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Guillermo Zapata, Ahora Madrid, Backed by Podemos, Resigns From Madrid Council over anti-Semitic Tweets.

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Logotipo de Ahora Madrid - Compacto

Ahora Madrid Faces First Hiccup. 

The Local, an English language Spain based site, reports,

Guillermo Zapata, resigned as Madrid’s cultural councillor on Monday just 48 hours after accepting the role under new Madrid mayor Manuela Carmena, amid a row over anti-semitic ‘jokes’ that he tweeted back in 2011.

He had defended himself after tweets dating back to 2011 came to light arguing that they were made in the context of a debate on dark humour and before he went into politics.

On Sunday he closed down his Twitter account and apologized for the damage he caused but the row escalated and Carmena accepted his resignation on Monday afternoon.

The hashtag #ZapataDimision (Resign, Zapata) went viral in Spain, just one day after activists from the Indignados movement that organised mass street protests in 2011 became mayors in Madrid and Barcelona.

Zapata had made deeply offensive jokes about the Holocaust and gas chambers used by the Nazis during World War II. In another tweet, he had also taken aim at a victim of an attack by Basque separatist group ETA.

In a statement posted on social media platform Tumblr on Sunday, Zapata apologized, and said his jokes had been prompted by a debate on “the limits of humour”.

Claiming he did not identify with the content of his own tweets, Zapata said he was taking part in an online debate prompted by the sacking of a columnist of national daily El Pais, after he made a joke denying the Holocaust.

“Now some of those tweets, which were written within the context of a conversation on black humour, have been recovered with the goal of presenting them as though they represented my ideas — while in fact I do not defend them at all,” Zapata wrote.

“I firmly condemn all forms of racism, and, of course, anti-Semitism. I believe the Jewish Holocaust teaches us a lesson that humanity must never forget, so that it is never repeated,” he added.

Guillermo Zapata is a member of Ahora Mardid  – the Madrid election front, which is backed by Podemos, and embraces a range of other forces, including other leftists and citizens’ groups). It defines itself as “«candidatura ciudadana de unidad popular» citizen platform of popular unity, and as a  «partido instrumental sin vida orgánica» (an instrumental party without organic internal life).   Wikipedia on this bloc and its  ‘new politics': English, Spanish.

This incident perhaps reflects a problem with the entry of ‘new’ political forces without an “organic internal life”.

 

Latest news: Zapata dimite como edil de Cultura por el “dolor generado” por sus tuits.

Guillermo Zapata: “No me interesa mi cargo, solo pedir perdón y que nadie crea que defiendo la violencia”

 

Zapata’s background as a script-writer and cultural activist from the (conservative) ABC:Guillermo Zapata, de guionista anónimo a edil de la discordia.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 16, 2015 at 11:21 am

Syriza’s First Actions: ‘Voodoo Economics’?

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The Financial Times does not approve…..

Syriza and voodoo economics

“One by one they were rolled back, blitzkrieg-style, mercilessly, ruthlessly, with rat-a-tat efficiency. First the barricades came down outside the Greek parliament. Then it was announced that privatisation schemes would be halted and pensions reinstated. And then came the news of the reintroduction of the €751 monthly minimum wage. And all before Greece’s new prime minister, the radical leftwinger Alexis Tsipras, had got his first cabinet meeting under way.

After that, ministers announced more measures: the scrapping of fees for prescriptions and hospital visits, the restoration of collective work agreements, the rehiring of workers laid off in the public sector, the granting of citizenship to migrant children born and raised in Greece. On his first day in office – barely 48 hours after storming to power – Tsipras got to work. The biting austerity his party had fought so long to annul now belonged to the past, and this was the beginning not of a new chapter but a book for the country long on the frontline of the euro crisis.”

Rachman comments,

Unfortunately, much of the European left seems to have temporarily lost the ability to reason – amidst the excitement of seeing the radical left take power in Athens. (Read this article, by Owen Jones, for example) Alexis Tsipras, the new Greek prime minister, is being written about as if he is a cross between Salvador Allende and Rosa Luxemburg. If and when the Syriza experiment fails, the left will be ready with a new “stab-in-the-back” theory. It will be the fault of the Germans, or the bankers, or (inevitably) the CIA. Nothing to do with the “rat-a-tat efficiency” with which Syriza has set off down the path of financial ruin.

The hard-right French journal, Valuers Actuelles, went even further yesterday predicting that Germany would not cede an inch.

Syriza au pied du mur… de l’argent.

That is, Syriza is up against what is known in English as the ‘Bankers’ ramp’.

Commentary without hostility towards  this “experiment’ and its immediate chances:

How Syriza could make a debt relief deal palatable to Germany

To sum up, there is a way forward if everybody negotiates in good faith – but the stakes are very high. The danger of political accidents is clearly there. But a messy default and potential break-up of the currency union is in nobody’s interest. So in the end a compromise is the most likely outcome.

The Weekly Worker, another left group suffering from the sleep of reason (according to the FT), states, under the cheerful heading of “Victory tainted by right populists” warns Syriza’s problems are only just beginning – Eddie Ford

Naturally, like many on the left, we in the CPGB celebrate the fact that the left received such a healthy vote and that large numbers of the Greek people said ‘Enough is enough’ – or, as the headline went on The Daily Mash spoof website, “Greeks vote to stop having shit kicked out of them”.4 Obviously, we stand in solidarity with Syriza and the Greek masses against any threats or blackmail from the IMF, ECB, World Bank – let alone the Orthodox church, Greek generals or Golden Dawn. We also applaud the way that Syriza has steadily built up a solid network of international connections and opposed left-nationalist calls to pull out of the euro/European Union (like the isolationist KKE).

