left party alternatives

Which strategy for the left?

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In last month's Socialist Review, Ed Rooksby, a supporter of the Left Unity initiative, put forward his view that a left government can play a key role in the fight for radical change. Mark L Thomas argues this ignores the role of the state.

The Left Unity initiative has struck a chord with a significant number of socialists in Britain. The call by Ken Loach and others for a new left party had seen over 8,000 people put their names to it and Left Unity has now held a series of meetings and formed local groups across the country. It clearly expresses a mood for something better than the austerity agenda accepted by Labour under Ed Miliband.

Iceland's Tories are back

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Sarah Ensor unpicks the myth that Iceland has taken an alternative route to austerity

Iceland's Tories are back in power just five years after their spectacular disgrace. Though their vote only increased by 3 percent, the conservative Independence Party has returned to government in coalition with the liberal Progressive Party.

This is a dramatic turn of events. In 2008, as the shockwaves of the global financial crisis hit Iceland's economy, the then Tory prime minster Geir Haarde had to announce, "There is a real danger that the Icelandic economy could be sucked with the banks into the whirlpool and the result could be national bankruptcy."

A warning from Denmark

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What would a Labour goverment under Ed Miliband be like? One indication comes from Denmark. As Jørn Andersen explains, the Social Democrat-led government was elected in 2011 amid hopes for a real change. But instead the new government has launched a series of attacks on workers

In September 2011 ten years of Liberal-Conservative government in Denmark came to an end. A new centre-left government took over, while the anti-capitalist Red-Green Alliance got its best result ever with 6.7 percent of the votes, leaping from four to 12 seats.

Why it's time to realign the left

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Radical left parties such as Syriza in Greece and the Front De Gauche in France have made significant gains recently. But what about Britain? Socialist film maker Ken Loach has recent issued a call for a new left party to be formed here too. Ed Rooksby, one of the supporters of the call, explains why he thinks the time is right to launch such a party and what its aims should be. Socialist Review will respond in our next issue.

Radical left parties committed to fighting austerity and able to attract considerable popular support have emerged across Europe - most spectacularly in Greece. We are in desperate need of a similar party in Britain - one which is willing to take the risk of seeking to break the stranglehold of a social democracy that has long since capitulated to neoliberalism and present an unashamedly socialist alternative. Thankfully, for the first time in a long period, the conditions for the emergence of a broad left coalition of forces in the UK capable of attracting large-scale support seem ripe.

Strikes, independence and indignados

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Rafel Sanchis and Estelle Cooch spoke to David Fernández, an MP for the Catalan parliament, about the origins and politics of the anti-capitalist coalition, CUP, and its relationship to the wider movement

An important feature of the crisis in Europe has been the rise of radical left political formations in Greece, France and elsewhere. In last November's elections to the Catalan parliament, an anti-capitalist and pro-independence coalition, the CUP (Candidatura d'Unitat Popular, or Popular Unity Candidates), got three MPs elected.

The 2012 elections were the first time that the CUP has decided to run for Catalan parliamentary elections. Why was this?

Greece: the battle lines sharpen

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Last month's general strike in Greece was an impressive response to attempts by the government to crack down on strikes and protests against austerity. Nikos Loudos, a Greek revolutionary socialist, spoke to Despina Karayianni and Mark L Thomas about the developing movement


Last month's general strike seems to have been a big success. It comes against a background where the government has been taking a harder line, attacking strikes and occupations and becoming more vicious. Could you say something about the position of the government?

The government is trying to present itself as a lion, but in reality it's a mouse.

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.

Germany: the rise of the Pirate Party

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The German Pirate Party has captured the imagination of millions of young and unemployed voters but, asks Mark Bergfeld, are they really the radical anti-establishment force they claim to be?

"Que no! Que no! Que no nos representan!" They don't represent us. From the streets of Buenos Aires in 2001 to the squares of Puerta del Sol and Placa de Cataluna in 2011 this slogan captures the anger and alienation that millions of people feel towards the political system made up of professional politicians, lobbyists and unelected technocrats.

Greece at a crossroads

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Socialist Review spoke to Giorgos Pittas, a journalist from the Greek socialist newspaper Workers' Solidarity, about the political situation in Greece following elections in May that saw a dramatic fall in support for parties backing austerity.

What was behind the collapse in support for Pasok and New Democracy, parties that have dominated Greek politics since the fall of the military junta in the mid-1970s, at the election in early May?

First is the scale of suffering. The rate of unemployment is now over 21 percent - it has doubled over the last two years. For young people unemployment is at 50 percent. There used to be hardly any homeless people in Athens, but this winter there were 25,000 living in the streets.

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.

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