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Greece
Bus cleaners renew strike after management’s broken promises

29/05/2016: "Triple-oppressed workers - immigrants, women and low-paid – show way forward"

  Greece

Congo
Day of Protest 26 May

28/05/2016: New massacres in mineral-rich region

  Congo

 Kazakhstan
Embassy protests in solidarity with struggle against land privatisation and for democratic rights

27/05/2016: Soldarity actions take place internationally against Nazarbayev regime

  Kazakhstan, Solidarity

Brazil
Mass protests against new government begin

27/05/2016: LSR (CWI) forces participation highlighted

  Brazil

 Solidarity
Brutal bosses attack striking Lisbon Dockers

25/05/2016: Protest and solidarity messages needed

  Solidarity

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

Bulgaria

Mass movement brings down government

www.socialistworld.net, 06/03/2013
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Electricity prices trigger revolt against system

Danny Byrne, CWI

25 February was the sixteenth day of mobilisations of a powerful mass movement in Bulgaria that already done away with one government. Only a few months ago, Bulgaria was being touted as an “island of stability” (in the words of President, Plevneliev) in an otherwise increasingly unstable region. Its leaders boast the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio (16%) in the EU, and a budget deficit which meets the European institutions’ “stability” requirements. But despite this rosy picture, beneath the figures lies the poorest nation in the EU. This is an important contrast, at a time when the capitalist class across Europe are bleeding workers, youth and unemployed dry in the name of deficit and debt reduction, with the promise of a brighter future on this basis. However, as Bulgaria shows, on the basis of capitalism, such a rosy economic position for capitalism is not translated into a better, more stable life for the majority.

The majority of Bulgarians live in misery, with an average income of €360 per month, and state pensions as low as €75, per month. Official figures show that 49% of the population are judged to be in immediate risk of poverty, with one fifth currently living below the poverty line. Over one million predominantly young people have fled the country out of a population of 7.2 million. The contradiction between this reality, and the decades of false promises of “progress” and “modernisation” since the collapse of Stalinism in 1989, especially following the country’s entry to the EU in 2007, is among the essential ingredients for the recent social explosion. The rapid development of this movement and the dramatic impact it has had, along with the far-reaching mass demands it has thrown up, shows how quickly and devastatingly such contradictions can be unravelled when the ‘levee breaks’.

Electricity prices trigger revolt

The trigger for the movement, as has been reported in the international media, was the soaring, unbearable prices for energy and electricity. Electricity monopolies, mostly Austrian and Czech multinationals, have taken advantage of legal loopholes to dramatically hike up electricity “network charges” in the last months. This is an intolerable burden for millions of workers, young people, and pensioners. It was around this issue that mass protests first developed at the beginning of February, initially demanding relief of energy prices, and in many cases, the re-nationalisation of the electricity monopolies. The first days of protest action saw the mass storming of the headquarters of energy companies. The Czech multinational, CEZ, was the main target and its offices were spontaneously attacked and set alight by angry crowds. Main roads were blocked off, paralysing traffic.

These protests, which also embraced wide sections of the middle class and small business-owners - the traditional base of the former ruling GERB party - shocked the Bulgarian establishment, and immediately put Prime Minister Borissov on the back foot. In response brutal police repression was combined with conciliatory gestures to try to abate the mass movement. Borissov dismissed the Finance Minister, Simeon Dankov, as a scapegoat and sacrificial offering to the masses on Monday 18 February. When protests continued with renewed force the following day, Borissov announced an offer to bring down energy prices by 8%, with immediate effect. However, by this time, the masses had different ideas, and continued with their movement, forcing the withdrawal of Borissov and his entire cabinet. A caretaker ‘technocrat’ government is now in power until new elections are called.

