The coming elections of June 17 in Greece
As only less than two weeks separate us from the new critical parliamentary elections in Greece, on June 17, polarization, fears and hopes dominate the political climate.
The clashing forces are mainly polarized on the question of who- and if- Samaras, the Right led by Samaras or the left reformist SYRIZA led by Tsipras will prevail and be able to form a new government to face the bankruptcy of the country.
In the recent May 6 election, the popular wrath and massive rejection of the “memorandum” of draconian austerity measures agreed by the previous governments and main bourgeois parties exploded the old bourgeois bipartisan political system by which Greece was ruled the last 38 years, after the collapse of the military dictatorship. The masses moved decisively to the left, above all in support of Syriza and its program for repudiation of the Memorandum and formation of a government of the Left. All efforts and pressures by the EU, the IMF, and the local centers of political and economic power to form a “national unity emergency” government, which will include Syriza, have failed, and a new election was called to fill the dangerous vacuum in the power structure.
Mass resistance to an EU/IMF program of social cannibalism has transformed Greece into an ungovernable country. Nobody can seriously believe that whatever the result of June the 17th would be, this crisis of political power, especially as the entire euro-zone is plunging into the abyss led by Spain, will be resolved; rather it will be exacerbated.
Samaras, the leader of the right wing New Democracy has formed in haste a highly heterogeneous “European right front’ calling under its flags extreme neo-liberals, like his traditional political rival Dora Bakoyanni, center right liberals and ex LAOS declared fascists, using an old fashioned Cold War anticommunist rhetoric to “save the fatherland from a “communist take-over” by…Tsipras!
The openly neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn”, which had a spectacular electoral rise of 7 per cent in May, speaks about “the danger of Trotskyism” and of “Trotskyists acting behind Tsipras”!!
This farcical but dangerous anti-communist, anti-Syriza circus is joined by the…Communist Party of Greece (KKE), which made Syriza the main, if not the only, target in its electoral campaign. It is not surprising then that in the polls the KKE is losing more and more of its support falling from near 8 per cent in the May elections to near 4-5 per cent now.
On the contrary, in the same period, Syriza has jumped from the 17 per cent in the elections on May 6 to 30 per cent in the current polls, in apposition disputing from the frightened Right the first place and the opportunity to form a government.
But even in that case, the formation of a majority government of the Left is far from easy. The KKE has already viciously rejected out of hand any idea to join a coalition government of the parties of the Left. The Democratic Left is more a center left formation than a left reformist grouping and demands the participation in such a government of the remnants of the totally discredited neo-liberal PASOK, if not of the right wing New Democracy itself. The centrist ANTARSYA could no play any role; it has no hope at all to enter Parliament, as polls show that it regressed from the 1.2 pr cent of last May to a slim 0.5 today.
The main trend is moving leftward towards a vote to Syriza. As the elections and the possibility to take governmental charges approach, Syriza becomes more and more conservative trying to appease both the EU and the Greek bourgeoisie.
Its renewed program, presented on June the 1st continues to seek an impossible compromise between a rejection of the Memorandum with the demands of the EU, the euro, and the IMF, keeping intact both EU membership and the capitalist social bases of Greece.
In relation to the unsustainable sovereign debt, Syriza still calls for a moratorium of payments, a renegotiation of it, and an International Inquiry for an Audit of the debt to find the “illegitimate part of it”, following the example of Correa in Ecuador.
On the question of the banks, Syriza never called for their nationalization without compensation under workers control: it demands solely a “public control” i.e. a partial “nationalization” of the Greek banks recapitalized by the EFSF, along the lines of the scheme of Cristina Kirchner’s for the YPF in Argentina.
Then, the program moves further to the right. It presents a very modest version even for the immediate demands. For ex. it calls for the re-establishment of the old minimum wage of about 700 euros while for a minimum decent life the double is needed. And in relation to the State repressive apparatus, the police and the Army, a vague proposal for “democratization” is mildly raised. The official visit of Tsipras to the Generals in the Headquarters of the General Staff of the Army, Navy, and Air-Force reminded to many people (including the radio station of Syriza) the visit of Salvador Allende (Tsipras’s hero) to Pinochet before the coup in Chile.
