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latest news

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

France
One-day strike set for 28 April

26/04/2016: A final stage before indefinite action against Hollande’s government?

  France

Germany
Huge protest against TTIP deal

25/04/2016: For decisive unions’ action to stop bosses’ plans!

  Germany

Britain
Jeremy Corbyn’s EU u-turn

23/04/2016: The bosses’ EU is no friend of workers

  Britain

Belgium
New major social conflict in the making

22/04/2016: Second action plan needed to stop the Michel government

  Belgium

US
The un-Democratic Primary

22/04/2016: Why we need new party of the 99%

  US

South Africa
Zuma & the ANC must fall

22/04/2016: Build a socialist mass workers party for a government of the working class

  South Africa

 Video
Paul Murphy speaks on Brexit referendum and for a socialist Europe

21/04/2016: Socialist Party TD (MP) exposes real nature of EU in Irish parliament

  Europe, Video

Iceland
Mass protests continue

21/04/2016: CWI’s programme explained

  Iceland

India
Workers oppose Modi proposals

21/04/2016: Eye-witness account of successful protest

  India

 Video
Peter Taaffe debates with Paul Mason on BBC TV

20/04/2016: Socialist Party General Secretary debates with author and journalist on revolutionary socialism today

  Britain, Video

 Sudan
Solidarity from the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) - Nigeria with the student protests in Khartoum

20/04/2016: The ERC, the national student campaign linked to the DSM (CWI in Nigeria) is displaying its support for the student movement in Sudan

  Nigeria, Solidarity, Sudan

Poland
Anger at abortion ban plan

20/04/2016: Protests and a new spontaneous movement for abortion rights erupt

  Poland

 Sudan
Solidarity with the students’ protests!

19/04/2016: Free all arrested students now

  Solidarity, Sudan

Iran
Jailed trade unionists announce start of hunger strikes on April 29

19/04/2016: Statement by Jafar Azimzadeh, a leader of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, and Esmail Abdi, a leader of the Iranian Teachers Trade Association

  Iran

Capitalism
a failing system

18/04/2016: 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, US

 Video
Socialist TV appearance ’goes viral’ in US

18/04/2016: FOX interview with Darletta Scruggs, Socialist Alternative member, viewed millions of times

  US, Video

Cuba
Obama’s visit

16/04/2016: Easing of embargo to promote US capitalist interests

  Cuba

Burma
Democrats have historic majority in parliament

16/04/2016: But army remains powerful force

  Burma

Belgium
Successful ‘Socialism 2016’ weekend event

14/04/2016: Inequality, war and insecurity show the urgency of the struggle for socialism

  Belgium

Review
’Militant’ by Michael Crick

14/04/2016: Lessons of Militant vital for anti-austerity struggles today

  Britain, History, Review

Britain
Panama Papers reveal corrupt system of the 1%

13/04/2016: Build a party in the interests of the millions not the millionaires

  Britain

France
Workers and youth on the streets

12/04/2016: Full-scale struggle with ‘Socialist’ government erupting

  France

Hong Kong
Panama Papers: Hong Kong protest

12/04/2016: “Tax the rich” shout protesters at Mossack Fonseca’s Hong Kong office

  Hong Kong

Netherlands
Dutch say ‘No’ to EU-Ukraine Treaty

11/04/2016: Major blow against “endless austerity” Liberal/Labour government

  Netherlands

 Brazil
Solidarity with attacked civil servants

08/04/2016: Hired thugs beat rank and file trade union protesters

  Brazil, Solidarity

Iceland
"You're fired!"

07/04/2016: Protesters stay on streets after forcing PM's resignation

  Iceland

China
Panama Papers name eight Chinese leaders

06/04/2016: Massive clampdown by state censors

  China

Britain
Panama Papers scandal

06/04/2016: ‘They’re all in it together!’

