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.
For the first time ever, a member of the British Green Party, Caroline Lucas, was elected to parliament in the May 6 general elections. Printed below is a May 7 statement from GreenParty.org.uk * * * Greens all over Britain were celebrating this morning as the news was announced that party leader Caroline Lucas had won the Brighton Pavilion seat.
Did you hear the one about the election everyone lost? On May 6, Labour, the party in power, lost 100 seats and with it the chance to continue in government after 13 years. The Conservatives lost the victory all the polls had been promising them for the past 18 months. The Liberals suffered perhaps the most devastating humiliation after Cleggmania turned out to be a complete and utter mirage. The man who apparently wowed us so much in the TV leadership debates actually lost a number of seats rather than gaining any.
The Liberal Democrats have committed to support about $10 billion in public spending cuts as part of their coalition deal with the Conservative Party, Counterfire.org said in a May 12 article. An abridged version is below. * * * Liberal Democrat (LD) leader Nick Clegg is deputy prime minister (not bad for a leader who lost seats in the election) and another four members of his party will be in cabinet as part of the power-sharing deal signed with the Conservative Party (Tories).
Germany’s ruling centre-right coalition suffered a double defeat on May 9, when it lost its ruling majority in an important state election in North-Rhine Westphalia. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU) scored its lowest ever vote in the state, dropping 14 points to only 34.6%, on a par with the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), which slipped to 34.5%. Support for the arch-neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) — the CDU’s coalition partner on a state and federal level — stagnated at 6.8%. The Greens emerged as the big winners, doubling its vote to 12.1%.
Five Australia-bound Tamil asylum seekers vanished in shark-infested waters near the Cocos Islands over May 5-9. They were seeking help for the 59 other men, women and children aboard a wooden fishing boat that had travelled from Sri Lanka and spent more than 20 days at sea. Australian border patrol had let the boat flounder without food, fuel or water for at least eight days before the refugees were finally rescued on May 9. But the Labor federal government has refused to call an inquiry, referring the tragedy to federal police and immigration.
A near-disaster involving toxic waste in the southern Perth suburb of Hamilton Hill has revealed that working class neighbourhoods are exposed to potential carcinogens local resident and Socialist Alliance candidate Sanna Andrew said. The Fremantle Steam Laundry in Hamilton Hill burst into flames in the early hours of May 13. Fire fighters ordered some nearby residents to evacuate because the factory had a stockpile of the dry cleaning chemical perchloroethylene (PCE).
The Socialist Alliance has endorsed Dr Renfrey Clarke to run for the Senate in South Australia. Clarke was one of the founders of the Climate Emergency Action Network in 2008, and is a well-known activist and writer on environmental topics. He is a member of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union. A specialist on Russia and Latin America, Clarke worked for many years as a foreign correspondent for Green Left Weekly and other progressive media. Below, Clarke outlines the priority issues around which he campaigns.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva trumpeted that he was making an important initiative on May 3 to “solve” the political crisis. The country has been wracked by protests demanding the government — which was never elected — hold elections. The current government was installed after a military coup, far-right “Yellow Shirt” protests and judicial rulings that gave more power to the military. On May 3, Abhisit offered to dissolve parliament in September and hold elections on November 14. Previously, he had said he would not dissolve parliament until December.
Victoria’s “spending bonanza”, as the mainstream media called it, was announced on May 4. Being an election year, the state budget was heavy with promises of cash injections for health care, housing, education and public transport. However, much of the spending announced will be to fund a big increase in “cops on the beat”, a natural step given the recent strengthening of police stop-and-search powers and the accompanying corporate media fear campaign.