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latest news

Catalonia
9 November “consultation” on independence

22/11/2014: Another show of strength for independence - fight for a Socialist Catalonia

  Spain

Greece
Workers’ victory at Diamant telesales company

21/11/2014: Xekinima (CWI) member wins key union position in Athens Municipality sector

  Greece

Israel-Palestine
Netanyahu threatens “heavy hand” response to synagogue attacks

19/11/2014: New rounds of repression answered by new wave of rage and protest

  Israel / Palestine

US
Mid-term elections do not mean a turn to the right in society

19/11/2014: Big Gains for Republicans while Voters Support Progressive Ballot Measures

  US

 Video
Socialist TD defends anti-water charges protests

18/11/2014: Ruth Coppinger, Socialist Party TD (MP) appears on ‘Prime Time’

  Ireland Republic, Video

Vital lessons of Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’

18/11/2014: Mass struggle needs genuine internal democracy and fighting working class programme to defeat dictatorship

  Hong Kong

 Video
Water tax revolt continues in Ireland

17/11/2014: Tanaiste (Deputy PM) trapped by protestors; AAA TD (MP) and Socialist Party member, Paul Murphy, assaulted

  Ireland Republic, Video

Indonesia
"New Hope" president faces intense pressures

16/11/2014: Initiative to build mass party of working class and rural poor urgently needed

  Indonesia

Ukraine
Competing ’elections’ deepen divisions

15/11/2014: Working people need socialist alternative to warring oligarchs and outside powers

  Ukraine

Scotland
SNP government announces £500 million cuts

14/11/2014: Majority of ‘Yes’ voters want end to austerity - anti-cuts candidates needed!

  Scotland

Afghanistan
British combat troops pull out

13/11/2014: A legacy of death and destruction

  Afghanistan, Britain, US

 Germany
Highly politicised train drivers’ strike

12/11/2014: Last week German train drivers and on-board staff went on strike for four days, shaking and polarising the country

  Germany, Solidarity

Greece
Mayors refuse to make job cuts

12/11/2014: Lefts, local authority workers and communities’ united can resist Troika’s policies

  Greece

Britain
Over 1,000 attend largest ever ‘Socialism’ event

11/11/2014: Socialism 2014 - infused with contagious confidence

  Britain

Belgium
Massive demonstration in Brussels

10/11/2014: Shows anger against austerity

  Belgium

Northern Ireland
20 years after the ceasefires

10/11/2014: In 1994, the IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries called ceasefires. Four years later the Good Friday agreement was declared to mark the end of the ‘Troubles’…

  Ireland Republic

Review
Environmental disaster and the need to change everything

09/11/2014: “This Changes Everything: capitalism vs the climate”, by Naomi Klein

  Environment, Review

Germany
25 years since November 9

09/11/2014: Berlin Wall brought down by mass revolutionary movement

  Germany

Canada
Right wing wins Toronto Mayoral election

08/11/2014: NDP increasingly irrelevant to needs of workers, immigrants and youth

  Canada

Elections in Brazil

07/11/2014: Narrow win for Dilma sets scene for more crisis and instability

  Brazil

Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution

07/11/2014: November 7th anniversary of workers taking power

  Russia

Europe
Anti-fascist demonstrations set for 8-9 November

06/11/2014: Movement of workers and youth needed against racism and fascism

  Europe, Greece, Sweden

Canada
Ottawa ‘locked-down’ after Parliament gun attack

05/11/2014: Tory government whips-up terrorist fears to boost Canada’s imperialist role

  Canada

Ireland
Stunning Dublin by-election victory, huge water protests…new chapter for working class resistance

04/11/2014: How the Anti Austerity Alliance won a parliamentary seat and the way forward for the Left

  Ireland Republic

Book review
The Jihadis Return

04/11/2014: Isis and the new Sunni uprising, by Patrick Cockburn

  Middle East, Review

South Africa
Metal workers’ union clashes with Congress of South African Trade Unions

03/11/2014: For political and class independence - Struggle, solidarity and socialism!

  South Africa

Britain
Come to Socialism 2014

03/11/2014: Weekend of discussion & debate hosted by the Socialist Party – London 8-9 November

  Britain

  Ireland
’Abortion Pill Train’ video

02/11/2014: Pro-choice ROSA campaigners swallow abortion pills after rail journey

  Ireland Republic, Video, Women

Italy
Renzi government faces mounting opposition

01/11/2014: A one-day strike of all workers is needed

  Italy

Burkina Faso
Mass uprising ousts dictator

31/10/2014: No to military rule! Continue mass struggle – the whole rotten system must go!