But…..

Before the election we warned against Syriza assuming office – especially with minority support – without the possibility of solidarity in the shape of the international revolutionary movement. But we did not imagine that it would choose to do so alongside a rightwing party. Now the problems facing the Syriza-led government are monumental, and look set to get worse before they get better – if they ever do.

Skipping to the good bit…

At his swearing-in ceremony, Tsipras vowed to defend the constitution. Far better to have stood against the entire constitutional order, including the 50-seat top-up and all the rest of the nonsense. Unfortunately, Syriza is not committed to the disbanding of the standing army, let alone immediately withdrawing from Nato – it is taking on a thoroughly reformist coloration.

Some celebration!

Perhaps the cds of the Weekly Worker prefer talking about something they know rather better, the British Left: Honeymoon or hangover?Initial euphoria on the left at the electoral victory of Syriza has given way to mixed feelings, notes Paul Demarty – but little sign of rethinking

Meanwhile l’Humanité, which doubtless has lost the ability to reason, points to the effects the Syriza victory is having in Spain.

Après Syriza, l’Europe a les yeux rivés sur Podemos

All eyes will certainly be on Spain this Saturday, when Podemos is organising a national demonstration against austerity in Madrid.

LA MARCHA DEL CAMBIO – The march for Change.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 30, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Syriza: Some European Left Reactions.

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Syriza: Hope in Europe.

Un souffle d’espoir 
pour tourner la page 
de l’austérité L’Humanité – closely aligned to the Parti Communiste Français, Front de Gauche.

The breath of hope in place of austerity.

Il y avait hier soir à Athènes quelque chose de léger dans l’atmosphère, qui éclairait les visages et réchauffait les cœurs.

Last evening there was something happy in the air, which lit up people’s faces and warmed their hearts.

Eine Alternative ist möglich Die Linke (German Left Party).

Die deutsche LINKE steht an SYRIZAs Seite.

Die Linke stands on Syriza’s side. 

Meine Erfahrungen aus Athen: Es herrscht eine Riesenbegeisterung in den Straßen, Aufbruchsstimmung, Demokratiebewegung. Vor allem junge Menschen sind begeistert. Davon sollten wir in Deutschland uns ebenso begeistern lassen, wir brauchen in Deutschland nicht weniger, sondern mehr linke Politik!

“My experience in Athens: there reigned an atmosphere of holiday enthusiasm, of optimism, of democratic movement. Above the youth are enthusiastic. So, we in Germany should also be equally enthusiastic, we need not less, but more, Left-wing politics!

Parti de Gauche – Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Front de Gauche (France).

Grèce. Pour la première fois, un peuple européen a porté à la tête de son gouvernement un parti de l’autre gauche pour se débarrasser de l’austérité.

For the first time a European people has brought to the head of government a party of the ‘other’ left in order to get rid of austerity.

Podemos (Spain) Pablo Iglesias, de Podemos, felicita a partido Syriza por triunfo en Grecia

Pablo Inglesias, of Podemos, congratulated the Syria party for its Greek victory.

Podemos dice que Grecia marca un nuevo tiempo que llegará a España. (El Païs)

Podemos says that Greece has marked a new era which will come to Spain.

Ensemblepart of the Front de Gauche, France.

L’espoir a gagné !

Hope has won!

Cécile DUFLOT (Députée EE-LV, ex-ministre de l’Egalité des territoires et du Logement) – French Green Party.

Il est l’heure de l’alternance européenne.

Now is the time for the European Alternative.

John McDonnell, Labour Representation Committee,

“Take heart from the scale of the #syriza
vote & recognise that the revolt against austerity across Europe is growing as each cut bites.”

Socialist Party, Belgium (le Soir),

Elio Di Rupo, a salué « la victoire éclatante de Syriza » et « espère qu’elle rendra espoir au peuple grec ».

The Socialist Party, former Prime Minister, Elio Di Ropo, saluted the “stunning victory of Syriza” He “hoped it will give hope to the Greek People.”

Socialist Workers Party (UK).

A new day for Greece and Europe

THE VICTORY of Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left, or SYRIZA, in parliamentary elections is a long-awaited breakthrough against the ruling class agenda of austerity and repression that has inflicted suffering across Europe and plunged Greece into an economic and social crisis unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Note: as Socialist Worker tries to crawl on the Syriza bandwagon it’s worth remembering that the SWP, as is their wont, did not back Syriza but a collection of sects,  the miniscule Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow ANTARSYA cντικαπιταλιστική Αριστερή Συνεργασία για την Ανατροπή, ΑΝΤ.ΑΡ.ΣΥ.Α.) The reasons include the fact the Syriza is pro-European and  “For some time Syriza has been moving to the right, but it’s difficult to do that during the election.” (SW) This gaggle of groupuscules received 0.64 of the vote in the election.

The Weekly Worker, which seems to have been converted to John Holloway’s politics of “how to change the world without taking power”, said a few days ago,

“Our duty is to warn about the danger of Syriza being a 21st century version of the popular front governments of the 1930s … and express solidarity with the working class and people in Greece who have had their living conditions savaged by the troika, leading to a situation where wide sections are surviving on food parcels and other forms of charity. ” What if Syriza Wins?

