Thursday, October 27, 2011

Denmark : A new period for the Red Green Alliance

After the Danish elections
Thomas Eisler
International Viewpoint
October 2011

The national elections in Denmark on 15 September marked the end of ten years of the Liberal-Conservative government based on support from the xenophobic populist right Danish Peoples Party (DPP-Dansk Folkeparti). It will be replaced by a centre-left government of the Socialist Peoples Party (SPP-Socialistisk Folkepart), Social Democrats (SD-Socialdemokraterne) and the Social Liberal Party (SLP-Radikale Venstre) supported by the Red Green Alliance (RGA-Enhedslisten). The big winners of the election were the SLP and the RGA, the latter with a tripling of their support. The main losers were the Conservatives (Det Konservative Folkeparti) and Socialist Peoples Party.

Ten years of right government
When the Liberal-Conservative government won a majority with the DPP it was a break with decades of governments based on participation or support from centre parties like the SLP. Though the DPP maintains a profile as the defender of workers and pensioners it has been willing to lend votes to government attacks as long as they were paid off with attacks on immigrants. During the Liberal-Conservative government, mobilisations in defence of workers’ rights, against social cuts and the Iraqi war have been closely linked to the perspective of another government.

The attacks on early retirement
One of the central questions in the Danish political debate during the last 15 years has been the right to early retirement at the age of 60. During the centre-left government in the 90’es the prime minister guaranteed that early retirement was there to stay. When the centre-left government changed the early retirement in 1999 from a general right to an insurance system linked to the unemployment system it lost a lot of trust from the working class and thus paved the way for the right. The Social Democrats and Social Liberals also took part in a political agreement to gradually raise the age where people would entitled to early retirement and pensions by five years. In his new year speech on 1 January 2011 the prime minister came with a proposal to abolish the early retirement entirely. This initiated campaigns by the trade unions in defence of the early retirement scheme and in opinion polls it was close to a left majority without the Social Liberals. The Conservative-Liberal government managed to get an agreement with the Social Liberals and the Danish Peoples Party to advance the cuts on the early retirement.

The Centre-left “alternative”
The central topic in the political debates up to and during the electoral campaigns was how to balance the state budget in 2020. According to some economic forecasts there will be a deficit of 47 billion kroner in 2020 on the public finances and there will be a shortage of labour. The Social Democrats and Socialist Peoples Party basically accept the same economic and demographic assumptions as the right. Their alternative economic plan called “fair solution” is based on increasing working time by 12 minutes per day through agreements with the trade unions and employers’ organisations. They claim that this a necessary measure to keep early retirement and avoid cuts in public welfare. To meet criticism that this is ridiculous while there are 200,000 unemployed they have made the concession that it should not happen before there is full employment. Also the economic plan of the right is based on the assumption that in the long run there will be full employment.

A centre or left government
The trade unions and most of the electoral base of SD and SPP have put hopes in a new left government that would defend the interest of the working class. Nevertheless the leaders of SD and SPP have been more ambiguous, while some have mentioned the importance of reinstating the cooperative parliament that makes agreements across the centre excluding the extreme parties, meaning the RGA and DPP. This was also a clear invitation to the Social Liberals and since the elections the SD-SPP alliance has made an agreement with the Social Liberal Party to form a common government. The government platform includes the agreed attacks on early retirement. There is a majority for the parties which made the agreement. If the SD-SPP had kept the Social Liberals outside the government they could have avoided taking responsibility for the attack. In the Danish political system a government has to follow decisions by a majority of the parliament but can be in minority without having to resign.

The rise and fall of the SPP
This is the first time ever that the Socialist Peoples Party has been in government. It has been a goal of the party for many years and led to making many concessions in order to prove it is a responsible party. One of the first was the acceptance of the Maastricht treaty in 1993. During the last five years it has gone through a dramatic transformation to become more a peoples’ party and less a socialist party. This included a very populist attitude towards immigrants. They gave up the defence for immigrants and asylum seekers rights. The chairman condemned reactionary Muslim groups in a way that it could be understood as being generally against all Muslims. The new populist profile of the party seemed to a great success. From the 2005 to 2007 elections they rose from 6 to 13 %. Later polls gave the party around 20 % though closing in on the Social Democrats to be the main left party. During the last years the Social Democrats and Socialist Peoples Party has formed a very close political alliance. Not only have they developed common political proposals but they have made common advertisements on bill-boards etc.

