Tendance Coatesy

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Dieudonné Sentenced to 2 Months in Gaol in Belgium for Anti-Semitism: Will his ‘Peace’ Concert go ahead?

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Brussels (AFP) – A Belgian court sentenced controversial French comedian Dieudonne Wednesday to two months in jail for incitement to hatred over alleged racist and anti-Semitic comments he made during a show in Belgium, a lawyer said.

Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, who has faced similar court cases in France, was also fined 9,000 euros ($9,500) by the court in the eastern city of Liege, said Eric Lemmens, a lawyer for Belgium’s Jewish organisations.

He was not in court for the verdict.

The judgement “says that all the accusations against Dieudonne were established — both incitement to hatred and hate speech but also Holocaust denial” relating to a show in Liege in 2012, Lemmens told AFP.

“For me this is more than satisfying, this is a major victory,” he said.

Earlier this month the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Dieudonne in a separate case, deciding that freedom of speech did not protect “racist and anti-Semitic performances”.

Dieudonne was protesting a fine he received from a French court in 2009 for inviting a Holocaust-denier on stage. He was fined 10,000 euros ($11,000) for what that court referred to as “racist insults”.

In March, a French court also handed Dieudonne a two months suspended sentence and fined him heavily for anti-Semitic remarks after he caused uproar by suggesting he sympathised with the attacks against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

“I feel like Charlie Coulibaly,” he wrote on Facebook, a play on the slogan “Je suis Charlie” that became a global rallying cry against extremism and Amedy Coulibaly, one of the attackers.

The performer, who made his name in a double act with Jewish comedian Elie Semoun, is infamous for his trademark “quenelle” hand gesture that looks like an inverted Nazi salute but which he insists is merely anti-establishment.

French courts have hauled him up over a string of comments which opponents say are bluntly racist while supporters champion his right to free speech.

Dieudonne, who can appeal the decision, was not immediately reachable for comment.

Le Monde gives recent background, including other convictions for anti-semitism and his expulsion from his theatrical base at Saint-Denis.

Dieudonné condamné en Belgique pour antisémitisme

L’humoriste français Dieudonné a été condamné en Belgique, mercredi 25 novembre, à deux mois de prison ferme et 9 000 euros d’amende pour antisémitisme. Le jugement « considère que toutes les infractions reprochées à Dieudonné sont établies : à la fois l’incitation à la haine et diffusion de propos haineux, mais aussi l’infraction de négationnisme », a expliqué MEric Lemmens, qui représentait les organisations juives de Belgique.

Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala était poursuivi pour différentes préventions liées à de l’incitation à la haine et à la diffusion de propos discriminatoires, antisémites, négationnistes et révisionnistes lors d’un spectacle qu’il avait donné à Herstal, dans la province de Liège, le 14 mars 2012, selon Le Soir.

Le polémiste peut faire appel de la sentence, qui le condamne également à publier la décision du tribunal à ses frais dans les deux grands quotidiens francophones belges Le Soir et La Libre Belgique.

Expulsé de la Main-d’Or et privé de théâtre à Saint-Denis

Au début d’octobre, l’humoriste avait déjà été privé de théâtre à Saint-Denis, le tribunal de Bobigny ayant donné raison au groupe Madar, spécialisé dans l’immobilier de bureaux et d’entreprises, qui avait refusé de lui louer un espace de 1 500 mètres carrés au sein des anciens ateliers Christofle, situés en Seine-Saint-Denis.

L’humoriste avait par ailleurs été expulsé de la Main-d’Or après que le tribunal de grande instance de Paris a validé, à la fin de septembre, la demande d’expulsion de l’humoriste du Théâtre de la Main-d’Or.

Dieudonné a également été condamné en mars 2015 à 22 500 euros d’amende pour des déclarations antisémites proférées lors de son spectacle Le Mur.


“In July 2008, Jean-Marie Le Pen became godfather to Dieudonné’s third child. Philippe Laguérie, a traditionalist Catholic priest, officiated at the baptism, which was held in the Saint-Éloi congregation in Bordeaux.[59]

On 26 December 2008, at an event at the Parc de la Villette in Paris, Dieudonné awarded the Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson an “insolent outcast” prize [prix de l’infréquentabilité et de l’insolence]. The award was presented by one of Dieudonné’s assistants, Jacky, dressed in a concentration camp uniform with a yellow badge. This caused a scandal[60] and earned him his sixth court conviction to date. On 29 January 2009, he celebrated the 80th birthday of Faurisson in his theater, in the midst of a representative gathering of Holocaust deniers, right-wing radicals, and radical Shiites.[61] Dieudonné and Faurisson further appeared together in a video making fun of the Holocaust and its commemoration.”