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty carried an article by Nicos Anastasiadis which noted,

The first reaction to a Syriza victory will be great joy from the working people and poor who have suffered from Memorandum policies. We will see great wave of expectation of change.

And this (on Shiraz Socialist): After the Syriza victory: for a United Front of the left throughout Europe!

Left Unity says,

Syriza victory shows a different Europe is possible

Responding to Syriza’s victory in the Greek elections, Left Unity’s Salman Shaheen said:

“Finally Europe is set to have a government that will stand up against austerity.

“We send our warmest congratulations to our sister party and the people of Greece.

“We believe the best way to support them is to spread solidarity across Europe and construct similar left wing parties everywhere.

“Later this year we could see Podemos come to office in Spain. This is just the beginning.”

European Left Party (which represents numerous left parties in the European Parliament and outside of it).

The struggle for change in Europe has begun.

The overthrow of the Greek memorandum government is an important step that will be completed on January 25th, 2015 by  the imminent grand electoral victory of SYRIZA.

This victory will not be confined only to the restoration of democracy in Greece. It will be expanded to stop the humanitarian disaster inflicted on the Greek people.

It will send a strong message to all the peoples of Europe and especially of the southern countries that would portray the following:

“The Merkelism is not invincible. Austerity can stop. Europe can change”

We, the representatives of political parties, social movements, trade-unions and other social activists of the European South that met in Barcelona, on at the 1st European South Forum, express our determination, in common, to work together, in order to defeat the neoliberal austerity strategy that has been brutally imposed in our countries through the Troika’s Memorandums,  extreme national austerity programs and the structural counter-reforms. Together, we promote a collective and concrete alternative for a progressive exit from the crisis, in the direction of the re-establishment of Europe on the basis of democracy, solidarity, and social and environmental sustainability.

We do not face the current crisis as if it were either a series of “national abnormalities”, or as a conflict between Northern and Southern Europe. Instead, starting from the south, our priority is to enlarge the European front of resistance against neoliberalism and push forward European solutions that will strengthen the unity of the peoples of Europe, against the current resurgence of austericide, reactionary, chauvinistic, and extreme right-wing projects and forces.

The future of the Eurozone is not jeopardized by our plan for an immediate break from austerity and an alternative strategy for economic and social development. On the contrary, it is jeopardized by the destructive austerity that is being imposed by the neoliberal establishment, under the guidance of the present conservative majority in Europe.

Therefore, in order to put an immediate end to the European crisis and to rescue the idea of the European peoples’ unity, we urgently need a policy change:

1. A Green New Deal for Europe. The European economy has being suffering 6 years of crisis, with an average unemployment around 12%. The dangers of a 1930’s style deflation is on its doorstep. Europe could and should collectively borrow at low interest rates to finance a program of economic reconstruction, ecological transition, and sustainable and social development with emphasis on investment in people, social protection, public services, energy, technology and needed infrastructures. The program would help crisis ravaged economies to break free from the vicious cycle of recession and rising debt ratios, to create jobs, and to sustain recovery.

2. Defeating unemployment. The average European unemployment is today the highest since official records began. Today, almost 27 million people are unemployed in the European Union out of which more than 19 million belong to the Eurozone. The official unemployment Eurozone average has risen from 7,8% in 2008 to 11,5% in August 2014. For Greece, from 7,7% to  26,4% and for Spain from 11,3% to 24,4% during the same period. We urgently need a major job creation plan, which will create, through targeted European and national public investments supported by the ECB, secure, stable and dignified employment and viable life-prospects for millions of Europeans, especially young people, women and immigrants who have been brutally victimized and relegated to social exclusion.

3. Credit expansion to cooperatives and small and medium-sized firms. Credit conditions in Europe have deteriorated sharply. Small and medium-sized firms have been hit especially hard. Thousands of them, particularly in the crisis-hit economies of the European South, have been forced to close, not because they were not viable, but due to the absence of credit fluidity and the lack of demand. The consequences for jobs have been dire. Extraordinary times require non-conventional action: the European Central Bank should follow the example of other Central Banks all around the world and provide cheap credit to banks, on the strict pre-condition that those same banks increase their lending to small and medium-sized enterprises by a corresponding amount.

4. Suspension of the new European fiscal framework, as a pre-condition for the exercise of a truly sustainable and developmental fiscal policy.

5. A genuine European Central Bank – lender of last resort for member-states, not only for banks. The commitment to act as lender of last resort should be unconditional and should not depend on the conditioning or submission of a member state’s agreement to a reform program with the European Stability Mechanism.

6. Macroeconomic and social readjustment: Countries with surpluses should do as much as deficit countries to correct macroeconomic imbalances within Europe. Europe should monitor, assess and demand action from countries  with current account surpluses, in the form of stimuli, in order to alleviate the unilateral pressure on deficit countries. The current asymmetry in the adjustment between surplus and deficit countries does not harm the deficit countries alone. It harms Europe as a whole.

7. A European Glass-Steagall Act. The aim is to separate the commercial from the investment banking activities and prevent such a dangerous merging of risks into one uncontrolled entity.

