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latest news

Britain
The struggles to come

27/05/2015: No fundamental change to be expected from the Labour Party

  Britain

Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific workers to strike in August

26/05/2015: Protesting cabin crew at Hong Kong airport explained their grievances to Socialist Action reporters

  Hong Kong

Canada’s ‘carbo-state’

26/05/2015: Only a socialist alternative can challenge the carbo-capitalists’ grip on Canadian politics

  Canada, Environment

New Zealand
Victory over zero-contract hours

24/05/2015: ‘Cotton On’ clothes retailer workers defeat attempt to remove rest and meal breaks

  New Zealand

Iraq/Syria
ISIS rout national armies at Ramadi and Palmyra

23/05/2015: United working class movement needed to sweep away sectarian militias and reactionary politicians

  Iraq, Syria

Britain
Labour leadership contest - appealing to big business

22/05/2015: The Labour leadership contest begs the question: what is the point of the Labour Party?

  Britain

Ireland North
Election marks growing rejection of sectarian status quo

21/05/2015: Opportunities to build new anti-sectarian political voice for working class and youth

  Ireland Republic

Spain
Is Podemos in crisis?

20/05/2015: Left and social movements in a state of flux, as key elections loom

  Spain

Britain
Build a movement to defeat Tories’ cuts savagery

20/05/2015: For massive union demonstrations, linked to a 24-hour general strike

  Britain

Ireland South
Vote ‘Yes’ to marriage equality!

19/05/2015: Referendum a product of long-waged campaign of struggle from below

  Ireland Republic

Greece
Subordination to Troika or rupture with austerity?

18/05/2015: The choices before the Greek working class

  Greece

North Cyprus
‘Moderate leftist’ wins presidential election on peace ticket

16/05/2015: Workers’ common front, north and south, can find solution to island’s division

  Cyprus

Chile
Huge demonstrations call for free education

15/05/2015: New chapter opens in country’s political and ‘moral’ crisis

  Chile

Australia
East-West toll road dispute concluded

15/05/2015: Local community direct action secures victory

  Australia

Ireland
Parliament suspended after PM tells Socialist MPs “where to go”

14/05/2015: Contemptuous remarks reflect government concerns over non-payment of water charges

  Ireland Republic

Britain
Organising against Tory austerity starts now

14/05/2015: Potential for industrial response to cuts but needs determined leadership and campaigning

  Britain

 Video
Joe Higgins TD questions former ECB president Jean Claude Trichet

13/05/2015: "When bankers and bondholders’ gambles crashed, their massive burden of private debt was placed onto the shoulders of the Irish people"

  Ireland Republic, Video

Sudan
Mass apathy towards elections

12/05/2015: Renewed struggle from below needed to put an end to Bashir’s rule

  Sudan

USA
Presidential candidate declares "political revolution" against billionaires

12/05/2015: Campaign needs to build independent political power

  US

Britain
Fight against "five more damned years" of Tory rule

12/05/2015: Labour leader’s ’responsible capitalism’ shows its bankruptcy

  Britain

China
“In a hard landing now”

11/05/2015: Stock market frenzy and fabricated GDP figures cannot hide the reality of an economy in deep trouble

  China

Scotland
Labour annihilated

11/05/2015: SNP sweeps to victory by posing as an anti-austerity alternative

  Scotland

Britain
With the votes of 24% of the electorate, Tories have no mandate for more savage cuts

11/05/2015: Labour’s failure puts centre stage the need for new mass anti-austerity force

  Britain

Poland
65,000 workers demonstrate against governments’ policies

07/05/2015: Plan of action for a general strike needed

  Poland

Ireland North
Socialist Party replies to leading Sinn Fein councillor’s attacks

06/05/2015: How to fight cuts, sectarianism and to build workers’ unity

  Ireland North

Britain
Russell Brand mistaken to sow illusions in Labour

06/05/2015: Russell Brand calls on people to elect a Labour government, saying Ed Miliband will ’listen’ and wants pressure from below

  Britain

May Day 2015
International workers’ day marked by marches and rallies

05/05/2015: Photo gallery of the CWI taking part in May Day event across the world

  May Day

Iceland
Fighting for better wages

05/05/2015: General strike called for 26 May

  Iceland

May Day 2015
Socialist plan or capitalist chaos

01/05/2015: What sort of new society are we struggling for?