Dieudonné remains popular amongst a wide range of people.

Some, including the writer of this Blog, do not think that the law is the best way to deal with him or his admirers’ racism. 

Whether his participation in this Concert for Peace will go ahead is unclear.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Left Unity Conference: Leading Figures Leave, LU to Remain a Party, but not Stand Parliamentary Candidates.

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Influential Republican Socialists Predicted Split.

At its Conference Left Unity had decided to remain a party but for time being will not stand in any parliamentary elections, in order to support Jeremy Corbyn.

In the lead-up to the debates Steve Freeman, the leader of the important Republican Socialist tendency, argued, in his hebdomadal column in the Weekly Worker, that,

Left unionists and anti-unionists cannot be in the same party – that much is obvious. It is also clear that Labourites and republicans should not be in the same party. We have mixed and matched these politics in one organisation for a while. That time has now come to an end. Objectively it is time for a split. I do not see this happening at Left Unity conference. The most likely outcome is that the hard right will defeat the soft left and LU will agree to try to affiliate to the Labour Party. This will prove one more step on the road to dissolution. Better to have a clean break.

Steve Freeman
Left Unity, Rise and Old Southwark Against the Corn Laws.

On Friday the Morning Star reported.

A LEADING member of Left Unity has called for the party to be dissolved in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.

Salman Shaheen, one of four principal speakers, has tabled a motion ahead of tomorrow’s party conference that would pull the plug just two years after it was founded with the support of director Ken Loach.

The motion calls for Left Unity to “dissolve itself as a political party which contests elections at any level” and form a network of activists that could include Labour members.

Mr Shaheen said: “We are committed to doing what we can to support the politics Jeremy Corbyn stands for, and that we have in common with him.

“The question is how best to do it and that is what we will be discussing.”

It is more likely though that Left Unity and CND general secretary Kate Hudson’s motion will be passed.

She suggests the national executive should “reassess” the party’s electoral strategy but continue as a party.

Morning Star.

On Slugger O’Toole, Barton Creeth comments on the Conference itself,

Despite an acknowledgement of common cause, Left Unity, the party that last year tabled a motion to recognise the “progressive potential” of ISIS, decides not to formally dissolve and join Labour.

Left Unity, a far-left political party set up with the help of filmmaker Ken Loach, debated today whether to dissolve and join Labour. The party, set up in 2013, stood candidates against Labour in May, but since Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership election victory, Left Unity has experienced mass resignations.

Noting similar aspirations and common cause, Motion 2A states that “We believe the movement that swept Jeremy Corbyn to victory has its manifestation both inside and outside the Labour Party and this will continue to be the case.” Some Labour Party activists on Twitter expressed support for Left Unity to join forces as part of Corbyn’s Labour. Despite this, only 10 Left Unity members voted today to dissolve the party, as reported by party secretary, Tom Armstrong on Twitter.

During the conference last year, members of Left Unity debated a motion recognising the “progressive potential” of Islamic State. The motion added that the Islamic State’s call for a pan-Islamic caliphate to replace other Muslim states was “an authentic expression of … anti-imperialist aspirations”. The motion, which noted that the Caliphate represented an alternative political vision to other “brutal regimes” in the region, argued “the European Left has to acknowledge and accept the widespread call for a Caliphate among Muslims as valid and an authentic expression of their emancipatory, anti-imperialist aspirations.” The motion was voted down.

The conference also saw a motion today calling for the dissolution of the army the the formation of popular militias. The motion reads, “Left Unity is against the standing army and for the armed people. This principle will never be realised voluntarily by the capitalist state. It has to be won, in the first place by the working class developing its own militia.”

As of writing, I’m not sure which direction the party has chosen take on this issue.



Left Unity has attracted many respected and dedicated activists. It has had many important policies – including an internationalist approach to backing a transformed European Union and broader opposition to nationalism.

Their decision to work closely with Momentum raises a number of interesting questions.