8. Effective European legislation to tax offshore economic and entrepreneurial activities.

9. A European Debt Conference, with the participation of all the public members involved at a state, European and international level, inspired by the London Debt Agreement of 1953, which essentially relieved Germany of the economic burden of its own past and thus assisted the post-war reconstruction of the country. Such a conference must come up with a solution negotiated and adapted to each country, for each creditor and bondholder including the partial restructuring of terms and interest rates, the abolition of a large part of the public debts and the introduction of a “growth clause” for the repayment of the remaining parts. In that context all available policy instruments should be employed, including the European Central Bank, acting as last resort lender to issue special Eurobonds that would either replace national debt or lead to a significant debt forgiveness.

10. A resolute fight against fraud and corruption, and the crony capitalism suffered by our countries.

All these must go hand by hand with a committed struggle against patriarchy, inequalities, and against racism and xenophobia.

Before and after the outburst of the crisis, ideas as those proposed above were treated by the neoliberal establishment as “illusionist” and “populist”. Today, such ideas that formulate a concrete alternative against austerity are becoming more and more assumed and defended by our peoples and compete for social and political majorities in a number of European countries. It’s high time we transform popular discontent and aspiration into a massive political wave of change, for the establishment of economic democracy, popular sovereignty and environmental sustainability. The year 2015 can signal a new historical cycle of progress for our countries and Europe.

It’s time to make markets pay! The drift to increased inequality and precarious employment is not a real option for working people in Europe. Market structures affect protective institutional arrangements (welfare states, industrial relations rules, political systems, and other societal arrangements) in a way that Europe is stepping back from human rights and the burden of economic adjustment is not at all shared equally across European societies.

Therefore, we, the forces and organizations gathered here, commit to:

Work in coordination and provide the political and social momentum to achieve these changes;

  • Monitor the social and economic performance in our countries and our continent;
  • Foster the European Conference on Debt; and
  • Ensure continuity to the work of this Forum. And from this promoting team, and with the incorporation of all parties and organizations here gathered and the ones still to come, bolster new and future editions of this Forum.

Barcelona, 24th January 2015

 The Guardian reports,

Greece is headed into a new era of anti-austerity as the radical leftist Syriza successfully formed a government with the Independent Greeks party after falling agonisingly short of an outright majority in Sunday’s landmark elections.

“I want to say, simply, that from this moment, there is a government,” the Independent Greeks leader, Panos Kammenos, told reporters after emerging from a meeting at Syriza’s headquarters.

“The Independent Greeks party will give a vote of confidence to the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. The prime minister will go to the president and … the cabinet makeup will be announced by the prime minister. The aim for all Greeks is to embark on a new day, with full sovereignty.”

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France: Mélenchon’s new hope: alliance with the Greens (EELV).

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Mélenchon for Citizen Revolution with French Greens.

The Front de Gauche (FdG) held a national general meeting (Assemblée générale) last weekend on the 7th of December.

The splits between the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) and (largely) Jean-Luc Mélenchon remain unresolved.

The latter judged – after the local and European elections this spring – that the Front de Gauche was in a “pitiful state” ( en piteux état). That is the score of 6,33% and three seats for the European poll looked poor compared to, above all, the Front National’s 25% and 20 MEPs.

Mélenchon has not ceased reproaching the PCF for making electoral agreements with the ruling Parti Socialiste (PS) in order to keep hold of council seats and control of municipalities. As a counter-strategy the leader of the small Parti de Gauche, has not stopped vaunting the merits of an electoral alliance between his group, the French Green party ( EELV, Europe Écologie – Les Verts ) autonomous citizens groups  and ecologists and the radical left which took control of the small town of Grenoble (population 156,659 , about the size of Ipswich).

The point is that this list, the Rassemblement Citoyen de la gauche et des Ecologists, stood and won against an alliance of the PS and the PCF.

L’Humanité has reported on the weekend meeting.

After these disagreements over the municipal elections of 2014 a common declaration on the next electoral challenge is still being studied. There is a consensus for a broad alliance that goes beyond that of the Front de gauche (FdG), which breaks with the liberal economic policies of the government, and on the need for “citizen participation” and citizen assemblies at the grass-roots. There is a need to have a coherent selection of candidates at a national level. Other issues remains in dispute, notably on the position taken on the ‘second round’ of elections. That is the policy of, notably the Communist Party, of supporting Parti Socialiste candidates as part of the unity of the left. To the supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon any policy of supporting the governing Socialists – above all any agreement on common slates before the second round for local elections – is treason.

Reports (Libération) indicate that the Parti Communiste Français considers that the left of the Parti Socialiste, PS (the ‘frondeurs’)  is moving towards the FdG politics. This is, their strategy of drawing them leftwards has had an effect. The PS is certainly severely divided and its left has come to the fore with some important counter-proposals to the present right-wing course of Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Mélenchon  has offered an alternative approach (it is too broad to label a ‘strategy’). Based on his own idea of mobilising the ‘people’ against the ‘oligarchy’ he has called for a new 6th Republic. ( l’Ère 
du peuple 2014) The left is ‘dead’ he has announced – echoing similar declarations made by the Spanish Podemos. Launching the Mouvement pour la 6ème République (MSR) he evoked the French Revolution and the its struggles for popular sovereignty. The leader of the Parti de gauche declared, ” c’est le peuple qui prend la place qu’occupait hier la classe ouvrière révolutionnaire dans le projet de la gauche ” – “The people now take the place of the revolutionary working class in the project of the left” notes a very critical assesment  L’ère du peuple, selon Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Not much has been heard of the MSR.

