Monday, June 18, 2012

Left gains in Greece and France Elections

Greece boosts Left Party status:

France gives Hollande majority
in Parliament!

Elections this Sunday in France and Greece produced substantial gains for left parties in both countries:

The result of the Greek General Election gave the Greek New Left group Syriza 27.1% of the vote, the largest vote for the left since WW2. The conservative New Democracy, representing the elite middle class, bankers and pro-EU, pro-NATO forces gained a slight lead with 29.59%

Speaking before thousands of cheering supporters waving red and white flags (some emblazoned with the hammer and sickle) outside Athens'  University building, Syriza leader Lexi Tsipras told the crowd: "Some may think that they won the elections tonight but they did not. The people won. The policies of austerity have been defeated. They will not be able to push forward with them either in Greece or Europe." Tsipras announced that Syriza would not join any Government which agreed to implement the hated IMF/EU austerity plan but would become the Opposition in parliament.

Tsipras was joined on the stage by the World War 2 hero Manolis Glezos who in a first act of resistance against Nazi occupation of Greece tore down the swastika from the Acropolis. The 92-year-old hailed the left's capture of 27.1 % of the vote as "the beginning of the end."
    "Who would have thought, or calculated, that we would go from 4.6 percent to this?" he enthused punching the air with his fist. "We must raise the flag, the flag of victory."

Right-wing and conservative press outlets have been trying to spin the Greek result as “victory for Europe” but, if it was such, it’s a distinctly hollow one. The Greek ND doesn’t have a majority in parliament and will have to bargain for a coalition with mainly hostile parties in no mood to gain opprobrium from the population for implementing the cruel IMF/EU austerity regime imposed on the previous Greek government of ND and PASOK. With a much enlarged Syriza breathing down their neck and an increasingly angry population taking to the streets, an ND led government would have a short life and another election would be called in a few months. It is glossed over that the austerity regime was never voted on by the Greek people but, was effected by an unelected Gauleiter imposed by the IMF/EU.

A new ND-PASOK coalition would hold on to power with difficulty in the next year. Its majority would be slim and so is the trust of the electorate. Although it is likely that the upcoming EU Council in June 27-28 will reward a new government with an extension on its debt payments and may even grant new loans quickly, the terms of the Memorandum will not be substantially renegotiated and the state of Greece’s bankruptcy will continue, as will the general economic decline of the entire Eurozone. Impoverishment will get worse and social unrest will increase. Since the previous ND-PASOK coalition showed itself capable  only of capitulation to external forces, its internal political legitimacy, now bolstered by insecurity and fear, would be bound to collapse and SYRIZA must remain the primary vehicle for the transformation of the old political system.

Whatever new government is formed, the structural defects of the Euro still remain and will continue to hold down growth opportunities as long as Germany, led by conservative Merkel, fails to agree to reducing debt accumulated by financial gambling in virtual reality not related to any real production values. This unjustified credit boom of the last ten years is now a millstone around the neck of the millions of ordinary people who are suffering for the criminal delinquency of the financial elite and their political cronies.


In France, newly elected President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party swept to majority power in the French parliament. The Socialist bloc secured between 296 and 320 seats in the parliamentary election runoff, comfortably more than the 289 needed for a majority in the 577-seat National Assembly. The centre-left already controls the upper house of parliament, the Senate.

The far-right anti-immigration National Front achieved a breakthrough, winning its first parliamentary seats (2) since the late-1980s. Its charismatic leader, Marine Le Pen, narrowly lost her race in the working-class northern town of Hénin-Beaumont by a mere 118 votes (out of a total of more than 55,000 ballots) but, Marion Marechal Le Pen, 22, granddaughter of party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, was elected in the southern town of Carpentras.

The left-wing victory gives the Socialists more power than they have ever held as Hollande pushes for new tools to stimulate growth in the euro zone and a European banking reform that would protect depositors and states if banks fail. The Socialist leader flies to Mexico on Monday for a G20 summit that will be dominated by the euro zone's financial crisis as a rift with the bloc's paymaster, Germany, over how to resolve the crisis has sparked a sharp public squabble. Hollande, a european social democrat, has broken with a Franco-German power duopoly established under his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy and is siding with southern euro zone states, calling for more flexibility on deficit targets and stimulus programs to promote growth in the euro-zone economies. With the right now severely weakened, Hollande's strong hand will be a boon as he prepares a mass of legislation for the weeks ahead to raise taxes and start economic expansion again.The Socialists, will use the comfortable majority won in Sunday's parliamentary elections in a special session of parliament next month to cancel tax breaks and increase taxes for large corporations, particularly banks and energy companies.

Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, said the Government would waste no time in pressing ahead with promised reforms."We need to sort out this country's finances, to ensure we achieve a balanced budget by 2017, and at the same time pursue our priorities in terms of growth, employment, education and security," said Valls, promising tax reforms to ensure that the richest French pay their share."We need to mobilise our European partners because piling more austerity on top of austerity will lead to tragedy and a deep rift between the peoples of Europe and their politicians."

With unemployment at a 13-year high of 10 percent and economic growth stagnating, Hollande faces a delicate balancing act in reducing the government deficit and keeping the euro zone's second largest economy beyond the perceptions of financial market speculators attacking Spain and Italy.

Áth Cliath/Dublin 18 Meitheamh/June 2012.

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