed by Erdoğan and he visited these countries. However, the economy in Egypt is in a poor state and the aspirations of the Egyptian regime, as a regional power, are increasing. The whole regional policy of Turkey has to be re-developed.

A possible breakup of Iraq, with Kurdish people getting more autonomy or even their own ‘state’, a fragmentation of Syria and increased Kurdish resistance in Iran against the regime could all encourage the Kurdish people in Turkey to continue their fight against oppression.

Under the pressure of the Turkish people’s sympathy with the oppressed Palestinians, the Ankara regime tried to use anti-Israeli moods, while, at the same time, expanding its military co-operation and trade with Israel. These links are now stretched however and the tensions between the former allies are sharper than at any time in the last period.

Why is this regime called a ‘model’?

After decades of big conflicts between the Turkish state and the workers’ movement, with military coups at least every ten years, an ongoing war with Kurdish people, an economic meltdown in 2000-01 and the destruction of most the main Turkish political parties, Turkey arose in the last decade like a phoenix from ashes. Stable conditions for foreign investment, growth rates at the same scale as China and a low level of strikes in the first years of AKP rule meant that Turkey unexpectedly became a something of a paradise for international capitalists.

The AKP was formed from splits amongst the previously outlawed Islamist forces. Its support is rooted in religious sentiments. Its basis traditionally came from the middle classes in the more backward, rural areas of eastern Turkey. Not challenged by any serious mass party of the working class, it was able to present itself as the alternative to all the rotten, corrupt parties of the elites.

After Turkey’s devastating economic crisis in 2000-01, space opened for some recovery, given the background of the international upswing until 2007. International capital, in search of profitable investments, located the ruined Turkish markets and seized the opportunity. An unprecedented boom followed in Turkey and gave Erdoğan some credibility. As the banking sector in Turkey had already collapsed eight years earlier, the crisis of 2007-08 did not hit the country particularly hard.

International capitalist commentators concluded that a moderate Islamist party, like the AKP, might be a stable force to organise a framework for international investment. It might use religion in the region to build support for neo-liberal policies which otherwise would meet harsh resistance.

This confuses cause with effect: the relatively stable economic conditions allowed the AKP to play this role over ten years. The increasing brutality of its regime shows the sharp limitations of Erdoğan’s rule. The oppression used against Kurdish people, the Left and some parts of the former elite, only stores up future explosions. Whether this will take the form of further nationalist or religious tensions, or if the workers’ movement is able to channel mass disaffection to positively alter the course of developments, depends on whether the workers’ movement is re-built. This requires building a new mass party of working people, armed with a bold socialist programme to change society fundamentally.

In this process, a strong Marxist force is needed, bringing together activists from workplaces, trade unions and social movements, as well as Kurdish rights activists. Today, many on the left are attracted to the idea of an election block around the BDP and some smaller left forces that calls for “work, democracy and freedom”. But they will find that the leaderships of these parties will offer much less than they need. Any new umbrella party formed around this block – which is being discussed at the moment – needs a programme that calls for the reversal of the huge privatisations of the AKP government, the nationalisation the big banks and corporations, under workers’ control and management, the rebuilding and planning of the economy, to met the needs of people and not the short term interests of profit-greedy international capital. It needs to link the struggle for democratic rights – workers’ rights, an end to all forms of discrimination and the oppression of Kurdish and Armenian people and women – to the fight against capitalism and imperialism.

The Kemalist forces and their political party, the CHP, are not offering any fundamental alternative. The trap of supporting one “progressive” wing of the capitalists against other wings, dropping socialist demands in order not to ‘repel’ these forces, has wrecked the Left in Turkey all too often. A working class independent class policy is the only way to show a path out of capitalist exploitation and oppression.

Copycat effects

In Egypt’s 2011 elections, the biggest and most moderate part of the Muslim Brotherhood called itself the ‘Freedom and Justice Party’, with a nod to the AKP. In Morocco, a party, directly named after the AKP, ‘Justice and Development Party’, won elections in November 2011. In Tunisia, the now governing Ennahda party says its model is the Turkish AKP. In Libya, the newly formed National Gathering for Freedom, Justice and Development, is expected to win broader support.

All these forces are trying to exploit the support of Turkey’s AKP. They combine milder versions of Islamist beliefs, for example rejecting the implementation of Sharia law, with neo-liberal measures and economic policies.

Looking back at the model in Turkey itself, these attempts, and the advice of people like Clinton to follow the AKP example, are not only cynical and against the interests of workers and the poor fighting for democracy and better living conditions, they also represent the empty hope of the imperialist powers that this model can guarantee stability and profits. The economic crisis is looming over Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa. The fuel to push the revolutionary processes further is still there. Turkey is more likely to move in the direction of Egypt or Tunisia than the other way round.