Now Mélenchon has popped up again.

Calling for a mass campaign against the ‘Macron’ reforms, which will weaken labour legislation, expand Sunday working and allow large shops to open, he has suggested that there are grounds for an alliance with the French Green Party – the EELV. (le Monde)

Talking of his future projects he states,

Nous avons un modèle : la victoire lors des municipales à Grenoble. La preuve est faite qu’il est possible de gagner avec un accord entre Europe Ecologie et le Parti de gauche – qui ne demande qu’à s’élargir au reste du Front de Gauche – contrôlé par un rassemblement citoyen à la base. La situation bouge chez les Verts. Cécile Duflot met des choses en mouvement, elle leur montre une issue possible. Je fais tout ce que je peux pour favoriser ce mouvement. La gauche est en train de se reformater. Mais la clé reste dans l’implication des citoyens.

We have a model: the victory in the local elections in Grenoble. The proof is that we can win with an agreement between the Greens and the Parti de Gauche. -which asks for this to be broadened to include the rest of the Front de Gauche – controlled by citizen participation at the grass-roots. Things are changing amongst the Greens. Cécile Duflot (former leader of this party) is pushing for change and shows a way out. I am doing everything I can to back these development. The left is reforming itself But the key remains the participation of citizens.

Le Monde

EELV is not, in most people’s view, a radical left-wing party.

Meanwhile we see (amongst many many examples) Mélo’s way of arguing.

Maul zu, Frau ! Frankreich ist frei. Occupez-vous de vos pauvres et de vos équipements en ruines !

Podemos: A Monolithic, Vertical, and Hierarchical Party?

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Monolithic, Vertical (Top-Down), and Hierarchical Party?

The Podemos ‘convention process’ (consolidating the new party’s structures) which began on September the 15th, ended on Saturday, November the 15th with the election of Pablo Iglesias  as General Secretary. He won 88.7% of the votes cast (96.9% valid). His list won the 62 posts for the ‘Citizens’ Council’ and 10 for the Safeguards Commission.

The level of abstention, was however, also significant: 57% of those registered, larger than the percentage  – 45% who abstained during the vote on the overall party documents (policy, programme and organisation). The proportion of blank (or null) ballots was also important: 8.5% of votes cast for the General Secretariat; 5.1% for the Citizen Council and 13% for the ‘guarantees’ Commission

Reports Ensemble. (Podemos : un parti monolithique, vertical et hiérarchique ? 22 November).

Extracts. (adapted)

The numbers of people abstaining and can be attributed in part to the ease of “affiliation” to Podemos – by free on-line registration, something which does not require a great deal of motivation or commitment.  But it is also due, in large measure, (as indicated by the blank ballot papers) to a growing malaise and disillusionment with the way the Pablo Iglesias team have operated and taken decisions. The ‘technical team’ or administration (elected in April on the basis of closed lists), is equally dominated by this group …..

The team Sumando Podemos, who had formed a partial list of 22 candidates, announced its withdrawal after examining the closed list voting system – by which one can only select – through a single click – a single  slate  Added to this is the decision of the team Claro Podemos to  present a complete list for all the internal party bodies.

As explained by MEP Pablo Echenique, a member of Sumando Podemos, (1) ” the voting system and the fact that the list of comrades from the team Claro Podemos was complete, made it extremely difficult – if not impossible – that a person who was not on the list to enter the Citizens’ Council. I think – we think – that it’s a mistake to set up a voting system in which mathematics decide as much as the people. ” According to the predictions of  Echenique, the effects of system and blocked list were obvious. They are clearly reflected in the sharp difference between the votes received by candidates at 62 (75’131) and 63 (5’337) for the Citizens’ Council and for candidates in 10th (73’955) and 11th ( 4’697) position to the Oversight Commission.

Because of Pablo Iglesias’s media fame and this voting system, the possibility of access to the internal party bodies was strongly conditioned by the prior inclusion on his list. This method largely distorts the open primary system and has reproduced in practice the “dedazo” system [from “finger”, dedo, a term which defines the practice of the holder of an office or a term designating  successors without going through any democratic procedure].

Criticism of the traditional parties ruled by a “caste” (the political ‘class’), bound by loyalty to the leader who rules as an individual, has been offered in the past. But in fact the closed list pushes to an extreme limit the effects of the (traditional) majority system. The list that receives the most votes wins control of everything – in contrast to claims (made by Podemos in the past – TC)  for greater proportionality in the electoral system.

The ban, previously issued by the party’s internal controlling bodies,  excluding  people with a  double political affiliation – included in the documents on the party’s ‘ethical’ internal principles  – also contributed to the lack of options for alternatives offered inside Podemos. Thus this rule prevented MEP Teresa Rodríguez (Izquierda Anticapitalista) to run for the leadership of Podemos. The measure prohibits “members or affiliated organisations active throughout the Spanish state” to take any positions of local responsibility. This rule is justified as a mean to exclude the possible arrival of “pushy” parties and individuals from the “caste” (traditional political parties).  This has not worked

……

It is certainly not effective against careerists who have torn up their old party card and joined Podemos in order to pursue their own interests.

…….

This has, however, meant the immediate exclusion of militants from Izquierda Anticapitalista (IA) from the party’s internal bodies, despite the fact that IA not only does not compete electorally with Podemos, but played a key role in the initial design and foundation of the organisation.

