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Pablo Iglesias Backs Jeremy Corbyn, but Podemos is less and less a model for the Left.

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On Downward Slide in Opinion Polls.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias held a press conference on Monday to mark the end of the summer holidays, as Podemos supporters launched a campaign to make #PabloIglesiasToMoncloa the top trending topic on Spanish Twitter, in reference to Moncloa Palace, the Spanish Prime Minister’s official residence.

“We are out to win the election”, he said.

A poll published earlier on Monday showed Podemos in line for 11.94% of the vote or 30-34 seats in the 350-seat Congress, in third place behind the Popular Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE).

Mr. Iglesias rejected the idea of a coalition deal between the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and Podemos after the general election as “absolutely unlikely”, although he did not rule out “decentralised dialogue processes” with new alternative left platforms such as Ahora en Común.

He added that Podemos now believed the general election in Spain would take place “in December”.

Regarding the early regional elections in Catalonia, which will take place on September 27, he said he believed the Podemos option there, “Catalonia Yes We Can” (Catalunya Si Que Es Pot) was the “only option” that had a chance of beating the First Minister’s joint pro-secession electoral list: “Our main aim is to beat Artur Mas”.

,…

He also said the rise of Jeremy Corbyn was “very important” in the race to lead the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, helping it to remember its roots.

“What is happening in the United Kingdom, I insist, is very important. A different Labour Party, that gets its party origins back as a representative of the popular classes is, I believe, very important”, suggesting Angela Merkel now represented “the past” and that alternative left parties were the future.

One of Mr. Iglesias’s European parliamentary assistants later tweeted that Podemos supports Jeremy Corbyn “because we understand he is an ally in changing the constitutional architecture of Europe”.

Spain Report.

While Iglisias’ backing for Corbyn is generous, we sincerely hope that people on the British left would stop comparing themselves with Podemos.

The  leadership of Iglesias has been most recently in trouble over his attitude to the rest of the Spanish left (indeed over whether the party should be ‘left’ at all) followed by disputes over Podemos’ stand on Catalan independence.

Their downward spiral was described yesterday in El Mundo by Casimiro García-Abadillo ¿Por qué se desinfla Podemos?

Naturally we would not credit this daily, or its journalists, with any sympathy for the Spanish left, but some points made are important.

García-Abadillo begins by noting a higher figure for Podemos than Spain Report, 15,7%. But the most significant aspect is the drop from 23,9% in January (and, we could add,  around 30% at points last year).

He argues that Podemos is in trouble because (in our, not the article’s order):

  • The shift to pragmatism (the “leftist populism,” Iglesias represents), conducted with the aim of disputing the hegemony of the PSOE left,  disappointed some of its electorate, linked to 15-M (that is, the original Indignados). These has created internal strife, led by figures such  Teresa Rodríguez and Pablo Echenique. This ideological tension thas demobilised many of his followers, as highlighted by the low turnout in the primaries (something we have noted on this Blog).
  • The ideological uncertainty extends to issues such as the independence of Catalonia. This generated confusion among potential voters. Essentially, Podemos has failed to stand for a genuine leftist movement that has nothing to do with nationalism. The compromise position adopted on secession has created tensions within the party in Catalonia and has likely discouraged many citizens from other regions who reject granting privileges to the richest part of the country (Catalonia) for sealing off its privileges in autonomy, if not independence.
  • The experience of coalition government in municipalities and communities following the elections of 24th of May has been somewhat disappointing. The case of Madrid is well known and covered on this Blog.
  • The debate on electoral alliances. El Mundo blames the “opportunism” Podemos has shown. We by contrast would blame the “new age sectarianism” of the “post-left” that thinks it can dismiss the Marxist forces of the Izquirada Unida and the Greens of Equo.
  • The effect of the failure of Syriza in Greece, or more simply its defeat faced with the power of Finance  – which are too obvious to dwell on.

Full article: El Mundo.

Podemos had a strategy which many people on the left across the world admired.

The “Spanish regime is facing a crisis of legitimacy and there exists an opportunity for the emergence of a party with progressive politics and popular appeal that can challenge the political establishment and reassert the collective power of the people against corporate capital.”

To mobilise this strength Podemos claimed that it needed an approach that was “beyond” the left/right division.

That is, according to Eduardo Madura,

The traditional ideology and language of the left is unfit for purpose in that it does not adequately correspond to people’s everyday experiences. ‘For the majority of people the language of the left does not signify what it does for those within the movement,’ he says. ‘People’s traditions and experiences are so different.’

Podemos: Politics by the people. Andrew Dolan. Red Pepper

Words that apparently move “beyond right and left” and connect with real experience focus on the key element in Podemos’s public discourse: mobilisation against the ‘casta’ – the political ‘caste’ or elite.

In On Populist Reason (Verso, 2005) Ernesto Laclau described the shifting way the “popular” is constructed. A populist party is, he argued, built around “empty signifiers” – that is symbolic points around which the conflict between the “people” and the “elite” is created.

Podemos is so famous for having woven its discourse around opposition to the “casta (caste)” -the political ruling class – that the, having fixed it, quilted it, wrapped itself around with it, it would, at some point, fray.

