Graphic for short pamphlet distributed during UK election 1983
The proportion of the electorate which votes at general elections is generally between 75 and 80 per cent; it is much lower at by-elections and local elections. It is surely time to give the large and significant numbers of people who don’t vote proper attention during election campaigns, in at least two areas.
Reports of public opinion surveys should give the percentage of those who don’t support any party – whether their response is don’t know, don’t care, won’t say, or a plague on all your houses. This would give real figures for the support or lack of support for the parties and would show the interesting fact that none of them is ever supported by the majority of the electorate.
Political broadcasts should be allocated to non-voters on the same basis as to the political parties. This would give us less time than the Conservative or Labour parties; but more than the Liberal-SDP alliance or any other party, and would give us a fair chance to explain our good reasons for not voting.
Islington High Street,
Mexico, Oaxaca: villagers burn municipal offices, a police van and an ambulance in opposition to local elections They accuse the federal governement and the government of the State of Oaxaca of ignoring a national legal decision to stop extraction projects in their area. “In a meeting held yesterday, the Zoque Indians agreed to evict the residents of Belisario Dominguez, led by Oscar Gordillo, accusing them of illegally expropriating wood and destroying the forest. “The authorities have not paid attention to the community’s demand to evict the invaders; in April this year the Interior Ministry and the government of Oaxaca ensured that land would be restored yet so far have done nothing to solve the agrarian conflict “….Last February, community members from Santa Maria detained three people and in March one more, after accusing them of deforesting 200 hectares belonging to the indigenous community.”
the birthplace of democracy:
Rough translation (from French) of anti-election leaflet originally written in Greek (added 11/7/15):
For abstention in the referendum and conflict with the institutions of democracy
The Greek state is in search of accomplices. The referendum is the best way to
find them. By generously offering illusions of free mediation and making us contribute to the project of its reinforcement, its maddest desire is materialized: We will be the ones
who will bury ourselves under our own tombstone! The dilemma is simple: yes or no? Bad
foreign creditors or good management of the state by the Left? Memorandum heavy or light? Measures totaling 12 billion or 8 billion? Another opportunity to put our lives
in the hands of the government and saviours. Another opportunity for national unity,
to forget what divides us and unite the motley crowd (fascists, patriots, bosses,
good citizens) to address the common external enemy, the lenders, and by this path
clear the local bosses of all responsibility.
As anarchist high school students, we choose to abstain in the referendum (although
we do not have the right to vote). We are opposed to the system’s dilemmas and its
illusions, and we clarify in advance that we will not participate in any institutional or electoral proceedings of government. Because simply, such a process is aimed at stabilizing the system and preserving and strengthening the national and institutional domination of the state, as is each option given to us through this expedient. However, we do not support abstention as an alternative or third way, because we think that abstention alone only leads to passivity and assimilation.
So based on this mindset, the only abstention that satisfies us is that resulting
from conflict, insurrectional action and anarchist struggle. Far from the parties and their
lines. Far from saviours and leaders. Self-organized, radical and aggressive, because it is
only in this way that can we take our lives into our own hands.
For a frontal attack against the state, capital and all forms of authority.
Group of anarchist high school students – anti-educational Attack.
US, Hawaii: particularly obnoxious scumbag politician beaten up by homeless people “Rep. Tom Brower (D), whomade national headlines in 2013 after smashing homeless people’s shopping carts with a sledgehammer, was reportedly punched in the head several times and taken to Queens Medical Center in serious condition, where he was treated for a concussion and eye injuries. Isaiah Totoa, 17, who was involved in the altercation, told Hawaii News Now that he and a friend were angry after Brower refused to stop filming them. “How would you feel if I walked in your house and just started recording you, right? We live here, this our house, respect it…We don’t choose to live like this. If I had a choice to go to a house right now and live in that house… trust and believe, I would be in my house. I wouldn’t be living underneath one tent.”
