Syriza channels a huge popular opposition to the attacks of the European troika

Written by International Secretariat – IWL
Tuesday, 27 January 2015 21:04

Overcoming the electoral advantage that the polls advertised months ago, Syriza obtained a huge victory in the Greek election.

The New Democracy (ND), of the current Prime Minister Andonis Samaras – main executor of the grueling economic attacks on the population demanded by the troika (EU, ECB, and IMF) in exchange for two “rescues” of 240,000 million euros – is the big loser.
A new stage with new political actors has opened. The ballots dealt a crushing blow to the traditional parties: ND and the Social Democratic PASOK, which after starring in Greek politics for four decades, was reduced to 4.6% of the votes (13 seats).

The election outcomes express a resounding political victory of the Greek working people.

The votes of millions of Greeks to Syriza are essentially a way to punish parties and leaders that, serving the troika and the German financial capital, destroyed the country for the past six years.
The vote for Syriza means a legitimate rejection of a disastrous economic situation, marked by the loss of 25% of GDP in five years; unemployment for a quarter of the population and for more than half of youth; a third of the population in poverty; a colossal foreign debt, which represents 177% of GDP, [1] which is clearly unaffordable and is growing despite the increasingly tough “adjustments” that servile governments have imposed on the Greek people. [2]
The option for Syriza at the polls should be interpreted as a stop! the so-called “austerity” and its parties which, as is well known, the working class and the Greek poor people came out to face since their first steps, staging more than 30 general strikes and countless other struggles since the beginning of the capitalist crisis and the consequent “social war” that droven by the troika against European peoples.
That is why Samarás’ campaign, based on fear, almost on terror, insisting that “either he or chaos”, was a failure. After six years of austerity, unemployment, hunger, destruction of public services, tax increasing, [3] 45% increase in suicides and humiliations of all kinds, most people understand that the “chaos” had settled a long ago and that the greatest “fear” was that everything would continue as before.
It was in this context that Tsipras’ speech grabbed people’s mind, saying that “austerity is not enshrined in any European treaty” and promising to “restore national dignity” of the Greeks. Syriza appeared as the “new” and was made depositary of the fair hope of a people who feel they have nothing more to lose.
The meteoric rise of Syriza, that between 2009 and 2015 increased from 5% to 36% of the votes, is explained on one hand by the harshness of the economic crisis and the draconian measures of successive governments; on the other hand, by the absence of an alternative revolutionary party with widespread sympathy among the working class. At the same time, the Greek election outcomes expresses a new time for such “anti-capitalist” parties to the “left” of traditional social democratic and conservative parties, as is the case of Podemos in the Spanish state, which could capitalize electorally a similar economic situation and social unrest in their country.

Which kind of government will Syriza be?

We understand the joy felt by the majority of the Greek people at this time. This feeling is fair; it’s the thrill of being aware of the victory against Merkel and creditors of the troika, once they defeated their candidate.
But understanding the illusions in the new government does not require us to support illusions themselves. As we said in an earlier statement during the election campaign, the IWL-FI reckoned that a real change required that Syriza abandon its policy of agreements with financial capital and implement a program of rupture with the euro and the troika, which for us is the only realistic way out for the Greek people to overcome the ruin in which they are immersed.
Tsipras spent much of his election campaign to reassure markets and present himself as “reliable” to the Europe of capital. He reiterated that his goal, at best, is to “renegotiate” the terms and interest debt strangling the economy. The winner of the election wants to remove a portion of the nominal debt and “honor” the remainder, according to the country’s growth. That is, SYRIZA’s proposal is that the Greek people continue to pay the debt to the German bankers and the troika.
Following this scenario, the first steps of SYRIZA go in the opposite direction of popular aspirations. As soon as the election result was announced, it was announced the agreement to form a governing coalition with the Independent Greeks (ANEL, which won 4.7%; 13 deputies), a bourgeois formation opposite to “austerity” but with a rightist nationalist program and an anti-immigrant speech. [4] The coalition with ANEL, a party led by a “warlord” as Kammenos, originating from New Democracy, very close to the Orthodox Church,with a reactionary conservative program, foreshadows an opposite direction to expectations of a real social change.
The social networks show already several complaints arising (activists for the legalization of marriage between homosexuals, or from the LGBT movement), fearing that Syriza park their demands in order to keep the agreement with the right.
Another fact is that hours after the electoral victory, some Syriza exponents, as the deputy Yanis Varoufakis, possible new finance minister, said there was “a little of pose on our side” and that “‘Grexit’ (exit of Greece from euro) is not on the table, we will not go to Brussels or Frankfurt to a confrontational approach”. [5] He said that what they seek is to “bind our repayments to our growth,” which he considers “positive” for both sides.
It remains to be seen which position the troika will assume before Syriza’s triumph. The second adjustment program ends on February 28, the new government’s deadline to ask for the last installment of this “aid”, corresponding to 1,800 million euros. What will Syriza do? What margin is there for negotiation even for the much talked “restructuring”? The reality will reveal these issues.
For now, the director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said in an interview published Monday in Le Monde, that “there are internal rules to follow in the euro area” and that “we can’t allow special categories for certain countries.” [6]
The Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, also warned that the Hellenic country “can’t do without the support of an aid program, and a program of this type can only occur when the agreements are met.”
However, there are sectors that support the need to “restructuring” deadlines, in the perspective of not pushing the political situation and to ensure continuity of looting without unnecessary upheavals.
The statements of the President of the European Commission, Jean-Cleude Juncker, are a good example. Just a month ago he said that “Brussels [i.e. the EU] doesn’t like new faces,” but on Monday he warmly congratulated Tsipras for his “successful” election and offered the assistance of the EU executive to achieve “sustainable growth” and “fiscal credibility.”
Furthermore, the French president, François Hollande, was the first European leader to congratulate Tsipras, offering his support to “recover the path of stability, growth and spirit of solidarity that unites Europeans”.
Regardless of possible fluctuations in these closed-door negotiations, the important thing here is to highlight that the road to stay in the EU and the “renegotiated” payment of the debt to the troika have nothing to do with the hopes of change that most people deposited in Syriza. On the contrary, this can only bring disappointment in many sectors which now see Syriza as an alternative to improve their lives.

