Dick Nichols

If anyone was still wondering whether European politics and a Europe-wide class struggle actually exist, reactions from all quarters to the first two weeks of Greece’s new SYRIZA-led government would have cleared up any doubts. The conflict between Europe’s ruling elite and the new Greek anti-austerity administration, headed by radical left party SYRIZA, reached a high point on February 4-5.
The victory of SYRIZA — Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left — in the January 25 elections caused enormous outpouring of joy on the streets of Athens and confirmed general expectations. The “poll of polls” done on the day before the election had SYRIZA winning 37.5% and 146 seats. The final result was 36.49% and 149 seats. SYRIZA will now form government in alliance with the socially conservative, but anti-Brussels, Independent Greeks.
Welcome to Green Left's live election blog for the Greek Elections! Dick Nichols, Vivian Messimeris and Athanasios Lazarou will be updating live from Athens throughout the day. Voting has just begun in Athens and the big news is that the Coalition of the Radical Left party, SYRIZA, are widely believed to be set for a historic victory over the current New Democracy government. Led by the young and charismatic Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA are set to become the first left wing party to hold power in Europe for decades and will be the first anti-austerity party to come to power in the Eurozone.
In the days ahead of Greece's January 25 general elections, all signs point to victory for the Alexis Tsipras-led Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). The big unknown is whether the party will win an absolute majority in the 300-seat Greek parliament, freeing it from the need to negotiate with minority parties and ending the chance of a further national poll in case negotiations fail.
On November 9, 2.305 million residents of Catalonia defied a November 4 Spanish Constitutional Court ruling and voted on what future political status they wanted for their country, now one of the 17 “autonomous communities” (regions) within the Spanish state. Because of their rebellion — festive but determined — it was not just another voting day. Initiative for Catalonia-Greens (ICV) co-coordinator Joan Herrera called it “the biggest demonstration in the history of this country”.
Millions of residents of Catalonia will indicate their preference for the future political status of their country, one of the 17 “autonomous communities” (regional governments) within the Spanish state, in the November 9 Catalan “participatory process”. The “process” will present voters with the same ballot paper as the original non-binding consultation adopted by the Catalan parliament on September 26 — which was immediately suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court. Its asks: “(1) Do you want Catalonia to become a state? (2) If yes, do you want that state to be independent?”
Edinburgh’s Augustine United Church is a pretty cold place when the wind is howling, as it was when the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) held its annual conference there on October 25. But all feelings of chill disappeared when the 200-plus SSP members got down to tackling the challenges of an inspiring new period in Scottish politics. The period is marked by unprecedented popular engagement in activism and debate over Scotland’s future. This phase was triggered by the referendum on Scottish independence, won by the No vote by 55% to 45% for the Yes side.
For 48 hours, it looked as if Thursday, October 16, 2014 might join similar October Thursdays in 1907, 1929 and 1979 as another dramatic moment when sharemarket panic triggered economic downturn. However, it was not to be. The US$3 trillion slump in world sharemarket values in the first two-and-half-weeks of October had, by October 24, been partially reversed by a coordinated effort of “calm engineering” by central bankers. But how long can that treatment ― whose message to the gambling fund managers is that interest rates will stay low ― succeed?
The normally torpid Spanish legal system had an attack of extreme speed on September 29. Its highly abnormal Usain Bolt-like behaviour was caused by the Catalan regional government formally decreeing its long-awaited November 9 non-binding consultation of Catalan public opinion on the region's political status.
This year’s September 11 Catalan national day (Diada) demonstration, in support of the Catalan parliament’s planned November 9 popular consultation on Catalan statehood, was the biggest since the present cycle of mobilisations for Catalonia’s right to self-determination began four years ago.
In Scotland, a remarkable popular movement, the campaign for independence, is heading towards it decisive test. On September 18, a referendum is being held on whether the country will remain part of the “United Kingdom”. To better understand the surge in pro-independence sentiment over the last weeks of the campaign, Green Left Weekly's European correspondent Dick Nichols spoke with Alister Black, editor of the Scottish independent Marxist review .
Since the two-party political establishment in the Spanish state ― the People’s Party (PP) of prime minister Mariano Rajoy and the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) ― got less than 50% in the May 25 European elections, its nightmares have been getting scarier. The spectre disturbing their sleep is Podemos, the political expression of the indignado movement that in May 2011 exploded against austerity and corruption and for “real democracy”.
“This political force should be liquidated,” said Pavlo Petrenko, Ukraine’s justice minister, quoted in the July 9 edition of Capital (Kiev’s equivalent of the Australian Financial Review). Petrenko was referring to the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU). For a time in the 1990s, it was the most supported party in Ukraine and it still won 13% of the vote at the 2012 parliamentary poll.
When you travel through France, there’s one name that appears most in public space ― on streets, schools and metro stations. Not Jeanne d’Arc, Napoleon, or even World War II resistance leader and later president Charles de Gaulle. No, the name you can pretty safely bet you’ll find on some sign in the next sleepy village is that of Jean Jaures. Jaures was France’s most famous socialist leader and deputy, a tenacious and passionate fighter for workers’ rights and against war, anti-Semitism, clericalism and colonialism.
If anyone can get the different forces of the Catalan left to unite in support of a common cause, it is Ada Colau. The spokesperson of the anti-eviction Mortgage Victims Platform (PAH) until early May, Colau is almost certainly the most popular and respected social activist in the Spanish state. On June 26, Colau launched Let’s Win Barcelona platform for next year's May municipal elections in the Catalan capital.
The five seats and 7.9% won by the new Podemos (“We Can”) ticket in the May 25 European election was an earthquake in Spanish politics. Podemos was inspired by the indignado movement that exploded across the Spanish state in 2011 against austerity and for “real democracy”. The movement was driven by mass popular assemblies, which provided a striking counter-point to the frequently corrupt “politics as usual”.

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