elections

In these almost two years of socialist government, it has been possible with the support of the left-wing parties, to reverse privatisations in public transport, restore four previously eliminated national holidays, reverse salary cuts for public sector workers, reduce the working week in the public sector to 35 hours, eliminate the surcharge on individual income tax and increase the supplementary solidarity payment for the elderly as well as family allowances and other social subsidies.

However, despite this progress, the current and future situations is not without cause for concern.

Emmanuel Macron won the second round of the French presidential elections on May 7, receiving 58.21% of the vote compared to the 30.01% share for far-right National Front (FN) candidate Marine Le Pen.

Despite the apparently decisive victory, the vote signals continued political uncertainty in France fuelled by widespread disillusionment with France’s democracy. It raises questions as to whether Macron’s supporters, organised in a new centrist movement called En Marche!, will be able to form a working government out of legislative elections scheduled for late June.

Moon Jae-in, of the liberal Democratic Party, won South Korea’s May 9 presidential election with 41% of the vote, easily defeating his arch-conservative opponent Hong Jun-pyo, who won about 24%.

The elections took place after the impeachment of conservative president Park Geun-hye for her involvement in a huge corruption scandal. Park, from Hong’s right-wing Saenuri Party (renamed Liberty Korea Party in a bid to rebrand), was forced out by the huge “Candlelight Revolution”. Millions of Koreans mobilised in an ongoing series of candlelight protests to demand her impeachment.

The elections also took place in a context of the threat of war in the Korean Peninsula with US President Donald Trump’s administration ratcheting up tensions with North Korea.

The huge Labour losses in the May 4 local council elections are just what the Labour Right was hoping for.

The left has to be crystal clear about what is happening here. There are many subsidiary factors, but the root of the Conservative Party's substantial gains – 500 seats won against about 400 losses for Labour – is the xenophobic nationalism of Brexit which the Tories have used ruthlessly.

Italian Democratic Party (PD) members re-elected former prime minister Matteo Renzi as party secretary with 70% of the votes in primaries on April 30. Renzi’s re-election carries important significance for both Italy and Europe.

I’m not one of nature’s optimists at the best of times, and a rash of media headlines predicting a doomsday scenario for Labour on June 8 aren’t exactly good for the spirits. But how far are their gloomy predictions born out by the facts of the May 4 local election results| — in which the governing Tories won 38% (up eight points from last year's vote) and Labour just 27% (down 4 points)?

This is going to be an election based more on competing policies and visions of society than any other election for a long time. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, pointed out at the London May Day rally that this is completely different to the past two elections where the challenge was to spot the difference — elections that Labour lost.

“Labour is solidly ahead of the Conservatives with voters under 40 years old, despite being more than 20 points behind in the polls overall, according to a significant new poll,” The Independent said on April 26.

Prime Minister Theresa May has called a general election for June 8.The Tory leader is hoping that Labour has been sufficiently weakened by the attacks of the right on Labour’s left-wing leadership around Jeremy Corbyn that she will be rewarded with a further five years in office.

It is, of course, a complete coincidence that rumours had started to emerge that the Crown Prosecution Service were about to move against 30 individuals for electoral fraud in the last general election, threatening the Conservative government.

Shock followed by surprise followed by upset. The French presidential election, whose first round is April 23, is yet another expression of the political volatility produced by the aftershocks of the biggest economic recession since the 1930s and the incapacity of both neo-liberalism and social democracy to maintain support for their pro-austerity governments.

Pages

Subscribe to elections