In autumn 2010 the Liberal-Conservative government presented a plan to put extra criteria for family union with immigrants. This could mean that it would be much more difficult to get a stay-permit for a spouse from a non-European country. The SD and SPP took some time as they considered whether to support this proposal. Finally they decided to present an alternative that still included more strict criteria than the existing though more moderate than the right had proposed. This seemed to the straw that broke the camels back and they started to lose support.

The recent success of the RGA
The RGA first passed the 2% threshold needed for parliamentary representation in 1994, after the SPP accepted the Maastricht treaty. Since then the RGA reached a low point in the elections 2007. On the one hand the RGA was in a difficult situation with internal disagreement and external attacks for choosing a Muslim woman wearing a hijab as a candidate, and on the other the SPP was profiting from a general “cool factor” making it a very popular party in particular among youth. The discontent with the populism of the SPP is the main reason for the possibilities for the RGA. But it is also the general adaptation to the liberal economic policies by the SD-SPP alliance. According to opinion polls the rise in its support began in autumn 2010. Many new members have also joined. When the elections were announced on 26 August support was about 4.5%. During the three weeks of electoral campaign SD-SPP continued to lose support as they did not represent a clear alternative to the right and thus made it possible to undermine their credibility. It was thus only with a small margin that the four parties for a new government got a majority of 50,2% of the vote against the right.

The RGA campaign
The electoral campaign of the RGA beat everything it has done before. There were more militants taking part in the distribution of materials and postering than ever before. Around 1.5 million leaflets and pamphlets were distributed. Furthermore the RGA reached a new audience, breaking through the barrier of being a “strange” party and being taking seriously by a broader part of the population. The RGA became the “cool” party among youth with the charismatic spokesperson Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen in front. The campaign had the slogan: “There is room for welfare”. It was to break with dominating economic agenda and pointed to the taxation of rich, multinationals, speculators and the oil resources. The RGA presented a plan to create 100,000 jobs in public services and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Defence of asylum-seekers and immigrants as well as unemployed were other central issues.

RGA and the new government
To fight to overthrow the right government and make the populist right lose their dictatorship over immigration policies has been a goal for the RGA ever since the government won the majority with the DPP 10 years ago. RGA gives its unconditional support to the new government. The RGA supports the formation of the government but makes no promises to support the proposals from the government. Decisions will be taken on an issue by issue basis and the RGA will not accept packages that link attacks on some with improvements for others. This will not prevent the RGA being put under pressure from the centre-left government. The government will try to give the RGA the responsibility for forcing the government to make deals with right. The ultimate pressure will be on the approval of the budget because the government will have to resign if it is not able to pass a budget. In its nature the budget is a package that includes all sorts of things including a budget for the military. During the SD-led government 1992-2001 the RGA never voted in favour of the budget though abstained on one occasion.

In order to prepare for this situation the RGA have had several debates on how to deal with the situation under a new government. At the 2010 RGA congress it was concluded that:

“The RGA encourages a new government to make a break that replaces the policies from the previous government with policy that is based on social equality, solidarity and sustainability. A budget that marks such a break will also have our votes. But we will under no circumstances vote in favour of a budget that:

- includes attacks;
- doesn’t include significant improvements;
- is the summary of one year of austerity, done with the parties from the right.”

This formulation was proposed by two SAP members in order to sharpen the original proposal from the leadership of the RGA.

The RGA will put forward demands on the government and work within the movement to build support for the demands to put the strongest possible pressure on the government. The RGA executive committee has made a call to branches, commissions and candidates of the RGA to organise public meetings with invitations to trade unions to debate expectations and demands on the new government.

-Thomas Eisler is a member of the national leadership of SAP - Danish Section of the Fourth International and a former member of the Red-Green Alliance leadership.


It’s enough! The hour of the rising has come!