Greece, Athens: Syriza office torched by anarchists In the meantime, Syriza’s referendum has distracted from the fact that Syriza has given way to most of the detestable Troika’s demands, but the Troika, it seems, just wants its pound of flesh – wanting to punish the Left of capital and the Greek proletariat at the same time, to discourage any very minor tendencies towards some very watered-down Keynesianism. The call for a referendum is not just brinkmanship in response to the brinkmanship of the EU, but also a way of preventing splits in Syriza’s party, which would have become very overt if Syriza had conceded absolutely everything to the Troika: it would have destroyed its hold on parliament. However, the EU don’t particularly want a Greek exit – it’d be the first time the EU area would have reduced in size in its entire history. Plus, with Podemos possibly coming to power in Spain, the fear that another country might follow will not be something the Euro bankers particularly want. Their hope might be that the return of the drachma will be so devastating for Greece, that the voters of Spain will decide not to support Podemos in less than 6 months time. But they might feel that’s not a risk worth taking and in the face-off they’ll be the first to blink. However, I suspect that neither side will withdraw from the brink and a Greek exit is more likely than one side conceding (though it’s possible the EU will make very slight concessions which Syriza will somehow spin as something a lot more than what they’re likely to be). Speculating on such possibilities however is a way of making me feel that I’m in some way contributing to effecting a situation totally outside my (or the vast majority of proletarians’) control. Because, without any international confrontation with the forces of capital on any revolutionary scale, Greece is caught between the rock of brutal EU-managed austerity and the hard place of brutal nationally-managed austerity. Isn’t democracy a wonderful thing? More witty analysis here: “The referendum is less than sound and fury signifying nothing. It’s less than zero. A tic. The trembling of a dead body. “
Spain, Barcelona: as the new activist mayor is sworn in (praised by all liberal-lefties – see this, for instance), it seems worthwhile starting to formulate the skeleton of a critique of developments such as these. For one thing, her programme doesn‘t seem to scare entrepreneurs:
Her programme even includes letting squatters occupy official empty buildings. Which will require deep analysis of the relationships between radical and reformist squatting strategies, as well as recuperation policies and the integration of radical practices into official politics, and the way to avoid being part of something squatting is supposed to be against.
In Madrid, the new mayor is also from Podemos. She was previously a judge (left-wing, of course)
and she created “Yayos Emprendedores”, a “company with social benefits” which commercializes toys and children clothes produced by prisoners.
http://www.fundacionmelior.org/content/tema/yayos-emprendedores-una-empresa-con-beneficio-social How nice!
[thanks to Pi for the beginnings of such a critique; see also this ]
“At least three polling stations were prevented from opening after masked protesters and the parents of 43 students allegedly killed by a police-backed drug gang last year seized and burned ballots in Tixtla, Guerrero, cancelling the vote in the town of 40,000. “
Oaxaca: local mayor shot dead…whilst anti-election movement continues “Teachers of Section 22 of the CNTE burnt electoral propaganda during their march against the FONAPAS gas station, as one of its measures of pressure against election day. In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, they burned ballot boxes… while in Miahuatlán the situation is very tense as the army looks on”…Police forced to retreat in Tlaxiaco, Teotitlán and Miahuatlán “Oaxaca…teachers refused to surrender the premises of INE [building of the electoral board overseeing the elections]…From the moment the Army, Gendarmerie, Federal Police and Navy, entered the state by air, land and sea, teachers from different regions armed themselves with Molotov cocktails, stones and rockets, to confront the national security forces…..Initially the teachers of Section 22 of the CNTE in the region of Tuxtepec… removed all the furniture and set it on fire in the street, and they seized several different gas stations, shops and, by Friday afternoon, they took the hydroelectric facilities of Temascal, a strategic facility for the state that supplies power to the southeast of Mexico….in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Juchitan de Zaragoza, a group of 500 education workers from six sectors of Section 22 of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, blocked the main entrance to the refinery “Jaime Antonio Dovalí” in Salina Cruz, preventing the exit and entry of Pemex petrol tankers, however, on Saturday the army and the gendarmerie managed to evict the teachers who’d been struggling with federal forces…In the Mixteca region, or more precisely in Huajuapan de Leon, where the District Board was besieged… they retained control of a gas pipe to reinforce the blockade. …the pipe was occupied as a barricade to prevent the police forcess coming….In Tlaxiaco grenadiers, evicting the teachers who were in possession of the local board of INE, had a heavy confrontation with teachers, who were supported by villagers …these, resulted in several federal forces being seriously …injured… In Miahuatlán …located in the southern highlands, teachers supported by members of the Revolutionary Popular Front RPF fought elements of the security forces, but also set fire to the premises of the local board of INE, besides burning a truck owned by the same federal electoral institute….In Tlaxiaco, a major contingent forced the federal police to retreat… setting fire to a vehicle, tires and … prevented the police from returning…. in the district of Pochutla in the Coast region, teachers were holding the gas station, where a group of people armed with stones, machetes and sticks, were evicted, several teachers being injured in addition to a number gone missing“
