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Is the Greek left suffering a crisis of leadership?

It’s no wonder that the opinion polls, immediately after 6 May gave Syriza between 23 and 28 per cent. People realised that Syriza was now a serious contender for power. They realised, after the experience of the last two years, that protest alone would never solve the problems they faced. The issue was quite simply one of power; who would form a government that would oppose and reverse the Troika’s diktats?

If Syriza wins a plurality of the popular vote in the June elections, then it would gain the extra 50 seats in parliament allowed for in the Greek constitution. While it is conceivable that this could allow it to form a majority government, it is far more likely that Syriza will fall short of an absolute majority, but be in a position to form a coalition government.

Though there are still many uncertainties ahead, it is no wonder that workers and youth across Europe, as well as in Greece, are filled with hope. No wonder either that the ruling classes of Europe are filled with fear and rage.

However, a coalition government committed to rejecting austerity, and with a democratic mandate to do just that, would only be possible if Syriza were joined by the Greek Communist Party (KKE), which won 8.48 per cent on 6 May, and the Democratic Left (Dimar) with 6.11 per cent.

As yet there is no sign that either party is willing to do this.  Quite the opposite. The KKE General Secretary, Aleka Papariga, justifies refusal to consider entering a Syriza-led government on the grounds that “under a leftist disguise it attempts to convince the people that workers and capitalists can coexist and prosper”. The KKE also denounces Syriza for its policy of trying to stay within the Eurozone and negotiate over the debt, whilst declaring a moratorium on payments.

While some might see this as revolutionary intransigence on the part of the KKE, in present circumstances, it is actually a sectarian and cowardly refusal to fight to defend the interests of the working class. Of course, Syriza’s programme is reformist and its proposed policy utopian but that is not the key issue today.

Millions of workers and youth see in Syriza a means of defeating austerity, revolutionaries may realise this is an illusion, they may say that it is an illusion, but that, in itself, alters nothing. If the KKE’s sectarianism means that Syriza cannot form a government and, instead, Nea Demokratia and Pasok are enabled to implement austerity, then those millions will continue to believe that, if only it had got more votes, Syriza would have saved them.

In other words, the illusions would be strengthened and the ruling class would be given governmental power again.

The only effective way to dispel illusions in Syriza is for the millions who support it to see what it actually does in government – if the KKE were to join a coalition and then criticise any deviation from the commitment to tear up the austerity programme, then it would be exercising revolutionary intransigence, where it matters, on the battlefield.

Meanwhile, Dimar also denounces Syriza, this time for “the obsession with the renunciation of the loan agreement that will mean bankruptcy and a rift with the Eurozone”. Dimar says this will “make a political agreement difficult”.

Clearly, what they have in mind is agreement with all those forces, inside Greece and abroad, which will insist on enforcing the terms of the loan agreement, namely, the austerity programme!

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