International Viewpoint
October 2011

The government has crossed all limits. It’s not enough that the workers, the unemployed, the young people, pensioners and professionals are plunged into misery—Finance Minister Venizelos went so far as to announce in Parliament—we should also be happy to be “under control”! The PASOK government and the interests of capital that it represents, in absolute harmony with the Troika, felt extremely positive shortly before announcing their slaughter package! The humiliation is almost perfect. At the same moment as their policy becomes bankrupt, and as working families are driven into bankruptcy, the holy alliance of government, the EU, and the IMF want to make us believe that there is no other way to save the country from bankruptcy. In reality they are the ones who lead us into bankruptcy under the control, and according to the terms of, the banks and multinational companies, the EU and the Greek industrialists (SEV).

There is another path, the path of the anti-capitalist break with the ruling order, in order to impose the interests of working people: by stopping the payments to the bankers and the cancellation of debt, by withdrawing from the euro zone and leaving the EU, by the nationalization of banks, state-owned enterprises and enterprises of strategic importance under workers’ control and without compensation, through a radical redistribution of wealth, by increasing wages, pensions and public spending in order to cover social needs and to create jobs by an adequate capital tax and the redistribution of profits through the cancellation of bank debts for those without vast fortunes, and for the unemployed.
We wont pay your poll taxes!

We shall bring about your downfall

The unified mass political movement will open the way, an uprising of all workers and of the entire population is needed here and now! With unlimited strikes and a nationwide general strike, with occupations as they have already begun in the ministries, with militant demonstrations, and with the democratic coordination of the branches that started fighting and of the rank and file basic trade union units, things can move beyond the bureaucratic leaderships of GSEE (private sector) and ADEDY (public service). Through the united struggle of student occupations and unlimited strikes we can win! It is time for a popular uprising that will lead to the overthrow of the government of shame, that will unshackle the rule of EU, IMF and capital and that will seal the defeat of the black bloc of PASOK, ND and LAOS. All the forces of the Left and the movement involved in the struggles must contribute through their joint action to an unprecedented revolutionary movement.

ANTARSYA fights for the abolition of capitalist barbarism as a whole and is involved with all its forces in the current conflict.

ANTARSYA, 21 Sep 2011

-ANTARSYA is an alliance of the anti-capitalist revolutionary left in Greece. It includes OKDE-Spartakos, Greek section of the Fourth Inrternational, and SEK, Socialist Workers’ Party, member of the International Socialist Tendency.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Police Attack Occupy Melbourne

This is the first footage I took on my phone at the Occupy Melbourne Protest. The police are starting to push the protest from the intersection of Swanston and Burke Streets. They would keep pushing until we reached Trades Hall. I will be putting some more footage up from the day soon.

Earlier in the day police had violently attacked the camp in city square a making large number of arrests. The eviction has been justified on the basis of the legality, or lack, of camping in public spaces.


ETA Announces Ceasfire

[The following statement from Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA - Basque Homeland and Freedom) was made on October 20, 2011, it outlines it reasons for making a definitive ceasefire. Hopefully this action along with the political dynamics that has lead to it will result in a significant growth in the struggle for socilaism, democracy and independence in Euskal Herria].

ETA, socialist revolutionary Basque organisation of national liberation,
desires through this declaration to announce its decision:

ETA considers that the international conference held recently in the
Euskal Herria [Basque Country] is an initiative of great political
transcendence. The agreed resolution brings together the ingredients for
an integrated solution to the conflict and has the support of large
sectors of Basque society and of the international community.

In Euskal Herria, a new political age is opening. We face a historic
opportunity to obtain a just and democratic solution to the age-old
political conflict.

Faced with violence and repression, dialogue and agreement must
characterise the new age. The recognition of Euskal Herria and respect
for popular will must prevail over any imposition. This is the will of
the majority of Basque citizens.

The struggle of many years has created this opportunity. It has not been
an easy road. The rawness of the struggle has claimed many companions
forever. Others are suffering jail or exile. To these our recognition
and heartfelt homage. From here on, the road will not be easy either.
Facing the imposition which still remains, every step, every
achievement, will be fruit of the effort and struggle of Basque
citizens. Throughout the years Euskal Herria has accumulated the
experience and strength necessary to tackle this road and it also has
the determination to do it.

