From Common Dreams
It has been several decades since a socialist candidate has won a citywide office race in the United States but that could all change soon as polls are showing Seattle City Council candidate Kshama Sawant with a 402 vote lead on Wednesday evening and no signs of the margin shrinking.
Sawant’s victory over 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin would also make her the first openly socialist candidate to be elected to a city office in Seattle’s history.
“This is new territory. There really isn’t any precedent,” said Stuart Elway, a longtime political pollster. “You think Seattle has a pretty liberal electorate, but you haven’t seen someone who calls themselves a socialist win.”
With roughly 20,000 votes left to count in the state’s mail-in voting system, the Associated Press is reporting that it could be days or even weeks before the Nov. 4 election results can be officially declared.
However, things were looking good for Sawant Wednesday, a candidate who ran on a “Occupy Wall Street” inspired platform including proposals to tax the rich and raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15.
Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio romped home as New York City mayor in Tuesday’s election, thumping far-right Republican candidate Joe Lhota by grabbing 73 per cent of votes cast.
New Yorkers held their nerve in the face of a hysterical campaign by the right-wing media which denounced Mr de Blasio as a communist because of his work in Nicaragua as an aid worker and supporter of the Sandinista government 30 years ago.
The mayor-elect, who has referred to himself as a democratic socialist, based his campaign on tackling New York’s inequalities, speaking of a “tale of two cities.”
Although the city has a reputation of backing the Democratic Party, Mr de Blasio is the first to win the mayor’s job on its ticket since David Dinkins triumphed in 1989.
“Today you spoke loudly and clearly for a new direction for our city,” he told supporters at a victory rally in Brooklyn where he lives.
Communist Party USA website People’s World called the victor an “inconsistent progressive,” pointing out that he has often supported property developers over working people.
However, he was backed by the city’s biggest union SEIU 1199 and other labour movement organisations and drew enthusiastic support for his proposal to provide preschool education for all children by taxing Wall Street and the rich.
Mr de Blasio enraged Mr Lhota, who was characterised as a representative of the city’s 1 per cent, by throwing his weight behind a plan to increase the local living wage to $11.75 (£7.30) an hour.
Outgoing billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg recently vetoed a city council proposal in favour of a $10-an-hour figure.
The living wage will not apply to all workers, being restricted to those employed by private companies in receipt of tax subsidies or other corporate subsidies from the city council.
Fast-food and other low-paid workers who have been taking concerted industrial action across the US over the past year have a target of a $15 (£9.30) an hour as a living wage.
Democrats also captured two other citywide posts up for grabs, with Letitia James elected public advocate and Scott Stringer taking over as comptroller.
There is no doubt that voting intentions are very volatile at the moment, but the latest poll shows Labour and the Conservatives both recovering a bit, and UKIP’s support dropping a little.
Update: Labour lead at 8 – Latest YouGov/The Sun results 25th June – CON 32%, LAB 40%, LD 11%, UKIP 11%; APP -33 http://t.co/CQFKTf1MCr
— YouGov (@YouGov) June 26, 2013
I was recently horrified to discover that the anti-Islam extremist, Anne Marie Waters, is considered one of the front-runners to be Labour’s candidate for Brighton Pavilion, for the next general election. Indeed, because alongside her bigoted anti-religious views she is also a pro-NHS campaigner, there is a danger that the left and some unions may support her for the Labour candidacy.
I first came across Anne Marie Waters when she put herself forwards for the South Swindon selection, and very unusually for a Labour politician Waters gave as her personal reference a Central Committee member of the Worker Communist Party of Iran, Maryam Namazie. It was also very difficult to get a straight answer from Ms Waters what she actually does for a living, and how it is funded.
Both Namazie and Anne Marie Waters signed a letter in 2010 to the Guardian opposing the state visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the UK.
In February 2013 Anne Marie Waters appeared in a short Channel 4 film, where she made alarmist, ill-informed and dangerous remarks about immigration – view it here. Anne Marie Waters self-describes herself in the film as “an anti-Sharia campaigner”, and says that Islam is a religion that, in her words, is “new to Europe”, and that she “is frightened of”. In the film she makes it clear that she thinks that religiously observant Muslims should leave the UK.
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Venezuela’s independent National Electoral Council (CNE) has concluded the first stage of the audit of the vote initiated following April’s Presidential election and has found “zero error”.
The audit came about after the losing right wing candidate, Henrique Capriles, refused to accept the result of April’s presidential election, that saw Nicolas Maduro elected, and instead claimed that fraud had been committed.
Venezuela has a fully electronic voting system. As well as voting electronically each voter gets a paper receipt corresponding to their electronic vote, which the voter can check, and which is then placed in a traditional ballot box. To ensure the accuracy of the electronic results, an audit of 54% of these paper ballots is automatically made on election night before the results are released and in front of witnesses from all political parties and members of the public. During this audit no discrepancies were reported by witnesses from the campaign team of Henrique Capriles. Venezuela’s fully automated electoral system underwent 18 audits before, during and after the vote. These were conducted in the presence of witnesses from all political parties who certified the system’s proper functioning and integrity. There was not one single instance of irregularity registered by these witnesses. On the contrary, all of the audits were signed off by all witnesses including those representing the losing parties. One further safeguard was the presence of over 150 electoral accompaniers from 22 countries who declared the elections free and fair.
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- Independent: 14
- Plaid Cymru: 12
- Labour: 3
- Liberal Democrats: 1
The Conservatives failed to win any seats in Thursday’s election, as did UKIP which fielded candidates in every ward. However UKIP’s 7% share of the vote was bigger than the Tories’ 6%.
BBC interview: listen here
Every year Luke Akehurst writes an article looking at what the benchmarks are for Labour in the May County Council elections. Luke then follows it up with an analysis of the results. It makes very interesting reading, and a particularly encouraging sign is that this is apparently the first time Labour have made net gains in a county council election year since 1993. Continue reading the full article
Leanne Wood said the results were not only testament to the hard work of local candidates and members but also reflected the desire of local people to consign the local authority’s chequered history to the past.
“This is an excellent result for Plaid Cymru,” said Leanne Wood, “winning 12 seats on the council and increasing our representation on the council is a definite sign that we are winning support up and down the country with our positive policies to boost the economy.
“I’ve said from the beginning of my leadership that the Welsh economy and job creation are the priorities. I hope that we will be able to implement this ethos on Ynys Môn now because it is something that was said to me by voters time and time again on the door steps.
“What is most important of all for Ynys Môn now is that political point-scoring is put to one side in the name of good governance and bringing to an end a difficult chapter in the history of the council.”
Newly-elected Councillor Bob Parry said:
“The interests of the people of Ynys Môn must be placed before all else. There is a lot of trust to be re-built between the local authority and the people of Ynys Môn and I know our excellent team on the island have the integrity, determination and work ethic to achieve this.
“At the beginning of this election campaign we urged voters to make ‘Anglesey/Môn proud again’ and that is what our councillors at the local authority will be focusing on over the next few years.”