A coalition of French left groups held nation-wide demonstrations on November 15 against the new austerity budget of the unpopular Socialist Party (PS) government. The protests called for a redistribution of wealth from finance and big business to workers and the poor, creating jobs, increasing social security and cohesion, and beginning an ecological transition of society. Called by the anti-austerity group Collective 3A, organisers said the protests drew 30,000 people in Paris. More than 30 other cities across France staged rallies, including several thousand in Toulouse.
Images of rioting protesters and burning cars in Brussels were published in mainstream media across the globe on November 7. The previous day’s protest in Brussels did end in violent clashes, with 50 injured and 30 arrested, but it was the spirited but peaceful demonstration of 120,000 Belgians that was the key aspect of the day.
The controversial Sivens dam project in south-west France has been temporarily suspended after the death of 21-year-old activist Remi Fraisse while protesting at the site on October 25. An autopsy found that Fraisse had likely died from a police stun grenade that hit him in the back. Protests erupted across France in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
About 200 activists from France’s Left Front gathered in Paris on Saturday 6 to discuss the group’s future. The Left Front has been in limbo for the past few months after disagreements about strategy led to a weak performance in the European and local council elections in May. The meeting took place at a time of controversy in French politics. Socialist Party (PS) President Francois Hollande had sacked the cabinet and appointed a new one — for the second time since the start of the year — and the far-right National Front (FN) topped the presidential polls for the first time.
The Danish Red-Green Alliance (RGA) marked 25 years since its founding at a national conference on May 16 to 18. A radical left unity project marking 25 years in existence is itself a cause for celebration, but this conference was able to celebrate much more. After about 20 years as a fringe party in Danish politics, the RGA has recently emerged as a significant force.
A large march against austerity took place in Paris on April 12. Organised around the slogan “Enough is enough”, the theme of the demonstration was “against austerity, for equality and sharing the wealth”. At the head of the march were leaders of the French left: Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the Left Party, Pierre Laurent, leader of the Communist Party of France, and the New Anti-capitalist Party's Olivier Besancenot.
Liam Flenady is the Socialist Alliance candidate for the Brisbane seat of Griffith and a member of Resistance. This is an extract from a talk he gave to a forum titled: “People and planet before profit: A plan for a democratic Australia.” *** You might ask why we need a plan for a democratic Australia. Don’t we already have one? We elect our representatives at local, state and federal level, don’t we?
I want to start by acknowledging that we’re meeting here today on stolen Aboriginal land, the land of the Jagera and Turrbal people, and that their sovereignty over this land was never ceded, and that it always was, and always will be Aboriginal land. We all know that Australia has experienced an unprecedented mining boom over the past decade. This boom is slowing now, but it is still producing huge wealth. Over the last decade, profits of the mining companies have gone up by 400%. The big mining corporations now make almost a quarter of all profits in this country.
More than 50 people gathered in the Newtown Community and Cultural Centre in Wellington on May 31 and June 1 for the annual conference of the socialist organisation Fightback. The sessions were filled with lively and respectful debate across a number of different perspectives within the left on national and international issues. Fightback 2013 featured speakers from Fightback, the International Socialist Organisation (Aotearoa), the Socialist Party of Australia, and the Australian Socialist Alliance.
The biggest Labour Day march in Australia took place in Brisbane on May 5, as thousands of unionists marched through the city in celebration. More than 30,000 took to the streets across the state over the past weekend, expressing their anger towards the Campbell Newman government. Workers from a wide range of trade unions proudly participated, with large contingents from the Builders’ Labourers Federation and the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union.
50 people rallied on April 18 to save the gender studies department from being cut at the University of Queensland. UQ has been teaching gender studies for 41 years and it is the only university in Queensland that still does. The university has announced it will discontinue the gender studies major from this year and has plans to cut all gender studies courses by 2018. Students marched from the great court to the UQ senate meeting where they were barred from personally delivering a petition signed by hundreds of students.
University of Queensland (UQ) Executive Dean of Arts Fred D’Agostino said last month the gender studies major would be cut from the Bachelor of Arts program. No student commencing next year would have the option of majoring in this area. Gender studies has a 41-year history at the university. The program was won in the early 1970s by the powerful feminist movement of the time. It was the first of its kind in Australia and one of the first in the world.