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latest news

Spain
A break in the political establishment

07/02/2016: December’s elections broke the hold of the two main capitalist parties for the first time since the Franco dictatorship. The high vote for representatives of workers’ and social movements, and the recovery of the left-populist Podemos, open up a new phase in the struggle against austerity.

  Spain

US
#Movement4Bernie Takes Off Around the Country

06/02/2016: Bernie Sanders’ call for a political revolution against the billionaire class enthuses millions

  US

Brazil
Devastating outbreak of Zika virus

04/02/2016: Another healthcare system failure

  Brazil

Pakistan
PIA strike continues despite state repression

04/02/2016: Four workers killed, eight injured as security forces open fire on protesting workers

  Pakistan

US
Iowa results reveal crisis of establishment politics - Sanders and Clinton tie

03/02/2016: “It’s too late for establishment politics, establishment economics!”

  US

Japan
Social and political unease after “twenty lost years”

03/02/2016: Weakness of opposition is Prime Minister Abe’s only strength

  Japan

 Greece
Workers strike at Contitech-IMAS factory

02/02/2016: Solidarity campaign needed!

  Greece, Solidarity

World Economy
Capitalism buffeted by choppy waters

02/02/2016: Bosses strive to offload cost of crisis on working class - a struggle for system change is needed

  World Economy

Egypt
Fifth anniversary of heroic revolutionary uprising

01/02/2016: Workers’ struggles continue despite repression

  Egypt

India
Justice for Rohit Vemula

31/01/2016: Solidarity message from the Committee for a Workers’ International

  India, US

Britain
Fractured politics

29/01/2016: A volatile mix

  Britain

Tunisia
Suicide of unemployed youth sparks new wave of protests

22/01/2016: Five years after the fall of Ben Ali, demands of the revolution remain unsatisfied

  Tunisia

China
Kidnapping and TV show-trials

21/01/2016: “China is entering a dark night of repression and detentions under Xi Jinping”

  China

Venezuela
Right-wing landslide

20/01/2016: First electoral defeat suffered by the Chavistas since Hugo Chávez was first elected president in 1998

  Venezuela

Leningrad
‘Hero City’

19/01/2016: 900 days of siege in World War Two

  History, Russia

Britain
Police infiltration of Socialist Party exposed

19/01/2016: Untold distress caused to women in relationships with undercover police officers

  Britain

US
Socialist response to State of the Union 2016

15/01/2016: Kshama Sawant replies to Obama’s "State of the Union" speech

  US

 South Africa
Campus workers strike against outsourcing

14/01/2016: For the mobilisation and support of all students, permanent workers and communities across Tshwane

  Africa, Solidarity, South Africa

Britain
Steps towards setting up Trade Union Momentum

12/01/2016: Potential for inclusive, anti-austerity trade union based movement with effective alliances in workplaces and communities

  Britain

Scotland
Politicians have a choice

11/01/2016: Implement Tory austerity or set no-cuts budgets

  Scotland

Sweden/Denmark
Closing borders

07/01/2016: The EU’s nightmare continues

  Denmark, Sweden

 Pakistan
Nestle workers solidarity campaign update

06/01/2016: Union leader, Muhammad Hussain Bhatti, released on bail

  Pakistan, Solidarity

 Taiwan
Solidarity urged for insurance workers’ strike

05/01/2016: Determined battle for pension rights and an end to contract labour

  Solidarity, Taiwan

China 2015
A year of unnatural disasters

04/01/2016: Corruption, poor oversight and chase for profits, maim thousands

  China

Britain
Corbyn’s supporters want resistance against the right

01/01/2016: Edited extracts from an article by Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary, that will be published in the first 2016 issue of the Socialist (7 January).

  Britain

 Review
Alexandra Kollontai

29/12/2015: A life of socialist struggle

  Review, Women

Review
Revisiting Animal Farm

27/12/2015: Allegory of the terrible betrayal of the Russian revolution

  Review

Review
Charlie Chaplin

25/12/2015: Playing the underdog

  Review

Spain
Elections mark shift to the Left

23/12/2015: No government majority as Podemos partially recovers

  Spain

Environment
A world of change

23/12/2015: Human beings have radically altered the Earth, adapting nature in the struggle to survive and thrive…

  Environment

Pakistan
Hundreds protest against religious extremism and increased intolerance

21/12/2015: Rally organised by Socialist Movement Sindh in Mir Pur Khas

  Pakistan

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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Northern Ireland: New agreement bad news for working class, 02/12/2015

