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latest news

Austria
Only 31,026 votes prevent far right’s Hofer becoming president

24/05/2016: ‘Breathing space’ offers chance to build a fighting, democratic left alternative

  Austria

Britain
EU referendum exposes gaping political fault-lines

24/05/2016: New road can open up for labour movement if working class relies on its own forces

  Britain

Kazakhstan
Massive police operation confronts demonstrators

23/05/2016: Nazarbayev regime faces mounting opposition

  Kazakhstan

Australia
Federal election looming

21/05/2016: How should the labour and social movements respond?

  Australia

Kazakhstan
 Anger against Nazarbayev expressed on the streets

20/05/2016: ‘Illegal’ protests planned for Saturday 21 May

  Kazakhstan

Brazil
Fall of President Dilma Rousseff unleashes offensive against working class

19/05/2016: The impeachment process and historic crisis of the PT (Workers’ Party)

  Brazil

Britain
Brexit, the EU and the economy

19/05/2016: Remain or Leave, workers must fight for socialist change

  Britain

Nigeria
General strike begins

18/05/2016: Determined leadership and clear strategy needed to succeed

  Nigeria

Ireland
‘Jobstown trials’ to go ahead

18/05/2016: Government loses battle on water charges but wages war on Left

  Ireland Republic

Greece
Striking Athens bus cleaners continue their struggle

17/05/2016: Court declares strike ‘lawful’

  Greece

Canada
Fire devastates Fort McMurray

16/05/2016: Capitalism equals environmental destruction

  Canada

Saudi Arabia
Gathering storms over the House of Saud

13/05/2016: Collapse of oil prices expose fragile foundations of oil Gulf monarchies

  Middle East, Qatar, Saudi Arabia

France
New stage in battle over labour law

12/05/2016: Hollande’s decision to over-rule parliament provokes another round of struggle

  France

Kazakhstan
Protests erupt

12/05/2016: Phoney elections have not brought stability

  Kazakhstan

Sweden
Successful Congress for CWI forces

12/05/2016: Political foundations laid for new branches and growth in other Nordic countries

  Sweden

Ireland
100th anniversary of the execution of James Connolly

12/05/2016: Revolutionary socialist, militant workers' leader and internationalist

  Ireland Republic

Northern Ireland
Main parties win Assembly elections…

11/05/2016: But positive moves against sectarian politics

  Ireland North

Belgium
Trade unions announce new plan of action

11/05/2016: Call for two national demonstrations, building towards general strikes

  Belgium

Quebec
The fight for $15 shows true colors of Parti Québecois

10/05/2016: No to an all-class pro-independence alliance

  Quebec

Britain
Elections show anger and fragmentation

10/05/2016: Mobilise the anti-austerity mood into a mass, democratic movement to defeat the right

  Britain

Scotland
SNP win elections

09/05/2016: New openings for a socialist left alternative emerge

  Scotland

Ireland
How long can Kenny’s government last?

07/05/2016: Minority government supported by two main parties and “Independents” formed

  Ireland Republic

 Video
Paul Murphy sets record straight on "legal aid"

06/05/2016: Socialist MP threatened with jail for protesting against water charges responds to attacks in Irish parliament

  Video

South Africa
Zuma must go!

06/05/2016: Build a socialist mass workers’ party for a government of the working class

  South Africa

 Solidarity
Portuguese dock workers’ indefinite strike

05/05/2016: What we cannot do: leave the dockers alone

  Solidarity

Britain
90th anniversary of epochal general strike

05/05/2016: When workers tasted power

  Britain

Hong Kong
Racist smear campaign against refugees

05/05/2016: Socialist Action (CWI) initiates successful anti-racist march

  Aceh

May Day 2016
Rallies and marches mark international workers' day

04/05/2016: Photo gallery of CWI's global May Day participation

  May Day

Ireland
Water charges suspended

03/05/2016: Protest movement and boycott force huge Establishment parties climb down

  Ireland Republic

Britain
'Slow coup' against left Labour leader

02/05/2016: Anti-Semitism charges a cynical campaign by right-wing to ditch Jeremy Corbyn

  Britain

May Day 2016
The idea of May Day on the march

01/05/2016: "The brilliant idea of May Day is the immediate stepping forward of the proletarian masses"

  May Day

Israel/Palestine
The Marxist left, the national conflict and the
Palestinian struggle

29/04/2016: The necessity of a class approach and a socialist alternative

  Israel / Palestine

Austria
Stop the rise of the far right!

