European elections 2019: We vote Left, we fight against nationalism

The current European Union is far from the Europe/family that the advertisements of the state for the current Euroelections are presenting in the media.

The reality is that the current EU is dominated by austerity policies that serve the profits of big capital and lead workers and youth to poverty and unemployment. The real power, of course, lies in the economic elite and not in the European Parliament, which plays a decorative role.

Our experience

We have experienced this in south Cyprus after 2013. The policies of the Memoranda have led more than 200,000 people to live on the margin of the poverty line. Unemployment, from 3% and 4% that was for decades, reached 17% in 2015 and is still at 12% today. Labor relations have been dismantled. The unemployment rate is decreasing because thousands of workers work with part-time contracts, wages below the minimum and conditions of profound exploitation.

For the implementation of austerity policies in Europe, the governments use anti-democratic means which are far from the supposed «democratic Europe». Makron, deployed the army against the “Yellow Vests” in France, the Spanish state cancelled the Referendum in Catalonia with the army and police imprisoning the leaders of the movement, the European Commission blackmails with economical strangling, weak countries if they do not follow its mandates.

In Cyprus, many memorandum laws passed during night time, while the parliament has been transformed into an «impregnable castle,» because the rulers are afraid of the people.

Corruption scandals now appear in all the governments of Europe and reveal the interdependence between the parties of the establishment and the economic elite.

In the wake of the crisis, huge «rescue packages» were handed over to the banks to prevent banks from collapsing and losing their profits, but at the same time increasing the public debt that would be paid by the workers of each country!

Thus in south Cyprus the public debt has skyrocketed in order to save the banks. We have one of the largest public debts in the EU, at 102.5% of GDP !

The unification of Europe, the abolition of the borders is threatened by the strengthening of nationalism and the far right in one country after the other. Brexit shows the massive reaction of the people in Britain and the crisis in which the EU is in.

Still, while the EU is trying to show an anti-racist face, thousands of refugees die each year because of its «Fortress Europe» policy, while the EU is participating in the wars that cause refugees and immigration.

Respectively, none of the promises made to Cyprus was met. Cyprus joined the EU with the prospect of a solution to the Cyprus problem. This prospect is further than ever before.

All the above are being used by the far right and the Neo-Nazis to promote hatred, racism. This is also the case in south Cyprus, where we have for the first time a neo-Nazi party, ELAM, in the parliament.

The rise of the Far Right and the Neo-fascists is a result of the left’s weakness to offer a convincing alternative perspective and hope to the people. The capitalist crisis leads to the rise of nationalism that pushes for the break-up of the EU.

On a capitalist basis, there cannot be a truly united Europe. Only on a socialist basis can Europe truly unite, and safeguard the peace and prosperity of the people.

But there is a lack of a Left force that would adopt real socialist ideas and fight for them. Nevertheless, despite the rise of far-right nationalist parties, consciousness in large sections of society goes further to the left: Ideas of nationalisation of businesses and homes to secure housing have begun to have a strong foothold, according to polls, even in Germany. Lack of confidence in politicians and parties is a phenomenon that we see in all of Europe and is very intense in south Cyprus as well. In Britain, only 10% trust their politicians; in south Cyprus, only 16% trust the parties. These conditions provide great opportunities for the Left. But since the left is not using them to put forward a socialist revolutionary perspective, these conditions are exploited by the far right and the nationalists.

The people of Europe have taken to the streets

Endlessly in Europe, struggles against austerity continue. From the Yellow Vests in France to the 100,000 workers who demonstrated last year against the 12-hour working day in Austria and the victory against water tax in Ireland and the general strikes in Greece during the Memorandums signed with Troika, workers in Europe have shown over and over again their determination to fight.

Millions have taken to the streets against climate change and inequality. On 15 March, 1.5 million young people in 123 countries and 2200 cities closed their schools and sent a powerful message against the environmental disaster caused by the capitalist system. Millions have taken to the streets in recent years for equal rights at work and at home, and against sexism and violence against women. The environment, women’s oppression, in conjunction with the economic crisis, unemployment and deprivation of rights, radicalize a new generation who is seeking answers outside the traditional left-wing organizations and against the system.