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NEWS

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

Austria: The year starts with antifascism
05/03/2015, Stefan Gredler, SLP (CWI in Austria):
Right-wing Ball events, PEGIDA, and neo-nazi Violence: A Month of Intense and Successful anti-fascism in Austria

Greece: Vodafone strike declared “illegal”
04/03/2015, Jacqueline Gorou, President, Panhellenic Trade Union Vodafone-Panafone:
“None of this will intimidate us - we will struggle until we win collective bargaining”

Russia: 50,000 march in Moscow after shooting of Boris Nemtsov
03/03/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
As economic crisis deepens, social explosions loom

Greece: “Yes there was a different choice!”
02/03/2015, Interview with Nikos Kanellis, Volos City Councilor (Xekinima/ CWI Greece) by Sascha Stanicic (SAV’/CWI Germany):
Socialist policies needed, not deals with the Troika

Scotland: Why Tommy is wrong to call for a vote for the SNP in May
27/02/2015, Clear anti-austerity alternative necessary:
Philip Stott Socialist Party Scotland

Britain: Labour MP shows contempt for workers
24/02/2015, :
Three decades ago he debated with Militant leaders who warned about degeneration of his party

Germany: Pegida at an end?
24/02/2015, Michael Koschitzki, SAV (CWI Germany):
German racist mobilizations split but danger continues

Malaysia: Stop arrests of government opponents!
20/02/2015, Statement on arrests from Socialist Alternative (CWI Malaysia):
Respect the right to freedom of speech!

Solidarity: Five Dublin anti-water charge protesters jailed
20/02/2015, Socialistworld.net:
International solidarity protests needed!

Congo: Forty two killed during street protests in January
20/02/2015, Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
Senate quashes Kabila’s plan to extend presidency

Greece: What does Tsipras’s endorsement of Prokopis Pavlopoulos for President signify?
19/02/2015, Statement by Xekinima (CWI Greece) Editorial Board [edited translation]:
Economic and social crisis requires independent pro-worker, socialist policies!

Britain: 2015 Socialist Party Congress:
19/02/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) reporters:
Preparing the forces to fight capitalist austerity

Ireland: Socialist questions Taoiseach on political policing
18/02/2015, socialistworld.net:
International solidarity protests continue

Denmark: Terrorist attack in Copenhagen
18/02/2015, Arne Johansson, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
United struggle needed against right-wing policies

Ireland: “Dogs of war” unleashed in Jobstown
16/02/2015, Cillian Gillespie and Councillor Mick Barry, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
The Gardai have simultaneously targeted the community of Jobstown, the anti-water charges movement and the Anti-Austerity Alliance

Malaysia: Opposition leader imprisoned
16/02/2015, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Malaysia):
Government conspires to quell growing opposition

Hong Kong: Erwiana’s court victory – now to step up the struggle for migrant rights!
14/02/2015, Vincent Kolo, Socialist Action (CWI) in Hong Kong:
Hong Kong court finds employer guilty of torture-like crimes

Ireland: Interview with Paul Murphy TD following arrest
13/02/2015, socialistworld.net:
Socialist Party (CWI) and AAA TD Paul Murphy speaks following five days of political arrests of anti-water

Greece: If the Troika does not back down?
13/02/2015, Andros Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Let the Greek people decide!

India: Massive defeat for ruling BJP in Delhi election
12/02/2015, Youvraj B, Pune, New Socialist Alternative (CWI India):
Result reflects growing mass discontent

Video: Brazilian housing movement presents Kshama Sawant with flag
12/02/2015, socialistworld.net:
MTST one of Brazil’s most important social movements

Video: Ruth Coppinger challenges government over political policing
12/02/2015, socialistworld.net:
Heated exchange in Irish parliament between deputy Prime Minister and Socialist Party (CWI) MP

Brazil: CWI Latin American summer school 2015
12/02/2015, Socialistworld.net:
8th Latin American school largest ever held by the CWI on the continent

Solidarity: Sweden protest against political policing in Ireland
11/02/2015, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden):
"No more arrests"

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

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

Northern Ireland: The Stormont House Agreement
05/01/2015, Michael Cleary, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Agreeing Not To Agree, Again

New Year: Political and economic ingredients for volatile 2015
31/12/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
As crisis of capitalism worsens, vital to organise and continue the struggle

Latin America: The end of one cycle and the beginning of another
17/12/2014, socialistworld.net:
Document on Latin America, agreed by CWI International Executive Committee

World Perspectives: A turbulent period in history
15/12/2014, CWI International Executive Committee:
Signs of revival of class struggle signposts the future

Sri Lanka: Presidential Election January 8, 2015
11/12/2014, Interview with Siritunga Jayasuriya, USP (CWI Sri Lanka):
Socialist candidate challenges all other forces

Australia: Major community victory stops Melbourne’s East-West Toll Road
08/12/2014, By Socialist Party (CWI Australia) reporters, Melbourne:
Socialist Party leads successful campaign against Toll Road and for investment in public transport