27/04/2016: Against Hofer, the government and the system of the super-rich!

  Austria

Greece
Athens bus cleaners hold solid 48 hour strike

27/04/2016: Workers resist inhuman working conditions and violation of working rights

  Greece

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

Britain: EU referendum exposes gaping political fault-lines
24/05/2016, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party England & Wales):
New road can open up for labour movement if working class relies on its own forces

Kazakhstan: Massive police operation confronts demonstrators
23/05/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Nazarbayev regime faces mounting opposition

Australia: Federal election looming
21/05/2016, Editorial from May 2016 edition of ‘The Socialist’ (paper of the Socialist Party – CWI Australia) :
How should the labour and social movements respond?

Kazakhstan: Anger against Nazarbayev expressed on the streets
20/05/2016, socialistworld.net :
‘Illegal’ protests planned for Saturday 21 May

Britain: Brexit, the EU and the economy
19/05/2016, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party England & Wales) :
Remain or Leave, workers must fight for socialist change

Nigeria: General strike begins
18/05/2016, HT Soweto, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI Nigeria):
Determined leadership and clear strategy needed to succeed

Greece: Striking Athens bus cleaners continue their struggle
17/05/2016, Articles from Xekinima (CWI Greece) website :
Court declares strike ‘lawful’

Canada: Fire devastates Fort McMurray
16/05/2016, Bill Hopwood, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada) Vancouver :
Capitalism equals environmental destruction

Kazakhstan: Protests erupt
12/05/2016, Sergei Skobelev, CWI Russia:
Phoney elections have not brought stability

Sweden: Successful Congress for CWI forces
12/05/2016, Kristofer Lundberg, Rättvisepartiet Socialistern:
Political foundations laid for new branches and growth in other Nordic countries

Northern Ireland: Main parties win Assembly elections…
11/05/2016, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast:
But positive moves against sectarian politics

Quebec: The fight for $15 shows true colors of Parti Québecois
10/05/2016, Bruno, Alternative Socialiste (CWI in Quebec):
No to an all-class pro-independence alliance

Britain: Elections show anger and fragmentation
10/05/2016, Hannah Sell, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, CWI England & Wales):
Mobilise the anti-austerity mood into a mass, democratic movement to defeat the right

Scotland: SNP win elections
09/05/2016, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
New openings for a socialist left alternative emerge

Ireland: How long can Kenny’s government last?
07/05/2016, By Kevin McLoughlin, Socialist Party (CWI in Irelnd):
Minority government supported by two main parties and “Independents” formed

Video: Paul Murphy sets record straight on "legal aid"
06/05/2016, socialistworld.net:
Socialist MP threatened with jail for protesting against water charges responds to attacks in Irish parliament

South Africa: Zuma must go!
06/05/2016, Editorial from Izwi Labasebenzi (WASP - CWI South Africa) :
Build a socialist mass workers’ party for a government of the working class

Solidarity: Portuguese dock workers’ indefinite strike
05/05/2016, Socialismo Revolucionário (CWI in Portugal) Statement:
What we cannot do: leave the dockers alone

Hong Kong: Racist smear campaign against refugees
05/05/2016, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong):
Socialist Action (CWI) initiates successful anti-racist march

France: Striking workers join students and youth in mass demonstrations
04/05/2016, Naomi Byron, Paris (first published in The Socialist):
Build a general strike movement!

May Day 2016: Rallies and marches mark international workers' day
04/05/2016, socialistworld.net :
Photo gallery of CWI's global May Day participation

Ireland: Water charges suspended
03/05/2016, Katia Hancke, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Dublin:
Protest movement and boycott force huge Establishment parties climb down

Britain: 'Slow coup' against left Labour leader
02/05/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary :
Anti-Semitism charges a cynical campaign by right-wing to ditch Jeremy Corbyn

May Day 2016: The idea of May Day on the march
01/05/2016, CWI socialist greetings/Two articles by Rosa Luxemburg :
"The brilliant idea of May Day is the immediate stepping forward of the proletarian masses"

Austria: Stop the rise of the far right!
27/04/2016, Tilman Ruster, SLP (CWI in Austria) :
Against Hofer, the government and the system of the super-rich!

