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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Communists win in Graz: Red Review #25 -- International Left and Labour News

The twenty-fifth edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from Austria, Portugal, Norway, Iceland, Germany, Russia and elsewhere.

September 26:

The Socialist Party (PS) was the overall winner from the Sunday Portugal’s municipal elections. With 99% of the ballots counted, the total results are not yet officially out.

However, after 14 years the Socialists, which have governed Portugal since 2015, have lost the municipality of Lisbon, which went to the opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD). They have also lost seven municipalities, which switched their political allegiance to the PSD for the first time since 1976.

The party of the Prime Minister, António Costa, the Socialist Party (PS), won in 147 municipalities (34.42 percent) and was the most voted for party of all local authorities, followed by PSD with 13.3 percent and 71 councils.

The PPD/PSD and CDS-PP coalition were the next most successful with 10.66 percent of the country and 29 mayors, followed by the PCP-PEC coalition which gained 8.22 percent with 19 municipalities, as well as the Grupo Cidadãos which won 5.54 percent of the votes, achieving 19 municipalities.

Despite the great victory of the PS party, which finished head and shoulders above its nearest opponent (PSD), PS did not have the victory it was expecting, as it lost the most important chamber in an unexpected turnaround in Lisbon, in which the PSD (Social Democratic Party), led by Carlos Moedas, won.

By a large margin of 56.4% in favour and 39% opposed Berliners on Sunday voted "Yes" to the idea of expropriating more than 200,000 rental units from the city's biggest landlords and making them public.

While the referendum is non-binding it sends a clear message that the people of Berlin see that radical solutions to the housing crisis they are facing are needed.

On September 26, during the Next Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia, Yerjanik Ghazaryan was unanimously elected the First Secretary of the party.

The leadership of the CC UPC-CPSU sends sincere friendly congratulations on this occasion!

We are confident that the trust placed in Yerjanik Ghazaryan will become a good basis for constructive work and will contribute to strengthening the authority of the party in Armenia, and personal qualities will serve the noble cause of protecting public interests, fighting the capitalist system and upholding social justice. We will support and promote his good endeavors in every possible way!

We are convinced that through joint inter-party efforts we will be able to ensure the further development of mutually beneficial cooperation and deepening of integration between Russia and Armenia for the benefit of our fraternal peoples! We sincerely wish you new achievements and victories in this position.

September 27:

The KPÖ is now the leading party in Graz with 15 seats in the municipal council and three seats in the city senate. The party now needs to find a third city councillor to sit alongside Kahr and Robert Krotzer.

Following the announcement of the election results, Kahr told ZIB 2 on Monday evening that she had “received hundreds of emails, text messages and calls” in support of her also becoming Mayor of Graz.

In a spectacular defeat for the Israel lobby, delegates to Britain’s Labour Party conference overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Monday condemning the “ongoing Nakba in Palestine.”

Calling for sanctions and an arms embargo, the resolution highlights recent reports by human rights groups concluding “unequivocally that Israel is practicing the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN.”

“We welcome this important and historic motion which represents a significant step for the Labour Party in acknowledging the reality of the system of apartheid imposed by Israel on Palestinians,” said Kamel Hawwash, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

“China believes that the Venezuelan people will finally emerge victorious from the battle against foreign interference, sanctions, and hegemony,” Wang pointed out.

On Monday, China’s Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi reiterated that his country rejects the U.S. coercive measures against Venezuela and any attempt at foreign interference in the internal affairs of this Latin American country.

The political and cultural events of the 3-day 47th festival of the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE) and its journal “Odigitis”, which took place in a park in the popular neighbourhoods of western Athens, culminated with the speech of the GS of the CC of the KKE, Dimitris Koutsoumbas.

For 3 consecutive days, tens of thousands of people visited the festival and got acquainted with the positions of the KKE and KNE on issues of topicality (such as the trade unions’ struggle against the anti-popular policies of the government–the capital–the EU, the problems faced by the people affected by wildfires, environmental issues, the problems faced by immigrants) in specially arranged scenes within the park.