The rise of the Far Right, threatens democratic and human rights, and this is causing massive mobilizations. In a number of countries, we saw mass demonstrations against extremism and racism, 150,000 in Berlin last year, 200,000 in Milan this year, and in many European cities where the Far Right is trying to show face, anti-fascist rallies are being organized.

Most of these movements are organized beyond the moods of the traditional leaders of the Left and the Trade Unions. There is a vast European-wide gap in the trade union and political level – the working class and the youth do not have confidence in today’s trade union and political leaderships.

This year’s euroelections are dominated by the National Question

Despite the dissatisfaction that exists in society, the election campaign has once again been dominated by the National Question.

The European elections provide a unique opportunity for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to vote together.

AKEL has decided to give a seat on its electoral list to a Turkish Cypriot, Niyazi Kızılyürek, a well-known academic and federalist. Thus, AKEL argues that «for the first time we have a Turkish Cypriot candidate» and an «island-wide campaign».

However, the real difference was made by the Turkish Cypriot candidates in 2014, when it was the first time that Turkish Cypriots could run as candidates in the euroelections. At that time, none of the traditional parties, either in south or in the north, supported this important event. Several Turkish Cypriots ran in the euroelections as independent.

Historically though, the first bi-communal electoral list and campaignall over the island was carried out in 2014 by Drasy-Eulem, the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot electoral coalition, which had 4 Greek Cypriots, 2 Turkish Cypriots, 3 women and 3 men and their program was clearly against austerity policies and in support of socialism. (read more here). Unfortunately this time, such a coalition was not feasible.

None the less, it is a positive development that AKEL has taken the initiative, and from what it sounds like, albeit unofficially, Niyazi Kızılyürek’s candidacy has the support of CTP in northern Cyprus.

DISY is trying to summon its nationalist voters

The crisis and the indignation towards the political parties and the establishment is being used by ELAM, which claims the 6th seat in the Europarliament, which until now has been held by EDEK. DISY know that they will loose votes towards that direction. They know that they have lost the support of their pro solution and rapprochement basis, and the support of the Turkish Cypriots. Therefore they have turned towards nationalism.

The most famous candidate of DISY is Eleni Stavrou – Syrou, the daughter of the Deputy Head of EOKA B, who supported the Union of Cyprus with Greece at the memorial ceremony of Griva this year!

Throughout DISYs campaign, the candidates and the party’s president appear to all the EOKA Fighters’ Associations, talking about the «European family» in front of Greek flags and banners. DISY is now addressing its voters as Greeks of Cyprus, and promises to defend the Hellenism of Cyprus.

The last few weeks, DISY members have also been targeting Niyazi Kızılyürek, by repeating the usual accusation that every Turkish Cypriot is a Turkish agent and that if he is elected he will not represent the Republic of Cyprus but the TRNC.

Of course, DISY threw away the mask of being pro solution and rapprochement one and a half years ago, when the negotiations for the National Question reached a new dead end.

This must be seen by the supporters of the solution and rapprochement, who for so many years have put their hopes for the solution of the Cyprus problem, in a party that has historically sheltered members of EOKA B and the coup d’état, as well as the Turkish Cypriots who DISY now calls “borrowed” votes.

ELAM claims the 6th seat

Since the beginning of the election period, the polls showed EDEK and ELAM to claim the sixth seat in the European Parliament with very close percentages. Lately, this prospect is also possible for the Greens.

For EDEK, the political tone in claiming the seat was set by ELAM. They are competing for a long time now on who is the first that requested the closure of the checkpoints, and who is the first supporter of the “unified state”. EDEK cadres have recently withdrawn from the party and accused EDEK of becoming too similar to ELAM.