  Britain

Sri Lanka
Left political leader imprisoned

06/04/2016: Socialists demand immediate release

  Sri Lanka

Italy

Voters reject austerity in ‘tsunami’ election

www.socialistworld.net, 27/02/2013
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Political instability, crisis and new opportunities ahead

Chris Thomas, Controcorrente (CWI in Italy)

The “Tsunami tour” was the name comedian Beppe Grillo gave to his election meetings which filled piazzas throughout the country with tens of thousands of ‘spectators’. Now an electoral tsunami has well and truly rocked the Italian political system with Grillo’s 5 Star Movement, which did not exist at the last election, becoming the biggest single party in the lower house with more than 25% of the vote. Another 25% of the electorate stayed at home, the highest ever post-war abstention rate.

The outcome of the election on 24 and 25 February is political gridlock. No party or list having an overall majority and the possibility of fresh elections quite soon. The opinion polls had predicted a victory for the Democratic Party (PD) in the lower house and most commentators expected an alliance of the PD in the senate with the electoral coalition of the outgoing (unelected) prime minister, Mario Monti. However, the polls vastly underestimated support for the 5 Star Movement and also for Berlusconi’s PDL, which, on the basis of populist programmes, tapped into deep and widespread anti-austerity and anti-political establishment feelings.

Just 120,000 votes separated the PD camp from that of the PDL in the lower house (Camera). The Centre-Left got 29.5% to the Centre-Right 29.2% but the PD lost nearly 4 million votes compared with the last election and the PDL 6 million! Even though the PD as the ‘winning’ party will receive bonus seats to give it a majority in the Camera, it cannot reach a majority in both houses of parliament, even in alliance with Monti.

Grillo has ruled out any alliances and a ‘grand coalition’ - embracing Bersani (PD leader) and Berlusconi - although not impossible, could be politically suicidal for the PD. The ‘technocratic government’ card has already been played with the Monti government, so the most likely perspective now seems to be a period of political crisis leading eventually to another election, possibly after a change in the electoral law, in which the support for the ‘Grillinis’ could grow even further.

The “worst result possible” was how the Wall St Journal described the election outcome. The repercussions will reverberate far beyond Italy. The day after the election, falls on the Milan stock exchange were so great that trading was temporarily suspended. At the same time the spread (difference between interest rates on Italian and German bonds) began to increase, raising once again the prospect of market turmoil in Europe. The fate of the Euro could eventually be decided not in Greece but in Italy.

‘NO’ to austerity

The election results were an overwhelming rejection of Monti’s austerity policies of public spending cuts, tax increases and attacks on workers’ rights. Monti had been dubbed the ‘saviour of Italy’ when he replaced Berlusconi in November 2011 and the markets began to stabilise after months of instability and crisis. In these elections he was the candidate of Brussels, of Merkel and of a section of the Italian capitalist class. They were fearful that a PD government with an overall majority would come under pressure from workers and unions to ditch or water down the austerity policies they had supported under Monti. A PD/Monti coalition was considered the safest option for continuing the ‘Monti agenda’. This strategy failed dismally with Monti’s alliance receiving just 10.5% in the Camera. Before the elections Monti’s personal ratings had been higher than all the party leaders but this was precisely because he was a ‘technocrat’ and not part of the despised political class. Once he became “one of them”, his days were numbered.

Grillo and the 5 Star Movement were the real winners. His slogan “tutti a casa” (send them all packing) summed up the absolute disgust and contempt which ordinary Italians have for politicians, establishment parties and an entire rotten political system mired in corruption, scandals and self-enrichment while working people are called on to make more and more sacrifices.

Scandals

Reports of the huge cover up and fraud at Italy’s third biggest bank, Monti dei Paschi, exploded during the election campaign, tainting the PD, who have been historically closely linked with the management of the bank. It reinforced the deep-rooted feeling that the whole system stinks. Every day pages of the press were devoted to stories of politicians receiving kick backs for economic favours, of public funds being creamed off to fund lavish lifestyles and of company directors (including the director of one of Italy’s biggest and most prestigious companies, Finmeccanica) being arrested for fraud and corruption.

The Grillo votes came from across the political spectrum – from the right, from the left and from those with no political affiliation. “I want to give them all a kick up the arse!” was how one voter explained her choice, summing up the mood of many of those who voted for the 5 Star Movement. In the piazzas, Grillo shouted populist slogans and sound-bites about curbing the power and privileges of the political ‘cast’, about a ‘citizen’s income’, a referendum on the Euro, a shorter working week, nationalising the banks, and about improving the environment, all of which struck a chord with those who have had enough of cuts and corruption.