They had the chance to participate in discussions about the importance and the contemporary message of the Paris Commune, the developments in Afghanistan, and the solidarity with the Cuban people.

In Chicago, workers at El Milagro tortilla plants staged a temporary walkout last week to protest low pay, staff shortages and abusive working conditions, including intimidation and sexual harassment. El Milagro claims an ongoing tortilla shortage is due to supply chain issues, but organizers say the company has lost staff due to their poor treatment of workers, including their mishandling of the pandemic. Last year, dozens of employees got sick during a COVID outbreak, and five died.

September 28:

Moscow authorities attempted to raid the Communist Party’s city headquarters Tuesday, minutes before a group of party lawyers was preparing to file a lawsuit to challenge controversial online voting results from last week’s parliamentary elections.

Police also blocked one of the party’s leading parliamentarians from gaining access to his office in the State Duma, where documents to support the lawsuit were being held, the OVD-Info non-governmental organization reported Tuesday.

The Communist Party came second in Russia’s nationwide elections to the State Duma, the lower chamber of the country’s parliament, winning 57 seats to the 334 secured by the ruling United Russia party.

The Left Party’s performance is bitter and no reason for gloating or even rejoicing. But this performance is the result of an election campaign in which “Die Linke” made it clear that it is prepared to throw everything overboard for the sake of governing. Experience with the Left Party where it participates in government shows that it is hardly any different from traditional social democracy.

Despite an increase in voter turnout, non-voters account for just under a quarter of eligible voters, thus remaining the strongest “party”. The share of votes cast by the so-called “others” is at an all-time high of well over 8 percent; together with the non-voters, this means that well over 30 percent of eligible voters are not represented in Germany’s federal parliament.

Yannick Jadot will be the Greens' candidate in next year's French presidential election after narrowly winning the party's primary.

Jadot was backed by 51.03% of the party's militants in the second round of the primary process, according to results released on Tuesday by the Greens.

His rival, Sandrine Rousseau, secured 48.97% of the 104,000 votes cast by militants.

The Central Committee of the PCP, meeting on September 28, 2021, analysed the results of the September 26 local elections, addressed various aspects of the national and international situation and the necessary response to the country's problems. It set down lines of work, intervention and reinforcement of the Party in the coming months.

Unifor Local 414 and Food Basics have reached a tentative collective agreement, covering approximately 1,400 workers at 20 southern Ontario Food Basics stores.

“The pandemic proved how much we rely on these essential workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This contract delivers concrete gains to build on as Unifor continues its work to improve standards and provide the respect that grocery workers deserve.”

September 29:

The Prime Minister of Cambodia’s announcement of a US$2 increase to the minimum wage has left trade unions dissatisfied.

Cambodia’s National Minimum Wage Council (NMWC) have been negotiating over the last two weeks to determine the new minimum wage rate for 2022. Negotiations were intense as employers demanded to reduce the minimum wage from US$192 to US$188 owing to the economic downturn.

Norway’s centre-left election winners abandoned their attempt to form a majority government on Wednesday after the Socialist Left Party pulled out of the talks, a move likely to lead to the formation of a minority administration.

Labour, the Centre Party and the Socialists won a majority of seats in Norway’s parliamentary election on Sept. 13, but failed to bridge disagreements over the environment and wealth distribution during exploratory talks this week.

“We do not believe we can find a political platform … to have an aggressive enough climate policy,” Socialist Left leader Audun Lysbakken told reporters, explaining his party’s decision.

“They were not willing to give enough to get a majority government. We wanted very clear Socialist Left policies, more impactful policy against climate, inequality and the environment,” Lysbakken explained.

“All of these issues… Oil policy, emissions cuts, nature conservation, taxes, making welfare profit-free. These are all examples of areas where we have come up with proposals that we believe are important to be part of a government platform, but for which we have not been successful,” he elaborated.

