International News

The rise of the (Alt-)Right in Germany’s Elections: A commentary

by Ralph Keller

Editor’s note: Below is the updated and corrected version of October 20, 2017. An endnote, [1], details the changes.

The German general parliamentary elections revealed ‘surprises’ to the CDU / CSU (Christian Democratic Union / Christian Social Union) coalition, led by Angela Merkel, and the SPD (Social-Democratic Party of Germany) led by Martin Schulz, which received a slap in the face from voters. These three parties obtained their lowest results since the end of World War II. The CDU / CSU coalition received 33% of the popular vote; the SPD received 20%. Yet for people outside these parties, the principal reason these results are shocking and very concerning is that they reveal the rise of the German (Alt-)Right AfD (Alternative for Germany), which one might call proto-fascist. They received 13% of the popular vote.

The other important result of the election is that it resulted in a ‘hung parliament’. No political stream––(Alt-)Right, traditional conservative, centre, or left––is able to form a government by itself. Another interesting result is that the Bundestag (parliament) will, for the first time since World War II, consist of seven parties.

Because no party has achieved a majority, or a result close to majority, coalitions consisting of a number of parties will have to be formed. The CDU / CSU, under Angela Merkel, will probably continue to lead the new government, with the participation of the FDP (Free Democratic Party) and the Greens, in what German political jargon is calling the ‘Jamaica coalition’. It is called that because (given some fantasy) the party colours resemble the Jamaican flag. The CDU / CSU’s colour is black; the FDP’s is yellow; and, of course, the Greens’ is green.

Views, opinions and analyses about ‘Jamaica’ are plentiful, but no-one has looked at the election results from a Marxist perspective and a philosophy for freedom. That is what this commentary attempts.

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The Impossible Referendum that Happened in Catalonia

October 11, 2017 by  

by Enrique Saiz

The last few years have been witness to a true earthquake in Spanish politics. The bleeding wound left on the economy of Spain by the Great Recession was perhaps the spark that lit the fuse on a series of far-reaching changes, ones that have attracted the interest of commentators around the world. From the decay of the classical bipartisan system of the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español, Spanish Socialist Workers Party; social-democrats turned third-way social-liberals) and the PP (Partido Popular, People’s Party; conservatives), to the bank bailout. From the indignados to the birth of Podemos, the grassroots protests and direct actions to stop evictions of the PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca, Mortgage Victim’s Platform). One could say the deep shock that the country experienced when its property bubble collapsed ignited latent social and economic conflicts that had been dormant for some time, or made them take on new forms. Read More

North Korea and US Threaten Nuclear War: an MHI Statement

Last week, North Korea tested missiles in international waters around the US protectorate of Guam, following its several recent successful tests of intercontinental-range missiles. The North Korean government has long publicly declared its intention to develop a nuclear bomb and delivery system capable of striking the US mainland; what is new is that it is now close to having both. The bravado of its dictator, Kim Jong-un, cannot be dismissed, especially when his threat is made to the madman in the White House.

US president Donald Trump responded with the warning that “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” He was saying in effect that he will nuke North Korea if it keeps using threatening language or if it takes any military action against Guam or the US allies in the region.

Even Trump’s cabinet and aides were shocked by his seemingly off-the-cuff threat to use nukes. There is in fact an increased chance under Trump of having a nuclear confrontation. His immediate response to being questioned about whether his “fire and fury” remark was going too far, was to insist that it might not have gone far enough.

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