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The second round of the regional elections in France

16th April 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Marie Dupont

The second round of the French regional elections confirmed the defeat of the right wing parties. Indeed it was a historic scale of defeat. With 35 per cent the right received its lowest share of the vote since 1958. The left received its highest share, 54 per cent, in the same fifty two year period with the sole exception of the presidential elections in 1988. The left won 21 regions and the right only one – Alsace.

But the analysis of the results is more complex than that of a simple shift of votes from right to left.

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Guns, not butter for Greece

31st March 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Nicky Dempsey

The leading countries of the European Union, led by France and Germany have insisted that the Greek government must respond to the financial crisis by a series of ferocious attacks on working class living standards. Job losses have mounted rapidly as pay has been cut, welfare and pension entitlements slashed and the retirement age suddenly increased. Yet one area of spending is exempt from this otherwise absolute requirement to reduce government spending, the military budget.

In what the Reuters news agency describes as “a bizarre twist to the Greek debt crisis, France and Germany are pressing Greece to buy their gunboats and warplanes, even as they urge it to cut public spending and curb the deficit.” France is looking to sell frigates, helicopters and fighter aircraft for €3.5bn while Germany is looking for back payments of €520mn plus €300mn for a submarine which failed sea-worthiness tests. It is reported that the deficit negotiations were used to strong-arm the Greek government into making the purchases.

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Regional elections in France: Results of 1st round

18th March 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Marie Dupont

Last Sunday, 14 March, the first round of the regional elections in France saw a big shift in favour of the left – although there was a 52 per cent abstention rate. The Socialist Party won 30 per cent while the ruling UMP of President Sarkozy received 27 per cent. However in the second voting round the UMP will have no allies, while the Greens, who won 12.5 per cent and the Front de Gauche (Left Front), which won 7 per cent will call for a vote for the Socialist Party. The election overall therefore saw a big rejection of Sarkozy.

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The economic crisis and Eastern Europe

24th January 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Jack Johnston

The global financial crisis has not only disturbed the previous course of capitalist economic development but also stalled many of its political projects. An example of this is the process of European Union expansion into the former non-capitalist states in Eastern Europe. While prior to the crisis these economies were enjoying high growth and falling unemployment, many have now been plunged into a severe downturn. This not only threatens their own internal political stability but also shakes the foundations upon which EU enlargement has been built.

The eastern enlargement of the EU, in 2004 and 2007, should be understood within the context of the restoration of capitalism that occurred throughout Eastern Europe from 1989. The economic collapse and social impoverishment, caused by the re-introduction of capitalism, were most severe and prolonged in the countries of the ex-Soviet Union. Yet the Central-Eastern European (CEE) states still suffered huge socio-economic declines. Ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, only Poland had crossed its pre-transition level of GDP; the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia were just returning to this level, whilst the Baltic States still had a GDP level 20–40% below that achieved at the end of ‘communism’. Consequently poverty, unemployment and social inequalities all sharply increased, leaving millions of people with a standard of living worse than they had before capitalism was reintroduced.

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Haiti needs aid not an occupation

21st January 2010 Socialist Action 0

By Frances Davis

As the extent of the immense devastation and human catastrophe in Haiti continues to unfold, what is clear is that the correct response must be one which both, firstly, deals with the immediate crisis, i.e. to ensure medical assistance, food, shelter and other basic human necessities; and that, secondly, this happens in the context of Haitian self-determination.

What is becoming increasingly alarming in the current situation is that the US response appears to be primarily geared at securing the state, rather than delivering aid. As one aid worker stated among a myriad of news reports depicting this same picture: ‘there are 200 flights going in and out everyday. But most of those are for the US military. The priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed.’

The governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia have all expressed concern over a US military take-over.

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Fidel Castro reflects on Haiti

21st January 2010 Socialist Action 0

Reproduced below is Fidel Castro’s ‘reflections’ piece, which can also be found here

The Lessons of Haiti

By Fidel Castro Ruz

January 15, 2010 – Two days ago, at almost six o’clock in the evening Cuban time and when, given its geographical location, night had already fallen in Haiti, television stations began to broadcast the news that a violent earthquake – measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale – had severely struck Port-au-Prince. The seismic phenomenon originated from a tectonic fault located in the sea just 15 kilometres from the Haitian capital, a city where 80% of the population inhabit fragile homes built of adobe and mud.

The news continued almost without interruption for hours. There was no footage, but it was confirmed that many public buildings, hospitals, schools and more solidly constructed facilities were reported collapsed. I have read that an earthquake of the magnitude of 7.3 is equivalent to the energy released by an explosion of 400,000 tons of TNT.