The Greens just recently in the polls started to take a percentage of 3.5%, which brings them closer to compete for the 6th seat. Their lead in the electoral list, Ch. Theopemptou, former Environmental Commissioner and current MP, has an active presence in all environmental movements.

The largest percentage in the polls is given to ELAM, especially from the poll of the European Parliament which gives them 10%!

This prospect led the ruling class, and the media that represent them, to launch a campaign against them, using anti-fascist rhetoric for the first time.

The fact that ELAM has increased their percentages so drastically is a result of the refusal of the Left, many years now, to admit that ELAM is neo-fascist and to act against it! At the same time, ELAM is presented as anti-systemic even though it represents the system in all its actions. They collaborate with the Church, voted for the sell off of the Coop Bank, while they reproduce the racism and nationalism that feeds the system by disorienting public opinion from the real problems.

ELAM has often shown their real face. Since 2009 they have clearly stated that they are the Golden Dawn of Cyprus. A few months ago, it became public that they were financed by the neo-Nazi German party, NPD.

Moreover, when it was revealed that their President, Christos Christou and other two of their cadres, Geadis, the party spokesman and an elected Municipal Councilor in Strovolos, have not served to the army, the response by Christou was «those who judge ELAM have to be very careful because it is possible for ELAM to respond in military terms and to implement an unorthodox political war»!

Recently, their relationships with the underworld have also come to light! Some time ago one of their members was arrested by the police as being a member of the mafia in Larnaca and a few days ago another of their members was arrested for drug trafficking!

In order to stop the rise of the Far Right, the Left needs to call them by their name, reveal their character and act against them. The Left has to organise consistent anti-fascist, anti-racist and anti-nationalist actions which will go hand in hand with an anti – austerity movement, both in Cyprus and in Europe. The Left has to be an integral part of the movements and to raise the banner of internationalism and the common struggle of peoples, and to put forward the slogan for a United Socialist Europe because a Europe for the people on a capitalist basis is impossible.

The election of a Turkish Cypriot in the European Parliament

The ruling class and the nationalists are afraid of the prospect of having an elected Turkish Cypriot in the European Parliament. Much more of a left-wing Turkish Cypriot!

For this reason, DISY and the nationalists have launched a major assault against Niyazi Kızılyürek. A similar assault he is experiencing in the north by nationalist descendants of TMT, not only now but also in the past, as he has written about 20 books in which he has condemned the occupation.

The election of a Turkish Cypriot who is a leftist would give a strong slap to nationalism and nationalists.

Being a candidate with AKEL’s electoral list, gives the message that the Left is the only consistent force that can unite the majority of the Cypriot people, and put in practice the political equality that we are fighting for.

The presence of a Turkish Cypriot elected member in the European Parliament should aim at the unveiling of nationalists at both Cypriot/Local and European level and contribute to a bicommunal struggle against them both in Cyprus and in Europe.

At the same time, seeing the real face of the EU, the role of a left-wing Turkish Cypriot elected in the European Parliament would be to encourage the struggle against the Europe of austerity, while breaking the illusions that are created especially in the north, where the EU has been counterweighted to the economic oppression and control by Turkey.

Niyazi Kızılyürek’s trajectory so far, is not moving in this direction. Already, for example, to the attack by nationalists in the north and south, he responds with an embellishment of the EU, presenting it as an example of internationalism and union of the people. This is obviously a serious mistake that needs to be corrected. In the past, he was an adviser of Anastasiades and Clerides for the Cyprus issue, thus putting his hopes for the solution of the national question to the capitalists who, not only are unable to solve the Cyprus problem but are ready, as they do now, to feed nationalism and ideas that are supporting the division of the island if the interests of the ruling elite impose it.

However, his candidacy needs our support, because it will give a perspective on what could be done in the future.

