democracy

South Australians headed to the polls on March 17 to decide whether they would return the incumbent Labor Party to power after 16 years or hand government to Steve Marshall’s Liberals, with Nick Xenophon’s SA Best as a significant political force.

The results saw the Liberals win, overcoming their recent history of factionalism and disunity marked by ongoing leadership battles. Optional above the line preferential voting was introduced this election, but a redistribution of seats proved more detrimental to Labor.

A packed meeting in Bairnsdale in eastern Victoria on March 21 was horrified as the implications of a planned mineral sands mine in the area were revealed.

The Kalbar Resources mine has been in the planning stage for several years and is due to start next year. The site is at Glenaladale, about 20 kilometres from Bairnsdale in grazing country, but only 350 metres from the $200 million a year vegetable growing industry in the Mitchell River Valley.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) have undertaken a series of actions against the Victorian Transport Association, which held its annual conference at Lorne’s Mantra Hotel on March 19 and 20.

The actions were taken in protest over the Victorian Transport Association’s support for the Victorian International Container Terminal (VICT).

Afrin, a city within the canton of the same name in northern Syria , is under siege by the Turkish military, supported by right wing jihadist forces, including al-Quaeda, al-Nusra and the remnants of ISIS. Fifty-two days after the invasion began, more than 290 civilians had been killed.

Progressive, activist campaign groups such as GetUp!, 350.org and Friends of the Earth have been in the federal Coalition government’s sights for some time.

However, a new bill introduced into parliament threatens to also frustrate the work of human rights, environmental, women’s, international aid and social justice NGOs and charities.

Tasmanian elections are decided by the Hare-Clark system, a method of proportional voting that means a party must secure close to half the total vote to win majority government.

It is a complex system in which a voter has a single transferable vote in one of the five electorates, each of which elect five members of parliament. The system often produces close results and minority governments. It also means seats are rarely decided on election night.

When Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai succumbed to cancer on February 14, he left his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in turmoil without an obvious successor.

Tributes are pouring in for this “hero of the nation”, according to Zimbabwe Standard. Its editorial said: “Tsvangirai is an undoubted hero whose commitment to democracy and human rights will inspire many generations to come.”

Asma Jahangir was a Pakistani social activist and world-renowned human rights lawyer, who died on February 11, aged 66. Below is a statement released by the Awami Workers’ Party (AWP), a socialist party in Pakistan formed by the merger of several left parties in 2012.

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The leaders and workers of the AWP are shocked and grieved at the devastating news of the demise of Asma Jahangir, who passed away from cardiac arrest on February 11. It is hard to put into words the tragedy that her loss represents.

The People’s Democratic Party (HDP), a broad-based left-wing group largely initiated by Kurdish forces in Turkey, has faced the full brunt of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian crackdown.

More than 10,000 HDP members have been arrested, along with its leaders and dozens of elected officials — often on trumped-up charges of “supporting terrorism” in retaliation for the HDP’s support for the struggle of the Kurdish community for democratic rights.

Pacha Guzman, a leading activist with the Venezuelan-based Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ), is touring Australia in March. Guzman will be visiting various cities where she will address public forums and meet with trade unions, politicians and solidarity organisations.

The FNCEZ is Venezuela’s largest peasant-based organisation and a member of La Via Campesina and the Latin American Coordinator of Campesino Organisations.

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