From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
A sharp revolt against austerity
Monday 07 May 2012
They have installed Francois Hollande, the slightly fuzzy but well-intentioned Socialist Party candidate, in a massive rejection of the cuts and austerity programme championed by Sarkozy.
This rejection has the potential to destabilise the cosy and reactionary relationship between France and Germany and open some space for positive policies centred on growth rather than the grim cut, cut and cut again strategy that Mr Sarkozy espoused.
But almost as soon as the election result was announced, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was on the blower to Mr Hollande to invite him to talks in Berlin and it remains to be seen how far, in office, Mr Hollande will go to maintain the policies on which he stood.
Certainly, promises to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than a million euros a year, coupled with a boost to the minimum wage, hiring 60,000 more teachers and lowering the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers will fly in the face of every existing policy.
But Chancellor Merkel will undoubtedly exert some serious pressures on the new French president to modify his stance and his determination in the early days of his presidency will shape his whole term in office.
It is difficult to judge which way Mr Hollande will jump, since he has no great track record on which to base any judgement, but it is clear that he represents a widespread reaction against the European austerity plan and there will be big pressures from the French unions to keep him on track.
He has clearly indicated that he wants to renegotiate the deal between the 17 countries of the eurozone which includes strict limits on spending.
Chancellor Merkel has said bluntly that it will not be reviewed, so the stage is set for some friction in the chancelleries of Europe.
Equally in Greece, we are set for interesting times. As the French were rejecting the reactionary Sarkozy, so the Greek voters were performing a similar surgery on the undemocratic regime of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos – an unelected banker imposed by the terms of IMF and EU aid deals.
The nightmare coalition that he heads of the so-called Socialist Pasok party and the right-wing New Democracy outfit has been caned heavily in the polls.
The betrayal of working people by Pasok, which was instrumental in the sell-out to the IMF has been appropriately rewarded at the polls with a drop in support to 13.2 per cent, down from 43.9 per cent in the last elections, while their right-wing New Democracy allies, although topping the polls, dropped in support to 18.9 per cent, down from 33.5 per cent in 2009.
In fact, if it was not for a peculiarity of the Greek electoral system, which awards an extra 50 seats to the party that tops the polls, pro-austerity parties would have little hope of forming a stable and credible government.
The anti-austerity parties, the ultra-left Syriza grouping and the KKE Communist Party, took between them over 25 per cent of the votes.
The conclusion must be, from both the French and the Greek results, that the anti-cuts, anti-austerity movement is gathering force and, while neither result indicates a decisive swing against the financiers’ Europe, the initiative is now clearly with the left.
There is enough in these figures to encourage all those working in the trade unions and the left in Europe to redouble their efforts to ditch the puppet governments of the speculators and the banks.
Hundreds of thousands were on the streets of Paris on the night of Sunday 6th May to celebrate the fall of the monster, and they had every reason to be happy about Sarkozy’s defeat. Champion of tax cuts for the rich and public service cuts for the rest of us, his election campaign moved further right every day in the desperate hope of attracting the votes which went to the fascists in the first round. On the first of May he bussed in supporters from all over France to be filmed in front of the Eiffel tower while he demanded of trade unions “Put down your red flag, and serve France instead”: here.
A Question of Timing: What America Can Learn From the Revolt in Europe. Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog: “Who’s an economy for? Voters in France and Greece have made it clear it’s not for the bond traders. Referring to his own electoral woes, Prime Minister David Cameron wrote Monday in an article in the conservative Daily Telegraph: ‘When people think about the economy they don’t see it through the dry numbers of the deficit figures, trade balances or inflation forecasts – but instead the things that make the difference between a life that’s worth living and a daily grind that drags them down'”: here.