Greece will default. France has elected an outright, self avowed socialist. The United Kingdom is set to rip itself apart, with Spain, France, and Italy looking on and waiting for the result.
We are about to see the results of wealth inequality and neoliberal politics.
Grab some popcorn and take notes, this will all be on the test at the end of term.
For decades now, there has been a perception of the Greeks as lazy. I remember hearing comedy routines in the 90's about Greece being economically backward. I wrote in a previous post that OECD data shows that Greeks are the hardest workers in Europe, working longer hours and taking less sick and vacation time than the Germans, making them some of the hardest working people in the world.
Because of the fragmentation of the left (more than seven parties were standing for election) no party won an outright majority. The conservatives failed to put together a minority government, and the fragmented left is now working on forming a coalition. More than 2/3rds of the new parliament opposes austerity and the bailout.
That includes a small group of scary reactionaries as well. A minor party is the Golden Dawn, as for WHY they're scary well... Click here for their flag. Yes. It's supposed to look EXACTLY like a swastika. Especially when it's hanging from a pole.
These guys are calling everyone who supports the austerity package traitors, and their leader has said:"No one should fear me if they are a good Greek citizen. If they are traitors – I don't know."
These guys won 21 seats in the Greek parliament. Looking at the numbers, I don't think anyone will need them to pass legislation, so they should spend their time as the second smallest party shouting into the wind. Don't take me at my word though. A fragmented left in Greece means that Greek politics just got incredibly complicated. I'm confident, though, that the Greeks are smart enough to ignore the Nazis.
The left as a whole has a number of people from the radical left working together, including the Communists. I don't know enough about Greek politics to know how that will play into things. I know that they consider themselves far-left radicals. Without them, the left wing only has 145 of the 151 seats it needs to form a government. To be honest, I don't know anything about them except what I've been able to piece together from some obviously biased reporting which can be summed up with the phrase "red terror." Simply put, this is going to get very interesting, and I don't know what to think.
Left wing and centrist anti-austerity groups should be able to reach some kind of consensus and figure out a way to move forward. Many of these parties are seeing their first opportunity for real government. I seriously doubt that any single group is willing to destroy the trust of the people for the sake of ideological purity during such a crisis.
Austerity in Greece is done. I'm convinced that Greece is set to default on its debts if the EU and IMF don't change the terms of the bailout, allowing Greece out of its austerity rules.
We have seen the first socialist elected in France since Mitterand in 1995. Francois Hollande won the French Presidential Election after a runoff. He'd taken first place in the first round of voting as well.
In the first round Marine Le Pen came in third place. Le Pen is from the Neo-Nazi Front Nationale party. Her Father once referred to the Gas Chambers of the Holocaust as a minor detail of the Second World War. The motto of the Front Nationale is "Travail, Famille, Patrie." (Work, Family, Fatherland.) This was also the motto of the Nazi Puppet Government of Vichy.
After Le Pen came in third place, Sarkozy began pandering to the Nazis, hoping that with the support of her voters, he might be able to clinch the presidency. Thankfully, he failed.
It remains to be seen how many seats the Front Nationale will win in the upcoming June legislative elections, but the differences between parties could not be starker. The Socialist party, valuing diversity, is reserving 22 seats for persons from ethnic minorities, and 49% of all seats for women, with the intent to guarantee diverse voices in the legislature.
With the loss of Sarkozy, Angela Merkel has lost a key ally in the fight for pan-european austerity. I doubt that Mitterand will be as harsh on the Greeks as Sarkozy.
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom will see Austerity policies last until 2016 for much of the country. 2016 is the next UK-Wide General Election.
No shocking results from the Scottish local elections, but... Let me post a few excerpts from UK papers about the result in Scotland.
Scottish local elections: not good enough news for the SNPWow, that sounds like a disappointing result. It seems like Labour is the real winner in the election. Certainly sounded that way to me as I was reading the British Press.
Scottish Labour is back on its feet – and Alex Salmond no longer looks like a man who can command all before him
[Insert Cheering Picture of Labour MSPs]
Yet not only did the SNP fail to capture Glasgow, they even failed to come close to being the largest party. Meanwhile, when the BBC put some of the detailed voting figures for Scotland's largest councils together and compared the nationalist performance with what happened 12 months ago, the nationalist vote was found to be as much as 14 points down.
As a result Salmond, who has been somewhat battered and bruised during the last week as a result of his apparent willingness to be cosy with Rupert Murdoch, now no longer looks like a man who can necessarily command all before him.
There's more. The Scotsman says that Labour is set to Tighten it's Grip on Scotland's Cities. The Telegraph declares that the English Labour Leader Ed Milliband has won a Stunning and Unexpected Victory in Scotland.
Because I've been busy with OWS organizing (more on that when I can write it) I haven't had time to keep up with the international stories I usually follow.. After reading these headlines, I honestly thought "Well, looks like Labour won the Election."