If LU is not standing Parliamentary candidates against Labour, will it continue to stand council candidates against the Labour Party on a pick and choose basis? How will this help Momentum  win support inside the Party?

Perhaps the public threat of rival candidates will both increase its audience amongst the mainstream of the Party and win over wavering councillors to adopt LU’s opinions……

We await for the full report from Labour Party Marxists – in the Esperanto original – explaining the way out of this conundrum.




Written by Andrew Coates

November 22, 2015 at 12:19 pm

French Communist Party: Democracy is a Weapon in the Fight Against Islamic State.

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Press release from Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the French Communist Party after the Paris killings.

Our country has just experienced one of the worst events in its history. Last night’s simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis, for which Daesh [short for Dawlat al-Islamiyah f’al-Iraq wa al-Sham] claims responsibility, and which, at this moment, have resulted in 127 deaths and 200 casualties, were horrifying. France is in mourning.

The day after the carnage, our first thoughts go out to the victims, their families, to those close to them, to the witnesses and to all those whose lives were threatened. For all, the pain is immense. Each and every one of us in France feels deeply wounded.

We salute the work of law enforcement, the emergency services, the Accident and Emergency doctors, healthcare workers and public service personnel, whose response to the situation has been exemplary, as has the people’s solidarity, which was felt straight away.

Less than a year after the attacks in January [on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7], the Republic has been struck at its heart.
Even as a state of emergency has now been declared by the government, reinforcement of the police and of the justice system’s resources is an imperative. The state must find suitable ways to guarantee the people’s safety in the long term.

I ask our people not to give in to fear, and to stand together for freedom, equality, fraternity, and for peace. We must make careful distinctions between issues, and avoid stigmatization. Together, we must firmly reject hatred and racism.

France is affected by the war and the destabilization that is plaguing the Middle-East. The fight against terrorism calls for increased engagement and international solutions.
It can only be won by coming together to create a united society that places, at the heart of all its decisions, human emancipation, the values of the Republic and peace.

The French Communist Party, its representatives and its elected officials, will support all initiatives that, in the days to come, will allow our fellow citizens to take on together this challenge and to open up a path of hope for our people.

In this tragic time, the French Communist Party has put all election-campaign activities on hold.

Translated Sunday 15 November 2015, by Ciaran Edwards

Reposted from l’Humanité in English

Friday 20th November: for the French Communists the fight against the Islamic State, Daesh, must take place within democratic framework.

In a special issue of l’Humanité today they make this clear, above all calling for Parliamentary control of the state of emergency.

No democracy is not an obstacle in the fight against Daesh. The state of emergency has been extended to three months: the need for Parliamentary surveillance and control is more than ever indispensable.

Nos libertés contre la terreur Patrick Le Hyaric.

This follows the important  interview with  leading Communist Pierre Dharréville “National unity around the values ​​of the Republic” on the PCF’s site:

The day after the speech of François Hollande before Congress,  he warned,

A response in the spirit of revenge will only lead to further disasters. The President has declared  war. But I have not heard any analysis on the results of the international policy of France and the effects of repeated interventions over the last fifteen years in the Middle East, and Africa, often outside the framework of international law. Since 2007, France has broken with the best traditions of  its foreign policy. We must redefine our objectives and those of the international community whose eagerness to intervene militarily for neocolonial objectives has only been equaled by the weakness of its diplomatic efforts to build peace in the world.

Pierre Dharréville also stated,

We must  find ways taking democratic control over tje  emergency measures. I can hear in them the influence of forces that were already  going in reactionary directions using this opportunity to drive home reactionary approaches  that will sweep away elementary principles of laws. law.

He listed the proposal to remove French nationality from people convicted of terrorist offences, the stigmatising of groups, notably refugees, and Muslims as of great concern.

Notably Dharréville stated that Deash is a political not a religious enemy,

The Islamic State – Daesh –  has a totalitarian project, grounded on the logic of purification, which has taken the flag of Islam like a Bullfighter takes his muleta.


Secularism is the guiding principle of our Republic, but I would warn against any attempt to divert into a way of stigmatising and dividing our people.

On National Unity he concluded,

For us, national unity can only take on the values ​​of the Republic and around building a society of peace. It can not be done on the basis of obedience to the leader. We will approve what we think is good for the security and defence of our freedoms.

