Laurent Wauquiez was elected leader of The Republicans (Les Républicains, LR) on 10 December, by a wide margin (74.6 percent) in the first round of voting. The low voter turnout (42 percent of paying members) shows that the stakes were limited: the new shift to the right had already been acknowledged by the party’s rank and file.

The situation in Ukraine four years after the Euromaidan overthrow of the Yanukovitch government could not be worse from the point of view of the masses. Brutal, IMF-inspired cuts in social spending, curtailment of freedom of expression and widespread corruption dominate the scene. So bad is the situation that even Western imperialists have started to openly voice criticism of the Poroshenko regime, which they backed and helped to install.

This month marks the anniversary of the December 1970 Polish protests – or ‘Black Thursday’ – when the workers of Polish coastal cities of Gdańsk, Szczecin, Gdynia and Elbląg rose in protest against a huge increase in prices of basic food products, but were harshly repressed by the so-called People’s Army. The cost of striking against price rises was high: 46 workers and students were killed and thousands injured in the stand-offs, just a week before Christmas.

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