There are enormous illusions in the ability of the Grillinis to shake the system up. In reality, the Movement (Grillo refuses to call it a party) has no worked-out programme capable of solving the day-to-day problems of unemployment, low wages, and declining public services which most ordinary Italians are concerned with. It has no real roots in the workplaces or communities, organising principally via the Internet and social media. Grillo himself decides policies and tactics in an ad hoc, off-the-cuff way with no explanation or understanding of how those policies could actually be implemented in practice. His ‘rants’ are confused and inconsistent.

Grillo has an ambiguous position with regards to the far-right and immigration. During the campaign he spoke of “eliminating” trade unions although he has also made a distinction between CGIL, CISL and UIL on the one hand and the more combatative FIOM and unions of the base. At a certain stage the limitations and contradictions of the Movement will become clear, ripping it apart. It is likely to disappear as quickly as it has arisen; but for the moment, in the absence of a left-wing, anti-capitalist alternative, it has become the main vehicle for expressing the anger, frustration and disaffection of millions of Italians and its support could grow even more.

Economic crisis

These elections took place against the background of the longest recession in Italy in the post war period. GDP has declined 7% since the economic crisis began. Unemployment has doubled and more than 37% of young people are now without work. Devastated by rising taxes and declining wages, the average family’s real income is at the same level as it was 27 years ago. Yet with working and middle class people desperate for an end to austerity, the PD were offering a continuation of the Monti agenda with just a few ‘modifications’. They pledged to respect the fiscal compact and balance the budget even though this would entail cuts of 45 billion euros every year. This is behind the massive fall of 11% in their ratings towards the end of the campaign.

Berlusconi, on the other hand, was astute enough to understand how supporting Monti’s tax increases and cuts agenda was undermining his electoral base and so he pulled the plug on the Monti government, waging a populist anti-austerity, anti- Europe, pro-tax-cutting election campaign. This included sending a mock-up tax demand to every home pledging to reimburse every penny that people had paid out when Monti reintroduced the IMU household tax. On the basis of this campaign the ‘mummy’, as one French newspaper dubbed Berlusconi, rose like Lazarus from the dead; his PDL alliance clawed back 15 points in support and ended up neck and neck with the PD.

What little remains of the Left was electorally crushed. Nichi Vendola’s SEL (Left Ecology Freedom) party, which was allied with the PD, got just 3.2%. Had the party stood alone it would have failed to cross the 4% threshold and would have had no seats in parliament. This was ultimately the fate of Rivoluzione Civile, the heterogeneous electoral list headed by the former magistrate, Antonio Ingroia.

New force needed

Instead of standing on a clear anti-capitalist/workers’ list, Rifondazione Comunista (PRC), once a semi-mass workers’ party, dissolved itself into Rivoluzione Civile on a vaguely reformist/liberal platform. This was an opportunist move, undemocratically imposed from above in a desperate attempt to get back into parliament. The PRC lost all of their MPs five years ago after entering into a coalition government with the pro-capitalist PD. After every electoral defeat, the PRC leadership, rather than looking to increase its support by involving itself in struggles in the workplaces and in local communities, has sought a new unprincipled electoral alliance, and every time its vote has plummeted. Rivoluzione Civile won just 2.2% of the vote meaning no seats at all..

The unprecedented support for Beppe Grillo can only be understood in the tragic context of the collapse of the Italian Left. But now an entirely new political landscape is emerging. The anger of working class people has exploded in the ballot box rather than on the streets and in the workplaces, but continuing crisis and instability will see the development of new mass struggles.

At a certain stage the inadequacy of the 5 Star Movement will be exposed leaving millions looking for another alternative and opening up huge possibilities for the building of a new mass political force based not on confused populism but on the movements of workers and young people, offering a real solution to the problems of working people by challenging not only the politicians but the economic roots of the whole rotten capitalist system.



Europe

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NEWS

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

Germany: Huge protest against TTIP deal
25/04/2016, Angelika Teweleit, Socialist Alternative (SAV- the CWI in Germany) :
For decisive unions’ action to stop bosses’ plans!