It is time to look to the future with hope, it is also time to act with
responsibility and valour.

Because of all this, Eta has decided on the definitive cessation of its
armed activity. Eta makes a call to the governments of Spain and France
to open a process of direct dialogue which has as its aim the resolution
of the consequences of the conflict and thus the conclusion of the armed
conflict. With this historic declaration, Eta demonstrates its clear,
firm and definitive purpose.

Eta finally calls on Basque society to get involved in this process
until peace and liberty are achieved.

Long live the free Euskal Herria, Long live Basque socialism, no rest
until independence and socialism.

In Euskal Herria, 20 October 2011

Euskadi Ta Askatasuna



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Community Action Against Auctioning People's Property

This video was posted on Kathleen Hanna's Blog.

Community action against the foreclosure and auctioning of people's property in Brooklyn. Nine activists were arrested as part of the protest


Solidarity from International Council of Car Workers

Originally Pulbished at International Viewpoint
October 2011

This is a message of solidarity sent by participants in the International Council of Car Workers (CITA) to the European Conference of Workers in the Car Industry, held at the International Institute for Research and Education in Amsterdam on May 28-29, 2011. We have also published Declaration of the European Car Workers’ Conference an overview at Creating cross-border links between militants and Ford Blanquefort, an example from the same event.

Dear colleagues,

As participants in the International Council of Car Workers (CITA), we give greetings and wish you much success for your European meeting of car workers. Thank you for your invitation. Unfortunately, for reasons of timing, we cannot be with you.

At the 6th international Council of Car Workers, in late 2009 in Germany, with 450 participants from 17 countries, we adopted an international program of struggle for car workers. It took into account a comprehensive restructuring of the global industry and the consequences of the battle of mutual destruction of the carmakers for car workers and their families.

In fact, tens of thousands of jobs have been destroyed, wages have been reduced, in particular in the United States, Russia, Spain and Italy, not to mention the closure of the Opel plant in Antwerp. In Europe, Opel has reduced its workforce by 10,000, or 20%. Opel workers in Bochum (Germany) have been informed of massive layoffs of about 1,200 jobs.

The initial impact of the world economic and financial crisis was attenuated by partial unemployment and, often, an increase in compensation. With scrappage schemes and significant discounts an even deeper collapse of production was avoided in many countries. But now, the increase in exploitation, the concentration of car companies and considerable job destruction has become more apparent.

In many companies, daily struggles are on-going against increased exploitation, for higher wages and so on. The huge expansion of production capacities, particularly in the BRICs, is based on each group’s hope of outdoing its competitors. We must therefore expect new restructurings related to closures of factories, massive layoffs and so on.

Against the various attempts at division by management, it is necessary to forge the unity of workers around the whole world!

In the factories, political debate is lively and not only on the immediate issues of work. Because the capitalist system is showing its overall decay, like its inhuman energy policy, indifferent to deaths, like the nuclear disaster in Japan, its economic and financial crises and its wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Ivory Coast and so on.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets in Germany. The international working class should get even more involved in the fight for the preservation of the natural environment. Among other things, this question is very important in our activities because the crisis of the environment and the exploitation of workers have the same cause: the pursuit without end of the maximum profit. The fight to save the bases of life for humanity, the struggle for a better future, without exploitation and oppression, requires class awareness and organization. Our Council has always said: we will think beyond the system of capitalist profit and we will discuss a social alternative.

We hope that your meeting will be a success and we want to take this opportunity to invite you also to our 7th Council of Car Workers from May 7-20, 2012 in Munich, Germany (more information can be read on our site: www.automobilarbeiterratschlag ))

Militant greetings and solidarity,

Fritz Hoffman, Ulrich Ittermann, Birgit Schumann

(participants in the International Council of Auto Workers)


About This Blog

Revitalising Labour attempts to reflect on efforts to rebuild the labour movement internationally, emphasising the role that left-wing political currents can play in this process. It welcomes contributions on union struggles, internal renewal processes within the labour movement and the struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

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