Europe

Portugal: Politics in limbo as left pushes for clear gains

Portuguese politics is in limbo. It has been since elections last October failed to give any party an outright majority.

The Socialist Party (PS) was eventually able to form a minority government after forming an agreement with forces to its left: the Left Bloc, the Portuguese Communist Party and the Greens.

The good news is that this limbo, the thin ice on which this agreement is skating, also presents an opportunity for the left to engage in clear and clean politics with room for actual negotiation.

Austria: Far right narrowly lose presidential vote

Austria elected its president on May 22 in the second round of voting, with the neoliberal green candidate Alexander Van der Bellen narrowly beating far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) candidate Norbert Hofer with 50.3% of the vote.

The FPÖ, a right-wing populist and authoritarian German nationalist party of former leader Jörg Haider, was founded in the 1950s. It was a political party for ex-Nazis who never broke with their Nazi tradition.

Spain: With Podemos and United Left joining forces, is a left government in sight?


United Left's Alberto Garzon and Podemos' Pablo Iglesias.

Five months after the December 20 election in Spain failed to produce a government, the country is returning to the polls in the most polarised contest since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1977.

France: Workers step up protests against new measures

Truck drivers blocked major roads across France on May 17 while angry workers and students marched through city streets. Demonstrators were protesting against the longer working hours and reduced overtime payments ordered by President Francois Hollande's government.

France: Strikes escalate, power hit


Striking French workers demonstrating in in Marseille on May 26.

Mass strikes and protests continued to rock France on May 26 as trade unionists ramped up their campaign against hated new labour laws.

Britain: How Corbyn defied critics with local election results

A few months ago, when political commentators looked ahead to the coming year, there was a widespread prediction that Labour would suffer substantial losses in the May 5 local council elections. Would it be 200 seats lost? Perhaps a little less, perhaps even more?

After all, these elections would be for seats previously contested in 2012, a mid-term peak for Ed Miliband. It was assumed that Labour's new left-wing, anti-austerity leader Jeremy Corbyn must be electorally unpopular.

Mark Steel: If librarians and steel workers wanted bailouts, they should be as socially useful as bankers


Protest against cuts to the Library of Birmingham last year.

The main thing to realise about the crisis in Britain's steel industry, which is rapidly shedding jobs, is that the government has been clear and decisive.

Spain: Podemos and United Left launch alliance ahead of new vote


United Left leader Alberto Garzon and Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias celebrating the formation of an alliance between the two parties.

Spain's anti-austerity party Podemos and older left-wing party United Left announced on May 9 that they had reached a preliminary agreement to run on a joint platform before Spain's new general election on June 26.

Italy: Tens of thousands march against rotten US-EU trade deal

Italy's militant trade union centre, the General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), drew tens of thousands onto the streets of Rome on May 7 to denounce the secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal between the EU and the US.

Demonstrators gathered in San Giovanni Square held up anti-TTIP banners reading: “American chicken stuffed with hormones on our tables? Stop TTIP.” Other posters proclaimed: “People before profits” and “Free circulation? For people not capital,” while chanting slogans denouncing the treaty.

Mark Steel: Labour should take lead from Tories on racial sensitivity

With an organisation as important as the Labour Party accused of something as serious as antisemitism, it’s a relief that everyone has managed to stay calm and measured, and not exaggerate things in any way.

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