By Kumar David –
Good news from Turkey, Spain and Greece
If democracy and the demand for clean government is gaining ground in parts of Europe, if authoritarianism is suffering setbacks and if working people and middle classes are fighting back against austerity imposed for the purpose of bailing out moribund capitalism, it is a good thing. It is even good for us in Lanka as a morale booster. Secondly, the clarity on principles and tactical wisdom which is guiding a variety of left movements to show initiative and originality is a lesson for the donkeys of the Lankan left. These barbs are not intended for the Dead Left alone, but in different ways and degrees also for the JVP and sectarian left microbes that proliferate in Lanka’s political crevices.
I will refrain from interjecting comparative remarks and leave it to readers to draw their conclusions except when a simple, ‘party-X in country-Y is similar to our party-Z’, type of comment may be useful. My ill-concealed lament is the sectarian folly of the entire Lankan left. The need is for a single unified party, not united front rubbish-of-the moment. The material used here is on the web or in newspapers, what I have done is to collect, collate and link together appropriate bits.
Price increases and involvement (or non-involvement) in Syria do not have close parallels with Lanka, but President Erdogan’s plan to amend the constitution and enhance presidential powers (contrast Sirisena) and the relationship between the state and the Kurdish minority have parallels. The first bit of good news is that the plans for an all-powerful presidency suffered a fatal setback when the AP (Justice & Development) Party’s hopes of a two-thirds majority (330 seats) crashed; it won only 258 seats. The main reason for this is that the HD (People’s Democratic) Party for the first time crossed the 10% threshold required for parliamentary representation. It polled 13% securing 80 seats and after that there was no way for AKP to scoop up enough seats form the Turkey’s proportional representation system.
The other bit of good news is that HDP, a left democratic-party, championed Kurdish democratic rights and kept fraternal links with the Kurdish Democratic Regions Party. Despite accusations that it had contacts with Kurdish rebels and the Kurdistan Workers Party and the Group of Communities in Kurdistan which are engaged in armed struggle, the HDP did not slacken its support for the peace process with Kurdish rebels and supported non-violent protest. It did not panic in fear of a majoritarian Turkish backlash; the exact opposite of our JVP; vide its anti-Tamil stance in the war spurring on chauvinism and militarism, and its current bashfulness on Tamil rights, 13A and devolution. The breakaway microbe FSP is no better. The HDP is seen as the Turkish version of Greece’s SYRIZA and Spain’s Podemos and describes its programme as anti-capitalist, anti-nationalist (sic!), democratic socialist, environmentalist, feminist, and pro LGBT and minority rights (sic again!). It will be a long night before the JVP or its rump FSP awaken to such a day.
A third excellent item of news is that 97 women were elected; the largest number ever. AKP is a nationalist party with a strong base in rural areas but weak in cities (see geographical results-distribution map and compare with electorates Mahinda won) and as pro-Islamic as the SLFP is pro-Buddhist, but it will not dare suggest amending Turkey’s secular constitution. It has a similar petty-bourgeois cum national bourgeois base but is less primitive and corrupt than the SLFP though corruption investigations of relatives of politicos, including Erdogan’s, have been interfered with. The CH (Republican People’s) Party is like the Ranil wing of the UNP, while the MH (Nationalist Movement) very roughly a Sajith cum JHU concoction.
The left parties Podemos (We-can) in Spain, SYRIZA in Greece and HDP in Turkey have grown because of European capitalism’s economic difficulties. Unemployment, especially among the young has skyrocketed Podemos’ appeal, and it has mastered the use of Obama-kids style use of social media. Its leader (Dr) Pablo Iglesias Turrion is a professor of political science and a TV presenter. Podemos was launched by the Spanish section of the Trotskyist Fourth International in January 2014 in the aftermath of the 2011–12 protests against inequality and corruption. It is left populist, and addresses problems of inequality, unemployment and economic malaise following Europe’s economic crisis. It wants Spain to exit NATO and has called for a renegotiation of EU austerity measures. It backs self-determination for minority regions which thought will putrefy the carcass of Vasudeva’s DLF, bury Dead Left corpses even deeper and frighten the JVP; only Bahu’s NSSP and Siritunga’s USP will be pleased to hear this.
Podemos is Spain’s second largest party by membership after the People’s Party and became the third largest in opinion polls within 20 days of its launch. In this 20 day period membership snowballed to 100,000; currently it has 350,000 members. It entered the May 2014 European Parliament elections and polled 8% and secured 5 of Spain’s 54 MEP slots including a place for Iglesias; an unprecedented triumph for a four month old party! To enter the EU elections Podemos set three conditions upon itself: to receive the support of at least 50,000 people; that both party lists and the programme be elaborated through open participation; and that there be unity with other parties and movements of the left. The signatures arrived in less than 24 hours and the Podemos website crashed due to excess traffic!
I will touch on Greece with two tables of recent opinion polls because the German government, European finance capital and the ECB at one point set themselves the target of regime change. Unable to force it to capitulate and cut pensions and wages they moved to economically undermine and politically remove the SYRIZA government. EU leaders blinked at the last moment last week only when it became obvious that they were provoking an uprising in the streets. Despite, or more truthfully thanks to the anti-austerity fight the Tsipras led government put up against EU and German finance capital, its popularity has swelled. For comparison with these Tables, in the January 2015 parliamentary elections, SYRIZA polled 36% for 149 seats, two short of a majority. Note: ND (National Democracy) is the party that lost power in that election; PASOK is Greece’s traditional Dead Left.