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Greece
International anti-fascist conference “No pasaran!”

16/04/2014: Four thousand attend three-day event in Athens

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South Africa
Enthusiastic response for WASP ahead of May elections

15/04/2014: WASP campaigning material available on pdf

  South Africa

India
Massive election process could end in turmoil

14/04/2014: New party expresses, but cannot solve, major discontents

  India

Cyprus
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  Cyprus

 Iranian nuclear talks
Hypocrisy abounds

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Britain
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10/04/2014: Trade union and socialist coalition (TUSC) candidate count reaches 476 for May local election

  Britain

Taiwan
Occupation of parliament ends after 23 days

10/04/2014: What are the lessons of the island’s ‘sunflower movement’?

  Taiwan

Hungary
Election highlights lack of Left challenge

09/04/2014: Declining vote for ruling Fidész party; neo-fascist Jobbik picks up 20% as false ‘alternative’

  Hungary

Environment
Ukraine crisis exploited by multinational fracking lobby

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Belgium
50,000 join ETUC Brussels demonstration

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  Belgium

Britain
One in ten council seats will have TUSC candidate

07/04/2014: No-cuts election challenge grows

  Britain

Review
Net political impact

06/04/2014: To Save Everything, Click Here • By Evgeny Morozov •

  Review

Belgium
The rise of the PTB/PvdA

05/04/2014: Recent polls confirm a probable electoral breakthrough for the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB/PvdA).

  Belgium

Ivory Coast
First victory for students at University of Cocody

04/04/2014: An important step to push the struggle against neo-liberal policies further

  Ivory Coast

Canada
Port of Vancouver truckers’ strike wins significant gains

03/04/2014: After bosses’ seen off - unions must defend their right to strike!

  Canada

France
Government punished in local elections

02/04/2014: Far right gains highlight need for strong fighting left opposition

  France

Nepal
Turning back the wheel of history

01/04/2014: Second constituent assembly election – a shift to the right

  Nepal

South Africa
WASP manifesto launch success!

01/04/2014: On Saturday 29 March the Workers and Socialist Party launched its 2014 election manifesto at a rally in Katlehong, Gauteng

  Africa, South Africa

Taiwan
Half a million on the streets against President Ma

31/03/2014: Demonstrators call for trade pact to be withdrawn and for president to step down

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US
Winning $15 an hour in Seattle

31/03/2014: A socialist strategy

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Netherlands
Socialist Party local election gains

31/03/2014: Vote for SP can be the basis for a mass struggle against cuts

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Hypocrisy of Irish Govt & EU on Ukraine

29/03/2014: Joe Higgins, Socialist Party (CWI MP) speaks in Irish parliament

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 Sweden
New political winds affect CWI Congress

28/03/2014: Optimistic Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna prepares for elections

  CWI, Sweden

No to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership!

28/03/2014: Anti-democratic agreement seeks to increase corporate domination of politics

Portugal
Thousands of police and military march in Lisbon

27/03/2014: Reflection of the government’s intrinsic weakness

  Portugal

Spain
A million march for dignity in Madrid

26/03/2014: 22M: A before and after moment for the class struggle

  Spain

Taiwan
Ma government rocked by mass protests and occupation of parliament

26/03/2014: Down with undemocratic Kuomintang rule – for a Taiwan-wide student strike as the next step!

  Taiwan

Bosnia-Herzegovina
Mass protests - The first flowers of spring

26/03/2014: What programme should the Left advocate?

  Bosnia

Sudan
Has al-Bashir survived mass protests?

25/03/2014: Removal of hated regime not enough; crises of poverty and oppression due to grip of capitalism

  Sudan

Britain
After Bob Crow and Tony Benn

24/03/2014: Mourn the loss, fight for the future

  Britain

Italy
New Prime Minister Renzi

24/03/2014: His decline has already begun

  Italy

Pakistan

Local elections expose Musharraf’s sham of democracy

www.socialistworld.net, 29/10/2005
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Socialist Movement members achieve impressive votes

Khalid Bhatti, Socialist Movement Pakistan (CWI)

The article below was written in early October. As a result of the earthquake, its translation into English was delayed, as well as its posting on our website. The partial stabilisation of Musharraf’s position following the elections is now in question because of the massive failures of his administration in responding to the 8 October earthquake. Despite the article being written before the earthquake it is still of relevance and contains important information concerning the role of Socialist Movement Pakistan (CWI in Pakistan) in the elections

socialistworld.net

Local elections expose Musharraf’s sham of democracy

General Musharaf, President of Pakistan, was able to conclude the third and final round of the second set of non-party local government elections in his six year rule, in the first week of October. In these elections, panels of candidates can stand but not in the name of any political party or organisation. The election results are not surprising for those who know some thing about Pakistani politics. As expected, the general’s party won most of the seats in these non-party elections. The opposition parties accused the government of rigging the vote but the election commission and government responded saying that the elections were held in a fair and transparent manner.