Jiutepec, Morelos State: ballot box and election officials burnt “According to witnesses, a guy who pretended to come in order to vote threw gasoline on hundreds of ballot papers and at polling officials, then threw a lighter which caused the burning. Both the president of the ballot…. and the officer were taken to a hospital. The man who burned the box was not arrested”
Mexico, Oaxaca: 6000 teachers mobilize in main square to boycott the elections “Among slogans such as “no to the farce”, “to vote is to lie”, the event is followed at a distance by army soldiers while helicopters carried the Mexican Air Force overhead in the area.” Video here
megabarricade in Teotitlan
Teachers were joined by locals who came to support them. They placed two buses, tires and metal structures across the road. At 1.40 pm about 200 federal agents aboard seven trucks and three buses tried to enter the town but they couldn’t
Mexico, Chiapas: teachers ransack offices of at least 6 political parties, burning papers…Vera Cruz, Xlapa: state forces savagely attack students opposed to elections “At about 1 am today, Friday, June 5, 8 students from the Universidad Veracruzana were brutally attacked by a group of hooded thugs and police in tactical vests, with bats, batons and rifles, in a house during a birthday party …Approximately five minutes after they left police patrols arrived to photograph the wounded, some with serious skull fractures….We hold the government of the state of Veracruz responsible for this campaign of ruthless attacks and criminalization of youth and activists under the electoral process marked by uncertainty and violence generated by the government….Similarly we demand a statement and concrete actions by the rector of the Universidad Veracruzana, Sara Ladron de Guevara, related to the attack. We will not allow a witch hunt.”…electoral boycott in Zacatecas (traditionally not one of the most combative)
Mexico, Oaxaca: movement continues “lack of gasoline…led members of the National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE) to resort to…theft of vehicles belonging to government institutions and companies….In addition, the protesters stole and burned stationery from the PRI headquarters on Federal Highway 190 …”
Members of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) burn Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) [ie the governing party] documents, as well as pictures of President Enrique Peña Nieto, on Federal Highway 190
Mexico, Oaxaca: 200 teachers block airport in movement against elections “Teachers of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) today blocked Oaxaca International Airport as part of its actions to boycott Sunday’s election to exert pressure [on the state] to respond to its demands. Having taken Route 175 leading to the air terminal just after sunrise, about 200 teachers came to the airport installations …After the blockade by the teachers, the airport suspended flights and closed its facilities…Teachers on Monday began an indefinite strike affecting more than one million students seeking to boycott the elections on June 7 and simultaneously press the government to respond to their requests, including….the appearance alive of the 43 students missing in Iguala, free education, wage increases and the cancellation of the educational reform enacted in 2013, among other things. “…However, teachers announced on Tuesday that, although the government is committed to meeting their demands, they’ll continue to boycott the electoral process which they consider a “farce”. On Sunday, more than 83 million Mexicans are called to the polls to elect 1,996 officials, including 500 federal deputies and governors of nine states.”…More here “… teachers, the National Coordinator of Educational Workers (CNTE)…occupied 11 electoral offices, oil company Pemex’s facilities and several commercial installations”…Guerrero: clash between Normalista School and cops – 10 cops injured Video in Englishhere…Tixtla under state of siege as state aims to occupy the Ayotzinapa School “The head of the Mexican National Electoral Institute, Lorenzo Cordova, admitted that actions in support of the election boycott in the state of Oaxaca have made it impossible for the institute to conduct its work in that state.”
Mexico, Chiapas: teachers take over 14 gas stations, start distributing free gas; set fire to law library in the House of Culture, also burn Institute of Elections and Citizen Participation…Nayarit: general assembly of Council of the United Communities announce their refusal to allow the general elections of June 7th to be held in 4 villages…Guerrero: at least 17 armoured vehicles sent to Chilapa to prevent opposition to elections
Mexico, Vera Cruz: molotov cocktails burn electoral building…Oaxaca: despite army protection, 18 ballot boxes are burnt in anti-election movement initiated by teachers’ organisation (in Juchitan) (morehere, mentioning Tehuantepec, another town in Oaxaca state)…and this talks of teachers expelling soldiers from electoral building and the theft of a van carrying electoral packages in Gorge…Puebla: 6 days before election, molotovs thrown at National Electoral Institute, the Secretariat of the Economy and the Urban Network of Articulated Transport…This report resumes some of the events, which include the “temporary” closure of 9 of the 11 electoral boards of Oaxaca; the assassination of several candidates and a possible boycott of the election in some states, especially Oaxaca, Guerrero and Michoacan; that in the Yucatan town of Peto there was a clash between rank and file members of the National Action Party (PAN) and a group attacking them that left a toll of two dead and at least six injured; that in Tehuantepec members of the teachers organisation set fire to the premises of the District Board 05; that in Guerrero 3 radio stations were taken over and broadcasters were forced to transmit a message from the Normalista School about the 43 disappeared students and a critique of the electoral process; that in Michoacan a car carrying the state president of the Social Encounter Party (PES), and his chauffeur was fired upon, though they were unharmed; and that in order to ensure the security and peaceful (ho ho) development of the elections of June 7, more than 12 thousand members of the Mexican Army, the Navy of Mexico and the Attorney General’s Office have already been deployed.