The result of this process of formalising the structures of  Podemos is that the party has changed its organisational character. It has adopted the format of a monolithic party one whose structures  are top down and hierarchical. Power is concentrated to an extreme degree in the hands of the General Secretary who has the ability to appoint the executive, while its internal organising committees have been  co-opted by a single list. This even includes the Control Commission (that exists to guarantee the rights of members) which  should self-evidently be a plural and independent body if it is to carry out  its functions properly. These rules make it difficult for a pluralist and democratic internal life to develop..

Indeed, they consolidate a plebiscitary presidential model for Podemos – something which means that it has moved  away from its previous course not to say its entire original basis.  The truly open ‘primary’ elections with independent candidates  that operated for the European elections are now consigned to the past. More distant is the foundation of Podemos as a plural and unitary organisation of candidates. That is  was born with the intention not to empty or dissolve existing organisations, but to aggregate in a common front groups and sectors not previously organised or mobilised,  using mass and civic engagement so that people who are politically active act on their own initiative. Equally distant is the political culture that emerged after the eruption of 15M, characterized by mistrust of celebrity politics and the leadership of individuals. Claims to an open and collective organisation, common decision-making and  consensus, direct grass-roots participation are also now history.

From David Lloriente. Published November 22, 2014 on the site of Viento Sur.  From the translation by Encontre.

Original: Proceso congresual y mutación organizativa (which the above is checked with).

We should point out this is the point of view of the Izquierda Anticapitalista who are aligned with the Fourth International and the French Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA). 

But (1) Sumando Podemos (going beyond Podemos, surmonter in French is a more appropriate translation I feel, even literally ‘addition’ is the direct meaning in both English and French)  is not Trotskyist as such. It is grouped around the famous scientist Pablo Echenique, though is close I learn to IA it is not identical. See: Los críticos de Podemos valoran no participar en las primarias.

More information on the background from International Viewpoint:

Izquierda Anticapitalista on the decisions of the Podemos Citizens’ Assembly

Note the following: 28th November.

Spain’s poll-topping Podemos tones down radical plans in manifesto

(Reuters) – Spain’s newest political party Podemos, riding high in opinion polls just 10 months after its launch, released an economic manifesto on Friday that rowed back on earlier pledges to cut the retirement age and default on the national debt.

Podemos (“We Can”) has ridden a wave of anti-establishment sentiment, and polls for two leading newspapers have said it is on track to win the next election, which conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy must call by late next year. Another, larger, survey said it was likely to come a close third.

The party unexpectedly captured five seats in May’s European elections, and its rise is worrying international investors at a time when Spain is emerging from the worst economic crisis in decades.

“We don’t believe it is the right time to open up a wide spectrum of desires, but rather to propose what could effectively be done immediately,” Podemos said in the 68-page document, which reflects a change of tack as it builds up its party structure and gears up for the election.

“We believe that such a serious and difficult situation requires a great dose of pragmatism.”

The new manifesto outlines 79 measures, which will now be discussed with party members and experts before becoming a program for government. Among them are a tax reform that would shift the burden from labor to capital and increase tax rates for the wealthiest.

The working week would be cut to 35 hours from 40, the minimum salary and pensions would be raised, but the retirement age would be left at 65 instead of being cut to 60.

Podemos has also moved away from nationalizing Spain’s main utilities and now only plans to regulate them more tightly and control competition and price-setting in sectors where former monopolies still hold a strong grip.

The most controversial step of defaulting on Spain’s debt has also been watered down. While the party still calls for its restructuring, it says it would only do so after holding talks with European peers and creditors.

In a sign of the party’s ambitions to capture votes on the center-left, its 36-year old leader Pablo Iglesias told reporters its ideas were “proposals that any social democratic party could take on board.”

(Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Update (signaled by PD): This is an important article on Podemos putting forward a very different judgement about their ‘anti-politics’.

Understanding Podemos (1/3): 15-M & counter-politics.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 2, 2014 at 11:48 am

A new Left Opportunity? Podemos and its Critics.

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Podemos Tries to Build New Organisational Model.

Podemos, the Spanish radical left alliance, has created a lot of interest in Europe and further afield.

In the May European elections they got 7.97% of the vote and 5 seats.

The Izquierda Plural,(Plural Left) IP, an older left alliance, got 10.03% of the vote and 6 seats.

Podemos however presented itself in the ballot box for the first time this year, while the Izquierda Plural, notably its main component, the Izquierda Unida, has been around in various forms since the mid-1980s.

The best known public figure of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, cites the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) led by Alexis Tsipras as an inspiration.

It appears that Podemos, like Syriza, is itself being taken as a possible political model for leftist groups in the rest of Europe.

Adria Porta Caballe writes on RS21 (one of the groups that left the British SWP), shortly after the above results, offering an explanation for their success 

Podemos has achieved this with a different method that rejects the traditional conception of party militancy and an unconditional commitment to popular self-organisation. In particular, the last 5 months offer three examples of Podemos’ participatory nature. First, when Pablo Iglesias made the first step, he also made clear from the very beginning that he would not go further unless he was backed by at least 50,000 people. He easily achieved that number in a day, establishing a precedent of direct democracy from start.

