Elections

In her speech to the National Press Club on July 15, Prime Minister Julia Gillard threw down the gauntlet to the labour movement. In a speech outlining the plans for a second-term Labor government, Gillard promised to run a regime of “reforms” that would entrench greater competition and privatisation. There should remain little doubt about Gillard’s intentions. Her speech was aimed directly at the wallets of big business.
Months out from the September national elections, the eyes of football-crazy Brazil have been focused on the World Cup. Discussions have centred on the performance (or lack thereof) of the men in the national football team. But it is three women who have been making the biggest impact on politics — especially on the left.
I’m a climate change activist and have lived in Hobart for five years. During that time, I’ve been involved in the campaign against the Gunns’ pulp mill, through the group Students Against the Pulp mill. More recently I’ve been a member of Climate Action Hobart. I’m running as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance for the seat of Denison in the August 21 federal election.
The German parliament met on June 30 to elect the country’s largely symbolic president. What should have been a fairly straightforward affair, however, turned into a political embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel. The new election was made necessary by the resignation of Horst Koehler on May 31, after a public outcry over his comments suggesting German military involvement in Afghanistan was commercially motivated. Koehler’s resignation came as Merkel’s governing right-wing coalition was struggling in opinion polls.
Fifty people rallied outside the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on July 9 in response to the Gillard Labor government's proposed new "East Timor solution" for processing asylum seekers. The protest was organised by the Refugee Action Collective. Aboriginal rights leader and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Sam Watson told the protest: “[Opposition leader Tony] Abbott and [PM Julia] Gillard are creating the atmosphere for another Tampa election, targeting the most vulnerable people.
"The recent campaign by the big mining companies, which brought down PM Kevin Rudd, shows the enormous power of these giant monopolies in our capitalist society”, Socialist Alliance activist Marg Gleeson told a public forum, sponsored by the SA on July 6. "This two-month campaign of lies and distortions by the mining barons was victorious. It underlines exactly who holds the levers of power in our 'democratic' country."
Twitter, for the few who may not know, is a social networking internet service that enables its users to send and read other users' messages (tweets) of up to 140 characters. Increasingly, politicians are using Twitter as part of their (managed) media work. Shortly after becoming prime minister, Julia Gillard joined the Twitterverse. “1.54PM Jul 4: I’ve decided it’s time to take the Twitter plunge! Hopefully I’ll master it. JG.” By her second Tweet, she (or perhaps a specially assigned member of her staff) was behaving like a seasoned Tweeting politician.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s July 5 announcement that she would solve the refugee crisis by being tougher on refugees did what former PM John Howard failed to do in his 11 years of conservative rule. She has made former One Nation MP Pauline Hanson feel at home. Hanson announced she wasn’t emigrating to Britain, as planned, saying she was in “total agreement” with Gillard’s plan to “sweep political correctness from the debate”, the Australian said on July 6. Gillard’s main proposals cast refugees as a problem to be solved — and blame the refugees for that problem.
Mel Barnes, a well-known Tasmanian political activist, will contest the seat of Denison in the upcoming federal elections, for the Socialist Alliance. Barnes is a leading climate and renewable energy campaigner involved in Climate Action Hobart. She has also campaigned for women’s rights, Palestine solidarity, refugee rights and Latin American solidarity. In 2006, Barnes went on a solidarity tour of Venezuela to learn about the revolutionary changes occurring there. Barnes stood for the Socialist Alliance in the recent state elections.
Australian Labor Party finance minister Lindsay Tanner announced on June 24 he would quit politics at the next election. His seat, the electorate of Melbourne, could become the first lower house seat one by the Greens in a federal election. Greens candidate for Melbourne Adam Bandt is running a serious campaign. The Greens say only one in 10 people who voted ALP last time need to change to the Greens for Bandt to win the seat. Bandt spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Ben Courtice about his campaign. ***
Hundreds of Thais and an Australian remain in jail, as the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva continues to repress the grassroots pro-democracy Red Shirt movement. Some Red Shirt protesters are still in hiding. This follows the full-scale military assault on May 19 that ended a six-week protest by thousands of Red Shirts in the commercial centre of Bangkok. Australian Colin Purcell, of Perth, has been caught up in the repression and is still detained by police.
In recent weeks, the big mining companies have spent millions on propaganda against plans to make them pay more tax. But the results of a June 1 Newspoll showed they have hardly made a dent on public opinion. Both big parties are losing ground, the poll said. Labor’s primary vote dropped two points, to 35%. The Coalition went down by the same margin, from 43% to 41%. But the bombshell was the record Greens vote — up four points to 16%. This is not a new trend. Support for the Greens has risen steadily over the past decade.
The president of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced on May 24 that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on November 28, the constitutionally prescribed date. “The CEP is up to the task of organising general elections in the country”, said Gaillot Dorsinvil, who is also the handicapped sector’s representative on the nine-member council, handpicked by President Rene Preval. But tens of thousands of Haitians don’t agree and have been demonstrating in the streets in recent weeks to demand a new CEP — and Preval’s resignation.
Youth activist and part-time worker Gemma Weedall has been endorsed by the Socialist Alliance to contest the seat of Adelaide in the upcoming federal election. Weedall recently completed a Bachelor of Social Sciences at the University of Adelaide, where she was a well-known student activist. She was environment officer on the 2009 Student Representative Council and convened several clubs and collectives. A passionate grassroots climate change activist, Gemma is an active member of the Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN)
Right, who knows a way of making “Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition, out out out!” scan properly? Events haven’t been made easier by the news coverage, which involved reporters telling us: “Oh my God, it’s historic, and the two of them look so lovely together, and they’re in the garden, ooohhh, I haven't cried so much since I last saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s."
There are many myths about Cuba that the mainstream media happily reinforces, especially about Cuba’s democratic processes. Contrary to media assertions, in Cuba there are general elections, the last ones taking place in 2007-08. In these elections, deputies to the parliament (National Assembly of People’s Power) and delegates to the provincial assemblies are elected for a five-year mandate.

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