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CWI councillor re-elected in Germany

SAV consolidates roots in the community and defends seat

SAV reporters (CWI in Germany)

“I was really impressed that you put up election posters yourself, Ms Lehnert”, said an employee of the city during the official election party in the city hall to the newly re-elected SAV (CWI in Germany) member of the City Council and congratulated her. This shows the difference between Christine Lehnert and all the other representatives. She still works as a travel agent, is a representative for the working class and decides her policies with and for the working class – without being bribed or garnering privileges.

This re-election is a vindication of five years of Christine’s consistent socialist opposition and policies in the city council and on the streets and her participation in social protests and movements. Five years ago, SAV stood for election to the city council for the first time, winning 4,222 votes, 2.5% (in Rostock, you can cast three votes) and was elected to the city council. This time, our vote dropped to 3,408, 1.6%, which seems, on the surface, to represent a weakening of SAV. But a more precise look shows that it is just a loss of few hundred votes, as voter participation was higher than last time, when it was 35.7% compared to 43.6% now.

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Europe on the Edge

Euro elections 2009

Little or no confidence in governments, but no genuine socialist alternative

Robert Bechert, CWI

Last week’s European elections gave a snapshot, albeit often distorted by low turnouts, of the continent’s anxious mood and the distrust, if not hostility, to most governments. In a number of countries, like Britain, Greece, Ireland and Hungary, the ruling parties suffered dramatic reverses. But generally, with a few exceptions, this did not lead to a growth in support for the left or even green forces, instead it was expressed in a further drop in voter turnout and increases for right nationalist or far-right parties.

Europe is sinking into a deep recession, the worst since the 1930s. Just before the election the European Central Bank worsened its forecast drop in the 16 country eurozone’s GDP to a fall of 5.1% this year.

This was the background to the general rebuff to most ruling parties and the search, amongst those who voted, for an alternative. Even the record low turnout in these elections showed, alongside alienation from the EU and the correct understanding that the so-called European Parliament was powerless, a rejection of many of the established parties.

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Joe Higgins Wins European Seat

Joe Higgins, the Socialist Party candidate in Ireland, has rocked the political establishment in Ireland by being elected to the Dublin Constituency for the European Parliament.

Joe, who is a member of the sister party of the International Socialists, got 82,366 votes, with 50,510 first preference votes. In winning the seat Joe defeated sitting MEP's of Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail. Joe said: “European countries are dominated by right-wing governments which are trotting out the same capitalist policies as here in Ireland and making working people pay for their mistakes.”

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Latvia – Unprecedented economic collapse

IMF and EU blackmail means misery for workers

 

Per Olsson, Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden)

 

Latvia’s Gross National Product (GNP) fell by 18 % in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same quarter the previous year. Industrial production declined by 22 % and retail sales by 25 % in the same period. These are catastrophic figures. “Latvia has become a capitalist inferno,” wrote the Swedish economic journal, Veckan Affärer, earlier this year. The Latvian economy is collapsing at a rate and to an extent that are unprecedented. For the first three months of this year, the annualised contraction of GNP was 30%. With the economy collapsing, the International Monetary Fund and European Union officials have demanded that the Latvian government cut its budget by 40% - a drastic measure that can only strangle a country already on the edge.

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Kazakhstan oil strike

One thousand eight hundred workers at the Burgylai oil wells at Zhanaozen, Kazakhstan are on strike demanding the nationalisation of their plant and that the government take emergency measures to stabilise the economic situation in the country, stop mass sackings ...

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Economic Crisis in Ireland

“THIS BUDGET was tough," wrote the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen, in an article for the Irish Times. Savage would be a more apt description for the emergency budget announced on April 8th in terms of the impact it will have on the lives of working class people in Ireland. 

by Sinéad Daly 

In real terms this will mean a family with a single income of €50,000 will be down €4,400.  And if you are a public sector worker you can throw an extra €2,500 on top of that because of the impact of the increase on the pension contributions in the last budget.  

What the attacks mean

  • A doubling of income levies (taxes).
  • A doubling of health levies.
  • A halving of early childhood supplement (help for nursery costs) from €1,000 to €500 and it’s scrapping next year.
  • Jobseekers’ allowance halved from €200 to €100 for people under 20.
  • 5% increase in pension contributions for all public sector workers.
  • 5c on a litre of diesel.

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Stop the Slaughter in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka humanitarian crisis

There is ferment among Tamil-speaking people worldwide over the slaughter taking place in the north of Sri Lanka. Over 2,000 people have died in recent weeks. All critics of the government are silenced. Nearly 200,000 Tamil people are still trapped in the war zone. The Rajapakse government of Sri Lanka refuses to cooperate in a ceasefire to evacuate them.  Protesters in New Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai joined hundreds of others around the world on 8 April demanding an immediate ceasefire and end to the slaughter of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka. (In London, thousands of Tamils have been occupying Parliament Square for days.) 

by Jagadish Chandra, Delhi 

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Socialism or Capitalism

Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism according to a new survey.  Although the survey did not seek to define what socialism is the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say ...

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