More: Win the War? No, Put an End To It

Translated Tuesday 17 November 2015, by Isabelle Métral

Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels, Remembers Victims of Terrorism.

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Rassemblement pour la paix à Molenbeek

Le Soir.

Molenbeek : Entre 2.000 et 2.500 personnes au rassemblement en mémoire des victimes de Paris

Up to 2,500 people assembled in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels, yesterday, in memory of the victims of terrorism and political violence, in Paris, and throughout the world.” le Vif.

Videos and report on RTBF: Un rassemblement en hommage aux victimes des attentats de Paris à Molenbeek

Paris attacks: Is Molenbeek a haven for Belgian jihadis? BBC.

There has been great deal of discussion about French secularism in recent days.

Little has been favourable.

Some people have tried to implicate  French  Laïcité for the attacks in Paris – asserting that it is one means by which Islam and Muslims are excluded from France’s republic. .

This is the position in Belgium – where the members of the  jihadist Einsatzgruppen planned their killings, and where some of the murderers come from.

Belgian law: Currently, section 181 of the Belgian Constitution provides as follows:

  • “§ 1st. Salaries and pensions of ministers of religion are the responsibility of the state the amounts necessary to deal with them is the annual budget.
  • § 2. Salaries and pensions to representatives of organizations recognized by law as providing moral assistance according to a philosophical non-religious charge of the state the amounts necessary to deal with them is the annual budget. “

Under § 1st, recognized the Catholic religion, the Protestant, the Anglican, Orthodox worship, Jewish worship and the Muslim faith.

Under § 2, “Act of June 21, 2002 on the Central Council of Philosophical non-denominational Communities of Belgium, delegates and institutions responsible for the management of financial and material interests of recognized non-confessional philosophical communities” recognizes a “non-philosophical confessional community” by province and at national level a “Central Secular Council“, composed of the “Secular Action Center” on the French side and the “United Liberal Associations” on the Dutch side.”


Put simply the country is not at all laïc on the French model, let alone a republic.

Belgian has a minority population from Central Africa, or descent, notably the former Belgian Congo.

As a colonial power – de facto ruled by Leopold lll – the Belgian state was responsible for forced labour and acts of mass murder that are generally described as genocide. (see: Congo Free State)

A terrorist group from a Congolese background that slaughters people in Europe has yet to appear.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 19, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Slavoj Žižek: No “deeper understanding of ISIS terrorists” as SWP says “Bound to be a Response” to Imperialist Wars.

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 Žižek: Defends “European emancipatory legacy .”

“There should be no “deeper understanding” of the ISIS terrorists (in the sense of “their deplorable acts are nonetheless reactions to European brutal interventions”); they should be characterized as what they are: the Islamo-Fascist counterpart of the European anti-immigrant racists—the two are the two sides of the same coin. Let’s bring class struggle back—and the only way to do it is to insist on global solidarity of the exploited.”

Slavoj Zizek: In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots.

Bang in cue the Socialist Workers Party announces,

After Paris: no to racism and imperialist wars that breed horror

There is no excuse, but there is a context for what has happened. Two and a half centuries of colonialism and imperialism have left a bitter legacy of hatred across much of the world against the West. More than 15 years of the “war on terror” have killed over a million people and driven millions more from their homes. There is bound to be a response.

They further state,

Ultimately those who died in Paris are themselves further victims of Western-backed wars and the reaction against them.

It takes some couilles to say that there is “no excuse” for murder, and then….find an excuse.

It also takes a while to wash the bad taste of this abject statement out of the mouth.

Slavoj Žižek by contrast gives genuine humanist, warm and democratic Marxist response to the Paris atrocity

This stands out:

The greatest victims of the Paris terror attacks will be refugees themselves, and the true winners, behind the platitudes in the style of je suis Paris, will be simply the partisans of total war on both sides. This is how we should really condemn the Paris killings: not just to engage in shows of anti-terrorist solidarity but to insist on the simple cui bono (for whose benefit?) question.

  He asks some hard questions:

Taking control of the refugee crisis will mean breaking leftist taboos.

