Recently there has been a lot of discussion in Republican circles about the upcoming local elections. We recently heard that éirígí made the bold move and will be contesting the upcoming local elections, so I thought I'd give my views on not just their decision but on elections in general.
Republicans know only too well the dangers of contesting elections. In the past everyone thought it was great idea, but it ended up resulting in certain people becoming obsessed with power and the amount of votes they have. Ultimately it meant the abandonment of the Republican struggle and the transformation into constitutionalism. These parties became election machines with egos at heart rather than revolutionary organisations with the interests of the working class in mind. Rather than exposing and challenging the corrupt system, they very much became part of that corrupt system. The fact remains that Republicanism suffered a massive defeat and this was a major factor in that defeat.
Participating in council elections will not change this society, revolutionary actions on the streets will create change. But it will mean that the status quo can be challenged while at the same time representing the interests of the working class by promoting an alternative socialist system.
I'd also like to say that it isn't just about "getting a seat", there's a bigger picture. This will give Socialist Republicans the opportunity to engage with thousands of working class people on the doorsteps and listen to their concerns at first hand. It will give them the opportunity to put forward their analysis of where we are today and where we need to go. It will help highlight various campaigns and at the same time bring home the socialist Republican argument.
The question is, can contesting local elections help promote resurgent socialist republicanism?
The answer is yes it can. Obviously people have learnt from past mistakes and are unlikely to repeat them. Current revolutionaries must keep those previous mistakes in mind.
If Republican candidates are successful it will also smash the myth that there is "no support" for militant Republicans. There is clearly more support than some people claim.
It's also clear that the working class are crying out for an alternative voice. Social deprivation is on the rise, unemployment levels are going through the roof with levels of unemployment not seen since the 80s, fuel poverty has worsened with over 1,000 people died last winter because they couldn't afford heat , benefit cuts are being enforced despite 30% of the population relying on them to survive.
The constitutional parties in Stormont are powerless to tackle any of the above, they will also be responsible for enforcing savage cuts upon the already disadvantaged and vulnerable in society at the behest of their masters in Westminster.
It's time for an alternative voice to come forward and show the working class that it doesn't have to be this way, there is a better way.