  May Day

Nepal
Disaster in Nepal –amplified by capitalism

30/04/2015: Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the south Asian region has been further devastated by the recent earthquake.

  Nepal

US
Rage in Baltimore

29/04/2015: The aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death

  US

Book review
’No place to hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance state’

29/04/2015: What the 1% will do to defend their class interests

  Review, US

 May Day 2015
Resisting austerity, exploitation, wars and oppression

28/04/2015: 125 years since first May Day – Build a united workers’ movement for socialism!

  CWI, May Day

Dutch Elections

Liberals and Labour win; Socialist Party stuck on 15 seats

www.socialistworld.net, 13/09/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

New coalition government promises austerity politics – Workers’ will resist!

Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands) Amsterdam

The Dutch national elections, held on 12 September, resulted in a victory for the Liberal Party (comparable to the Conservatives in Britain) and the Labour Party (comparable to Britain’s New Labour). The Liberals got 41 seats (26.4%) and the Labour Party 39 (24.7%). The Dutch Socialist Party (SP) remains at 15 seats, although it polled support for 39 seats at one stage during the election campaign. Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (extreme right wing and racist) lost 9 seats (a fall from 24 seats to 15).

The elections took place against a background of propaganda about the state debt running out of control, the need to pay ‘our’ debts now and not to pass it on to next generations etc. The truth is that state debt ran at 200% after WWII, at 80% in the 1980s and is at 65% now, well below the EU average. Also, the Netherlands is the second largest tax haven in the world; billions of corporation money flows through the country, taxed minimally or untaxed.

The elections were called after the last coalition fell in March. It was a coalition government between the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats, supported by Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party. The Freedom Party supported the cabinet in parliament but did not have any party member as government ministers. This coalition fell apart over a new cuts programme. It agreed to 18 billion euro worth of cuts but later claimed a further 12.5 billion cuts were necessary to ‘stabilise state finances’. An additional austerity programme of 25 billion euro is now considered “necessary”.

Why did the Liberal Party emerge as the largest party on Wednesday despite its failure in government? The answer is simple. The other right wing parties, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Party, lost more seats (8 and 9 respectively) than the Liberal Party gained (10). In this sense, the previous right wing coalition government lost the election. The attempt to form a government that was “finger licking good” for the Right, as the former Prime Minister Rutte (Liberal Party leader) described it in 2010, was a failure.

Why has the Labour Party gained?

Why has the Labour Party made new gains, winning nearly 40 seats? It increased its vote by 9 seats largely because of the collapse of the Green Left (who lost 7 seats, leaving the party with just 3). When extra cuts were deemed necessary, last May, after the fall of the government, the Green Left and several other parties helped the caretaker government of Liberals and Christian Democrats to carry out a new round of cuts. Earlier on, the Green Left played a key role in supporting a police-training mission in Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan. There were also internal difficulties inside the Green Left organisation that was eagerly reported on by the media.

The failure of the Dutch Socialist Party to make its promised breakthrough is the most startling result of these elections. It won 9.7% of the vote, down 0.2% from the last election. There was a great deal to fight for. Up to 40% of voters were estimated to be undecided until election day. But the SP ended up with 15 seats; exactly the number it held in the last parliament. After polling close to 40 seats during the election campaign, and with reports in the international press that SP leader, Emil Roemer, was possibly the next Dutch prime minister and that the SP could become the largest party in the Netherlands, Wednesday’s result was a major disappointment for SP voters and members.

It appears that many voters who supported the SP in the polls in August ended up voting for the Labour Party. The two most important reasons for this change of heart by potential SP voters seem to have been over the party’s position on pensions and the EU. The SP initially took the position that the pension age (65) should remain unchanged but in order to balance the budget went along with agreeing to increase the age to 67 in 2025. This reneging of the SP’s former position on pensions was carried out by leadership to prove the party’s ‘financial solidity’ to possible coalition partners and the media.

In the earlier stages of the election campaign, SP leader Roemer also declared that he would not pay any fines to the EU for overshooting the 3% (of GDP) budget deficit. He made this comment to the main Dutch financial newspaper. Roemer’s remarks were seized upon by the capitalist establishment and the media and condemned as “irresponsible”. He then vaguely retracted the statement. Defying the EU and the austerity tsars in Brussels could have made him hugely more popular with voters. Bowing to the political pressure of pro-cuts parties and the mass media, an impression Roemer reinforced on several later occasions, led to many workers and youth losing faith in the SP.

