Greece; Euro blackmail pulls off narrow victory for the Right – but it can be overthrown by mass workers’ action
By the narrow margin of just 2.77 per cent of the popular vote, the Greek electorate succumbed to the blackmail of the Greek media and political class and the threats of the leaders of the European Union to give Antonis Samaras of New Democracy, ND, the initiative to form a coalition to continue wreaking havoc on his own people.
With 29.66 per cent of the vote, ND won only 79 seats, just 8 more than Syriza (with 26.89 per cent) but the undemocratic electoral law will give Samaras an extra 50 seats as a bonus for being the biggest single party in parliament. Together with Pasok’s 33 seats (12.28 per cent) and possibly DIMAR (6.3 per cent) and smaller bourgeois parties, the problem for Samaras will not be the parliamentary arithmetic but resistance to his programme.
The potential scale of that resistance is expressed in the further massive increase in votes for Syriza, from 16.8 per cent to 26.89 per cent in the six weeks since the last election. The 1.65 million voters who supported its pledge of continued resistance to privatisation, unemployment and social cuts must be the basis upon which to build an effective campaign for an all out, indefinite, general strike, organised by councils of action, to bring down the austerity government as soon as it tries to implement its programme.
The Greek Communist Party, KKE, saw its vote almost halved, from 8.8 per cent to 4.5 per cent, a loss of 259,000 voters. This was the punishment for its combination of sectarianism, repeatedly blocking a united front with Syriza and refusing to offer to support a government that broke with the EU-IMF Memorandum, and opportunism – its policy effectively enables the right to carry on with the austerity programme while the KKE maintains its niche existence in Greek society, passively waiting for “the revolution”.
Syriza now faces the challenge of turning its massive support at the polls into a force in the workplaces and on the streets that can drive the government of national starvation from power and install a workers’ government by the most democratic of all means – revolution.
Those threatening and blackmailing the Greek people included the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, rightly an object of hatred in Greece, but also the contemptible François Hollande, “Socialist” President of France. After masquerading as the candidate of growth and a critic of Merkel’s austerity to get elected, on the eve of the Greek poll, he demanded the Greek people intensify their “sacrifices” so that bankers and bondholders on the Paris Bourse, with 28 billion euros invested there, can continue to reap their ill-gotten gains.
The leader of the Orwellian named New Democracy has called his narrow win “a victory for all Europe”. Quite the opposite – if it is allowed to stand – it will prove to be a defeat for workers right across Europe, whether in the euro zone or outside it. Revolutionaries in Greece and beyond must drive home the lesson that a democracy that allows the millionaire media free rein to terrorise the population with the spectre of expulsion from the euro and even worse suffering, and a constitution that gives a bonus of fifty seats not won by a single vote is a contemptible sham that deserves not a minute’s respect. A far superior democracy needs to arise in the struggle of the coming months – workers’ democracy.
The revolutionary forces in Syriza need to use their party’s massive expansion – the local roots expressed in the packed local assemblies of its rank and file supporters – to prepare a transformation of the resistance. Those leftists who have stood aside in Antarsya, whose vote collapsed by two-thirds between the May and June elections, should now join Syriza and fight to win it to a revolutionary programme and to act as the leadership of the struggle for working class power.
In the past, mass demonstrations and 24, or 48, hour strikes have been protests, aimed at forcing concessions from government. The new government will ignore such protests, just as previous governments did. Now, demonstrations and strikes must become launch pads for an all out, indefinite action aimed at driving the capitalist politicians and their masters from power altogether.
For this, mass assemblies should be called in every workplace, in the central squares, in every popular quarter of Athens and other cities, in every town and village. They should debate and vote a policy of total defiance of all cuts and sackings, of occupations to prevent closures and to reopen factories, shops and offices already closed.
Councils of delegates should be elected at such mass meetings to prepare and execute an all out general strike to greet the new government’s first austerity measures. Workers, the unemployed, school and student youth, should all be called up into a mass defence guard, to protect the picket lines, fend off the police and crush the Golden Dawn fascists.
Greek revolutionaries will be all too well aware that the Pasok-oriented bureaucracy in the biggest union federations, GSEE and ADEDY, and the KKE-loyal bureaucracy in PAME, are an obstacle to effective mobilisation. Time and again they have blocked united and decisive action against the government. Syriza activists need to take a lead in organising the rank and file in the unions to democratically replace these time serving union bosses. They must demand that all Syriza union officials set an example by submitting themselves to regular election, recallability, and control by rank and file workers. They need to appeal, in particular, to the militant unionists in PAME and the rank and file of the KKE to form a united front with Syriza to smash the austerity and overthrow the government imposing it.
In short, revolutionaries need to fight to transform Syriza into a party of class struggle, of direct action, in a word a revolutionaryparty. If they can do this, then what looks like an electoral setback on 17 June can become the starting point for radically transforming the Greek workers’ movement, drawing in the youth, the unemployed, the unorganised, uniting blue and white collar, private and public sector workers into an unstoppable force and opening the road to power.