For instance, the right to “free movement” should be limited, if for no other reason than the fact that it doesn’t exist among the refugees, whose freedom of movement is already dependent on their class. Thus, the criteria of acceptance and settlement have to be formulated in a clear and explicit way—whom and how many to accept, where to relocate them, etc. The art here is to find the middle road between following the desires of the refugees (taking into account their wish to move to countries where they already have relatives, etc.) and the capacities of different countries.

Another taboo we must address concerns norms and rules. It is a fact that most of the refugees come from a culture that is incompatible with Western European notions of human rights. Tolerance as a solution (mutual respect of each other’s sensitivities) obviously doesn’t work: fundamentalist Muslims find it impossible to bear our blasphemous images and reckless humor, which we consider a part of our freedoms. Western liberals, likewise, find it impossible to bear many practices of Muslim culture.

In short, things explode when members of a religious community consider the very way of life of another community as blasphemous or injurious, whether or not it constitutes a direct attack on their religion. This is the case when Muslim extremists attack gays and lesbians in the Netherlands and Germany, and it is the case when traditional French citizens view a woman covered by a burka as an attack on their French identity, which is exactly why they find it impossible to remain silent when they encounter a covered woman in their midst.

 There can be no compromise on universal human rights: the very reason we support the refugees.

Žižek suggests, reasonably in our view, this:

To curb this propensity, one has to do two things. First, formulate a minimum set of norms obligatory for everyone that includes religious freedom, protection of individual freedom against group pressure, the rights of women, etc.—without fear that such norms will appear “Eurocentric.” Second, within these limits, unconditionally insist on the tolerance of different ways of life. And if norms and communication don’t work, then the force of law should be applied in all its forms.

This is better known as secularism, or Laïcité. That is a common public framework, for the shared areas of politics and the state, that is beyond the interference of religious and sectional ideologies.  With this structure, as we argued yesterday, we should have absolute tolerance of diversity.

I will not comment further but note that comrade Žižek has the same mass line as ourselves on the following issue,

Another taboo that must be overcome involves the equation of any reference to the European emancipatory legacy to cultural imperialism and racism. In spite of the (partial) responsibility of Europe for the situation from which refugees are fleeing, the time has come to drop leftist mantras critiquing Eurocentrism.

The old postmodernist views, associated with terms such as Orientalism, have been dying for some time. What sense could they possible have when its Bangladeshi, Iranian, Kurdish, Maghrebian, South and East Asian, Arab and Africans who are in the front line of new development in universal emancipatory thought? Who has not read the writings of our comrades from these countries and been struck by their advance. 

That is, despite all the defeats, the barbarisms, Imperialism, Fascism, Stalinism, and now this….

It is as Kant said of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution,

For a phenomenon of this kind which has taken place in human history can never be forgotten, since it has revealed in human nature an aptitude and power for improvement of a kind which no politician could have thought up by examining the course of events in the past…

Contest of the Faculties. 1798.

Žižek continues, 

The next taboo worth leaving behind is that any critique of the Islamic right is an example of “Islamophobia.” Enough of this pathological fear of many Western liberal leftists who worry about being deemed guilty of Islamophobia. For example, Salman Rushdie was denounced for unnecessarily provoking Muslims and thus (partially, at least) responsible for the fatwa condemning him to death. The result of such a stance is what one can expect in such cases: The more Western liberal leftists wallow in their guilt, the more they are accused by Muslim fundamentalists of being hypocrites who try to conceal their hatred of Islam.

Tendance Coatesy has never given a toss about this worthless accusation, hurled at critics of reactionary Islamism, whether they be European or from Muslim countries. It is the secular left in the latter countries which is fighting Islamism. The only guilt the left should feel is that it is not going enough to support these beloved comrades.

This is a long article and there is a lot more to say and, sometimes disagree with – about a global evolution and the EU, not to mention a great dollop of the idiosyncratic theory of the author in the article ,  to start with. (1)

But we say this for now: chapeau comrade Žižek !

(1) Which is to say that despite finding a new best friend we remain a rationalist, an  admirer of Louis Althusser, sans Jacques Lacan, and no mate of Hegel, and even less of Alain Badiou, somebody we consider, in contrast to Cde Žižek, a Sombre oryctérope. (as Capitaine Haddock would say).


Portugal: Socialists, Left Bloc, Communists and Greens to Govern.

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Protestas en Portugal

A Second Carnation Revolution in Portugal?