Non Party Elections

This is not the first time that elections were held on a non-party basis in Pakistani politics. All military dictators since 1958 have used these type of elections as a tactic to weaken political parties and to strengthen their military rule.

The main purpose of the non-party elections is to weaken political debate and to promote Biradariism (clan politics), sectarianism, tribalism, and other divisions. By transferring limited powers to a local level, the generals attempt to divert attention away from absolute centralization of power in their hands.

In this way, military dictators in Pakistan, who enjoy almost complete control over a lot of what happens in the country, attempt to give the illusion to the majority of the population that some sort of democracy exists through conducting fabricated local election dramas.

In 1962, General Ayub Khan organised local government elections to camouflage his military regime with a “democratic” cover. General Zia-ul-Haq held 3 non-party local elections in 1979, 1983 and 1987, to strengthen his military rule and weaken the political parties. Now General Musharraf is attempting to follow the same path. Musharraf held the first local government elections in 2000-2001 under his “devolution” plan. The results show that these elections have served the purpose of temporarily de-politicising society.

Low turn-out

The turn out in these elections, which were held in two phases on 18 and 25 August, were very low, showing how the masses have completely lost confidence in the electoral process. The election commission announced that the turn-out was 48%, which nobody believed except the government and election commission. The turn out in Karachi was 25.6% and 22% in Lahore. The turn-out nationally, in reality, was not more than 30%. Even in Baluchistan the turn out was 17%. In every election the election commission has to increase the turnout to give the election more credibility and legitimacy.

The vast majority of people are not interested in casting their votes because they know it will not make any difference. Every body knows that the military will decide the outcome and will rig the elections.

It is the working class who have particularly lost illusions in the electoral process, which was shown by the fact that the turn out was even lower in working class areas. There was no public enthusiasm for the polls. In many cases, the only active people in these elections were relatives and friends of the candidates. In some areas, political workers were also active in the support of their candidates. But state machinery was the most active in the campaign supporting the ruling party’s candidates.

Violence and Rigging

These were the bloodiest elections in the history of Pakistan. More than 74 people were killed and 800 injured. Election related violence has continued even after the polls closed. Many people were killed because they did not cast their votes in favor of candidates backed by powerful forces in local politics.

In the rural areas, the local elections have always become the starting point of long-lasting feuds between different clans and groups. These sorts of feuds take 5,000 lives every year just in Punjab province. In some areas, like Dera Ghazi Khan and Gujrat, the polling staff were abducted and tortured to get favorable results.

The most debated issue during and after the elections is rigging. All the opposition parties accuse the government of cheating. Even government ministers complained about rigging. It is no secret that rigging is an “essential” part of elections in Pakistan for the ruling elite. It is a tradition. The government uses all means possible to win the elections. Government-backed candidates use violence and threats to make sure they win. Pre-poll rigging is very important in securing a victory. Bogus ‘voters’ lists’ and duplicate voting are normal practices in Pakistan. The provincial governments in Punjab and Sindh used the full machinery of their provincial administrations to win elections. Opposition party candidates were forced to withdraw from elections. Pressure to get them to do this was exerted on their relatives who worked in different provincial and federal departments. These government employees were threatened with the sack from their jobs if their relatives decided to contest against the government backed candidates.

Election Alliances

All the political parties contested these non party elections, but not under the name of their party. All parties form groups or lists at a national level. For example, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q – General Musharraf’s party) formed itself as the Prosper Pakistan group, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as the Peoples Friend group, and Jamat-i- Islami, the reactionary Islamic party (JI) as the Al Khidmat group.

The PPP, JI and PML-N (the party of the deposed Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif) formed an alliance in Punjab, but in many areas these parties also made alliances with the ruling party.

All the parties gave support (although it was non-party) to influential candidates who came from big clans and tribes. All the capitalist parties prefer standing rich candidates. It was almost impossible to differentiate between the candidates, because they contested the same programme which, in fact, means no programme. The election campaign was almost non-political and personal. It was very difficult to differentiate between different political parties.