During the election campaign, Roemer and the SP’s leadership continued to stress their willingness to compromise and form a coalition government, which would include pro-cuts parties. They openly declared that they wanted to take over the role of social democracy. Many voters decided to vote for the real thing – Labour.

The election campaign was almost entirely focused on TV appearances and personalities and Labour Party leader, Diederik Samson, cut a sharper figure in this context than SP leader, Roemer. Samson was widely seen as the main challenger to former Liberal leader, Rutte, during TV debates and Roemer faded into the background.

The SP won 25 seats in the 2006 elections. It went down to 15 in the 2010 elections. Therefore getting the same result on 12 September is a huge disappointment for many SP voters, members and supporters.

Socialist Alternative

Socialist Alternative (CWI Netherlands) called for a vote for the SP and said that a major victory of the SP, as initially indicated by the polls, would have been the best possible outcome of the elections. Socialist Alternative campaigned for such a victory, while calling for the party to fight on bold socialist policies and the for the SP membership to oppose the leaderships further swing to the right. A strong SP result would have inspired the working class to fight the cuts, oppose the EU elite, with its endless demands for austerity, and to seek solidarity with other European workers in struggle.

The Dutch trade unions are involved in a complicated re-organisation at the moment and their leaders are seen as more supportive of the Labour Party. This may initially dampen the prospect of trade union struggles when the Labour Part gets into government, as is likely. The SP needs to support the struggle against cuts everywhere, to start to make a comeback. We call on the SP to have an open debate on the lessons of the election campaign and on the outcome of the election. The SP’s result - staying static at 15 seats – is not a serious setback for many SP members and supporters but it is not an irreversible defeat. Nevertheless given the failure of the previous right wing coalition government of the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats, and the role that the Labour Party played in previous governments, including helping to introduce the euro, bailout the big banks at workers’ expense, and setting major privatisations in motion, this weeks’ outcome for the SP was a case of ‘defeat snatched from the jaws of victory’.

The final weeks of the election campaign was presented by the politicians and media as a race between the Liberal and the Labour Party. Now they will most likely form a coalition government together. Neither can form a government with politically-‘allied’ parties. The Liberal Party is the largest party in the parliament but at the expense of the other main right wing parties, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Party. The Labour Party has grown but at the expense of the Green Lefts.

Together the Labour Party and Liberals hold 80 seats in parliament, which has 150 seats in total. They lack a majority in the upper house, so they will probably need to include the badly-bruised Christian Democrats in their coalition. This will mean a government of the traditional ruling parties – parties that are responsible for the political and economic disasters of the past 20 years.

Workers’ resistance to cuts

Dutch workers are in a difficult position. The new government, whatever its exact composition, will impose huge cuts on health and education, will force people to work much longer and will cut pensions by 10%-15%. Young people will be hit by low incomes, unemployment and high rents. Trade union resistance is largely blocked by the union leadership, at the moment. Political resistance is frustrated by the impotence of the SP leadership.

Resistance needs to be built from the bottom up. In the unions, a broad-based, fighting, left opposition, like the National Shop Stewards Network in Britain, is necessary to develop the struggle.

However the new coalition government will be full of tensions from the start. “We won our greatest victory in history," Rutte, the leader of the Liberals, declared. He is associated with German Chancellor Angel Merkel’s plans of strictly adhering to austerity measures that are designed to force down the country’s deficit. While Labour also agrees to cuts, there can be sharp disputes between the coalition parties over timing and the depth of austerity. Labour leader, Samsom, who is regarded as wanting to follow French President, Francois Hollande’s policy of increasing some spending and taxes on the rich, calls for spending on job-creation programmes in the Netherlands. Samsom claims he will bargain hard in coalition talks. "The course must be changed because the right-wing policies of the past two years cannot continue," he said. Developing working class opposition to austerity can put huge pressure on these coalition fault-lines and make the government much more vulnerable than it appears now.

