Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘NV-A

The local election breakthrough of the radical left Belgian Workers’ Party.

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Sunday’s local election results in Belgian saw a breakthrough in the French speaking areas by the Green Party (up by 4,42%) and in Antwerp ( 18,4 %  for De Groen),and a big rise in support for the radical left, le Parti du travail (PTB) Partij van de Arbeid van België, PVDAThe latter scored  15, 8 % in Charleroi, in 16,5 % Liège 8,9 % à Anvers, 11,6 % in Bruxelles ville and 13,6 % in  Molenbeek. (le Monde).

In Brussels, the Ecolo/Groen party registered historical gains, coming first or second in several local councils, including Ixelles and Forest, where it displaced the ruling socialist party.

The leftist PTB was the other big winner, although they weren’t expected to enter ruling coalitions in any of the 19 “communes” of Brussels.

The main loser in the capital of Europe is the right-wing MR, the party of Prime Minister Charles Michel, which was challenged in its Uccle stronghold by a rising Green wave.

Elsewhere in Brussels, the socialists registered a symbolic victory in Molenbeek, where they beat MR incumbent Françoise Scheepmans, who came second despite winning praise for her handling of the Brussels terrorist attacks of 2016.

In Flanders, the separatist N-VA (New Flemish Alliance), which advocates the gradual dissolution of Belgium, solidified its leadership although the Green party made gains there as well.

The N-VA’s leadership was also challenged by the far-right Vlaams Belang, which won the commune of Ninove near Brussels, where the Forza Ninove list of Guy D’Haeseleer came in as a clear winner.

Traditional parties hammered in Belgian local election

A number of papers highlighted the election of the first Black mayor in Belgium, Pierre Kompany, the father of Vincent Kompany, the captain of Manchester City , in Ganshoren (De Standaard).

Flanders, apart from the success of the Greens in Antwerp, remains on the right with a return of the far-right Vlaams Belang.  There is already a scandal, this morning about the  Guy D’haeseleer, spreading a racist photo on Facebook, which has led the nationalist NV-A to rule out any deals with them in the far-right’s new stronghold (40% of the vote under the name, “Forza Ninove”) in the Ninove commune of Brabant cited above.  (Ninove: Bart De Wever exclut de gouverner avec le Vlaams Belang après diffusion d’une photo raciste.)

For the left the results for the Parti du Travail (PTB) – which claims around 10,000 members – are of interest across Europe.

Percée de la gauche authentique dans les villes du pays, à Bruxelles, en Wallonie et en Flandre

The PTB begins by noting that they have gone from  50 to 157 local councillors.

These are concentrated in French speaking districts but the PTB has some representatives in Flanders, and won  8,7 % in Antwerp  and got 4 seats on the City council and 19 seats on district councils.

Their President, Peter Mertens, declared that they will celebrate this advance, and called for The Struggle.

Nous nos élus et notre parti seront au service des luttes locales et nationales. Notre avancée doit se traduire par une avancée de la résistance social.

Our elected representatives and our party will put themselves on the side of local and national struggles. Our gains must lead to strengthening the fight-back in society.

The most important fact about the success of the PTB is it has happened in a country, Belgium,  in which the two sister social democratic parties  the Parti socialiste,  and the Socialistische Partij Anders, have never faced a serious challenge from the left. Even if weakened the PS won 32% of the vote in the previous elections in the south of the country.

PTB is often accused of ‘populism’ and might appear part of the wave of ‘left populist’,  parties like La France insoumise (LFI) that have become the focus of interest on the European left,

The PTB strongly denies this, above all the idea that classes are being dissolved into the ‘people’. Their objective is the make workers aware of their identity, and to organise people into struggles for their rights “Il s’agit donc de reconquérir, de faire un travail de conscientisation, de mobilisation, d’organisation de cette classe de travailleurs.”

It is through these struggles that they intend to fight not just the ruling capitalist neoliberal political class but also the far-right.

The PTB also rejects the principle (follow my gaze…) that they should be run by a charismatic leader, (“césarisme ou l’idée de l’homme providentiel”). Councillors live in the  areas they represent and are expected to only take an average salary for their work).

Their strategy is not to govern at any price, but to conquer real power, from the bottom upwards – which one translate as a homage to Léon Blum who distinguished the ‘exercise of power’ in government from the conquest of power.