“This is like the second April 25,” shouted a joyous woman outside the Assembly of the Republic referring to the downfall of the Portuguese dictatorship on that date in 1974. Yesterday afternoon the Portuguese left brought down the conservative government of Passos Coelho. Hundreds of demonstrators called by the CGTP union, with bands and banners, celebrated the historic political shift.

From Greece, Syriza congratulated the new left majority; inside the Parliament,  the possible future finance minister, Mário Centeno, reassured the markets and creditors that they “will comply with the budgetary treaty”. Centeno, educated at Harvard, will have to square accounts with a 20% rise in the minimum wage.

“We have broken the taboo”, “the wall has fallen,” said the leader of the Socialists, António Costa, , in Parliament after the defeat of the conservative government. The agreement uniting the Portuguese Left has lifted a taboo that has existed since the 1975 Carnation Revolution that has  divided the Socialists, the Communists and the radical left.

Adapted from El País

The Spanish daily asserts, however, that the left still differs on economic policy and that the only really solid agreement between these forces is to vote against any motion of censure from the right-wing against the new left government.

The leader of the Left Bloc, Catarina Martins, has stated that the President of the Republic must respect this vote in which 123 left MPs,  outvoted 107 right-wing representatives.

More: Catarina Martins diz que Cavaco tem de respeitar vontade da maioria dos portugueses.

The French daily, Libération, underlines the importance of the President, the right-wing Anibal Cavaco Silva who is at the end of his term of office, in deciding what happens next.

Portugal: un gouvernement de gauche suspendu à l’aval du président

The Financial Review reports on the new left coalition’s programme.

Underpinning Portugal’s new leftist alliance – together the four parties will control 122 seats – is a 138-page document aimed at gradually winding back the austerity measures adopted by the Passos Coelho government in 2011. Back then, the country was on the brink of bankruptcy and required an urgent €78 billion bailout from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund. In exchange for this funding, the country was forced to implement tough austerity measures, including big wage and pension cuts.

Under the agreement Costa reached with his left-wing allies, there will be an end to the freeze on pensions, a reversal of cuts to public sector salaries and a progressive increase in the monthly minimum wage to €600 ($914) by 2019.

The agreement also scraps plans for the privatisation of public transport in Lisbon and Oporto, and will renegotiate the sale of the struggling, state-owned airline TAP to keep most of the company in government hands.

For their part, the Left Bloc and the Communist Party dropped previous demands that Portugal’s debt be renegotiated.

But to reassure Brussels that the end of these austerity measures will not trigger a budgetary blow-out, Costa has also committed to shaving back Portugal’s budget deficit to 1.5 per cent of GDP by 2019, down from an expected 3 per cent this year.

All the same, investors are worried that Portugal’s economy, which is barely emerging from recession, is not strong enough to support a higher minimum wage.

Portugal is still weighed down by a heavy debt burden (the country’s debt stands at almost 130 per cent of GDP) and the unemployment rate is still a painfully high 12 per cent (and 30 per cent for young people).Investors also fear the incoming centre-left Socialist-led government will be at the mercy of its more radical leftist allies if Portugal’s economy falters, or its borrowing costs rise.

The Finanical Times states,

Portugal’s markets kept their poise on Wednesday after the fall of the country’s centre-right government.

Although the yield on 10-year sovereign debt rose to its highest level since July in early trade as investors cut their exposure, the pattern changed as the trading day developed. In mid-session exchanges, the yield on the benchmark paper, which moves inversely to prices, fell 4 basis points over the day to 2.72 per cent, moving off the earlier high of 2.83 per cent.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 11, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Portugal: Despite Presidential Manoeuvres, Socialists says it’s “Inevitable” the Left will Govern.

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Portuguese Socialists Vow to “Topple” Centre-right Minority Government.

Despite Europhobic headlines in the anglophone media (Eurozone crosses Rubicon as Portugal’s anti-euro Left banned from power Daily Telegraph) for the Portuguese Socialist Party it remains “inevitable” that their leader, Costa,  will become Prime Minister supported by the agreement by left parties, PCP (Portuguese Communist Party), PEV (Green Party) and BE (left Bloc). (Socialistas consideram “inevitável” que Costa venha a ser primeiro-ministro: Publico).