Actually, they lost. The SNP came first. Labour also picked up some seats. The raw data posted on Wikipedia shows the following result:
Party, Votes, Percentage, Gain in percentage, Seats, Gain in SeatsAs we can see, it was a total disaster for the Liberal Democrats because of their coalition with the conservatives in London, and their support for Austerity policies.
SNP 502,201 32.32% +4.46% 424 +61
Labour 487,884 31.39% +3.24% 394 +46
Tory 206,856 13.31% -2.26% 115 -28
LibDem 102,399 6.59% -6.10% 71 -95
Green 34,252 2.20% +0.16% 14 +6
Indep. 184,329 11.86% +0.98% 194 +2
Other 36,055 2.32% +0.9% 11 +1
The SNP won overall control of two councils for the first time in its history, and edged out Labour in several, becoming the largest party represented at the local level. This matches their representation at the national level. Labour maintained control of two councils, and won a further two. It held on to Glasgow City and Lanarkshire, areas which have been referred to as the Citadel of Socialism. It would be absolutely shocking if Labour lost these seats.
Yet the fact that the SNP didn't win a shocking, unprecedented, impossible victory means, to the British press, that Labour actually won.
As for the Salmond/Murdoch situation, I'm still waiting for some of the facts to get in. Expect my comments soon.
The point is this: There has been no destruction of the SNP's momentum. This was in fact a record-breaking victory for the SNP. It's the first time any party has won more that 500,000 votes in local elections. It proves, nationally, that the people continue to support the Scottish National Party.
This conflicts with the neat little narrative the British press seems to be pushing lately about a Labour renaissance. It's a hugely annoying outlier about what's happening in the rest of the UK: Tories and Lib Dems got trounced, Labour is ascendant.
The SNP will have their Independence Referendum. Deep and painful cuts will be having an effect on the people of Scotland in 2014.
The Austerity packages were designed by the Tories, the British Conservatives.
There's only one Scottish conservative in Parliament.
The people of Scotland have, for decades, dealt with the consequences of decisions they had little to do with. Privatization. Banking deregulation. Attacks on organized labor. Much of this occurred because of New Labour, and Scottish Labour lost a lot of its footing because of the rightward motion of the Labour party.
The truth is that Scotland has had enough. The desire for independence has only been growing in Scotland. Polls continue to come out showing growing support for Scottish Independence.
Two years ago, support was in the twenties. In january, it was in the 30's. Trustworthy pollsters put it between 38 and 42 percent. Pollsters I don't trust put the sentiment even higher. One poll shows a tie, while another shows a majority desires independence.
If you look at the sample size of the poll which declared a tie, it's far too small, only 85. I've got no figures from the other poll, which was performed by a market research firm.
So I'm not willing to trust those numbers until I get verification on them from other pollsters, who haven't conducted any polls recently.
The point is this: circumstance will make 2014 the perfect time for a referendum. Scots will be feeling the hurt from Austerity policies voted in by Tories who have only one seat in Scotland. This is reminiscent of the reaction to the poll tax. The Tories instituted the poll tax in Scotland knowing that many people couldn't afford to pay. They also knew that it didn't matter. Out of fifty or so seats from Scotland, the Tories held only three, all of them in wealthy constituencies which would be unaffected by the unjust tax. It didn't matter what Scotland wanted, Thatcher did what she liked.
The Scots remember this. 2014 will also bring the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the final victory in the War for Scottish Independence. So nationalist sentiment will be soaring already.
And this referendum means as much for Europe as it does for Scotland.
Spain has several regions which desire full independence. The Catalonians have held multiple symbolic independence referenda. Those are usually a yes vote by 90% and higher.
Scotland's Future will help decide the futures of multiple nations. In Spain the nations of Euskadi, Catalunya and Galicia all have independence parties, many of which have been hugely successful. Multiple Euskadi (Basque) parties have been banned, and their leaders prevented from holding public office, because of ties to the terror group ETA, which functions similarly to the IRA. In France, Breizh (Brittany) has been fighting for its independence for a while now. The Lega Nord within Italy had enough political power to prop up Berlusconi's government, and states that the independence of northern Italy which they call Padania is their ultimate goal. There are other groups which might consider separation.
All of these groups will be watching Scotland as it attempts declare independence from the United Kingdom.
And it is clear who is at fault.
Thatcher and her poll tax, Major's continuance of Thatcherism, and Cameron's Austerity have done much for the cause of Scottish Independence. Much more than anything else since the monarchy bought the treaty of union from the Scottish Parliament in 1707.
If the Scots break away from the United Kingdom in 2014, austerity will be the main cause. Wealth inequality destroys nations, and while the United Kindom may be the first neck on the chopping block, in Europe at least, it certainly won't be the last.
So that's the news from Europe: A resurgence of the Left wing, a resurgence of calls for national independence from nations subjugated long ago, and a terrifying resurgance of Far-Right sentiment. Hurrah for Austerity.
It's time to kill these policies in the US before things get too much worse.
[Full disclosure: As a person of Scottish heritage I have long supported the desires of the Scottish National Party, Scottish Socialist Party, and Scottish Green Party for an Independent Scotland.]