Op-Ed/ Rise of the Left, hope for Europe

Op-Ed/ Rise of the Left, hope for Europe

Nicosia, February 6, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Neoklis Silikiotis*

The latest developments in Greece with the emergence of SYRIZA in the government and the increased rates of the Left comes to show how the memorandums and the neoliberal austerity policies are not the only way. In countries that have undergone or are going through the process of a memorandum there is a general upward trend of the Left, which promotes a change of direction from the unjust policies of forcible redistribution of wealth to the benefit of big business at the expense of the vast majority of the people.

In Spain we are witnessing massive divestitures, impoverishment of the population and deindustrialisation. There, recent polls show the newly formed party Podemos, which participates in the Unitarian European Left / Nordic Green Left getting up to 28%. With a program that seems to have much in common with that of SYRIZA in regard to the government debt and economic policy, goes to general elections in November with a good chance of winning. The United Left of Spain also shows upward trends from December 2014, despite the inner workings it undergoes.

In Ireland, migration due to poverty and unemployment continues at such a rapid pace, that is similar to the scope of the huge migration wave that left the country during the great famine in mid 1800. Areas of Ireland are being deserted , while at the same time employees have to undergo wage cuts to pay off the debts of the banks. In Ireland as well there is a huge fermentation regarding the Left. Many polls show the party of Sinn Fein, the largest party of the Left, as the first choice of the people.

In Portugal, where again the neoliberal austerity policies have led to unacceptably high levels of unemployment and poverty, the coalition of the Communist Party and the Greens steadily increasing its rates, indicative that the Portuguese people look to the Left for prospect.

On the other side, in the countries where the Left movements are presently weak, the people’s opposition against the impoverishment, the poverty, the dismantling of the welfare state and the social fabric caused by neoliberal austerity policies, is expressed through racism and xenophobia. Examples are both France and the United Kingdom. Marie Le Pen and Farage are the Trojan horse of all the devastating result that racism, bigotry and fascism bring upon a society. So it is clear that Europe is faced with two paths: either the left, towards progress and hope, or the far right, to descent into obscurantism, nationalism and backwardness.

In Cyprus, AKEL was elected government at a time when it was tragically alone at the European Council. The Left in the EP was weaker than it is today, as the group of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left numbered 35 MEPs, while now it numbers 52. All governments outside of Cyprus was in the hands of neoliberal right-wing or social democratic parties that supported austerity and fiscal discipline. It was the same cooperation of EPP, Liberals and Socialists and Democrats that brought Jean-Claude Junker in the presidency of the European Commission; who continues the deadlocked neoliberal policies of austerity and memoranda. It was the same alliance that created and instituted the Troika and the process of the European Semester.

In this family also belongs the Anastasiades government and the here supporters of the Troika. After the haircut and two years in government they have been forcefully imposing destructive neoliberal austerity policies in favour of monopolies and at the expense of the vast majority of the people. The social gap in Cyprus continuously opens, labour relations are completely deregulated, unemployment (especially among young people) is at unprecedented levels for Cyprus and the people are impoverished. And instead of the government focusing on developmental policies to help social development, it implements with passion the privatisation of the profitable semi-government organisations.

The peoples of Europe once again turn to the Left for the clash with the disastrous neoliberal austerity policies that are promoted by the European Commission and the Council. The far-right and hatred is not an option. As in Spain, Portugal and Ireland, so in Cyprus, hope is to the Left.  Hope is in those policies that promote social justice, social solidarity, social equality and peace.


* MEP of AKEL-Left-New Forces, Vice-Chair of Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left