The second and most important example of how Podemos achieved popular empowerment was the creation of so-called “Circles”, local spaces of debate and action where everybody can attend no matter his or her political affiliations. Today there are around 400 Circles spread over the Spanish State and anywhere else where its citizens have had to exile since the crisis started for economic reasons (London, Berlin, Brussels, etc). The motto “all power to the circles” represents a dose of democracy to the regime and an unprecedented tool of popular empowerment.

Finally it is also worth mentioning that Podemos is the only party in the country which used open primary elections to choose its candidates. A quick glance to the more than 50 candidates who run in the open primaries is enough evidence of what distinguishes Podemos from the rest: workers, unemployed, precarious, students, teachers… but no professional politician. No wonder that with this different method, Podemos could not reach an agreement with the traditional euro-communist party Izquierda Unida to run together in the elections. Apparently the latter was only worried about exchanging some seats in a common candidature, while Podemos was obviously demanding a much more fundamental change in the way the left approaches internal democracy.

This model has not been settled.

Nor is at all clear that they have “achieved popular empowerment”.

The French site Ensemble noted that following the elections there was a “lively” internal debate inside Podemos, opposing

 some of the party’s base, who advocate greater power for the ‘circles’ in the process of decision making, and the self-styled Podemos “promoter group”, which defends a model with less power for circles and which is all open to all citizens and voters. The fundamental question, ultimately, is to define the organisational form to be taken by Podemos and the role of the circles, and that of those not enrolled in them,  in the decision-making party people.

(El País – reporting this)  has so far identified in this debate two sides supposedly in confrontation. On the one hand, there is the Izquierda Anticapitalista (IA, anti-capitalist Left), a political party built around the initiative since its inception and, secondly, the promoter Podemos group, headed by Iñigo Errejón, and Juan Pablo Iglesias and Carlos Monedero.

In the El País article on the 9th of June supporters of the “promoter group” are cited accusing the “base” (Iquierda Anticapitalista, IA) of wanting Podemos to be the “izquierda de Izquierda Unida” – the left of Izquierda Unida”. Pablo Iglesias’s right-hand man,  Juan Carlos Monedero went so far as the accuse the IA of attempting a “coup d’état” ( “golpe de Estado”) inside the organisation – as  a party within a party.

The Izquierda anticapitalista  is in sympathy (that is, affiliated) with the Fourth International (USFI).

One of its supporters, Teresa Rodríguez, is said to be the “Number 2″ of Podemos.

Not surprisingly the Fourth International has published an article by Guillem Murcia that refers to this dispute suggesting that the El País  report may not be entirely trustworthy (given the daily’s own political allegiance, which was, in the past, with the Spanish Socialist Party, the PSOE).

Dick Nicols in Links on the 1st of July (Spanish state: Eruption of Podemos sparks turmoil left and right) does not downplay the dispute as revealed by El País and has its own analysis of the problems facing Podemos,

According to a report in the June 9 El País, close Iglesias collaborator, fellow university lecturer and La Tuerka copresenter Juan Carlos Monedero at one point explained the need for a closed list in these words: “The idea of the [closed] lists doesn’t seem very sensible to us, but there are people conspiring to lay hold of Podemos and we don’t feel like copping that. People with responsibilities in other parties have sent emails to sympathisers giving instructions as to what to do on June 14 [date of a national meeting of Podemos sympathisers].”

This was a reference to the Anti-capitalist Left (IA), co-founder of Podemos along with Iglesias and his supporters. In response to Monedero’s comments, which included the observation that some Podemos sympathisers wanted to convert the organisation into “the left of IU”, a June 9 statement of IA said: “Whoever sees conspiracies and coups where there is only democracy has very little faith in the intelligence of Podemos people…Only those who are afraid of democracy fear debates.”

Earlier Monedero had said: “Maybe this has to break up, maybe there are two incompatible models inside Podemos, some want to turn it into a party of delegates and into an old party…If we carry on with this line of talk, what happened with 15M could happen again—we were radically democratic and radically ineffective.”

He continues,

One concern was the role in Podemos given to the maverick politician and political consultant Jorge Verstrynge, ex-leader of the post-francoist Popular Alliance and variously PSOE member, adviser to the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) and the Venezuelan military, and exponent of a massive program of deportation of migrants from Spain.

Another was the decision, taken by election campaign team to incorporate a portrait sketch of Pablo Iglesias into the official Podemos ballot paper logo, on the grounds that Iglesias had much greater visibility than the name Podemos.

A third was the removal from the final Podemos election program of any specific support for the November 9 consultation in Catalonia, even though Iglesias continued to speak out for the Catalan right to decide.

The incessantly churning Spanish social networks have not been slow to comment on such choices, with Iglesias being tagged as “the little Napoleon”, and much worse. More soberly, many have pointed out that internet-driven decision-making in “new” party-movements can cohabit with “all power to the charismatic leader”, as in Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement. There the leadership (basically Grillo?) decides what the options for voting by internet are, after which “the membership decides democratically”. For the recent decision as to which European parliamentary group the Five Star movement’s MEPs should join, Grillo offered his members the “choice” of Europe of Freedom and Democracy (chairman Nigel Farange of the xenophobic United Kingdom Independence Party), the European Conservatives and Reformists group(dominated by the British Tories) or No Grouping.

