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Socialist Democracy July 2004

 

EUROPE: CWI Sections Gain Electoral Support

By Pelad

 

It was a wave of victories for some sections of the Committee for a Workers' International in Europe in the last local and Euro elections that took place in the second week of June this year. CWI is an international socialist organisation organised in 40 countries across the world with DSM as its Nigerian section.

Where they did not win seats, the affiliates of CWI were able to record impressive performance and etch themselves on the consciousness of the electorate as emerging forces in their areas. These electoral successes are a product of correct application of Marxist ideas and tactics, building and strengthening of social base of support among the people, initiation and participation in the daily struggles of the oppressed and uncompromising commitment to the cause of humanity, by the CWI. They also reflect the increasing acceptance and popularity of the genuine socialist alternative as represented by the CWI in Europe.

It is instructive to note that the various CWI sections in Europe are small groups in terms of numbers and spread compared to the established bourgeois political parties and some quasi-socialist organisations but they make their impact felt and possess enormous potential of growing into large and formidable forces.

In England the Socialist Party retained two of the three seats contested in St. Michael Ward, Coventry. Dave Nellist, a former member of the parliament with the old labour party before the expulsion of Militant, the forebears of Socialist Party, retained his seat as a councillor, having the highest poll with 1586. Another member, Karen Mackey, came second with 1449. Both of them were re-elected with increased votes. Unfortunately, the third socialist party candidate, Rob Windsor lost by just 16 votes despite earning higher votes than when he earlier won. The loss was partly due to the boundary changes, high resident turnover and the fact that Rob's name was in the bottom place of the ballot. However, the three socialist candidates polled significantly more than New labour, gaining 4,236 votes compared to Labour's 3,536.

More interestingly, in Ireland, all the four SP candidates that emerged victorious did not only win but also topped the poll in their respective areas. More so, with four councillors, Socialist Party has doubled its representation. Getting four councillors elected was a significant achievement and indeed an endorsement of the Socialist Party compared to the performance of other forces on the left. Socialist Party was a leading force in the anti-Bin Tax struggle last year. They have made excellent gains of that struggle among others with this electoral success. Clare Daly, imprisoned for a month for fighting the Bin Tax, was re-elected to Fingal County council representing Sword ward with votes more than twice of what she obtained at the last election. Ruth Coppimger also re-won her seat in Fingal County Council to represent Mulhuddrat ward. Mick Murphy jailed for three weeks for opposing Bin Tax was elected to represent Tallaght ward on South Dublin Council. This is the first time the party has had a councillor in this area. The party has also, for the first time, had a councillor outside Dublin with the election of Mick Barry to the Cork City Council.

Moreover, in the Euro elections, the Socialist Party candidate Joe Higgins, already a member of Irish parliament, and who was equally jailed for leading anti Bin Tax campaign, earned 23,218 (5.5%). This vote was more than double of what he got in 1999 and in fact, a credible result for a small party with very slender financial resources.

In a similar vein, Socialist Alternative (SAV) the CWI’s German section, won its first councillor in the person of Christine Lehnert. She is the first directly elected Trotskyist councillor in Germany for decades. She won in Rostock, an east German city, and the SAV only narrowly missed a second council seat there. The general performance of SAV is an achievement and deserves celebration in view of the fact that Social Democratic Party and ex-Stalinist Party of Democratic Socialism lost many votes in that city.

In Belgium, though the CWI affiliate, Left Socialist Party/Movement for a Socialist Alternative (LSP/MAS), did not win any seats, it polled a significant 20,000 votes. The result was modest but represented important step forward for a growing socialist force, which has only just contested nationally in both the Dutch and French speaking parts of that country for the first time. It evinces inherent potential of the organisation to grow to a formidable party in the country.

The electoral feats of the CWI's affiliates can be better appreciated if juxtaposed with the resounding defeat of the established bourgeois political parties, particularly the ruling ones across Europe.

In the local elections, Blair's New Labour became the first government in the British history to be relegated to third place, receiving just 26% of the vote. Their European election results represented their worst share of national election since 1918. Although the Tories (Conservatives) came first in the local elections, the result did not imply their endorsement by the people. The 38% of the votes they got was below the 40% they would need to be on course to win a general election. Indeed, 27% of the vote they had in Euro elections was their lowest since 1832. In France, Chirac's ruling Union for a Popular Movement suffered its second electoral defeat in less than three months scoring just under 17%. In Italy Berlusconi's Forza Italia was thoroughly battered while Gerhard Schröder' s Social Democrats in Germany got their lowest vote since 1932. Fianna Fail the senior partner in the coalition government of Ireland recorded their worst performance since 1927. This trend of humiliation of the ruling parties was universal in Europe, a response by the electorates to their various anti-people policies.

Remarkably, the foregoing has exposed the bankruptcy of the post Soviet Union ideological triumphalism of the bourgeoisie with decline in bourgeois influence and the gaining of currency by the socialist ideas. Really, if the population of Europe is considered, the electoral success of the CWI affiliates appears peanut. But it only shows that with more forces, fighting on the basis of the genuine socialist ideas and method, as the CWI, then the sky will not even be the limit of the acceptability of socialism by the working class elements.

 

 

Socialist Democracy July 2004