It was perhaps predictable that once it became identified – symbolically and in reality – with those who rule, that is take office – it would face problems.

These are exacerbated by the creation of a Podemos of the right, Cuidamos,

Ciudadanos deprives Podemos of its novelty effect and, above all, its appearance as the only contender to the throne that bipartisanship has already semi-abandoned, around which a heterogeneous social majority could be built, attracted to Podemos by the real possibility that it was the vehicle for political change. It is a vicious circle, because as a victory for Podemos seems less possible, the less support it will receive. And, on the contrary, the more credible the victory of an alternative, the more instrumental support it will receive. Although both parties are vying for only a layer of votes and their major potential voters come from counter-posed sites, Ciudadanos blocks the growth of Podemos in the less politicized and more conservative sectors and fires a torpedo at the waterline of its project of a transversal party which aspires to quickly accumulate a social majority that goes beyond the traditional confines of the “people of the left”.

Josep María Antentas International Viewpoint.

Podemos has also moved rightwards, dropping, notably, plans for a universal ‘Citizen’s income and tempering its anti-austerity plans with a degree of realism – such as proposing that debtors and creditors negotiate mortgage payments, instead of advocating the suspension of all such foreclosures as it did previously.

These difficulties have been worsened by the existence of another ‘populist’ element, a charismatic leader who holds the party together and takes the decisions.

How Iglesias has been insulated from political difficulties – opposition – is indicated by Podemos’s adoption of an inner party structure that gives  “winner takes all” power to the leadership. That is despite claims that it is “horizontal” and based on intimate “circles real decision-making is made by one circle; the Leader’s.

His dislike of the ‘old’ left is unfortunate in that every political ideology becomes – pretty rapidly with today’s communication systems – ‘old’, old enough to remind people of earlier attempts to move “beyond” left and right, with their mixed results.

There are few signs that Iglesias or his  Courtiers has found a way out of the problems posed by ‘populism’ – a shifting social base, a drift with the tide of opinion, and the ‘charismatic’ tendency to ignore the advice of others.

Podemos Faces Crisis as only 16% of Sympathisers vote to Select Election Candidates.

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Success Less and Less Clear.

El Pais reports that this week’s internal primaries for the coming Spanish elections invovled only 16% of the sympathisers  entitled to vote, around 60,000 people. Of these 82% plebiscited Pablo Iglesias as candidate for the Presidency of the government.

Iglesias has declared that the level of participation was “muy alta”. El Pais

This comes as Podemos slips ever lower in the opinion polls, hovering at 15% (from a high of over 30% only last November).

This week  the French Communist Daily, l’Humanité published a scathing attack on Iglesias by Jean Ortiz (« Podemos » et la machine à perdre ?). Ortiz lost no time in ascribing the downward path and loss of support of Podemos to the Iglesias leadership.

Citing theParty boss’s  lengthy interview in New Left Review he noted how the lider maximo had effectively reduced anti-republicanism to giving the Spanish Royal a box set of Game of Thrones. Other policies, from feminism, secularism, the removal of NATO bases, and even,  a central plank of their programme, debt renegotiation, had been dropped or played down. He also gave prominance to the continuing attacks on the Spanish left alliance, the Izquirda Unida.

Others blame Iglesias’ overwhelming vanity for loss of momentum and political direction of Podemos.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 25, 2015 at 9:59 am

Podemos in Free-Fall in Spanish Opinion Polls.

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Populist Party Losing Popularity.

17th July Simple Lógia.

 

PP 26,2%
PSOE 23,1%
Ciudadanos 18,4%
Podemos 14,9%
IU 5,4%
UPyD 0,5%

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Evolution of Podemos support:

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 From 31% (December 2014)  to the present,  14,9%

More (just out)

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s governing People’s Party (PP) and the main opposition socialists (PSOE) have pulled well ahead of anti-establishment party Podemos ahead of national elections later this year, polls showed on Sunday.

Voter support for the center-right PP stood at 29.1 percent while the PSOE was on 25.1 percent, according to a survey by pollsters GAD3 published in Spanish daily ABC.

Support for Podemos, which transformed Spain’s political landscape in mid-June when leftist municipal coalitions it backed took power in four of the country’s five biggest cities, fell to 15.0 percent.

A second survey, by research firm Simple Logica and published on news portal larepublica.es, produced a similar result.

The findings contrast with recent polls that have shown the three parties running virtually neck-and-neck. In a survey from Metroscopia, considered the benchmark in Spain, published in El Pais on July 5, they all stood at between 21.5 and 23 percent.

Both the GAD3 and Simple Logica surveys questioned around 1,000 voters. The former was conducted between June 23 and July 8 and the latter from July 1-9.

The parliamentary elections are expected to take place in November.

(Reporting by John Stonestreet; Editing by Ros Russell)

 

Simple Lógia.

One of the problems about “populism” is that it evaporates when a movement is not “popular”

Some on the British left, who bathed the reflected glory of Syriza when it won a merited victory, are now fighting to the last impoverished Greek against Alexis Tsipras.

Now that the party of Pablo Inglesias  is not doing well, can we expect the same people to turn on Podemos?