Greece: Athens bus cleaners hold solid 48 hour strike
27/04/2016, Apostolos Kasimeris (Board Member of OASA’s Athens Bus Workers’ Union) and Eleni Mitsou (Xekinima - CWI Greece) :
Workers resist inhuman working conditions and violation of working rights

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Austria: Only 31,026 votes prevent far right’s Hofer becoming president
24/05/2016, Sonja Grusch, SLP (the Austrian section of the CWI):
‘Breathing space’ offers chance to build a fighting, democratic left alternative

Brazil: Fall of President Dilma Rousseff unleashes offensive against working class
19/05/2016, André Ferrari, LSR (‘Freedom, Socialism and Revolution’ - CWI Brazil):
The impeachment process and historic crisis of the PT (Workers’ Party)

Ireland: ‘Jobstown trials’ to go ahead
18/05/2016, Kieran Mahon, Anti-Austerity Alliance / Socialist Party Councillor, Dublin:
Government loses battle on water charges but wages war on Left

Saudi Arabia: Gathering storms over the House of Saud
13/05/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Collapse of oil prices expose fragile foundations of oil Gulf monarchies

France: New stage in battle over labour law
12/05/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Hollande’s decision to over-rule parliament provokes another round of struggle

Ireland: 100th anniversary of the execution of James Connolly
12/05/2016, Three articles on Connolly’s life and ideas :
Revolutionary socialist, militant workers' leader and internationalist

Belgium: Trade unions announce new plan of action
11/05/2016, LSP/PSL (CWI in Belgium) Reporters:
Call for two national demonstrations, building towards general strikes

Britain: 90th anniversary of epochal general strike
05/05/2016, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) general secretary:
When workers tasted power

Israel/Palestine: The Marxist left, the national conflict and the
Palestinian struggle

29/04/2016, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI Israel-Palestine):
The necessity of a class approach and a socialist alternative

France: One-day strike set for 28 April
26/04/2016, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
A final stage before indefinite action against Hollande’s government?

US: The un-Democratic Primary
22/04/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative Seattle, originally published on counterpunch.org:
Why we need new party of the 99%

Capitalism: a failing system
18/04/2016, Peter Taaffe, from May edition of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
A new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, analyses the downward course of the US economy – and the limits of the whole capitalist system

Review: ’Militant’ by Michael Crick
14/04/2016, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary:
Lessons of Militant vital for anti-austerity struggles today

US election turmoil
01/04/2016, By Tony Saunois (CWI Secretary) who recently visited the US for meetings of Socialist Alternative:
Bernie Sanders campaign - an opportunity to build a new party of the 99%

Britain: A new moment
28/03/2016, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), published in April 2016 issue of Socialism Today:
Extracts from a statement discussed at the Socialist Party’s recent congress

Ireland: 100th anniversary of Easter 1916 Rising
26/03/2016, Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
A revolt against imperial power and war

History: When Khrushchev denounced Stalin
26/03/2016, Niall Mulholland, from Socialism Today (April 2016 issue of the monthly journal of Socialist Party, England & Wales):
1956 ‘secret speech’ a devastating blow to Stalinist regimes

11th CWI World Congress: World Perspectives
22/03/2016, socialistworld.net:
Amended agreed version of the World Perspectives document agreed by the CWI’s 11th World Congress

Germany: Big gains for right-wing, nationalist, AfD in state elections
22/03/2016, Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
DIE LINKE (Left Party) urgently needs to change course

US: Sanders needs to run as an independent in November
18/03/2016, Calvin Priest, Socialist Alternative (CWI supporters in USA):
Continuing the Political Revolution

European Union: Alliance with Turkey to close borders
09/03/2016, Per-Ãke Westerlund, from Offensiv - the weekly paper of Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden):
Crises for refugees - and the EU – continues

Germany: Between hatred and solidarity
08/03/2016, By Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
The situation in Germany

Turkey: No intervention in Syria! Stop the war on the Kurds!
01/03/2016, By Murat Karin, Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI in Turkey) and Paula Mitchell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Two articles on the current situation in Turkey and Kurdistan

US: Nevada Goes to Clinton – Sanders Looks to Super Tuesday
26/02/2016, Calvin Priest, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the USA):
Huge enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders’ call for a political revolution leads to serious challenge to Hillary Clinton

Five years on from the “Arab Spring”
20/02/2016, Serge Jordan (CWI), article to be published in the March 2016 edition of Socialism Today, No.196.:
The “Arab Spring” revolutionary wave brought dictators in Tunisia and Egypt crashing down. It swept through the Middle East, inspiring workers and youth the world over. It has since ebbed, however, leaving the region wracked with war and sectarian conflict.