The experience of the election campaign showed to the working masses that these parties have no programme and ideology, but that they are only consumed with greed to get power to plunder state resources. The elections for district mayors and town mayors showed there is a disgusting struggle for power amongst the parties in which supposedly sworn political enemies have forged alliances to get their hands on power. Jamat-e Islami made an alliance with the so-called progressive Awami National Party (ANP) in North West Frontier Province. The ‘progressive’ PPP-S (Pakistan Peoples Party – Sherpao, which is an ally of Musharraf) has formed an alliance with the party which gave rise in part to the Taleban, Jamiat –ulmai-Islam (JUI) and PPP in NWFP. During the elections these groups fought against each other but now to get power they have united.

The results in Sindh are shocking for the PPP, as it has lost in its stronghold there. It even lost a seat in the home constituency of Benazir Bhutto.

In many districts, the PPP failed to put candidates. It is true that government repression caused lot of problems for the PPP, but it is also true that these results reflect the reaction against the pro-American, anti-working class policies of the PPP leadership. The PPP has completely transformed itself into a capitalist party. PPP leaders always rely on big feudal lords and the rich. Its leadership long ago lost confidence in the working class.

The MMA (the alliance of religious Islamic parties) suffered heavily in these elections. The two main parties of the alliance contested elections against each other. Jamat-e –Islami lost in its strong hold in Dir to the PPP and ANP (the Pashtun Nationalist party). Jamiat-ulmai-Islam (JUI) lost to the ANP in its stronghold, Tank. The ANP emerged as the single largest winner in these elections. Fundamentalist parties lost lots of ground against ANP, since the last general elections in 2002.

The ruling PML-Q emerged as the largest party in Baluchistan, thanks to the tribal chiefs and state machinery. The Baluch nationalist parties have shown their strength in Makran coastal belt. JUI has also won the majority in 6 districts, mainly in Pashtun speaking areas.

The ruling PML-Q is in serious crises. The ministers are accusing each other of rigging.

In the Punjab, the chief minister and provincial president of PML-Q, both want to become prime minister after the next general elections.

Overall, these results show that the military, through bribery and unprincipled alliances, has a comfortable majority to elect the maximum district and town mayors, who are vital to win the 2007 general elections. The military establishment is preparing in advance for these elections. The establishment has developed a new strategy and the emergence of sh;ANP in NWFP is part of that strategy.

The military establishment is also worried about the results in the cities in Punjab, where opposition parties showed steps forward. Despite the rigging, government candidates lost in Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad and other cities.

The working class has experienced both “democracy” and military rule. Neither has solved any of the basic problems in society. The ruling class has failed to even establish capitalist democracy and abolish feudalism. These elections once again raise the question of a working class alternative. A revolutionary mass party of the working class can overthrow this repressive capitalist regime and establish workers’ democracy and a planned economy.

Good results for Socialist Movement

Socialist Movement members contested elections in different areas on a pro-working class and anti-privatisation programme. 15 Socialist Movement and Trade Union Rights Campaign members contested the elections, in which 11 won seats. Socialist Movement members did not stand under the name of the party because of the restrictions in the elections. Therefore, the votes we received were not necessarily votes for a full socialist programme. However, the results do represent support for working class candidates who were standing for a fighting opposition to privatisation. In total, SMP members got 15,000 votes.

8 SMP members won councilor seats in Karachi, and one each from Dadu, Shikarpur and Dir.

The votes were as follows:

Karachi

Amir Alam, Labour Councilor: 867 votes

Zuhra Bano, Labour Councilor:1023 votes

Amanullah Khan, General Councilor: 1084 votes

Nafees, Labour Councilor: 751 votes

Kishan, Minority councilor: 1056 votes

Hamza Chandio, General councilor: 1175 votes

Allah Dino, Labour councilor: 894 votes

Sadiq Hussain, Labour Councilor: 981 votes

Ibrar Khan, 655 votes

Hanif usmani, 835 votes

Dadu

Muhammad Ibrahim, General Councilor: 1287

Shikarpur

Riaz Jatoi, Labour Councillor: 916 votes

Sanjay Kumar, 694 votes

Ghotki

Ram Kumar, 471 votes

Dir

Hashim Jan, Local Mayor: 2362 votes



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NEWS

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Greece: International anti-fascist conference “No pasaran!”
16/04/2014, Sebastian Forster (CWI Germany) and Elin Gauffin (CWI Sweden):
Four thousand attend three-day event in Athens

South Africa: Enthusiastic response for WASP ahead of May elections
15/04/2014, Socialistworld.net:
WASP campaigning material available on pdf

India: Massive election process could end in turmoil
14/04/2014, Clare Doyle (CWI international Secretariat):
New party expresses, but cannot solve, major discontents

Cyprus: Austerity sees living standards fall back 40 years
11/04/2014, Athina Kariati, New Internationalist Left (CWI in Cyprus):
One year of the right wing Anastasiades government