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NEWS

US: #Movement4Bernie Takes Off Around the Country
06/02/2016, Socialist Alternative, CWI in the USA:
Bernie Sanders’ call for a political revolution against the billionaire class enthuses millions

Brazil: Devastating outbreak of Zika virus
04/02/2016, Isabel Keppler, LSR (CWI Brazil):
Another healthcare system failure

Pakistan: PIA strike continues despite state repression
04/02/2016, Fazal Abbas Shah and Rukhsana Manzoor, Socialist Movement Pakistan, Lahore:
Four workers killed, eight injured as security forces open fire on protesting workers

US: Iowa results reveal crisis of establishment politics - Sanders and Clinton tie
03/02/2016, Joshua Koritz, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the US):
“It’s too late for establishment politics, establishment economics!”

Greece: Workers strike at Contitech-IMAS factory
02/02/2016, Xekinima (CWI Greece) Reporters:
Solidarity campaign needed!

Egypt: Fifth anniversary of heroic revolutionary uprising
01/02/2016, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Workers’ struggles continue despite repression

India: Justice for Rohit Vemula
31/01/2016, socialistworld.net:
Solidarity message from the Committee for a Workers’ International

Britain: Fractured politics
29/01/2016, Peter Taaffe, general secretary, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
A volatile mix

Tunisia: Suicide of unemployed youth sparks new wave of protests
22/01/2016, Al-Badil al-Ishtiraki, CWI in Tunisia:
Five years after the fall of Ben Ali, demands of the revolution remain unsatisfied

China: Kidnapping and TV show-trials
21/01/2016, chinaworker.info:
“China is entering a dark night of repression and detentions under Xi Jinping”

Britain: Police infiltration of Socialist Party exposed
19/01/2016, Press statement from the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Untold distress caused to women in relationships with undercover police officers

US: Socialist response to State of the Union 2016
15/01/2016, Socialistworld.net:
Kshama Sawant replies to Obama’s "State of the Union" speech

South Africa: Campus workers strike against outsourcing
14/01/2016, Workers & Socialist Party (WASP), Reporters:
For the mobilisation and support of all students, permanent workers and communities across Tshwane

Britain: Steps towards setting up Trade Union Momentum
12/01/2016, John McInally Public and Commercial Services Union Vice-President (personal capacity), from The Socialist newspaper:
Potential for inclusive, anti-austerity trade union based movement with effective alliances in workplaces and communities

Scotland: Politicians have a choice
11/01/2016, By Brian Smith and Jim McFarlane, Glasgow City Unison and Dundee City Unison branch secretaries (in a personal capacity) and Socialist Party Scotland:
Implement Tory austerity or set no-cuts budgets

Sweden/Denmark: Closing borders
07/01/2016, Per-Ãke Westerlund, Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden):
The EU’s nightmare continues

Pakistan: Nestle workers solidarity campaign update
06/01/2016, Fazal Abbas Shah SMP (CWI in Pakistan), Lahore:
Union leader, Muhammad Hussain Bhatti, released on bail

Taiwan: Solidarity urged for insurance workers’ strike
05/01/2016, CWI Taiwan Reporters (translated from The Socialist, journal of the CWI Taiwan):
Determined battle for pension rights and an end to contract labour

China 2015: A year of unnatural disasters
04/01/2016, chinaworker.info reporters:
Corruption, poor oversight and chase for profits, maim thousands

Britain: Corbyn’s supporters want resistance against the right
01/01/2016, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Edited extracts from an article by Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary, that will be published in the first 2016 issue of the Socialist (7 January).

Review: Alexandra Kollontai
29/12/2015, Heather Rawling, from Socialism Today:
A life of socialist struggle

Review: Revisiting Animal Farm
27/12/2015, Andy Ford, from Socialism Today (Issue 192 October 2015):
Allegory of the terrible betrayal of the Russian revolution

Review: Charlie Chaplin
25/12/2015, Niall Mulholland, from Socialism Today (Issue 191 September 2015):
Playing the underdog

Spain: Elections mark shift to the Left
23/12/2015, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain):
No government majority as Podemos partially recovers

Pakistan: Hundreds protest against religious extremism and increased intolerance
21/12/2015, Hameed Channa Socialist Movement Pakistan (CWI in Pakistan) organiser in Sindh:
Rally organised by Socialist Movement Sindh in Mir Pur Khas

Ireland North:Court rules abortion laws contravene human rights
21/12/2015, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) Reporters, Belfast:
Movement needed for women’s rights

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

India: Rising class struggle reflects seething anger of working class
08/02/2016, Anand Kumar, from Dudiyora Horaata (Workers’ Struggle – newspaper of the CWI in India), Bangalore:
Is ‘Modimania’ on the wane?

