Europe

The Portuguese presidential election saw a collapse of the left vote. This was due to a number of factors. On the one hand, there was the tacit support given to the centre-right candidate, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, from the right wing of the Socialist Party (PS). On the other, the candidates themselves competed knowing that they would not win. This was the case with Marisa Matias, the candidate for the Left Bloc (BE), who recognised the victory in the first round by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and for that reason applied with the sole “mission” of “defeating fascism.” 

On 24 January, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the independent Portuguese presidential candidate, was re-elected in a landslide victory, with 61 percent of the vote. Whilst he was the centre-right candidate, he had the tacit support of the ruling Socialist Party. The election has attracted some interest internationally because of the fact that Chega, the far-right party, won 12 percent of the vote, up from around 1 percent in the parliamentary elections of 2019. The real winner in these elections, however, was not Marcelo, but ‘none of the above’.

Only a month into 2021, this year is turning out to be, if not a turning point in the modern history of Russia, then certainly a year of tremendous importance. No matter how much the authorities may wish it was so, the start of a new year doesn’t herald a new beginning or a fresh slate as far as the accumulated contradictions of Russian capitalism are concerned. On the contrary, these contradictions are being sharpened by the day, raising more and more sharply the question, “socialism or barbarism?”

On 30 January, big demonstrations against the Global Security Bill, the so-called Separatism Bill and for the reopening of cultural institutions took place in Paris, and all over France. These demonstrations were led by thousands of youth, who are increasingly radicalised given the seemingly endless pandemic (which means campuses are closed), and are determined to oppose the rotten Macron government.

The latest twist in the vaccine deployment saga has exposed the contradictions within the European Union and the limits of the capitalist market to deal with a crisis. In the last few days, we have witnessed the beginning of a clash both between the EU and the UK, and within the EU in something that reminds us of the debt crisis of 2011 and 2012.

The Netherlands is a European country where relatively little happens. By outsiders, it is often seen as sober, efficient and stable. The first month of 2021 however already saw the resignation of the third Rutte government and the most violent riots for 40 years. Meanwhile, the labour bureaucracy is moving against the left.

Yesterday, there was a series of rallies in Greece, mainly composed of students and teachers, against the reactionary measures that the New Democracy government is trying to pass in the universities and in the schools. More than 4,000 demonstrators came out in the streets of Athens. There were also demonstrations in Thessaloniki and other cities in Greece defying the ban imposed by the government.

Big protests broke out in Russia on 23 January in response to the arrest of oppositionist Alexei Navalny by Putin’s regime. While we have no illusions in liberals like Navalny, our Russian comrades intervened in these protests against political repression by Putin’s gangsters (which will hit working-class and socialist movements hardest), and raised a revolutionary Marxist banner.

21 January 2021 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Communist Party of Italy. To mark the occasion, we publish a translation of an article by Francesco Giliani, which deals with Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks and how the author has been abused by those who claim to speak in his name. Read the original in Italian here.

For decades, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has been considered the largest, most-stable and most-influential bourgeois party in Europe. But the CDU is now in crisis and subject to a process of polarisation and emaciation. The election of Armin Laschet as the new party leader does nothing to change this.

Yesterday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte narrowly survived a vote of no-confidence (156-149), but he’s not out of the woods yet. He is without a majority in the upper chamber, and opposition leaders are still seeking his resignation. His authority is in tatters and his coalition is hanging together by a thread. This article, published by our Italian comrades last week, explains the crisis embroiling the Conte coalition in the run-up to this vote.

Just before Christmas, outgoing US Attorney General Bill Barr announced additional charges relating to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. This announcement is clearly politically motivated, and is symbolic of how the entire investigation has been focused on imperialist interests, rather than a genuine desire to bring the perpetrators to justice.