Iranian nuclear talks: Hypocrisy abounds
10/04/2014, :
Paul Murphy MEP

Britain: Dave Nellist on BBC outlining TUSC’s socialist policies
10/04/2014, :
Trade union and socialist coalition (TUSC) candidate count reaches 476 for May local election

Hungary: Election highlights lack of Left challenge
09/04/2014, Sonja Grusch and Tilman M. Ruster:
Declining vote for ruling Fidész party; neo-fascist Jobbik picks up 20% as false ‘alternative’

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Review: Net political impact
06/04/2014, Ben Robinson, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) published in Socialism Today:
To Save Everything, Click Here • By Evgeny Morozov •

Ivory Coast: First victory for students at University of Cocody
04/04/2014, CWI in Ivory Coast:
An important step to push the struggle against neo-liberal policies further

Canada: Port of Vancouver truckers’ strike wins significant gains
03/04/2014, Socialist Alternative Reporter, Vancouver:
After bosses’ seen off - unions must defend their right to strike!

France: Government punished in local elections
02/04/2014, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France) reporters:
Far right gains highlight need for strong fighting left opposition

South Africa: WASP manifesto launch success!
01/04/2014, Workers’ and Socialist Party (WASP):
On Saturday 29 March the Workers and Socialist Party launched its 2014 election manifesto at a rally in Katlehong, Gauteng

Taiwan: Half a million on the streets against President Ma
31/03/2014, CWI reporters in Taipei:
Demonstrators call for trade pact to be withdrawn and for president to step down

Netherlands: Socialist Party local election gains
31/03/2014, Pieter Brans, Amsterdam:
Vote for SP can be the basis for a mass struggle against cuts

Video: Hypocrisy of Irish Govt & EU on Ukraine
29/03/2014, socialistworld.net:
Joe Higgins, Socialist Party (CWI MP) speaks in Irish parliament

Sweden: New political winds affect CWI Congress
28/03/2014, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna Reporters:
Optimistic Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna prepares for elections

No to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership!
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CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

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10/04/2014, Interview with Sally Tang Mei-ching, CWI participant in Taipei protests:
What are the lessons of the island’s ‘sunflower movement’?

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Recent polls confirm a probable electoral breakthrough for the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB/PvdA).

Nepal: Turning back the wheel of history
01/04/2014, Senan, CWI:
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US: Winning $15 an hour in Seattle
31/03/2014, Patrick Ayers, Socialist Alternative, USA:
A socialist strategy

Spain: A million march for dignity in Madrid
26/03/2014, Angel Morano, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain):
22M: A before and after moment for the class struggle

Taiwan: Ma government rocked by mass protests and occupation of parliament
26/03/2014, Sally Tang Mei-ching in Taipei and Vincent Kolo:
Down with undemocratic Kuomintang rule – for a Taiwan-wide student strike as the next step!

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Mass protests - The first flowers of spring
26/03/2014, Sonja Grusch, Socialist Left Party (CWI in Austria):
What programme should the Left advocate?

Britain: After Bob Crow and Tony Benn
24/03/2014, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (No.177, April 2014), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Mourn the loss, fight for the future

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Bosnia Herzegovina: Mass protests of working people and youth show the way forward
13/03/2014, CWI Leaflet text:
Working people stir to end poverty, joblessness, corruption and ethnic divisions!

Socialist perspectives for Aotearoa / New Zealand
09/03/2014, CWI Aotearoa / New Zealand:
The world and New Zealand in crisis

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Commemorations in context of new crisis

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Ukraine: Bloodshed in Kiev
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Venezuela: An analysis of 12F
19/02/2014, By Gabriela Sanchez- SR Venezuela:
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18/02/2014, Khalid Bhatti, SNP Lahore:
Government/Taliban talks begin - But where will they go?

South Africa: The end of Cosatu?
17/02/2014, WASP (Workers and Socialist Party) Reporters, S Africa:
Time for a new socialist trade union federation

Greece: The fascist threat
08/02/2014, Christina Ziakka, Xekinima (CWI Greece) - translated by Amalia Loizidou. First published in Socialism Today:
Deep economic crisis, savage austerity and social upheaval have polarised Greek society.

South Africa: After NUMSA’s Congress
04/02/2014, Workers And Socialist Party (WASP) statement:
Seize the historic opportunity of the 2014 elections

Tunisia: Three years on since the fall of Ben Ali
30/01/2014, Serge Jordan and CWI supporters in Tunis:
New ‘technocratic’ government no response to workers’ demands

Thailand: Prolonged political crisis
27/01/2014, Ravichandran, CWI Malaysia:
Working class and rural poor need party of their own