Europe rejects austerity at the polls – French and Greek elections

By Coalition of Resistance

The Coalition of Resistance welcomes the election of Francois Hollande as President of France.

His victory signifies a new moment in European politics, one in which the majority of the French people have turned decisively against the politics of austerity. He has won on a platform of promising investment and growth, on a platform of defending public services and reducing unemployment. This victory follows that of the Labour Party here where government parties lost hundreds of council seats. In the Greek elections, anti-austerity parties have made a strong showing, with Syriza – the anti-austerity coalition of the radical left – supplanting PASOK as the second party. All these developments show that millions of people throughout the continent are looking for an alternative to the politics of despair.

This must now be a new stage in the fight-back against austerity. As Alexis Tspiras, leader of Syriza, has stated: ‘This election is a message against austerity. We’ve won a battle but not the war’.

Yet the results show clearly that there are great political dangers ahead if the left does not unite around a strong anti-cuts programme, presenting and fighting for real alternatives to the neo-liberal agenda. In France, the Front National took 18% of the vote in the first round and Sarkozy employed an increasing level of racist and Islamophobic rhetoric in his attempts to close the gap with Hollande. There can be no doubt that Le Pen will now attempt to supersede the UMP as the main party of the right in France.

In Greece, the openly fascist Golden Dawn party have gone from 0.23% of the vote to a projected 6.8% of the vote and in some working class areas are now the third party. There are clear lessons for the Labour Party from these results. In Greece, the pro-austerity social democratic PASOK – Labour’s sister party – has been decimated from 44% to 16%. They have lost the vast majority of their electoral support because of their refusal to oppose the Troika’s prescriptions in the face of widespread popular hardship and suffering. In France, Hollande has won a victory because he appears to fight the cuts and present a different path. But in understanding the reasons for Hollande’s victory we would do well to understand how his political fortunes will change if he fails to deliver on his promises. The same will apply to Labour’s electoral support if it fails to effectively oppose the cuts.

The Coalition of Resistance congratulates all those who have contributed to these victories and will redouble our efforts to fight for an alternative both in Britain and throughout Europe.

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