The Portuguese Communist Party agrees, stating, “There is a real possibility of a government with the PS with the PCP”, “Existe a possibilidade real de o PS formar Governo e o PCP” said Jerónimo de Sousa (25th October Expresso). This comes despite their firm criticism of the decision by President Cavaco Silva to exclude this possibility (1).

Silva only has three months of office as President left before new elections (January 2016).

He is not standing (having served two consecutive terms he is not eligible for this contest).

Those credulous enough (or willing enough) to follow the Daily Telegraph’s view that the attempt to exclude the Portuguese left from power is the fault of ‘Europe’ will no doubt follow the following news with interest.

Portugal’s opposition Socialists pledged to topple the centre-right minority government with a no-confidence motion, saying the president had created “an unnecessary political crisis” by nominating Pedro Passos Coelho as prime minister.

RTE News. 24th October.

The move could wreck Mr Passos Coelho’s efforts to get his centre-right government’s programme passed in parliament in ten days’ time, extending the political uncertainty hanging over the country since an inconclusive 4 October election.

Mr Coelho was named prime minister on Thursday after his coalition won the most votes in the national election but lost its majority in parliament, which swung to leftist parties.

This set up a confrontation with the main opposition Socialists, who have been trying to form their own coalition government with the hard left Communists and Left Bloc, who all want to end the centre-right’s austerity policies.

“The president has created an unnecessary political crisis by naming Passos Coelho as prime minister,” Socialist leader Antonio Costa said.

The Socialists and two leftist parties quickly showed that they control the most votes when parliament reopened yesterday, electing a Socialist speaker of the house and rejecting the centre-right candidate.

“This is the first institutional expression of the election results,” Costa said. “In this election of speaker, parliament showed unequivocally the majority will of the Portuguese for a change in our democracy.”

Early yesterday, Mr Costa’s party gave its lawmakers a mandate to “present a motion rejecting any government programme” that includes similar policies to the last government.

After the national election, Mr Passos Coelho tried to gain support from the Socialists, who instead started negotiating with the Communists and Left Bloc.

Antonio Barroso, senior vice president of the Teneo Intelligence consultancy in London, said Costa was likely to threaten any Socialist lawmaker with expulsion if they vote for the centre-right government’s programme.

“Therefore, the government is likely to fall, which will put the ball back on the president’s court,” Mr Barroso said in a note.

The political stand-off has prompted concerns that the economy’s recovery after a bailout could stumble.

But, so far, bond market investors have focussed instead on the likelihood of more quantitative easing from the European Central Bank. Benchmark 10-year bond yields were slightly higher at 2.38 percent on Friday.

Portugal’s PSI20 stock index was up 1%.

Passos Coelho’s government pursued austerity measures and tax hikes during the past four years under a bailout which plunged Portugal into a three-year recession. The economy returned to growth last year and accelerated this year.

Portugal News on-Line reports:

In the wake of the elections, signs were that Cavaco Silva was set to follow tradition and nominate the party with the highest number of MPs to form a government, in this case, the centre-right PSD-CDS coalition.

But in the weeks which have followed since the split ballot, the Socialists and the coalition have failed to agree on much, as had been openly hoped for by the President. This has now resulted in the Socialists negotiating an unprecedented alliance with the Left Bloc and the Communist Party.

These three parties together have 123 seats in Parliament, 16 more than the coalition, and would be able to pass legislation without any opposition.

The Left Bloc leader Catarina Martins told Antenna 1 radio on Thursday that the party decided to join forces with the Socialists in order to stop them from forming an alliance with the PSD-CDS, which would have allowed Pedro Passos Coelho to add to his four years in charge as the country’s prime minister.

While the president has favoured a minority government, he will be fully aware that the leftist majority will bring down the coalition at the first opportunity.

Such an occasion will be presented to the opposition by no later than 4 November, the date on which the coalition will have to present their programme for the next four years of government, should they form a government.

Rejection of the government’s programme will see the ball tossed back in the court of the president.

He is currently fewer than three months away from completing the maximum two terms in office, meaning President Cavaco Silva will constitutionally be impeded to call early elections, as has happened in the past when a government has failed to enjoy the support of the majority of MPs.

With the fall of a hypothetical centre-right government, he will instead then be faced with the choice of either calling on Socialist leader António Costa to form a government, or hand the political hot potato to his successor, who will be elected in January.