Note: we cannot blame this on the fall-out from the present state of the Greek crisis as the score really began to go down in March.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 19, 2015 at 11:18 am

Is Iglesias’ Leadership of Podemos Beginning to Unravel?

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Podemos Leader Faces Challenging Times. 

La izquierda alternativa desafía el plan de Iglesias para las generales

The Left Alternative challenges Iglesias’s plans for the General Election.

Reports El Paìs today – translated/adapted. (Hat-Tip to SH)

Under the name Ahora en Común, a group of the left of Podemos have, on Thursday,  set in motion an initiative to promote “popular unity”  for the general election, candidacies in the  style of the’ ‘ciudadanas’ citizen-city  lists (governing in Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza. The platform,  with the backing of Podemos office holders, Izquidra Unida  (IU – united left, groups based on democratic communists and radical left socialist and green groups, formerly the largest left alliance in Spain)  and those from these lists,  is a setback to the strategy of Pablo Ingelisas , who  wants the other forces of the alternative left to join behind him, under his “umbrella”,  for the election. IU’s candidate, Alberto Garzón, whose own proposals for unity have already been rejected by Iglesias, has welcome the proposals.

The manifesto was signed by representatives of Podemos, candidates of “popular unity”, the United Left (IU) and Equo (Spain’s Greens). These include Jorge Suarez, mayor of Ferrol (Ferrol in Common), Isidro Lopez, deputy in the Assembly of Madrid, Diego Pacheco, a member of the regional management of the organisation in Madrid, Rosa Martinez, spokesperson for Equo, Pablo Carmona, Councillor for Ahora Madrid Mauricio Valiente, former candidate of IU Madrid and Councillor also now Madrid, IU MEP Javier Couso or Eduardo Garzon, economist and brother of the candidate of the d’ederación de izquierdas’ (federation of the lefts), Alberto Garzón.

You can see the – growing – list of those backing Ahora en Común (Now, Together! ) here.

Iglesias’s response has been to say that he does not need unity between parties, but unity between people.

“El líder de Podemos afirma sobre la plataforma ciudadana que “la unidad popular no es la unidad de partidos, es la unidad de la gente”. (El Diario).

Presumably behind, himself, and his leadership of Podemos…..

…it didn’t take long to find accusations, discussed in Podemos itself, that Igelsiais appears “proud and arrogant, and who refuses to join with anybody else, even at the cost of losing votes”.  “que parece arrogante y soberbio, que se niega a confluir con nadie aun a costa de perder votos. Beatriz Gimeno and Carmen San José. Mardid Assembly Councillors Podemos. (Viento Sur. – Left grouping part of Podemos)

These problems follow Podemos distancing from Greece’s Syriza. (Guardian 6th of July)

For the past year, they have positioned themselves as allied agents of a change sweeping across southern Europe.

On the face of it, Spain’s leftwing anti-austerity Podemos party should have been crowing at the landslide victory of the no vote in Sunday’s Greek referendum. But while Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias was quick to praise Syriza and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, his overriding message was a simple one – Spain is not Greece.

With a general election due in Spain by the end of the year, Iglesias, whose party made substantial gains in local elections earlier this year, was careful to mark the differences between the two countries, worried, analysts said, that any worsening of the situation in Greece could drive crucial middle-class voters away from his party.

“We have a great friendship with Syriza, but luckily, Spain is not Greece,” Iglesias told radio Cadena Ser. “We’re an economy with much more weight in the eurozone, we’re a country with a stronger administration and with a better economic situation. The circumstance are different and I think it makes no sense to draw parallels.”

Instead, Iglesias framed the referendum as a step forward for democracy in that the Greek people had finally been handed the power to decide on austerity measures. “It’s good news for Europeans and Greek citizens,” said Iglesias. “The people of Greece have said they want change, they support a government who says that things can be done in a different way.”

The referendum was a clear success for Tsipras, said political scientist Fernando Vallespín from Madrid’s Autonomous University. “The automatic assumption is that what is good for Tsipras is good for Podemos,” he said, but he feels it is too early to say whether that is the case, pointing to the efforts made by Iglesias to distance Spain from Greece. “I think Podemos is worried that the situation in Greece won’t get better.”

Reinforcing the differences between the countries dampens the idea of contagion, he said, and maintains the party’s appeal to moderate voters. The latest polls show Podemos is in a virtual tie with the governing People’s party and opposition Socialists.

Podemos must walk a fine line when it comes to Greece, said José Ignacio Torreblanca, the author of Asaltar Los Cielos, or Storm the Heavens, which explores the rise of Podemos. “On one hand it’s good news for them, because the message of the people having voted against austerity strengthens their message. The frame for them is fantastic because its the people against the troika, David against Goliath and the weak against the powerful,” he said.

The challenge, however, is then to distance themselves from any bad news emerging from Greece. “This is where the space opens for the People’s party and others to point to issues such as the queues for cash machine withdrawals. All of the parties have been trying to use Greece to their advantage.”

Followed by this reaction:

Tsipras dissing Podemos leader Iglesias goes viral 09th of  July 2015

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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