Britain: Jeremy Corbyn’s EU u-turn
23/04/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary:
The bosses’ EU is no friend of workers

Belgium: New major social conflict in the making
22/04/2016, Els Deschoemacker, LSP/PSL (CWI in Belgium):
Second action plan needed to stop the Michel government

South Africa: Zuma & the ANC must fall
22/04/2016, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa):
Build a socialist mass workers party for a government of the working class

Video: Paul Murphy speaks on Brexit referendum and for a socialist Europe
21/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
Socialist Party TD (MP) exposes real nature of EU in Irish parliament

Iceland: Mass protests continue
21/04/2016, Jonas Brännberg, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden), in Reykjavik:
CWI’s programme explained

India: Workers oppose Modi proposals
21/04/2016, New Socialist Alternative (CWI India):
Eye-witness account of successful protest

Video: Peter Taaffe debates with Paul Mason on BBC TV
20/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
Socialist Party General Secretary debates with author and journalist on revolutionary socialism today

Sudan: Solidarity from the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) - Nigeria with the student protests in Khartoum
20/04/2016, Socialistworld.net:
The ERC, the national student campaign linked to the DSM (CWI in Nigeria) is displaying its support for the student movement in Sudan

Poland: Anger at abortion ban plan
20/04/2016, Paul Newberry, Alternatywa Socjalistyczna (CWI in Poland):
Protests and a new spontaneous movement for abortion rights erupt

Sudan: Solidarity with the students’ protests!
19/04/2016, Statement of Socialist Alternative (CWI in Sudan):
Free all arrested students now

Iran: Jailed trade unionists announce start of hunger strikes on April 29
19/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
Statement by Jafar Azimzadeh, a leader of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, and Esmail Abdi, a leader of the Iranian Teachers Trade Association

Video: Socialist TV appearance ’goes viral’ in US
18/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
FOX interview with Darletta Scruggs, Socialist Alternative member, viewed millions of times

Cuba: Obama’s visit
16/04/2016, Rogelio Manuel Díaz Moreno, socialist corespondent in Havana, Cuba:
Easing of embargo to promote US capitalist interests

Burma: Democrats have historic majority in parliament
16/04/2016, Keith Dickinson, Socialist Party (England and Wales):
But army remains powerful force

US: The Battle of New York: Sanders Campaign Faces Decisive Test
15/04/2016, Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative :

Belgium: Successful ‘Socialism 2016’ weekend event
14/04/2016, PSL-LSP (CWI in Belgium):
Inequality, war and insecurity show the urgency of the struggle for socialism

Britain: Panama Papers reveal corrupt system of the 1%
13/04/2016, Editorial from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, CWI England & Wales) :
Build a party in the interests of the millions not the millionaires

France: Workers and youth on the streets
12/04/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI :
Full-scale struggle with ‘Socialist’ government erupting

Hong Kong: Panama Papers: Hong Kong protest
12/04/2016, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) reporters:
“Tax the rich” shout protesters at Mossack Fonseca’s Hong Kong office

Netherlands: Dutch say ‘No’ to EU-Ukraine Treaty
11/04/2016, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam :
Major blow against “endless austerity” Liberal/Labour government

Brazil: Solidarity with attacked civil servants
08/04/2016, LSR (CWI in Brazil) reporters:
Hired thugs beat rank and file trade union protesters

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

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

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.

CWI 11th World Congress: South Asia wracked by instability
15/02/2016, Geert Cool, CWI Belgium:
Huge potential for workers’ struggles

US: Bernie’s political revolution opens new era for American politics
13/02/2016, Patrick Ayers, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the USA):
Build a #Movement4Bernie to Defeat the Billionaire Class and the Democratic Party Establishment.

CWI 11th World Congress 2016: Women and oppression in class society
13/02/2016, CWI World Congress Document:
A socialist approach

CWI 11th World Congress: Upheaval of traditional European political framework
12/02/2016, Sarah Wrack, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Workers’ fury at austerity and capitalist system will find more expression

11th CWI World Congress: A World in turmoil
11/02/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Renewed economic crisis, wars, political polarisation & class struggle perspectives

Africa: New political storms and mass struggles
08/02/2016, CWI 11th World Congress Document:
Opportunities will arise for working class and poor to organise

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.