austerity

Ecuador’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced on February 22 that the presidential race will head to a second round after left-wing candidate Lenin Moreno came first in the February 19 election, but fell agonisingly short of the 40% needed to win a first-round victory.

Moreno, from the ruling Alianza Pais (AP) of outgoing President Rafael Correa, won 39.35% of the vote. He beat right-wing Guillermo Lasso of the opposition CREO party by more than 10 percentage points, with the ex-banker winning 28.12%.

In the end, the expected close result never happened. At the second congress (“citizens’ assembly”) of Spain’s radical anti-austerity party Podemos, the proposals and candidate list of outgoing general secretary Pablo Iglesias easily defeated those of his rival, outgoing political secretary Inigo Errejon.

In a December Podemos membership vote over the rules that were to govern the congress, Iglesias’s position had only won marginally (41.57% as against 39.12% for Errejon’s).

The Trump administration is pressing on with its reactionary agenda amid ongoing mass protests.

Wall Street and businesses, big and small, greeted Trump’s election with elation in anticipation of his campaign promises to rapidly eliminate regulations they regard as onerous. As Trump seeks to fulfil these promises, the capitalists are moving to take advantage of the chance to rake in greater profits.

“Trump’s America,” wrote a leading African American journalist, Charles Blow in the New York Times, January 30, “is not America: not today’s or tomorrow’s, but yesterday’s.

“Trump’s America is brutal, perverse, regressive, insular and afraid. There is no hope in it; there is no light in it. It is a vast expanse of darkness and desolation.”

There is a lot of disgust toward Trump and his white nationalist strategist Steve Bannon, former executive chairman of Breitbart News, a leading promoter of conspiracy theories and white supremacists.

1. People choose to be homeless

By “banning” homelessness, Melbourne City Council is implying it is a “choice”. Homelessness is usually the cause of a range of interconnected factors, some of which include poverty, unemployment and family violence. There is also a shortage of affordable housing and jobs that pay a living wage.

The left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos is planning to hold its second country-wide citizens’ assembly (Vistalegre II) on February 11th-12th to decide the political direction, organisational structure and its electoral strategy for the next regional and general elections.

The seeds of the current crisis of confidence in the capitalist parties in Australia go back to the 1980s when the Bob Hawke Labor government implemented its version of Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal economic policies. The Hawke government also managed to achieve what previous Coalition governments had failed to do — seriously weaken the union movement.

While these reforms did not immediately create right-wing populism, once the reforms started to really bite by the late 1990s, it began to develop around Pauline Hanson.

About 200 people rallied in Melbourne on January 31 against the Turnbull Government's new practice of sending computer-generated debt notices to people who have received or are receiving Centrelink payments.

Up to 90% of these debt notices are false. Many people have received debt notices demanding they repay thousands of dollars that they dispute owing. Centrelink staff have been instructed not to fix any obvious errors unless the person complains.

New Premier Gladys Berejiklian is already on the run, after only a couple of weeks in the job.

Since taking over from disgraced former premier Mike Baird on January 23, Berejiklian has managed to cobble together a new cabinet of misfits, but is already reported to be preparing to dump one of Baird's signature policies — the forced amalgamation of the state's local councils.

Protesters hold up a placards in support of Leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn outside parliament during a pro-Corbyn demonstration in London in June last year.

Alex Nunns’ new book, The Candidate, charts the improbable rise of the socialist Jeremy Corbyn from a long-time backbencher to the leader of the Labour Party.

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