AKEL, candidates with leftist rhetoric

AKEL’s candidates appear in these elections to have a more leftist rhetoric. The Europe that they say they want is the «People’s Europe» and they no longer declare that they want a «fairer» Europe. They talk about unemployment, exploitation of workers, and put these as their first concern when they will be elected. They speak in support of a clash with the policies and the capitalist nature of the EU in order to stop the destruction of working relations and to serve Europe’s wealth-producing workers!

They support that the Europe of people’s democracy and solidarity is the struggle against inequality and social justice, it is the struggle that «they give to the streets together with the trade unions, the movements, with young people and the strikers who are demonstrating to strengthen the public health and education system, to safeguard labor rights, protect the environment, for a Europe that respects refugees and serves its people»! «The balance of forces today in the EU does not allow our own Europe to become practice.» they say, «It is therefore necessary to strengthen the forces of the Left in order to create the conditions of revolt and create the Europe that we fight for.»

While reading the above, someone may think that AKEL is a leftist party, giving daily struggles on the streets of Cyprus, with strikes and demonstrations. Although in the last year they have organized more demonstrations on international days of action and anniversaries, and about a year ago they gathered some thousands of people in the Pancyprian Peace Demonstration to the British Bases, however, for matters concerning everyday life in Cyprus, AKEL does not call for «struggle in the streets with the trade unions and the movements «, nor for a “revolt” and «clash with the capitalist character» of the system! On the contrary, they systematically call for the president and the government to take measures in the interest of the people, which, of course, Anastasiades, as a right wing politician, will not do. The point is to force the government to retreat under the pressure of struggles – that is what AKEL should have done!

It is indicative that six years in the crisis, no general strike has been called by PEO. On the contrary, the most important strikes are organised outside of the traditional structures of trade unions (such as the strike of the nurses of PASYNO and the contract workers of the public sector with their union called Equality).

The revolt therefore that AKEL is describing remains in words. We would very much like what AKEL cadres say in their speeches, that they should be involved in the development of labor and social struggles instead of putting a «task» on a right-wing president, to become practice. But they do not seem to be willing to do that. That is why we need to continue our struggle, in the grassroots of the society, in the workers and the youth, to build a mass revolutionary Left.

Nevertheless, and in parallel with the criticisms that we have towards AKEL, NEDA proposes to vote AKEL in these elections and more specifically to vote Niyazi Kızılyürek, considering that a left-wing Turkish Cypriot elected in the Europarliament will be a very positive and historically significant event.

The need for a revolutionary left

The struggle for a new, revolutionary, mass left continues in Cyprus and internationally.

The Left we need and we need to fight to build, in our opinion, should:

  • Start from everyday problems and organise struggles for solutions, based on a plan that escalates the resistance and the struggle against the attacks that the working people are facing and against the ruling class.
  • Organize workers and youth in the southern and northern parts of the island, in a Common Front, against nationalism and partition, and for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.
  • Be clear that this solution can not come from the ruling classes who have conflicting interests, but from a Common Front of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the working class and the people who are the only ones who have nothing to lose, on the contrary they have much to gain from the reunification of the island.
  • Have as a primary objective the overthrow of the power of the few families that control the Cypriot economy and the socialization of strategic sectors and businesses so that the economy does not operate for the profits of the few but is designed for the needs of the many.
  • Fight for democracy in production, economy and the state by institutionalizing workers’ and social control and management, with elected and recalled boards of directors (without overpaid wages and privileges) and workers control committees.
  • Be internationalist, seek to coordinate the struggles in a pan-European and international level,  fight against anti-labor policies and aim at a social overthrow on an international level.
  • Fight for a Socialist United Federal Cyprus, because a real and viable solution to the Cyprus problem is impossible on a capitalist basis.
  • Raise the banner for a United Socialist Europe high, because a united Europe on a capitalist basis is impossible, and because every attempt of national isolationism is doomed to fail and lead to the strengthening of nationalists and of the Far Right.

NEDA fights for a united, democratic, internationalist, revolutionary Left, alongside other organizations and parties of the revolutionary Left in tenths of countries across the continents, participating in the Committee for a Workers International, CWI.


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