September 30:

What I think the lesson is: When you live in a class-based, capitalist society, the task of building up a socialist party and movement is very hard. It will not be done easily. That is the lesson that all socialists know, and the political environment we all live in. It’s no great astonishing insight. What we do now is we keep on going, we don’t give up. We understand what we did wrong, we learn the lessons, and we keep organizing. This is what we will keep on doing.

In the end, that is the only thing that works. Just build the fucking foundation, lay the bricks, do the work, and don’t give up. Use the power and the willingness to work for a just society to propel you forward.

The next election, four years away, is a long time, but getting into parliament is only one part of the big struggle. It is, of course, extremely important because that’s where you get the platform, that’s where you get access to lots of stuff, but it is only one part, and in the end, it’s not even the most important part.

In the plenary session of the National Assembly, corresponding to Tuesday, September 14, the Deputy of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and the Popular Revolutionary Alternative (APR), Comrade Oscar Figuera, on behalf of our Party and the coalition of the revolutionary left, questioned the pact of bourgeois elites in development for the imposition of neoliberal policies and, consequently, he spoke out against a draft agreement that sought to be approved unanimously in the Venezuelan parliament in support of the Mexico agreements established between the government and the representation of the pro-imperialist ultra-right. Of course the intervention of Comrade Oscar Figuera, who is also the general secretary of the Central Committee of the PCV, was once again censored, the State television stations (VTV and ANTV) that broadcast all the deliberations that occur in the plenary sessions of the National Assembly, cut off its live broadcast from the Federal Legislative Palace just at the moment that corresponded to the communist deputy to speak, preventing anyone who was not present at the session from knowing what Was said by Deputy Figuera.

In a serious violation of workers’ rights, Bangladeshi police first banned a number of union meetings and then physically stopped participants from joining a meeting where a regional committee of the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC) was to be formed.

The 2021 Parliamentary Election ended on Sunday demonstrated a compelling success of the CPRF having highlighted its overwhelming support by the Russian society.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation, being the major authentic opposition to the ruling party and widely supported by all strata of the population along with left-patriotic forces has successfully performed with the official result close to 19% of total votes.

We were supported by almost 10 million 661 thousand people. This is the best result of the Communist Party in the present century. The faction of the Communist Party in the State Duma will increase by 15 parliamentarians.

President Xi Jinping led top Chinese Communist Party and state leaders on Thursday in paying tribute to those who died in the struggle to establish the People’s Republic.

At 10am, Xi together with the six other members of the Politburo Standing Committee and Vice-President Wang Qishan, paid their respects at the Monument to the People’s Heroes in the centre of Tiananmen Square in Beijing as an honour guard placed nine wreaths representing the party, state and the military in front of the monument.

The ceremony, which included a minute’s silence and performances by a military band and a choir of children from the Communist Youth League, was also attended by war veterans, relatives of the fallen and party, state and military leaders.

Coventry MP Zarah Sultana has emerged from Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week as a leading figure of the party's left.

Sultana is now seen by many on the left as the heir to former party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Addressing the crowd at a rally of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, a conference fringe event in Brighton this week, the 27-year-old received overwhelming applause from the audience, who chanted "Oh, Zarah Sultana", an echo of the infamous Corbyn anthem. Titans of the left including Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott were among Sultana's supporters.

October 1:

Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) have reached a tentative agreement on a new six-year labor agreement covering approximately 10,100 production and maintenance employees at 12 facilities in Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas.

Deere and the UAW have also reached a tentative agreement on a new six-year labor agreement covering nearly 100 production and maintenance employees at Deere parts facilities in Denver and Atlanta.

Citing massive understaffing, difficult working conditions, and a series of unfair labor practices, more than 350 healthcare workers at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch will strike October 4th – 8th. Workers will walk off the job and onto the strike picket line at 5 a.m. on Monday, October 4th.



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