World relations, economy and the class struggle
08/02/2016, Socialistworld.net:
CWI 11th World Congress document

Spain: A break in the political establishment
07/02/2016, Danny Byrne, CWI (article from issue 195 of ’Socialism Today’):
December’s elections broke the hold of the two main capitalist parties for the first time since the Franco dictatorship. The high vote for representatives of workers’ and social movements, and the recovery of the left-populist Podemos, open up a new phase in the struggle against austerity.

Japan: Social and political unease after “twenty lost years”
03/02/2016, Carl Simmons, Kokusai Rentai (CWI in Japan):
Weakness of opposition is Prime Minister Abe’s only strength

World Economy: Capitalism buffeted by choppy waters
02/02/2016, Lynn Walsh, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, CWI England & Wales):
Bosses strive to offload cost of crisis on working class - a struggle for system change is needed

Venezuela: Right-wing landslide
20/01/2016, Tony Saunois, from February edition of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
First electoral defeat suffered by the Chavistas since Hugo Chávez was first elected president in 1998

Leningrad: ‘Hero City’
19/01/2016, Clare Doyle (fuller version of a review article to be published in the February 2016 issue of Socialism Today):
900 days of siege in World War Two

China: Financial turmoil spreads fear across global markets
14/01/2016, Per-Åke Westerlund, with additional reporting by Vincent Kolo:
Setting the tone for 2016?

2016: Crisis-ridden capitalism will meet with bitter mood of resistance
05/01/2016, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary:
Socialist alternative is essential

Environment: A world of change
23/12/2015, Jess Spear, Socialist Alternative (CWI in USA):
Human beings have radically altered the Earth, adapting nature in the struggle to survive and thrive…

Venezuela: Elections – who won and who lost?
16/12/2015, Johan Rivas, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Venezuela):
Victory for the right wing reflects popular discontent

Pakistan: Religious extremism, military operations and increased intolerance
15/12/2015, Khalid Bhatti SMP (CWI in Pakistan):
Revolutionary movement of the working class needs to finally defeat religious extremism and intolerance

Côte d’Ivoire : Ouattara reelected in a “frighteningly quiet” atmosphere
14/12/2015, CWI in Ivory Coast:
Dictatorship consolidating while opposition ridicules itself. Time to “turn the page”!

Environment: Socialism or ecological catastrophe
05/12/2015, Articles from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
25 years of hot air from establishment

World relations, economy and the class struggle
05/12/2015, CWI International Secretariat:
There has been a profound change in the world situation and world relations since the CWI’s last World Congress in 2010

Britain: After the vote in parliament to bomb Syria
04/12/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) reporters:
This crisis has revealed that Labour is essentially two parties in one

Britain: Syria vote reveals two Labour parties in one
02/12/2015, Editorial from The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Fight for a party that stands against war and austerity

Scotland: Post-referendum, where is Scotland heading?
29/11/2015, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
Mass struggle and socialism will challenge capitalist austerity

Environment: Socialist change not climate change
28/11/2015, Pete Dickenson, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The growing threat of climate change and a socialist programme for the environment

Middle East: Bombing Syria won’t stop Isis
25/11/2015, Editorial of The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
For workers’ unity against war, terrorism and racism

Hong Kong: Great result for socialist election campaign
25/11/2015, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Socialist Action’s Sally Tang Mei-ching lifts opposition vote to 33 percent

Turkey: Erdoğan’s Pyrrhic victory
20/11/2015, Nihat Boyraz, Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI in Turkey) - translation from an article originally written in Turkish for Sosyalist Alternatif magazine:
It is time to build a new united left force

Burma: Sweeping victory for Aung San Suu Kyi party
19/11/2015, Keith Dickinson, Socialist Party (England and Wales):
Army holds on to powerful positions

France: Horror in Paris
14/11/2015, Statement from Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France):
We will not be intimidated !

Britain: Socialist ideas back on the agenda
10/11/2015, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialism 2015 organiser:
Best ever ‘Socialism’ weekend of discussion & debate