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latest news

Spain
Students' union beats PP government

06/12/2016: Government rocked back by historic mobilisations

  Spain

Italy
Big defeat for Renzi in referendum vote

06/12/2016: Resignation opens opportunity for workers and youth to fight for a better future

  Italy

Portugal
Witch hunt in Left Bloc?

05/12/2016: Solidarity in defence of CWI members and symphthisers

  Portugal

Spain
Militant struggle by Students Union succeeds

02/12/2016: Mass student strikes force PP government to retreat

  Spain

Sudan
Three day nationwide strike shuts down the country, in unique defiance of Al-Bashir’s rule

30/11/2016: Escalation of the struggle needed to overthrow repressive regime

  Sudan

Turkey
AKP regime sliding towards personal dictatorship

28/11/2016: United workers’ struggle only antidote against Erdoğan’s rule

  Turkey

US
Trump prepares attacks on working people,immigrants and women

27/11/2016: We must prepare massive resistance!

  US

Kashmir
Brutal suppression of uprising

26/11/2016: Battle zone of proxy conflicts. United working class opposition needed

  Kashmir

Cuba
Fidel Castro, leader of 1959 revolution, dies at 90

26/11/2016: Castro's life and the Cuban Revolution

  Cuba

China
New stage in power struggle

24/11/2016: Xi Jinping becomes “core leader”

  China

Spain
Students' Union surges forward in historic congress

22/11/2016: Hundreds rally to celebrate 30th anniversary of SE and 40th anniversary of Izquierda Revolucionaria / El Militante

  Spain

Pakistan
ISIS terrorists attack Sufi shrine

21/11/2016: The struggle of Baluchi people

  Pakistan

India
‘Demonetisation’ shock

19/11/2016: Modi unleashes war on poor

  India

Sri Lanka
Fair is foul - IMF Budget unleashed

18/11/2016: IMF led austerity budget has unveiled in Sri Lanka

  Sri Lanka

Hong Kong
Government purges Legislative Council

17/11/2016: “Nothing short of a coup”

  Hong Kong

Socialism 2016
Electrifying and powerful weekend puts socialism on the agenda

16/11/2016: Struggle, internationalism and socialism, these ideas - and how powerful they can be in action, electrified the magnificent rallies and workshops of the Socialism 2016 weekend.

  Britain

 Video
Socialism 2016, London

16/11/2016: An electrifying and powerful weekend which put socialism back on the agenda

  Britain, Video

US
Anti-Trump protests

12/11/2016: In less than 24 hours, 40,000 people answered our call

  US

Ireland
The Jobstown trial and the threat to democratic rights<br />

12/11/2016: Biggest political trial in decades, as Socialist Party & Anti Austerity Alliance MP and councillors face threat of lengthy prison sentences

  Ireland Republic

Spain
Student strike gives first mass response on the streets to new PP government

11/11/2016: Interview with Ana Garcia, General Secretary of the Sindicato de Estudiantes (Spanish Students’ Union)

  Spain

Kazakhstan

10/11/2016: No to land privatisation - Release Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayanov!

  Kazakhstan

 Video
Irish Socialist MPs react to Trump election

10/11/2016: Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry speak in Irish parliament

  Ireland Republic, US, Video

US
We need mass resistance to Trump and a new party of the 99%

10/11/2016: A Presidency of chaos and struggle

  US

US
Build a grassroots movement to stop Trump's agenda

09/11/2016: Polls showed that Donald Trump was the most hated Presidential candidate in the history of this country. Yet the Wall Street, Wal-Mart, warmonger Clinton couldn't defeat him…

  US

US
Deeply damaged, the two parties limp towards the finish line

08/11/2016: Whoever wins tomorrow will enter office facing unprecedented levels of popular hostility

  US

History
Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution

07/11/2016: November 7th anniversary of workers’ taking power

  Russian Revolution

Philippines
‘China pivot’ from Duterte

07/11/2016: Philippines leader seeks to play off superpowers to win economic concessions

  Philippines

Turkey
People's Democratic Party leaders arrested

04/11/2016: Urgent appeal to demand their immediate release

  Turkey

 Capitalist system “on the edge of the volcano”

03/11/2016: Draft documents for November CWI international meeting

  CWI

Spain
PSOE leadership hands power to the PP

03/11/2016: A new phase in the class struggle

  Spain

Ireland
Police vote to take strike action

02/11/2016: Unprecedented industrial action poses crisis for Irish government

  Ireland Republic

South Africa
Victimisation of #OutsourcingMustFall activists

02/11/2016: State tries to crush worker-student unity in struggle for free education

  South Africa

History
Suez 1956

01/11/2016: The decline of British imperialism and rise of the colonial revolution

  History

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.



