Letter from

Letter From Germany: The successes and challenges of Die Linke

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Growing economic inequality and corruption have led to huge gains by the left. Christine Buchholz writes about the successes of Die Linke, and the challenges ahead

The left in Germany was celebrating last month after making a significant breakthrough in two regional elections. The polls in Lower Saxony and Hessen saw representatives of Die Linke elected with 7.1 percent and 5.1 percent respectively. The results were major election victories for the new left party, Die Linke, in former West Germany. This initial breakthrough was followed up by 6.4 percent in the election in the city-state of Hamburg.

The election results express a shift to the left by the population as a whole - a process that has been under way for some time.

Letter from Serbia

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The Serbian elections highlight the imperialist powers' scramble for influence. But, argues Vladimir Unkovski-Korica, neither the West nor Moscow will benefit ordinary Serbs.

After the first round of its presidential elections, held on 20 January, Serbia finds itself at a crossroads. The second round, due to take place as Socialist Review went to press, will decide whether Serbia chooses between speedier integration into the European Union (EU) or closer links with Russia. The first round runner up, Boris Tadić, is the candidate of the pro-Western Democratic Party and gained 35 percent of the vote. The winner, Tomislav Nikolić, of the pro-Russian hardline nationalist Radicals, polled just short of 40 percent.

Letter from Australia

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John Howard got his long awaited comeuppance in the November elections. Now the Australian left needs to unite to reverse his disastrous policies, argues Judy McVey

My friends are singing "Ding dong! The witch is dead!" Last November Tory prime minister John Howard lost not only the election, but his own seat as well.

While the left are still smiling, Howard's Liberal Party (the Tories) are attacking each other over whether to junk their own hated policies on industrial relations and climate change scepticism. Out of office at both federal and state level, their highest serving politician is the mayor of Brisbane.

Letter from India

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Peasants and small farmers across India are fighting government land grabs for "Special Economic Zones", where multinational companies can make their own laws. Kavita Krishnan reports.

Kalinganagar and Paradeep in the state of Orissa and Nandigram in West Bengal are some of the emerging centres in the Indian countryside where the rural poor are waging pitched battles against corporate land grabs.

Rural India has been reeling under the onslaught of the policies of imperialist globalisation for over a decade. A recent study reveals that there have been nearly 150,000 farmer suicides in India between 1997 and 2005, and there have been incidences of starvation deaths in many Indian states.

Letter from Spain

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As the Spanish state goes on the offensive against the Basque left and ETA, Manel Ros reports on developments since the ETA ceasefire ended in June.

In October 23 leading members of Batasuna, the main organisation of the Basque left, were arrested after leaving a secret meeting. They were detained and accused of belonging to ETA, the armed Basque organisation that struggles for independence - 17 were incarcerated, while the rest are awaiting trial.

Letter from Argentina

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When workers occupied the Chilavert printshop in Buenos Aires it was threatened with closure. Ernesto Gonzalez, a Chilavert printer, describes running the factory under workers' control.

The economic situation was critical. Our printshop, Chilavert, was bankrupt, with workers owed a huge amount of wages.

The owner tried to sell key printing machines, so we occupied the factory to stop him. Then we began to think about permanently taking over production.

Letter From Colombia

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The rise of the first left opposition in Colombia for 20 years is having an impact throughout Colombian society, argues Paul Haste

President Uribe's supporters in congress have recently proposed a "presidential coup" aimed at closing congress to avoid the opposition taking control.

It is an indication as to how far to the right political debate is in Colombia. The interior and justice minister thought the proposal "interesting", but it also reflects a concern among this elite that for the first time in decades a leftist opposition is rising.

Letter from Lebanon

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On 14 April this year Lebanese campaigners launched the people's tribunal to investigate the disappearances and massacres committed during Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war.

The tribunal is set to coincide with one launched by the United Nations into the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Campaigners are demanding that the deaths of all Lebanese and Palestinians be investigated, not just that of a billionaire politician.

Farah Koubaissy is one of the organisers. She writes from Lebanon on the long running campaign for justice.

On 14 April this year we launched the people's tribunal under the slogan "Yes to the annulment of the amnesty law - Justice for the Victims".

Letter from Lebanon

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People could be forgiven for thinking the recent fighting in Lebanon is due to clashes between fanatics. But, as Ayman Wehbe reports, it is part of the wider imperialist battle for the Middle East.

At first there might not seem to be a strong connection between the Lebanese Army's siege of a Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon and the US failure in Iraq. Yet they are both the result of a US strategy which tries to manage other setbacks across the Middle East. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice described it as "constructive instability".

The neocons believe that by spreading "instability" they will regain control of events, or at least shape the chaos in their favour.

Letter from France

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The severe electoral defeat of the left doesn't automatically mean a social defeat, argues Olivier Besancenot of the Ligue Communiste RÃvolutionnaire (LCR).

The election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president is a major event in French politics. For the first time since 1981 the political team in office has not been defeated in a general election, either presidential or parliamentary. It is the victory of a very hard right wing party whose programme was at the same time excessively neoliberal and excessively reactionary - many of its themes being borrowed from the far right and neo-fascist speeches.

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