  Burkina Faso

Ireland
Anti-water tax protest in Limerick

31/10/2014: Video of one of the city’s biggest protests

  Ireland Republic

Kurdistan
Battle for Kobanê at a crossroads

31/10/2014: What does US military ‘assistance’ mean for the Kurdish struggle?

  Kurdistan, Middle East

Belgium
Government’s Thatcherite attacks provoke class confrontation

30/10/2014: The right wing coalition must go, and all austerity policies!

  Belgium

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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Video: Joe Higgins denounces Irish government’s water charge trickery, 20/11/2014

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NEWS

Catalonia: 9 November “consultation” on independence
22/11/2014, Rob MacDonald Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) Barcelona:
Another show of strength for independence - fight for a Socialist Catalonia

Greece: Workers’ victory at Diamant telesales company
21/11/2014, Xekinima Reporters:
Xekinima (CWI) member wins key union position in Athens Municipality sector

Video: Joe Higgins denounces Irish government’s water charge trickery
20/11/2014, socialistworld.net:
Mass boycott will defeat water charges

US: Mid-term elections do not mean a turn to the right in society
19/11/2014, Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative:
Big Gains for Republicans while Voters Support Progressive Ballot Measures

Video: Socialist TD defends anti-water charges protests
18/11/2014, socialistworld.net:
Ruth Coppinger, Socialist Party TD (MP) appears on ‘Prime Time’

Venezuela: Scarcity and speculation - whose fault is it?
18/11/2014, Gabriela Sánchez. Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Venezuela):
Who is sabotaging who?

Vital lessons of Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’
18/11/2014, chinaworker.info:
Mass struggle needs genuine internal democracy and fighting working class programme to defeat dictatorship

Video: Water tax revolt continues in Ireland
17/11/2014, socialistworld.net:
Tanaiste (Deputy PM) trapped by protestors; AAA TD (MP) and Socialist Party member, Paul Murphy, assaulted

Indonesia: "New Hope" president faces intense pressures
16/11/2014, Iyan, CWI Malaysia:
Initiative to build mass party of working class and rural poor urgently needed

Scotland: SNP government announces £500 million cuts
14/11/2014, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
Majority of ‘Yes’ voters want end to austerity - anti-cuts candidates needed!

Afghanistan: British combat troops pull out
13/11/2014, Niall Mulholland, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
A legacy of death and destruction

Germany: Highly politicised train drivers’ strike
12/11/2014, Sascha Stanicic, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Germany):
Last week German train drivers and on-board staff went on strike for four days, shaking and polarising the country

Greece: Mayors refuse to make job cuts
12/11/2014, Eleni Mitsou, Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Lefts, local authority workers and communities’ united can resist Troika’s policies

Britain: Over 1,000 attend largest ever ‘Socialism’ event
11/11/2014, Sarah Sachs Eldridge, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Socialism 2014 - infused with contagious confidence

Belgium: Massive demonstration in Brussels
10/11/2014, Geert Cool, LSP/PSL (CWI in Belgium):
Shows anger against austerity

Review: Environmental disaster and the need to change everything
09/11/2014, Bill Hopwood, from the November 2014 edition of Socialism Today:
“This Changes Everything: capitalism vs the climate”, by Naomi Klein

Canada: Right wing wins Toronto Mayoral election
08/11/2014, Socialist Alternative Toronto:
NDP increasingly irrelevant to needs of workers, immigrants and youth

Europe: Anti-fascist demonstrations set for 8-9 November
06/11/2014, Anti-fascist organiser, Stockholm:
Movement of workers and youth needed against racism and fascism

Canada: Ottawa ‘locked-down’ after Parliament gun attack
05/11/2014, Socialist Alternative Reporters, Canada:
Tory government whips-up terrorist fears to boost Canada’s imperialist role

Book review: The Jihadis Return
04/11/2014, Reviewed by Paul Gerrard, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Isis and the new Sunni uprising, by Patrick Cockburn

South Africa: Metal workers’ union clashes with Congress of South African Trade Unions
03/11/2014, Moses Mayekiso, WASP President and Numsa founding general secretary (elected while on trail for treason in 1987):
For political and class independence - Struggle, solidarity and socialism!