The main lesson for the Dutch Socialist Party rank and file and wider supporters is that bold socialist policies are needed to decisively win over the support of working class and middle class people who will be hit hard by new austerity measures. Socialist Alternative (CWI Netherlands) calls for a genuinely democratic debate within and around the SP on the lessons of the 12 September elections. By adopting genuinely open and democratic structures and a socialist alternative to capitalism in crisis, the SP can attract new layers of workers and youth, and be part of the fight-back against a new coalition government’s cuts.

Voter volatility

The election campaign and final results emphase, once again, the electoral volatility of big parts of the Dutch electorate. Polarisation can take place to the Left and Right. Big swings by sections of the population in either direction is a hallmark of Dutch politics over the last decade or so.

The Left will have big possibilities to make gains and to establish the basis of a new mass party representing working class people, the youth and hard-pressed middle class people. But this requires a socialist programme. As well as resisting attacks on pensions, the SP can win support from working people, the unemployed and youth by boldly opposing cuts and the erosion of the welfare state, and by putting forward a clear socialist alternative: jobs for all, a properly funded education and health service, decent and affordable housing, opposition to imperialist wars and so on. By bringing the big banks and main planks of the economy into public ownership, under the democratic control and management of working people, the huge resources of society be employed to meet the needs of working-class people.

Such a socialist programme is needed to see the continuing decline of the populist, far right. The Freedom Party is now licking its wounds after a poor result in the elections. But unless the Left and the unions provide a credible alternative, decisively leading resistance to cuts and appealing for working-class unity, the populist, anti-immigrant right can make a come back, posing a real danger to workers’ unity.



Europe

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NEWS

Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific workers to strike in August
26/05/2015, Chinaworker.info:
Protesting cabin crew at Hong Kong airport explained their grievances to Socialist Action reporters

New Zealand: Victory over zero-contract hours
24/05/2015, Joe Kelly, CWI NZ/Aotearoa:
‘Cotton On’ clothes retailer workers defeat attempt to remove rest and meal breaks

Britain: Labour leadership contest - appealing to big business
22/05/2015, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The Labour leadership contest begs the question: what is the point of the Labour Party?

Britain: Build a movement to defeat Tories’ cuts savagery
20/05/2015, Editorial from The Socialist, weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
For massive union demonstrations, linked to a 24-hour general strike

Ireland South: Vote ‘Yes’ to marriage equality!
19/05/2015, From the Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) website:
Referendum a product of long-waged campaign of struggle from below

Greece: Subordination to Troika or rupture with austerity?
18/05/2015, Editorial from Xekinima (no. 410, 6-20 May 2015), fortnightly newspaper of CWI Greece:
The choices before the Greek working class

Pakistan: Jawad Ahmad speaking at May Day rally held by International Youth and Workers Movement
18/05/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Video of May Day Rally and concert in Lahore

North Cyprus: ‘Moderate leftist’ wins presidential election on peace ticket
16/05/2015, Athina Kariati, New Internationalist Left (CWI in Cyprus):
Workers’ common front, north and south, can find solution to island’s division

Chile: Huge demonstrations call for free education
15/05/2015, Patricio Guzman, Socialismo Revolcuionario (CWI in Chile):
New chapter opens in country’s political and ‘moral’ crisis

Australia: East-West toll road dispute concluded
15/05/2015, Socialist Party (CWI Australia) Reporters:
Local community direct action secures victory

Ireland: Parliament suspended after PM tells Socialist MPs “where to go”
14/05/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Contemptuous remarks reflect government concerns over non-payment of water charges

Britain: Organising against Tory austerity starts now
14/05/2015, John McInally, Public and Commercial Services Union national Vice-President (personal capacity), from the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) website:
Potential for industrial response to cuts but needs determined leadership and campaigning

Video: Joe Higgins TD questions former ECB president Jean Claude Trichet
13/05/2015, Socialistworld.net:
"When bankers and bondholders’ gambles crashed, their massive burden of private debt was placed onto the shoulders of the Irish people"

Sudan: Mass apathy towards elections
12/05/2015, Sudanese CWI supporter:
Renewed struggle from below needed to put an end to Bashir’s rule

Scotland: Labour annihilated
11/05/2015, :
SNP sweeps to victory by posing as an anti-austerity alternative

Britain: With the votes of 24% of the electorate, Tories have no mandate for more savage cuts
11/05/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Labour’s failure puts centre stage the need for new mass anti-austerity force