Riot police lay down shields in solidarity with protesters

However, even the government’s resignation has not stopped the tide of radicalisation and struggle. Protesters, correctly expecting nothing from a re-composed government of the discredited political elite, continued with their demonstrations and blockades in the days following the fall of the government. A massive national day of protest – under the slogan “Let us burn the monopolies” – was held on Sunday 24 Feburary, when tens of thousands took to the streets in cities across the country. In contrast to the violent police repression during previous protests, 24th February saw an unprecedented development when riot police lined up in front of protesters and laid down their shields in solidarity! Upon his cowardly resignation, Borissov pathetically tried to claim he was resigning to defend the people from police violence, claiming he could not bear to “see the police attack the people”. However, the actions of the riot police when faced with such a powerful movement, shows that even these state forces can be drawn towards it, creating important breaches in the capitalist state apparatus. The police have shown that the capitalist class will not so easily be able to rely on them for their dirty work in the future. These divisions in the state machine must be further widened by the mass movement, by supporting the right of police officers to to protest, unionise and strike.

Socialist demands to the fore

While protests in towns and cities throughout Bulgaria country regularly gathered many tens of thousands, the widespread social support for the movement was tangible. Opinion polls consistently showed between 85% and 92% in support. This ferment, along with the militant character of the protests, and refusal to be contented with the government’s puny peace offerings, attests to the general anger behind the movement, which stretches far beyond the issue of soaring energy prices. Slogans and demands on the demonstrations also to testify to this. Protesters began to put forward evermore far-reaching demands, policies and proposals that challenge the fundamental basis of the current suffering in the country; the decades of robbery and looting by capitalists and oligarchs, benefiting from the privatisation orgy which accompanied the collapse of the Stalinism and the state-controlled, nationalised economy.

The nationalisation of the energy and utility companies, in some cases extended to the key sectors of the economy, as a whole, are widely embraced demands of the movement. Protesters also call for those guilty of robbing the country’s resources to be tried and imprisoned. At the same time, powerful democratic demands have come to the fore; for a new national assembly, for the breaking of the monopoly of the main parties, for the right to recall deputies etc. These demands testifying to how mass consciousness is radicalised and pushed to the left under the impact of events. They arose in the heat of struggle despite the glaring absence of a strong left and workers’ political force. Such a socialist alternative could participate in the movement, helping to popularise socialist demands and policies and a broad socialist perspective, such as the call for the nationalisation of the banks and commanding heights of the economy under the democratic control and management of the working class.

Another key feature of the protests was the complete failure of mainstream opposition parties, all tied to the confines of the system, to have any significant impact. The leaders of Bulgaria’s main trade unions were also conspicuously absent from the leadership of the movement, although many union militants and the national students’ union played a role in organising protests. The movement must develop democratic structures, with local and workplace assemblies organised and democratically coordinated on a national level, to decide on a plan and programme for the movement. The development of a fighting democratic trade union movement, and of a mass, democratic political party of the workers and youth, which can give an expression to these demands, as part of a rounded-out programme for the socialist transformation of society, is an essential task. A strong mass movement armed with democratic, independent and fighting trade unions, and a mass political party with a clear understanding of the necessary programme to break from the misery of capitalism, could sweep away not only governments of Borissov’s ilk, but the system itself, which generates the contradictions and inequalities which provoked the movement. A socialist Bulgaria, based on a democratically planned economy, would send shockwaves throughout this devastated region, and beyond into Western Europe, where masses of workers and youth are searching for a way out of capitalist chaos and crisis.



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NEWS

Greece: Bus cleaners renew strike after management’s broken promises
29/05/2016, Interview with Apostolis Kassimeris, member of Xekinima and of Executive of OASA Workers’ Union (Athens bus drivers' union) :
"Triple-oppressed workers - immigrants, women and low-paid – show way forward"

Congo: Day of Protest 26 May
28/05/2016, Per-Åke Westerlund, Jose Nsimba-Lobela and Congo Moko, Offensiv, weekly paper of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
New massacres in mineral-rich region

Kazakhstan: Embassy protests in solidarity with struggle against land privatisation and for democratic rights
27/05/2016, Campaign Kazakhstan:
Soldarity actions take place internationally against Nazarbayev regime

Brazil: Mass protests against new government begin
27/05/2016, socialistworld.net:
LSR (CWI) forces participation highlighted

Solidarity: Brutal bosses attack striking Lisbon Dockers
25/05/2016, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Portugal) reporters:
Protest and solidarity messages needed

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

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.