Our only confidence is on the struggle of the workers and the Greek people

The arrival of Tsipras and Syriza to government raises to the Greek revolutionary as well the world left the tradeoff between the government and its political support, being propagandists of the hopes on it, and continue struggling to maintain the political independence and permanent mobilization of the working class, the only means of social change.
The first option requires ensuring social peace for the new government. The second requires continued vigilance, depositing the only hope for change in the working and popular struggle and demanding from the new government a rescue plan for workers and the people, to return them employment, decent wages, quality public education and health, pensions with which people can live and social housing. The defense of national sovereignty involves requiring the new government to restore economic and financial resources, recovery-nationalization of all privatized enterprises; expropriation without compensation of industries and companies under workers’ control, nationalizing banks, necessary to apply a social emergency plan.
It is, in essence, demanding that for which the workers and the Greek people have been fighting in recent years and held 30 general strikes; to demand that for which people voted for: a real social change.
Finished the campaign, Tsipras’ administration must elect to apply a bailout of workers and the people or pay the debt of the bankers and speculators. Either with workers and the Greek people or the troika. That is the dilemma that neither ingenious phrases nor the “empty signifiers” can escape from.
The election campaign, the ongoing “pragmatic” changes by Syriza, the first steps of forming a governing coalition with the right, suggest that Tsipras’ cabinet will not rule the country at the service of the interests of the Greek working class and poor people.
Therefore, the IWL-FI – understanding the illusions of the workers and the Greek people, & sharing their joy for having shaken off thieves and satraps – put even the slightest political confidence in the new government. Our confidence and our hopes will continue being with the struggle of the workers and Greek people & for the same demands that they have been maintaining over the years.
As demonstrated by other historical examples, if the hopes for change expressed in these elections are not met, & coupled with the continuity of a brutal economic and social crisis, it will pave the way to directly fascist parties advocating a program of rupture with the Euro and the troika, but from a xenophobic, ultra-nationalist and far-right perspective, such as Golden Dawn’s, which was the third largest party in this election, with 6.2% of votes, giving it 17 seats.
The great task we face is to fight for the organization and political independence of the working class, trusting only on their own power, in the enormous capacity to fight demonstrated by the Greek people in recent years. In this context, revolutionary organization in the country should be built.
Because social catastrophe doesn’t give people even a days break, the working class and the Greek revolutionary left should not give a hundred or even a day of peace to the new government, but to demand from it that for which it was voted for; we want social change, we want the only bailout is missing in Greece, that of the workers and the people.
[1] – The Greek debt amounted to 320,000 million euros, of which 240,000 million to creditors of European countries.
[2] – According to the latest Eurobarometer of the European Commission, 38% believe that the economic situation has already reached the limit and can’t get any worse.
[3] – In 2013, taxes accounted for nearly 42% of an average wage.
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