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NEWS

Spain: Students' union beats PP government
06/12/2016, Statement by Sindicato de Estudiantes (Students Union), Spain:
Government rocked back by historic mobilisations

Italy: Big defeat for Renzi in referendum vote
06/12/2016, Editorial from ‘Resistenze’, monthly paper of ControCorrente (CWI in Italy) :
Resignation opens opportunity for workers and youth to fight for a better future

Portugal: Witch hunt in Left Bloc?
05/12/2016, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Portugal) reporters :
Solidarity in defence of CWI members and symphthisers

Spain: Militant struggle by Students Union succeeds
02/12/2016, Socialistworld.net :
Mass student strikes force PP government to retreat

Turkey: AKP regime sliding towards personal dictatorship
28/11/2016, Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI Turkey):
United workers’ struggle only antidote against Erdoğan’s rule

Kashmir: Brutal suppression of uprising
26/11/2016, TU Senan, CWI :
Battle zone of proxy conflicts. United working class opposition needed

Spain: Students' Union surges forward in historic congress
22/11/2016, Danny Byrne, CWI :
Hundreds rally to celebrate 30th anniversary of SE and 40th anniversary of Izquierda Revolucionaria / El Militante

Pakistan: ISIS terrorists attack Sufi shrine
21/11/2016, Kristofer Lundberg, Socialist Justice Party (CWI Sweden) :
The struggle of Baluchi people

India: ‘Demonetisation’ shock
19/11/2016, Isai Priya, Tamil Solidarity :
Modi unleashes war on poor

Sri Lanka: Fair is foul - IMF Budget unleashed
18/11/2016, TU Senan, CWI :
IMF led austerity budget has unveiled in Sri Lanka

Socialism 2016: Electrifying and powerful weekend puts socialism on the agenda
16/11/2016, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) reporters :
Struggle, internationalism and socialism, these ideas - and how powerful they can be in action, electrified the magnificent rallies and workshops of the Socialism 2016 weekend.

Video: Socialism 2016, London
16/11/2016, Socialistworld.net:
An electrifying and powerful weekend which put socialism back on the agenda

US: Anti-Trump protests
12/11/2016, Brian Watson, Socialist Alternative, US :
In less than 24 hours, 40,000 people answered our call

Britain: Fight for a united, working class approach to Brexit
12/11/2016, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) :
High Court bombshell

Morocco: Mass protests follow the assassination of a fishmonger
11/11/2016, PSL-LSP (CWI in Belgium) translation from French:
A feeling of “déjà vu”

Spain: Student strike gives first mass response on the streets to new PP government
11/11/2016, socialistworld.net :
Interview with Ana Garcia, General Secretary of the Sindicato de Estudiantes (Spanish Students’ Union)

Kazakhstan
10/11/2016, Andrei Prigor from Campaign Kazakhstan website:
No to land privatisation - Release Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayanov!

Video: Irish Socialist MPs react to Trump election
10/11/2016, socialistworld.net:
Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry speak in Irish parliament

US: We need mass resistance to Trump and a new party of the 99%
10/11/2016, Philip Locker and Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative :
A Presidency of chaos and struggle

US: Build a grassroots movement to stop Trump's agenda
09/11/2016, Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative :
Polls showed that Donald Trump was the most hated Presidential candidate in the history of this country. Yet the Wall Street, Wal-Mart, warmonger Clinton couldn't defeat him…

US: Deeply damaged, the two parties limp towards the finish line
08/11/2016, Ty Moore, Socialist Alternative, USA :
Whoever wins tomorrow will enter office facing unprecedented levels of popular hostility

Philippines: ‘China pivot’ from Duterte
07/11/2016, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Philippines leader seeks to play off superpowers to win economic concessions

Turkey: People's Democratic Party leaders arrested
04/11/2016, Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI Turkey) :
Urgent appeal to demand their immediate release

