Austerity cuts

Crisis and resistance in Portugal

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Mark Bergfeld recently attended the congress of the Left Bloc in Portugal and witnessed the general strike there a few days later. Here, he argues that Portugal is currently experiencing its biggest social and political upheaval since the 1974-5 Revolution

A day before the right wing coalition government in Portugal was to vote through its 2013 budget, the German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble met his Portuguese counterpart Vitor Gaspar and proclaimed, "Portugal is on the right path and is, for all of us in the eurozone, a brilliant example that the approach we have been following to stabilise the euro is correct." Schäuble went on to praise the "exceptional job" being performed by the Portuguese government.

Can we break the coalition?

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Less than halfway through it's projected 5 year term of office, the Tory and Lib Dem coalition is on the rocks. Charlie Kimber argues that it's important to understand the weakness of our opponents - but what kind of action would it take to drive this government out?

We need to understand the weakness of our opponents to grasp the potential for successful resistance. It's the backdrop to building huge demonstrations in London and Glasgow on 20 October and then resistance afterwards. We are all painfully aware of the weaknesses in our own camp. But we can often forget the deep and structural problems of our rulers.

The Tory-Lib Dem coalition is less than half way through its projected term of office. But it is in deep trouble. It's not just the ups and downs and temporary unpopularity that affect many governments.

Austerity and a Greek island

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Our view of austerity in Greece is usually shaped by events on the mainland. Chris Jones, who lives on the island of Samos, looks at the impact of the crisis on people living in the Greek periphery

Stories in the mainstream media, both abroad and in Greece, say that the Greek government is not cutting hard enough or quickly enough. In reality, wages have been slashed by 40 percent as have all benefits and pensions. Work has evaporated. Seven percent is the projected reduction for this year alone and we are in the fifth year of recession. This is disaster time for ordinary Greeks.

Spain: a spiral of crisis, cuts and indignacion

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In March 2011 several regular Guardian columnists analysed the crisis in the Spanish state and the response to "austerity" by the population. All agreed that young people were "apathetic" and even "docile".

Two months later that same youth led tens of thousands to occupy city squares and a million to demonstrate across the country - the movement of "the outraged" ("los indignados" in Spanish). Actually the journalists were not wholly wrong: at the time of writing there had been a limited fightback and the consensus across Spain was that people were apathetic.

A new phase in the crisis

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The crisis in Europe has entered a new phase. 2008 saw the onset of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. In 2010, and especially from 2011, there was a marked upswing in resistance, with a series of mass strikes in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium and Britain, and the rise of the indignados in Portugal, Spain and Greece last spring and then the Occupy movement in the autumn.

Now the mood of bitterness and revolt against austerity has received a powerful electoral expression which will have major ideological, political and economic reverberations across the continent.

Can the Tories get away with regional pay?

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This government just won't let up. Its latest wheeze is a plan to introduce "regional pay".

The plans look like a thinly disguised attempt to reduce public sector pay in some parts of the country and cut government spending even further. But of course, they haven't been presented like this. Instead the Treasury has set out a detailed justification for its case that public sector pay must be made more "market-facing".

The Austerity Games

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When Seb Coe invited the International Olympic Committee to select London as hosts of the 2012 Games he justified the bid in simple terms. If London won, he promised, more people would take part in sport than could be achieved by any of London's rivals: "Choose London today and you send a clear message to the youth of the world: the Olympic Games are for you". If London won more would be done for less money than could be achieved anywhere else.

Since London's victory there have been some attempts to keep an eye on whether these two promises have been met. The London Organising Committee (LOCOG) publishes annual accounts, and there has been some scrutiny through the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

It now seems clear that there will be no increase in sporting participation as a result of the Games. In 2008 the last government set Sport England a target to increase adult participation in sport by a million by March 2013.

Housing Benefit Briefing

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The government claims that the Bill for housing benefit is out of control and is introducing major cuts. Eileen Short examines the myths that surround housing benefit and looks at the impact that the cuts will have.

What is housing benefit?
Housing benefit is a benefit for people who can't afford their rent and it is means-tested according to income. It is called housing benefit for council and housing association tenants and is paid directly to the landlord. For private tenants it is calculated according to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and may be paid to the landlord or to the tenant.

The $7.7 trillion dollar question

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Think austerity is inevitable because there simply isn't enough money? Think again.

Non-financial corporations in the US, Europe and Japan are sitting on an astonishing $7.7 trillion in cash or equivalents, according to global banking association The Institute for International Finance. That's more than three times the annual GDP of the UK, held in cash by big corporations.

Getting nastier

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As opposition to austerity increases Mark L Thomas looks at how the Tories are entering a new and much nastier phase and considers how the issue of European integration is forcing old divisions to the fore.

The government has entered a new and much nastier phase. Two events stand out. Firstly, George Osborne's autumn statement to parliament on 29 November promising further austerity - the day before the mass public sector strike - and 9 December, when David Cameron wielded the British veto to block proposals at a European Union summit for a new EU-wide treaty, much to the delight of his Eurosceptic backbenchers.

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