Archive article from The Socialist Issue 352
CWI election campaign 2004
Ireland: Victory For Socialist Party In Local Elections
THE SOCIALIST Party in Ireland, a leading force in the anti-Bin Tax campaign last year, has made excellent gains in the local elections in Ireland and won four councillors, doubling its representation.
These results are even more praiseworthy given the fact that Sinn FŽin, seen as an anti-establishment party, poured huge financial resources into their campaign and started with an advantage of having much greater press coverage than the Socialist Party.
Councillor Clare Daly, imprisoned for a month last year for fighting the Bin Tax, topped the poll in Swords ward with 2,763 first preference votes to re-win her seat on Fingal County Council (this represents more than a doubling of her vote since the last local elections). Together with the very creditable vote (443) of Michael O'Brien who stood in the same ward, the Socialist Party captured 19.1% of the vote in this area!
Brian Greene, a well known local Socialist Party member and community activist, standing in the Howth ward of Fingal County Council, received 815 votes (8%). Taigh Kenehan, another Socialist Party candidate received 458 votes (3.2%) in Balbriggan ward of Fingal County council.
In Mulhuddart ward, previously the area in which Joe Higgins TD (MP) was a councillor, Ruth Coppinger was elected to Fingal County Council with over 1,800 votes. Together with Helen Redwood who stood in the same ward, the Socialist Party received 19.5% of the vote in this area as well!
Mick Murphy, a Socialist Party member who went to jail for three weeks for opposing the Bin Tax, was elected top of the poll in Tallaght ward, South Dublin Council, winning 2,506 votes (15.6%). This is the first time the Socialist Party has had a councillor in this area and represents an excellent victory for the Party. Mick Murphy received a higher first preference vote than the sitting Sinn FŽin councillor.
For the first time since its formation the Socialist Party now has a councillor outside Dublin. Mick Barry, a leading community activist, was elected top of the poll in his ward and will represent the party on Cork City council.
Mick received a fantastic 1,390 votes which represented over 17% of the votes in the ward. This compares to the 4.9% he received in the same area at the time of the last local elections.
After ten rounds of counting in the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown council in south-west Dublin, Socialist Party candidate Lisa Maher was eliminated from the contest with 1,991 votes, just 70 transfer votes short of winning.
Frank Gallagher, standing as a Socialist Party candidate in Drogheda ran a very good campaign with limited financial and human resources. He received 437 votes and was finally eliminated after losing by 80 transfer votes.
CWI members internationally will welcome these excellent results, and also the very good votes that other Socialist Party members got in Dublin City, Limerick, and Letterkenny.
lJOE HIGGINS, Socialist Party TD (MP), standing in the Euro elections constituency of Dublin won 23,218 votes (5.5%) of the first preference vote.
Socialist Alternative (SAV) Wins First Councillor In Rostock
ANGER AND resistance into the council" - the slogan of Socialist Alternative (SAV), the German affiliate of the CWI in the local election campaign in the East German town of Rostock - became a reality after SAV won its first councillor.
Sascha Stanicic, Rostock
Christine Lehnert will be the first directly elected Trotskyist councillor in Germany for decades. SAV received around 4,000 votes and only narrowly missed winning a second council seat.
After an intense election campaign SAV members and supporters could celebrate. This was not the case for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and for the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism - former East German ruling Stalinist party) which lost many votes. The PDS is widely seen as a party which has betrayed working-class people, as it is part of the local and regional government participating in cuts and privatisations.
All of the established politicians agreed that they will not cooperate with the socialists. This is not surprising as SAV was the only party which opposed the increase of council funding for the political parties of ¢130,000 just a week ago.
The councillors had increased their salaries by 30% showing that they use their council positions to gain privileges.
The principled position of the SAV candidates not to accept any privileges from positions on the local council and remain on a workers' wage got much support. Under the slogan "Stop the rip-off", SAV mobilised 60 people to protest at the council meeting on 9 June. They stormed the meeting making the mayor leave the council chamber in panic!
SAV will now prepare for a campaign against this rip-off of the working people in Rostock and also against the planned privatisation of one of the two public hospitals in the city.
This was SAV's first electoral victory this year - local election campaigns in Cologne and Aachen will follow in September - and we hope to gain council seats number two and three!
20,000 Votes For Socialism
LAST SUNDAY, Belgium voted for both the European elections and the regional parliaments in Flanders, French-speaking Walloon, and Brussels areas.
Geert Cool, Antwerp
Linkse Socialistiche Partij (LSP)/Mouvement pour une Alternative Socialiste (MAS), the Belgian affiliate of the CWI, for the first time stood nationally in elections and won (so far) 19,841 votes.
THE PARTIES in government are regularly voted against. In 1999 the Christian Democrats suffered a defeat and had to leave the government. In 2003 the Greens were swept away. Now the Social Democrats and the Liberals lost a lot of support. Meanwhile, the neo-fascist Vlaams Blok continues to grow, receiving 23% of the vote. In Antwerp, the Vlaams Blok got 34%. It is clear that as long as they are seen as an opposition party, there is potential for further growth.
This will only be stopped if, through resistance to the anti-working class policies of the government, a new political force to represent the working class can grow.
However, while the Vlaams Blok is now the second biggest party in Flanders they are hardly able to mobilise on the streets and are adopting more openly 'neo-liberal' capitalist policies.
The LSP achieved important progress in the election. In last year's national elections we got 8,300 votes standing in the whole Dutch-speaking area for the first time. This has now increased to 14,166 votes.
We increased our membership and active support in the campaign. In Antwerp we got over a 1,000 votes, up from 450 last year.
These results follow a successful campaign against the Vlaams Blok earlier this year when 800 anti-fascists demonstrated in the city. In the campaign for the elections we recruited ten new party members in Antwerp. In Limburg we started to build a basis for our party.
IN THE French-speaking area there was a completely different result. The Social Democracy (Parti Socialiste) won the elections and got 35.86%. The Liberals lost 5%, getting 27.5%. The Christian Democrats won a little, but are still only at 15.1%. The Greens got 10% (up 2%), the neo-fascist FN got 7.3% (up 1.3%) and their split off, the FNB, got 1%.
Normally the regional governments are composed of the same coalition in all areas, but this is now extremely difficult. This could lead to a crisis in the national government, as Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt actively participated in the European elections, getting a terrible result.
In the French-speaking area MAS stood for the first time. Not all results are in yet but we got at least 5,675 votes (0.28%). It was only in 1995 that we started to build our French speaking organisation. Today we have French-speaking branches in Brussels, Liège, Mons, Verviers, Tubize and possibilities to build elsewhere (for example Charleroi).
'Kicked In The Ballot Box'