Ireland: Police vote to take strike action
02/11/2016, Conor Payne, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
Unprecedented industrial action poses crisis for Irish government

South Africa: Victimisation of #OutsourcingMustFall activists
02/11/2016, Workers and Socialist Party (WASP - CWI in South Africa) :
State tries to crush worker-student unity in struggle for free education

History: Suez 1956
01/11/2016, Niall Mulholland, CWI :
The decline of British imperialism and rise of the colonial revolution

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Sudan: Three day nationwide strike shuts down the country, in unique defiance of Al-Bashir’s rule
30/11/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Escalation of the struggle needed to overthrow repressive regime

US: Trump prepares attacks on working people,immigrants and women
27/11/2016, Tom Crean and Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative (USA):
We must prepare massive resistance!

Cuba: Fidel Castro, leader of 1959 revolution, dies at 90
26/11/2016, Tony Saunois, CWI :
Castro's life and the Cuban Revolution

China: New stage in power struggle
24/11/2016, chinaworker.info reporters:
Xi Jinping becomes “core leader”

Hong Kong: Government purges Legislative Council
17/11/2016, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
“Nothing short of a coup”

Ireland: The Jobstown trial and the threat to democratic rights<br />

12/11/2016, Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Biggest political trial in decades, as Socialist Party & Anti Austerity Alliance MP and councillors face threat of lengthy prison sentences

History: Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution
07/11/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI :
November 7th anniversary of workers’ taking power

Capitalist system “on the edge of the volcano”
03/11/2016, International Secretariat of the CWI:
Draft documents for November CWI international meeting

Spain: PSOE leadership hands power to the PP
03/11/2016, Izquierda Revolucionaria editorial :
A new phase in the class struggle

Hungary: The political revolution of sixty years ago
23/10/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI :
When workers fought arms in hand to end Stalinist dictatorship

Britain: The fight for real democracy in the Labour Party
20/10/2016, Editorial of the Socialist, weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Defend Corbyn and transform Labour into a party acting for working class

Crisis of social democracy in Britain
19/10/2016, Peter Taaffe, from next issue of Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party England and Wales) :
Which way forward for the Left?

US: The disastrous failure of ‘lesser evilism’
18/10/2016, Patrick Ayers and Ty Moore, Socialist Alternative (originally published at CounterPunch.org) :
Change through mass struggle  - a new party should act as an organizing and for solidarity

Spain: Crisis in social democracy
17/10/2016, Juan Ignacio Ramos, Izquierda Revolucionaria general secretary, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party England and Wales) :
PSOE and the class struggle

Britain: Tories whip up division over Brexit
17/10/2016, Editorial from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Fight for a socialist, internationalist exit

Art: Access, freedom and organisation in the arts
16/10/2016, Rob MacDonald, from the Bad Art magazine/website:
The artist and the workers' movement

South Africa: Local government elections leave ANC in crisis
15/10/2016, Weizmann Hamilton, from the new issue of Izwi Labasebenzi:
Socialist mass workers party needed

India: Uprisings of the oppressed
12/10/2016, New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India):
New period opens

US: Presidential debate shows need for an alternative
12/10/2016, Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative:
After elections, explosive struggles will provide opportunities to win victories for working people

Brazil: Local elections see collapse of PT (Workers Party) support
11/10/2016, Andre Ferrari, LSR (CWI Brazil):
Mass disillusionment with political system but gains for PSOL left

Israel: Shimon Peres and the ‘peace dove’ myth
10/10/2016, Shahar Benhorin and Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI Israel-Palestine) :
A life spent strengthening big capital, militarism and national oppression of Palestinians

Poland: Over 140,000 women demonstrate against total ban on abortion
05/10/2016, Paul Newberry, Alternatywa Socjalistyczna (CWI in Poland) :
Women want a real choice

Joint declaration by El Militante/Izquierda Revolucionaria and the CWI
29/09/2016, socialistworld.net :
Meeting between organisations reveals important common ground

Britain: The ‘Corbynomics’ challenge
27/09/2016, Hannah Sell, from the October issue of Socialism Today (monthly journal of the Socialist Party England & Wales):
What economic policies can end austerity and transform workers’ lives?

Leon Trotsky’s living legacy
21/09/2016, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) :
Review of "The Life and Death of Leon Trotsky", published in the latest issue of Socialism Today