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Left makes breakthrough as Fianna Fáil suffers historic collapse in Irish elections

A new political situation has emerged in Ireland with real opportunities for the left to lead the anti cuts struggle. Bernie McAdam reports

Fianna Fáil has been dumped out of office after polling a historic low. The bad news is that the openly capitalist party Fine Gael looks set to form a coalition with the Labour Party, which polled 20 per cent, its highest vote ever.

Despite talk of renegotiating the IMF/EU deal, the Fine Gael led government will pursue the pro cuts agenda demonstrating its servility to the IMF bail out and Brussels.

The Labour Party has already voted for the Finance Bill, which binds the next government to a programme of severe cuts as demanded by Brussels and the IMF.

Sinn Fein also polled well on the back of its opposition to the cuts but held out for coalition with several pro cuts parties. In the North they are in coalition of repression and cuts with the DUP.

United Left Alliance

The good news is the significant electoral breakthrough for the United Left Alliance. Joe Higgins (Socialist Party), Clare Daly (SP), Joan Collins and Richard Boyd Barrett (People before Profit), Seamus Healy (Workers and Unemployed Action Group).

The ULA offered a principled alternative to all the establishment parties that believed workers should be paying for the excesses of the bankers and the bond markets.

It refused to do any deals or support any coalition that would force workers to pay for the current crisis.

The new left members of parliament (TDs) have an opportunity to lead an immediate fight back against the vicious attacks on workers.

It will also raise the possibility of building a new anti-capitalist party in Ireland. Joe Higgins’ promise of a ‘new political party of the left’ is a very encouraging sign and shows the potential of this new initiative and the pressure for left unity.

Clearly an electoral challenge isn’t enough; a new party must call for a mass movement of resistance to defeat the cuts.

A new party will also have to democratically decide on an action programme for turning the immediate struggles into a fight for working class power and socialism.

At the heart of such a programme must be the call for mass strikes culminating in a general strike to scupper the attempts by a coalition government to make us pay for their system.

We need to build councils of action to democratically co-ordinate the strikes and not leave the trade union leadership to sell out.

All-Ireland party

We also need to organise on an all-Ireland basis.

Any new socialist party in Ireland has to address the national question and call for the withdrawal of Britain and the dismantling of the sectarian state in the north.

Central to any new programme is the fight against women’s oppression. The recession will undoubtedly hit women the hardest. We must be in the forefront of the fight for women’s rights in particular for free abortion on demand.

Last but not least, a new anti-capitalist party should fight for a real workers government based on democratic workers’ councils and protected by a workers’ militia that can overturn capitalism once and for all.

Now is the time for a revolutionary alternative – let’s fight for a Workers’ Republic.

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