Despite all these, a kind of “Tsipromania” (the term belongs to one Syriza supporter) dominates both the international bourgeois mass media as well as all the shades of the international democratizing Left. The imperialist mass media present Tsipras as the “ghost of communism” returning over Europe; the democratizing reformist and/or centrist Left finds him as the last re-incarnation of the Hope for Emancipation. The last days, in Athens came as pilgrims to the Mecca of Syriza to publicly and enthusiastically support it, a number of well known figures of the international left intelligentsia like Slavoj Zizek( he spoke in a big public electoral meeting of Syriza together with Tsipras), Leo Panitch, and Tariq Ali (he spoke in a central public meeting organized by NAR and ANTARSYA to call the audience to vote…for Syriza , not ANTARSYA; he received a thunderous applause from half of the public in the meeting while the other half was terrified!)
Our Party, the EEK, fights both against opportunist adaptation and sectarian blindness towards Syriza. We keep a constant relationship, some common actions and dialogue mainly with the rank and file and people turning to Syriza. We fight to defeat the Right; we oppose the anti-communist witch hunt and the slander campaign of the Stalinists against Syriza, while we keep criticizing its program, its attachment to the imperialist EU and the capitalist framework, and the bourgeois content of the kind of a class collaborationist “popular front” advanced by the reformists. We counter-pose our own program for a revolutionary socialist exit from the crisis (repudiation of all the debt, nationalizations of the banks and strategic sectors of the economy, without compensation under workers control, reorganization of the economy on new bases according to the social needs, workers defense squads against the fascists, breaking the repressive apparatus of the bourgeois State, workers power and workers government, break from the EU and common struggle with the workers of Europe for a socialist unification of the Old Continent etc.) making clear that a real government of the Left could and should be only a workers government.
The EEK wanted to fight for this program again in these elections. But the undemocratic system of the ruling class imposes huge financial obstacles that become sometimes overwhelming: after the campaign for the May 6 elections, we had again to collect in a very short time, about 60 thousand euros for the June 17 elections – an enormous sum for a small Party of the working class without material resources and with the majority of its membership being jobless youth. Despite the efforts and the sacrifices of the comrades we could not succeed to collect that money before the deadline. So, the EEK could not and will not present its independent lists in the coming elections.
While we waged the struggle to collect the necessary resources for an independent intervention, we had accepted the invitation made by ANTARSYA to explore the possibilities for a common electoral block. In our bilateral discussions, we proposed two include in the common program two programmatic points, extremely essential for the EEK: the need for the struggle for workers power and for a workers government of the left, not a bourgeois popular frontist one; and the need to fight nationalism and national isolationism by combining the demand for a break from the imperialist EU with the call for the United Socialist States of Europe. Together with these points, we asked that the name of our Party, EEK, should be clearly added after the name of the ANTARSYA, making clear that it is an electoral cooperation, not a fusion with a coalition that separates us important programmatic issues. Finally, ANTARSYA claimed that while it could agree with the programmatic points, there was no question to put independently the name of our Party in the ballots. We had to be just included in the ANTARSYA while we are not a part of it! The ultimatum was rejected and the discussion shave collapsed.
In reality, ANTARSYA was and is in the middle of an explosive crisis: two of its organizations coming from the left euro-communist tradition and a part of NAR look towards an agreement, even fusion with Syriza; the main forces of NAR plus the Cliffite SWP are against Syriza. The pro-Syriza forces boycotted any agreement with the EEK and the others adapted to them. As a matter of fact, never they had agreed with the two main programmatic points presented by the EEK (workers power, United Socialist States of Europe) as their electoral material for the June 17 elections clearly demonstrate. Probably, a serious setback of their vote on June 17 will be devastating to this centrist coalition, which is too open to electoralism- but also to the Stalinist KKE.
The EEK, during this period, wages its own political campaign for the “next day” connected with the June elections. Next week the Central Committee of the EEK in a special meeting will make public its manifesto for the over all situation, specifying as well its tactic in relation to the vote in the coming elections.
Savas Michael-Matsas, June 3, 2012