Many, on the basis of what we so far can tell, will agree with Dick Nichols’ conclusion,

Podemos will face critical questions that can’t be solved from a “people v. politicians” formula. Critical will be the concrete basis for unity with IU and left-nationalist, left-regionalist and green forces. This is particularly pressing in the Spanish state because of the disproportionality in the rigged national Spanish electoral system, which only starts to disappear after a party wins 20% of the vote. (That score wins 18% of seats, while 15% wins 10.3% of seats and 10% of the vote just 5.1% of seats.)

The consolidation of Podemos as a revolutionary-democratic movement against austerity with rigorously democratic functioning and the convergence of its advance with that of a reformed IU will surely determine the fate of the anti-capitalist struggle in the Spanish state.

But it is by no means certain that the complicated ‘on-line’ democracy and the ‘circles’ at the base of Podemos, – the one drawing to leadership power, the other away from it, will help in this.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Chartist AGM: the Pro-European Left.

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“Chartist was a very different animal when I took over as Editor in Spring 1974 .  The banner headline on the tabloid talked of joining a ‘joint command of revolutionary organisations and preparing for dual power’.”

Editor’s Report. 2014.

An exceptional Chartist AGM took place on Saturday the 14th of June.

The meeting began with a session of the Financial Crisis and Worker Democracy.

Prem Sikka from Essex University  gave an overview of the part accountancy, to most people one of the most  boring subjects ever invented, had played in neo-liberalism. He illustrated his case by showing how the rules of accountancy underpinned the banking crises, and the ‘outsourcing’ of state functions. This did not mean that the state, viewed in terms of spending public money, had shrunk. It has been “restructured” – to give ever greater subsidies to the private firms who now carry out many of its functions. The present privatising regime had created widespread poverty, not only for the unemployed, but for those working under ‘flexible’ zero hours contracts.  Sikka set out a list of reforms that would bring the banking and financial sector under greater public control, increase transparency,  and end widespread fraud and short-term profiteering.

Janet Williamson, Senior Policy Officer of the TUC, made the case for looking again at the proposals for worker representation in companies, last brought up by the 1970s the Bullock Report. She argued that having a voice for workers in firms decisions was essential, not just for justice, but for better wealth production and long-term stability.

In the discussion that followed  the issues of socialising the banks, the disciplining of the reserve army of the workless by workfare, and whether ‘voice’ was sufficient for socialists who wish employees to have fuller control over their working lives. The ‘shrinking’ of the state was questioned when the transfer of its functions to private companies living off tax-raised funds  had real effects on accountability and workers’ conditions.

After lunch John Palmer (former European Editor – the Guardian) spoke of What now for the left after the European elections? Palmer began by talking about the rise of the xenophobic right, particularly in the UK (UKIP) and France (the Front National). They were joined by other hard and far-right parties in Greece (Golden Dawn) and Hungary. Social Democracy, above all in france, had done very badly. Their left competitors, the Front de Gauche, had stagnated. The British Labour Party had got solid results, but had lost the lead to UKIP.  Palmer, however, pointed to the good results for the left in Southern Europe, notably Greece (Syriza), Spain (Podemos and the Izquierda Unida). From the floor Italy was added, where the centre-left Democratic Party (Partito Democratico), did well and the further left alliance (L’Altra Europa con Tsiprasre-entered the European Parliament.

Palmer explained very clearly that it was up to the Left to promote a federalist agenda as the only way to unite Europe’s left into an effective force that could shape the European Union in a different, social, direction. We need to change the terms of debate.  He cited Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century as a milestone on this journey.It had brought back inequality onto the agenda, showing how rewards to capital has grown at the expense of wage. The left’s agenda needed to centre on the European Parliament. He finished by pointed out how far Britain was isolated in its opposition to Jean-Claude Juncker. By contrast to the British Labour Party, which shares this hostility with the Liberal-Conservative Coalition, the left should be building alliances to fight austerity across the continent.

Chartist has long stood for a pro-European left. Debate and questions raised the problematic stand of some (including Palmer) who back the break-up of Britain yet want a federalist Europe. It was also noted that Picketty’s book came at a time when France’s centre-left was rediscovering the important of fighting inequality. (see The society of equals: Pierre Rosanvallon 2004.  French Edition: La Société des égaux, Le Seuil, 2011). Whether Europe, and the EU,  had played a negative role in backing US-interference the Ukrainian crisis and interventions in the Middle East and Libya was discussed.

Reports indicated that Chartist has continued to attract a wide-range of democratic socialist contributors. The Editor Mike Davis, stated that the journal is supportive of the Labour Party and progressive forces within it, and the majority do not see the way forward in independent electoral left initiatives. But the publication  also attracts Greens, the Left Unity Party,  and independent socialists. The magazine backs the People’s Assembly and has played a significant role in the Labour Assembly Against Austerity.

There were two resolutions. One called for support for the Yes campaign for Scottish Independence, and the other for Chartist backing for a London rally calling for Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom.

From the audience concern was expressed at moves to separate people on national grounds. It was also pointed out by another Chartist supporter that the mover of the resolution’s own party, Left Unity, did not endorse these views, that Chartist is not a directly campaigning group with a ‘line’ and that it was said that Alex Salmond was so vain that he drank his own bath water. We might guess who made the latter comments.

The resolution fell, supported only by its two movers.

The Chartist Magazine is now fully on-line.

The new site is up and running.You can access it here.

It is seriously worth reading.

There was a great get-together in the pub afterwards and an excellent meal in a Greek Taverna.