The next president will however have little choice, but to call early elections. Once again, the constitution, in a bid to avoid a succession of elections, requires that a minimum of six months elapses between the start of a new parliamentary session and elections being called.

This will mean that the next President will only be able to announce a date for elections at the end of next April, with the earliest opening at his or her disposal being in June.

In the meantime, a minority cabinet will be reduced to performing ceremonial duties, and operate as a transitional government with very limited decision-making powers.

In the event of Passos Coelho’s cabinet being brought down and the president opts to hand over the country’s reigns to the leftists alliance, there will be some major policy shifts.

Agreement, appears to have been reached in three major areas.

The freezing of pensions will be lifted at a cost of one billion euros over the coming four years, civil servants will see their salary cuts revoked at a rate of 25 percent a quarter at a cost of 600 million euros, while also cancelling proposed cuts in the social security contributions and company tax rates, which in turn will pay for the increased expenditure on pensions and wages.

The Left Bloc and Communists have also called for stricter rules on sacking workers and are proposing the minimum wage be increased to 600 euros during the course of the current legislature, demands which the Socialists have shown an inclination towards accepting.

Less certainty surrounds how the generally moderate Socialists will deal with euro-scepticism of the far left, with both parties proposing a return to the escudo.

Despite assurances from the Socialists in recent days as to the continuation of the country in the euro, Portuguese Communist MEPs have this week been lobbying in Brussels for the EU to create a mechanism that will allow member states to obtain financing in order to facilitate their exit from the Union.

Given this stance and having defended the need for sacrifice since the Troika entered Portugal four years ago for the sake of stability on a European level, Cavaco Silva would not have raised too many eyebrows by nominating a minority government, even if he does so with the certainty it will not see out a full term in office.


On the decision and announcement by the President of the Republic regarding the nomination of the Prime Minister

The announcement by Cavaco Silva to the country on the nomination of Passos Coelho to form government, being yet another episode of an assumed confrontation with the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic that has governed the mandates of the President of the Republic and his course, deserves the strongest condemnation.

Cavaco Silva did not just behave as a mentor of the PSD/CDS coalition, and used the office he has been vested, to try to redeem these parties from the significant defeat they were inflicted by the Portuguese people.

Cavaco Silva overstepped his functions, abused the prerogatives that are constitutionally assigned to him, subverted the foundations of the democratic regime, assumed himself not as President of the Republic but as a representative of the PSD and CDS in Belém [Palace] and placed the country into a position of humiliating foreign subservience .

It is demanded from Cavaco Silva, while President of the Republic, respect for the Constitution, impartiality and statesmanship, not being admissible from him appreciations about the legitimacy of the parties and their political action, let alone giving voice to anti-democratic conceptions and making judgments on the intents of others.

It is intolerable that Cavaco Silva dare limit, using the functions entrusted to him, about who may or may not exercise governing functions or responsibilities.

It is intolerable that Cavaco Silva intends to impose political options and government solutions subject to the interests at whose service he places himself and in confrontation with the constitutional framework that he is bound to obey.

It is intolerable that Cavaco Silva assumes himself, not as the guarantor of national sovereignty and independence, but rather as a defender of the financial markets, the speculators, the interests of transnational capital.

It is intolerable that Cavaco Silva imply, as he strongly hinted, an attitude of pressure and blackmail on the MPs and the choices they should make.

In this context and given the now announced decision, the President of the Republic becomes responsible for the position of confrontation with the Constitution, for the instability it creates and the political and institutional consequences therein resulting.

On the part of the PCP, Cavaco Silva’s decision to nominate Passos Coelho to form government will founder in the Assembly of the Republic with the approval of a motion to reject the government programme that may be presented by PSD and CDS.

Thus lies open the possibility of giving expression to the will expressed by the Portuguese people in the October 4 elections, putting an end to policies of destruction, impoverishment and national decline.
As we have stated, PSD and CDS have no conditions to govern, there being a majority of MPs in the Assembly which is enough condition for the formation of a government of the PS initiative, which enables the presentation of the Programme, its taking office and the adoption of a policy to ensure a lasting solution.

The PCP reaffirms its commitment to fight for a policy that responds to the rights of the workers and the people, the rise of their living conditions, the fight against social injustice and inequalities, the necessary economic growth and an effective employment policy .

Written by Andrew Coates

October 25, 2015 at 12:31 pm