France, Val-de Marne: anarchists attack main window of Communist Party offices “For the PCF, this is no ordinary act of vandalism. “This is a commissioned operation, it is not just that on a Sunday morning at that hour that they were equipped by chance …”. And denounced “a despicable act against the Communists and democracy”, “a violation of political democracy.” “In our city where the population predominantly, in the last elections, chose to trust elected communists and the Left Front, we call for a Republican upsurge to reject this dirty work”
Mexico, Guerrero: riot cops attack parents of the 43 dissappeared while they try to remove electoral propaganda There’s currently a movement of removing electoral propaganda in various places in Mexico, especially in indigenous communities fighting for their autonomy (organizing themselves in local assemblies without political parties), in the run-up to the 7th of June local elections.
It’s especially strong in Guerrero and Michoacán. In Michoacán, the police killed 43 supposed members of a Cartel on the 22nd of May. Many seem to have been executed, and there are complaints from families and many doubts that all were really affiliated with organized crime (see this in Spanish). [written by Pi]
Burundi: politically-dominated protests leads to more killings by cops Whilst this movement is undoubtedly dominated by the opposition parties and the illusion in a change of personnel at the top, these photos seem to show that some of what’s happening is a bit better than that.
Burundi, Bujumbura: clashes with commodity/class society-defending state mercenaries (ie cops) as political groups condemn president seeking 3rd term Once again, it sounds like not all of this is respectable “opposition”: “In one northern neighbourhood, protesters burnt tyres on the road and threw stones at police, who also shot in the air and used water cannons to disperse the crowd. Witnesses said violence had spread to a second neighbourhood where one protester was wounded when police shot him, while a police officer had been injured after being hit by a rock. The witnesses said police were also using live bullets.”
Congo, Kinshasa: 2 looters and 1 cop killed, as protesters against new electoral law start looting shops More here “In several neighborhoods, including Bandalungwa, youths ignited tires and mounted roadblocks at certain intersections, witnesses said. An AFP reporter saw several clashes between groups of young people throwing stones against the police, who fired tear gas.”
Tunisia, Sidi Bouzid: demonstration against election result – main road blocked overnight with burning tyres, municipal depot looted…regional office of agricultural HQ set on fire…Souk Lahad: National Guard post, and 2 other state buildings, set on fire
Tunisia: several riots in response to the elections (continuing into the 23rd Dec) “A number of riots erupted in many regions and cities after the announcement of the election results announcing the victory of Beji Caid Essebsi. The damage assessment to the town of El Hamma at Gabes is the heaviest in the country. Sixteen security guards were wounded, police stations, the post of the National Guard and the district security building were burned… in Jomna under the jurisdiction of Kebili Sud, a group of youths barricaded the road between the two jurisdictions of Kebili and Douz with burning tires during the day on Monday, December 22, 2014…The popular neighborhood of Kram ….on the night of Monday to Tuesday, December 23, 2014 was the scene of violent clashes between police and dozens of “protestors”. Tear gas was fired to disperse the crowds…”
Sri Lanka, Sapugaskanda: workers prevent MPs visiting oil refinery Workers being used as pawns in political game or…?
South Africa, Alexandra: electoral commission centre room burnt by local residents…as voter abstentions increases by about 10% by my calculations…”…of 1.9 million voters aged 18-19, only one in three is registered to vote” – from here….over 250,000 spoilt ballot papers…more election stats…and more news of attacks on voting stations, suspected vote rigging etc. “ IEC centre was burnt down by angry residents, who alleged that there was vote rigging….The protesters targeted state property, torching and vandalising buildings including a yet-to-be opened clinic and council offices… Alexander yesterday after chaos erupted in the township. They were protesting for marked EFF ballots that were found dumped in Alexander and were asking for a recount of votes….Yesterday a large contingent of police was seen patrolling the streets and potential violent hot spots. “We’re relieved the army came this morning,” said a policeman who asked not be named as he’s not a spokesman…. Buildings owned by council were burned down…Tensions started mounting across the country after voting on Wednesday.… two people were arrested after they stormed a voting station in Tzaneen, Limpopo and attacked police on duty, election officials and party agents, and damaged voting material….On election day there were five protests across the country – in Maruleng in Limpopo, Gugulethu in Gauteng, Botshabelo in the Free State, eNgcobo in the Eastern Cape, and Barcelona in the Western Cape….There have also been media reports of a group of people in Bekkersdal storming a voting station and attacking police on duty, a group of IEC officials, and party agents accusing them of marking ballots and smuggling it into the hall….And in a separate incident a man was arrested in Bekkersdal for allegedly setting alight the IEC’s tents in the area on the eve of the elections.”