(More on Le Vent se lève site:  LE PTB FAIT TREMBLER LA POLITIQUE BELGE – ENTRETIEN AVEC DAVID PESTIEAU. Maximilien Dardel.)

To account for the growth in electoral support for the PTB in formerly socialist voting areas one need look no further than this compendium of corruption and other scandals involving the PS over decades.

“Une répétition de scandales en 30 ans de pouvoir”: rappel en archives vidéo

More recently (2017) there was this: En Wallonie, le PS éclaboussé par un vaste scandale.

PS elected representatives were paid  500 euros… à la minute to attend meetings…..

Returning the the issue of ‘populism’, what are the PTB’s views on Europe?

The Left must not fall in one of these two traps. As a Marxist, and coming from an authentic leftist tradition, I think we have to try to radically change Europe from the inside. We should not dynamite the entire European idea, but, like an engineer working on a bridge, dynamite the bad columns.

Defending a position of withdrawal from the European Union in Belgium, at the heart of Europe, is not going to raise public awareness a lot, I think. The situation is obviously different in countries at the periphery of the continent, and I understand that for them the possibility of leaving the eurozone, can be a topic of debate.

Promise on the Belgian Left  An Interview with Peter Mertens. 

That comment stands out in a an interview in Jacobin in 2017, with one of the leading figures of the PTB.

One cannot however, like the interviewer, skirt around the issue of the party’s ‘Marxist-Leninist’ origins nor their defence during the 1980s of Stalin.

Ludo Martens (PTB President from 1979 to 1999) was the author of Un autre regard sur Stalin, Another View of Stalin.

This concludes:

At the end of the twentieth century, humanity has sort of returned to the start state, to the years 1900–1914, where the imperialist powers thought that they could run the world among themselves. In the years to come, as the criminal, barbaric and inhuman character of imperialism shows itself more and more clearly, new generations who never knew Stalin will pay homage to him.

They will follow the words of Mao Zedong who, on December 21, 1939, in the distant caves of that huge China, toasted Stalin’s sixtieth birthday:

`Congratulating Stalin means supporting him and his cause, supporting the victory of socialism, and the way forward for mankind which he points out, it means supporting a dear friend. For the great majority of mankind today are suffering, and mankind can free itself from suffering only by the road pointed out by Stalin and with his help.’
.
Mao Tse-Tung, `Stalin, Friend of the Chinese People’, Works, vol. 2, p. 335.

It is hard to forget that.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2018 at 11:36 am

A ‘Flemish’ Way of Integration: Keep Quiet and Put your Dustbin out on Time.

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Causing mayhem, havoc, and hilarity – or simple disgust –  in Belgium is this:  “Starterspakket Migreren naar Vlaanderen” (Here)

This ‘kit’ for immigrants on integrating into  Flemish society is published under the authority of Geert Bourgeois, the Flemish Minister of the Interior.

It is perhaps needless to add that he is a member of the Flemish nationalist party the N-VA (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie ) best known for its right-wing leader Bart De Wever.

The brochure contains the following gems (Noted in La Libre Belgique):

“les Flamands sont ponctuels : si vous devez faire quelque chose à 9 heures, vous le faites à 9 heures.”

Flemish people are punctual, if you have something to do at 9 o’clock, you do it at 9 o’clock.

les Flamands ne vivent pas dans la rue. Ils vivent principalement dans leur maison” ? Mieux : “les Flamands aiment le calme. Après 10 heures du soir, on ne peut plus faire de bruit.” Comme un appel au couvre-feu : “Sssst, hier slapen de Vlamingen”

Flemish people don’t live in the street. They mainly live at home. Flemish people like peace and quiet. After 10 in the evening we do not make any noise. (The journal adds: as if this is the time for curfew  Hush: here the Flemish are asleep!)

Migrant are told to “”garder (sa) rue propre” et à “trier ses ordures ménagères” sachant que “la commune récolte les déchets certains jours fixes”

Keep one’s road clean and to “store up household waste” in the knowledge that “the local authority will send a dustcart round on fixed days.”

Ach these crazy Flemish guys!

Don’t  forget: because of the weather in the country, “Il faut toujours prendre son parapluie avec soi”.

Always take a umbrella!

There’s plenty more to wheedle out in the original pamphlet….Enjoy!

Written by Andrew Coates

May 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Belgium, Europe, Racism

Tagged with , ,