Sibylle Kaczorek and Jody Betzien, from the Australian Socialist Alliance, interviewed Yiannis Bournous in Athens. Yiannis is a leading activst in the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), Greek's rapidly growing left party.
Germany is usually presented in the mainstream media as having successfully weathered Europe’s vast economic crisis. German Chancellor Angel Merkel from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has gained enormous influence on the European political and financial scene. By contrast, in protests across Greece, Spain and other countries hit hardest by the crisis, references about Germany as the “Fourth Reich” are increasingly being voiced.
Germany's Die Linke (The Left) party elected a new leadership team at its June 2-3 congress. It came at a time of rising economic and social crisis in Europe, as well as losses for Die Linke in recent state elections. Die Linke was formed in 2007 as part of a unification of two parties, one with a base in the old eastern states (the PDS) and the other based in the western Germany (the WASG). Between 2007 and 2009, Die Linke achieved strong electoral results in federal elections and was represented in all state parliaments.
Up to 30,000 protesters from across Europe took to the streets on May 19 in the financial district of Frankfurt. The rally, which lasted for seven hours, ended outside the European Central Bank (ECB). The protest, “Blockupy Frankfurt”, was part of a three-day action, organised to oppose the European debt crisis policies of the “troika” made up of the ECB, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission. These polices include the so-called Eurozone bailout funds, which have helped push people across Europe into poverty and the dismantled democratic rights.
Voters in Germany’s largest state of 18 million people, North Rhine Westphalia, went to the polls on May 13 to reject Chancellor Angela Merkel’s politics. This came a week after the loss for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the election of Schleswig Holstein. These results mark a rejection of the hard line austerity politics pushed across Europe by the Merkel-led coalition government.
About 215,000 public service workers struck on March 27 as a warning to their employers a day before talks between the public sector union and the bosses. Two weeks earlier, 130,000 took part in the first round of strikes. The award being negotiated by the United Services Union (known as ver.di) covers more than 2 million public service workers from national to local level. Ver.di is Germany's second biggest union, with a membership of about 2.1 million people.
Ten thousand people mobilised in Dresden on February 18 to stop an annual march of European neo-Nazis. A broad coalition of political parties, church groups, trade unions and other anti-fascist groups formed a united front campaign to stop the planned neo-Nazi march through peaceful, mass blockades. Six days earlier, a group of more than 1000 neo-Nazis gathered in Dresden for a march supposedly to commemorate the innocent deaths caused by the 1945 bombing of Dresden by the Allied forces.
On October 21, 70 local parents and supporters filled Moreland Concert Hall to hear state election candidates from the Pascoe Vale and Brunswick electorates speak on the issue of a high school for Coburg. The meeting was organised by the campaign group High School for Coburg. HSC was established about two years ago by a group of parents who were concerned that there was no local high school for their children to attend.
About 70% of TAFE teachers walked off the job on November 19 as part of a branch-organised wildcat strike.
On March 26, the NSW Legislative Council passed the motion by Greens NSW MP John Kaye that called on the government to drop its demands that TAFE teacher conditions be slashed to pay for salary increases.