Poland: 65,000 workers demonstrate against governments’ policies
07/05/2015, Alternatywa Socjalistyczna (CWI Poland) Reporters:
Plan of action for a general strike needed

Britain: Russell Brand mistaken to sow illusions in Labour
06/05/2015, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Russell Brand calls on people to elect a Labour government, saying Ed Miliband will ’listen’ and wants pressure from below

May Day 2015: International workers’ day marked by marches and rallies
05/05/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Photo gallery of the CWI taking part in May Day event across the world

Iceland: Fighting for better wages
05/05/2015, Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
General strike called for 26 May

US: Rage in Baltimore
29/04/2015, Eljeer Hawkins, Socialist Alternative, New York:
The aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death

Book review: ’No place to hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance state’
29/04/2015, Reviewed by Tony Saunois, CWI:
What the 1% will do to defend their class interests

Kazakhstan: Presidential ‘election’ - Nazarbayev’s overwhelming victory no surprise
28/04/2015, Elizabeth Clarke, CWI:
Workers need to build mass opposition

Ireland North: Health Minister forced to resign after making homophobic remarks
27/04/2015, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
LGBT and women’s rights campaigners boosted

Italy: Migrant disasters - the human cost of budget cuts
27/04/2015, From web-site of ControCorrente (CWI in Italy):
From Mare Nostrum to Triton

Finland: Worst ever election result for traditional Left
24/04/2015, Jonas Brännberg and Juha Tapio for CWI in Finland:
Finns Party second biggest in parliament

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Britain: The struggles to come
27/05/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales) General Secretary:
No fundamental change to be expected from the Labour Party

Canada’s ‘carbo-state’
26/05/2015, Bill Hopwood, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada):
Only a socialist alternative can challenge the carbo-capitalists’ grip on Canadian politics

Iraq/Syria: ISIS rout national armies at Ramadi and Palmyra
23/05/2015, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
United working class movement needed to sweep away sectarian militias and reactionary politicians

Ireland North: Election marks growing rejection of sectarian status quo
21/05/2015, Daniel Waldron and Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast:
Opportunities to build new anti-sectarian political voice for working class and youth

Spain: Is Podemos in crisis?
20/05/2015, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Left and social movements in a state of flux, as key elections loom

USA: Presidential candidate declares "political revolution" against billionaires
12/05/2015, Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative, Seattle:
Campaign needs to build independent political power

Britain: Fight against "five more damned years" of Tory rule
12/05/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party )CWI England & Wales) General Secretary:
Labour leader’s ’responsible capitalism’ shows its bankruptcy

China: “In a hard landing now”
11/05/2015, Dikang, chinaworker.info:
Stock market frenzy and fabricated GDP figures cannot hide the reality of an economy in deep trouble

Ireland North: Socialist Party replies to leading Sinn Fein councillor’s attacks
06/05/2015, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) Statement:
How to fight cuts, sectarianism and to build workers’ unity

May Day 2015: Socialist plan or capitalist chaos
01/05/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party General Secretary, (CWI England & Wales):
What sort of new society are we struggling for?

Nepal: Disaster in Nepal –amplified by capitalism
30/04/2015, TU Senan, CWI:
Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the south Asian region has been further devastated by the recent earthquake.

May Day 2015: Resisting austerity, exploitation, wars and oppression
28/04/2015, CWI:
125 years since first May Day – Build a united workers’ movement for socialism!

Latin America: A new turn?
25/04/2015, Tony Saunois, article from May issue of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Historic handshake between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, turmoil in Venezuela, and stalled reforms in Bolivia – as well as crises in Brazil – symbolise a new turn in Latin America and the Caribbean

Iran: Proposed nuclear deal reflects transformed Middle East
24/04/2015, Robert Bechert, CWI:
In aftermath of disastrous Iraq occupation, Obama administration balancing between region’s forces

Tunisia: After the Bardo terrorist attack
18/04/2015, Serge Jordan:
New class battles loom

Yemen: Brutal onslaught on country’s poor
15/04/2015, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the CWI England & Wales):
For unity of workers and poor against imperialism and sectarianism

Economy: What low oil prices cost the world economy
03/04/2015, Lynn Walsh, article from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The sudden plunge of oil and gas prices has underlined the volatility in the world capitalist economy

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.