Austerity policies rejected in France and Greece

Speaking in the aftermath of the French election, which exit polls predict will see François Hollande defeat Nicholas Sarkozy and exit polls from Greece that indicate a punishment for the two traditional establishment parties of New Democracy and PASOK and strong votes for forces of the radical left, with the radical left coalition, Syriza, claiming second position, Paul Murphy MEP (Socialist Party / United Left Alliance) commented:

Voters in France and Greece today rejected austerity policies. German voters in Schleswig-Holstein also seem to have rejected Merkel’s coalition at a state level. This is an electoral expression of the Europe-wide movement of working class people against austerity that has seen mass mobilisations and general strikes in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and France in the last year.

Sarkozy was defeated because of the widespread opposition to the hardship he has imposed on the people of France. The strong vote for Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Left Front in the first round showed the support that exists for anti-capitalist and socialist policies. Even stronger support was won by parties of the radical left in Greece, with Syriza in second position according to exit polls. Hollande will now be under pressure from those that voted from him to fulfil their expectations for a fundamentally different approach to Sarkozy. If he betrays those expectations, as his sister party, the Labour Party has done in Ireland, he will be met with strong movements on the streets.

Given Francois Hollande’s promise that ‘the treaty, as is, will not be ratified’, his victory puts the Irish people in a unique position in relation to the Austerity Treaty. This Treaty is now on extremely shaky foundations, with the new French President saying he won’t ratify it, as is, and the Dutch government still looking unlikely to be able to ratify it.

With a No vote on 31 May, people in Ireland can add to the momentum against this attempt to write austerity into law and potentially help to sink this Treaty and give a big boost to the millions around Europe demanding a change of course.

Today, we have seen a rejection by tens of millions of Europeans of a Europe built in the interests of the bankers and speculators. This capitalist Europe has delivered mass unemployment of 25 million people and attacks on living standards. Irish people have a unique opportunity to reject austerity and fight for radically different policies and a fundamentally different socialist Europe, where the millions come before the millionaires.”