Ireland: AAA, An anti-austerity party in the footsteps of Syriza


an article by Barthélémy Gaillard, Europe1 (abridged)

Anti-austerity parties are flourishing in Europe. After the victory of Syriza in Greece and the popular success of Podemos in Spain, it is the turn of the Irish anti-austerity Alliance (AAA). . .

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It must be said that the Irish radical left has found fertile ground in the economic policy of the current Prime Minister Enda Kenny in recent years. It is a strong and effective policy that has enabled the country to quickly get out of the circle of austerity. But at what price? This policy has aroused in the Irish population a protest sentiment crystallized in particular around payments for water. Traditionally, water was free, but now it must be purchased as one of the demands by the troika following the Irish bailout. There were immediate consequences throughout the country. There were 120,000 people who took to the streets in November to reflect a generalized dissatisfaction. “It is not only water, but what happened over the last five years,” a protester told Le Monde.

Politically, the first fruits of this resurgence of the radical left were felt during a by-election when 57% of voters voted for candidates who supported free water. It was a rejection of the government majority and its economic policy. This provided an ideal context for the AAA, repeating the same message carried by its young leader Paul Murphy: “The 99% of ordinary people” see the economic recovery as benefiting the 1% of the rich while the rest of the population continues to bleed ”

Like its Mediterranean counterparts, AAA has a charismatic young leader. While Podemos and Syriza have Pablo Iglesias (37) and Alexis Tsipras (41), the Irish Paul Murphy is even younger (32). This young politician won a surprise victory in legislative Dublin, in the style of a traditional left candidate. As Podemos relied on the dynamics of the Indignados in Spain, the AAA was born of a popular protest movement (against the water billing in Ireland), which the young leader applauds: “For the first time, the Irish people became aware of their strength, people organized themselves in their neighborhoods without being manipulated.” Murphy was himself involved in the struggle against the end of free water. He was arrested by police Monday, February 9, according to an article in the Irish Times, in solidarity with the protesters.

However, AAA says it does not want to imitate Syriza or Podemos and will have to find its own model. They have an additional challenge in the political landscape compared to their Greek and Spanish alter egos: Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish independence, highly installed, is already taking an anti-austerity position. And they are doing well in the polls. AAA is challenged to find its place on the Irish political spectrum and to find its identity within the European radical left. And they need to move quickly as the next general election will be held in just over a year, in April 2016.

(Click here for the original French version of this article)

Question for this article:

Movements against governmental fiscal austerity, are they part of the global movement for a culture of peace?

Readers’ comments are invited on this question.