Britain: Come to Socialism 2014
03/11/2014, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialism 2014 organising team:
Weekend of discussion & debate hosted by the Socialist Party – London 8-9 November

Ireland: ’Abortion Pill Train’ video
02/11/2014, Socialistworld.net:
Pro-choice ROSA campaigners swallow abortion pills after rail journey

Italy: Renzi government faces mounting opposition
01/11/2014, Giuliano Brunetti, ControCorrente (CWI Italy):
A one-day strike of all workers is needed

Burkina Faso: Mass uprising ousts dictator
31/10/2014, CWI Reporters, Ivory Coast:
No to military rule! Continue mass struggle – the whole rotten system must go!

Ireland: Anti-water tax protest in Limerick
31/10/2014, Socialistworld.net:
Video of one of the city’s biggest protests

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Israel-Palestine: Netanyahu threatens “heavy hand” response to synagogue attacks
19/11/2014, Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM):
New rounds of repression answered by new wave of rage and protest

Ukraine: Competing ’elections’ deepen divisions
15/11/2014, Rob Jones, CWI Moscow:
Working people need socialist alternative to warring oligarchs and outside powers

Northern Ireland: 20 years after the ceasefires
10/11/2014, Ciaran Mulholland, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
In 1994, the IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries called ceasefires. Four years later the Good Friday agreement was declared to mark the end of the ‘Troubles’…

Germany: 25 years since November 9
09/11/2014, By Robert Bechert, CWI, who was living in Berlin in 1989:
Berlin Wall brought down by mass revolutionary movement

Elections in Brazil
07/11/2014, Andre Ferrari, LSR (CWI in Brazil):
Narrow win for Dilma sets scene for more crisis and instability

Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution
07/11/2014, Clare Doyle, CWI:
November 7th anniversary of workers taking power

Ireland: Stunning Dublin by-election victory, huge water protests…new chapter for working class resistance
04/11/2014, Kevin McLoughlin, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
How the Anti Austerity Alliance won a parliamentary seat and the way forward for the Left

Kurdistan: Battle for Kobanê at a crossroads
31/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
What does US military ‘assistance’ mean for the Kurdish struggle?

A ‘third industrial revolution’
28/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
New technological innovations are having a huge impact on the capitalist system, a subject explored in a new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society.

Britain: Anniversary of first issue of Militant newspaper
24/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary, from this week’s Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
50 years of socialist ideas and workers’ struggle

Spain: Death knells of "Transition" regime
23/10/2014, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Catalonia; ’Podemos’, and the left

Kazakhstan: Brutal repression in imperialism’s interests
20/10/2014, Mike Whale, Secretary of Campaign Kazakhstan (first published in October 2014 issue of Socialism Today):
Workers pay the price for crony capitalism

Is the US promoting a “colour revolution” in Hong Kong?
18/10/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong):
Beijing’s scare propaganda doesn’t stand up to examination

Britain: Workers need a pay rise - how can we pay for it?
17/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
End poverty, inequality and capitalism

Ireland: Byelection triumph marks turning point in anti-austerity struggle
14/10/2014, Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Paul Murphy wins parliamentary seat as 100,000 march against water charges

Middle East: US-led policy of air attacks on Islamic State lies in ruins
13/10/2014, Tony Saunois, CWI:
As battle for Kobane rages, IS forces make major gains in Iraq

Ireland: Paul Murphy elected to Irish parliament in stunning byelection victory
12/10/2014, socialistworld.net:
Anti-Austerity Alliance victory shocks political establishment, reflects mass revolt against water charges and austerity

South Africa: "A workers’ party must emerge"
11/10/2014, John Malanga, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI South Africa):
Dire position of South African capitalism and inequality adds momentum towards creation of workers’ party

Israel/Palestine: After the Gaza war
07/10/2014, Shahar Benhorin, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI Israel-Palestine):
No justice for Palestinians and no peace for the region - For a socialist solution!

Hong Kong: Pro-regime thugs attack protesters
06/10/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI Hong Kong):
Organise democratic defence committees to repel attacks and kick out CY Leung’s government!

Kurdistan: The battle for Kobanê
02/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Regional war poses new challenges for struggle for Kurdish self-determination

Iraq /Syria: US-led bombings will worsen divisions
01/10/2014, Judy Beishon, from the Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
Stop imperialist slaughter!

Hong Kong: Massive anti-government protests after attempted police crackdown
30/09/2014, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Anger over police violence fuels spontaneous “umbrella revolution” and growing strike movement

Scotland: Independence referendum - A working-class revolt
24/09/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
The referendum has turned British politics upside down – even though the No vote won

Greece: "This destruction of workers’ lives serves the bankers"
23/09/2014, Speech by Apostolis Kasimeriss, an Athens bus driver, to Italian socialists:
“We must all keep going…we have no other way to survive than to fight-back”