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Europe: Green Surges, Older Parties Erode, Far Right Gains

Green parties made stunning gains in the European Elections, due to the strength of many younger voters, the grass roots insurgency of ecological school strikes and marches, and the tenacity of Green Party activists.

The older mainstream parties, both center-right and social democratic, received a mix of drubbing demotions and eroding support.

The far right nationalists also made gains, notably in France and Italy. The far right also gained less dramatically in Germany. I have added links and stories below from France 24 and The Guardian.

There are lessons here not only for European Greens and socialists, but for class conscious popular resistance in the United States. Any left party that is not also a party of ecosocialism deserves the dustbin of history. As for the Green Party of the United States, some harsh home truths are in order.

The Green Party here has a solid program of peace, economic democracy, and ecological sanity. Howie Hawkins is a fine representative of the strongly socialist wing of this party, and deserves support as a presidential candidate.

However, the Green Party must put its house in order. At the national level, there must be living wages for working members who have the job of getting the message out to the public and staffing the bigger campaigns. Donated labor can go only so far, and in electoral politics amateurism is fatal.

2020 will be a critical year for the Democratic Party, because a growing sector of young socialists will be making the effort to break the death grip of the old guard in the DNC and the DCCC. Some of the reformers will soon be bribed and recruited as party functionaries. Others will carry on trying to reform the party from within. And others will finally split to the independent left. Therefore keep the bridges of communication open.

Already, Biden stands out as the very incarnation of reflexive and regressive “centrism.” So far he offers only one dumb drumbeat response when asked to outline actual public policies: “Defeat Trump.” Not inspiring and more importantly not strategic. Especially since career politicians of the Democratic Party labored mightily, if unwittingly, to put Trump in power. Through their crass careerism, their phony populism, and above all their corporate loyalties.

The European Elections also underscore a generational divide in politics. This does not mean that simply being young guarantees sympathy with either standard social democracy or with explicit democratic socialism. On the contrary, class loyalties also count among the young, and one European commenter noted that Macron’s base is a coalition of “hipsters and the bourgeoisie.”

People in their fifties and sixties, with a lifetime of vote by rote habits, will not easily become rebels in the voting booth. But this does not mean breaking communication with them, only being focused in our attempts to reinvent democracy from the ground up. Dismissing the whole realm of electoral politics is a dead end.

We are in the middle of a long protracted struggle involving dual power. The power of insurgent and class conscious social movements every day of the year is ours already. Then we also have the power of using strategic voting, and demanding  electoral reforms such as abolition of the Electoral College, proportional representation, and instant run off voting. We cannot wish away the obstacles, but this is a good working rule: Over, under and around.

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