And from here: “Julius Malema called for calm. “People in Alexandra, we call on you to accept defeat. Do it in a dignified manner,” said Malema, a populist politician who founded the left-wing EFF after being expelled from the ANC. “Don’t put South Africa into ashes because of election outcomes.”
Of course, abstaining from voting is not in itself indicative of any intensification of class struggle, though it does indicate a basic contempt for bourgeois politics. This, from SK about Abahlali Basemjondolo’s decision not to call for abstentions in the election, is an interesting take on the whole question: “I agree with them that something further than abstention is necessary. It’s purely defensive — equivalent to a hunger strike or the withdrawal of labour — to boycott elections on the basis that no political party has the ability to keep even a fraction of the empty promises they make. If the more rebellious proletarians (whether workers, students, homemakers or unemployed) don’t initiate some real democracy – some form of mass democratic dialogue – by occupying large buildings or any other large area, and attack both the dictatorship of the media, and the confusions of the Union bureaucracy, as well as the limitation of the protests to special interest demands, then any rejection of the dominant notion of democracy will appear abstract, an argumentative manoeuvre. But this new move of AbM is by no means an advance beyond the limitations of abstract criticism. Rather, it exemplifies the contradictions of such criticism which inevitably engender the practical submission characteristic of all fatalism.
Besides the of contradiction of favouring organisations such as the IF [Samotnaf note: this was written before AbM decided to “tactically” support DA]– who have murdered thousands more in KZN than the ANC (some 4500 compared to 1500, according to the TRC report), were the ruling party in their province immediately after 1994, and are the sole opposition with any chance of victory at the polls — as the ‘lesser evil’, this perspective reverses reality for the simple fact that the career of the ruling party has not been murderous because the role has been occupied by the ANC; rather, the ANC has had a murderous career because it has occupied the role of the ruling party. Any other racket responsible for managing an fundamentally murderous capitalism throughout the country for 20 years would necessarily end up with blood on its hands. To court any party whatsoever is to court disaster, more or less brutal as the case may be.
Even on purely tactical grounds the move is unsound. The effect which a few thousand members of their organisation will have on the elections is statistically minimal. If it is to have any chance of deposing the ANC at all, it would have to be for the benefit of the Buthelezi and the IFP, which as we know has an even more bloody history of repression. As for the ‘guarantees’ they are demanding from their potential patrons, they of all people should know that the only guarantee in politics is the failure of politicians to stick to their promises. The entire legal framework is built around such irresponsibility, if there was anyway to hold representatives responsible through the courtrooms it would have been done long ago.
That said, they will continue to go their own way regardless of who they vote for, so as far as diversions go this will not prove to be a particularly disasterous one. All the same, the fact that the most theoretically advanced mass organisation has adopted this position is an indication of how far the revolutionary movement as a whole is from the sort of democratic initiative that would move us closer towards any potentially positive outcome.”
Algeria, Kabylie: youths attack election con and demockracy’s cops “…groups of youths seeking to disrupt voting in the Bouria region, southeast of Algiers, ransacked polling stations in three localities shortly after they opened at 0700 GMT, with the police firing to disperse them….Forty-one people were injured in the unrest, including 28 policemen”Video here: “We’re not supporting anyone, we’re not with either candidate.We’re fed up with Power. We’re fed up with this system. We’re fed up with everything in Algeria.” (more here and here in French…less than 17% turnout in most areas of Kabylie)
France, Beziers: election (on just under 50% of the vote) of National Front mayor met with anger in poor district of town (report in French)“… clashes occurred in the popular area of Devèze, ranked as a Priority Security Zone (ZSP) where young people threw stones at the CRS. 2 cars and a transformer were burned in the neighborhood Iranget . In another popular area of Iranget , two cars , containers and a transformer were also burned , leaving the entire neighborhood lit up.”