Driven forward by its previous landslide victories in the European and local elections of May 26, 2019, the right wing New Democracy (ND) won also the snap parliamentary elections in Greece on July 7, getting a 39.85 per cent of the vote and the absolute majority of deputies to be able to form its own government.
But this last electoral victory was not neither “historic”, as the right wing propaganda claims nor a “strategic defeat” of the reformist Syriza, as a section of the ruling class and ND reaction hoped and put as a target. The leadership of the ND, and particularly its fascistoid new Minister of Agriculture Makis Voridis (a well known anti-Semite, former leader of the “youth “ of dictator Papadopoulos, leader of a small Le Penist far right group before joining ND) had publicly declared the aim was to smash completely not just Syriza but “any perspective in the future for a coming back of the Left, in any form, in Greece to re-capture power”.
In the last days of a very short and very “silent”, for the Greek standards, pre-electoral period, without mass rallies or sharp polemics and clashes, a rally of popular forces, particularly in the working class areas, was built silently against the Right and for a vote to Syriza that gave to it an unexpectedly strong 31.53 per cent. It was not a vote of confidence for a so-called “left” government that betrayed its promises and popular expectations to bring an end to the barbaric austerity imposed by the orders of the troika of the EU/ECB/IMF and their willing allies, the previous bourgeois governments of the center left PASOK and the right wing ND. Nobody has forgotten or forgiven the capitulation of Tsipras in July 2015 and the third bailout tied to a Memorandum of Understanding with troika, bringing the worst anti-popular measures that if “a conservative party in power attempted to introduce could create a social rebellion” (as the sinister, former right wing German Finance Minister Schäuble dixit in June 2017).
Syriza spread confusion, deep disappointment, anger, despair, keeping temporarily under control boiling social tensions and reversing the tide of the huge mass movements of the period 2010-2015. It produced conditions for a coming back of ND under its new 50 years old leader, Kyriakos ( “Koulis” according to a sarcastic popular nickname) Mitsotakis, an ultra-neoliberal nonentity, heir to an old oligarchic bourgeois family, presented in 2016 as a “renewed” Balkan version of the Argentine Macri and the French Macron. The strong vote to Syriza on July 7 was a last moment popular desperate attempt to block the road to a revanchist, far right, ultra-neoliberal New Democracy. It was also a warning to the new government that the fighting capacity of the workers and impoverished urban and rural masses is not crashed.
The warning is received in the EU in Brussels and other imperialist centers
with serious consideration and fear for a coming new round of sharp social conflicts and popular rebellions in Greece, when the reactionary agenda of the ND government starts to be realized very soon.
The defeat of the Nazi “Golden Dawn”, until recently the beacon of fascism in Europe, getting now only 2,9 per cent( from 7 per cent in 2015) and no seat in parliament, is above all the result of the struggle of the strong anti-fascist movement, especially after the assassination of Pavlos Fyssas, and a demonstration of the fighting potential of the workers and popular movement. The danger did not disappear as its source is the decay of capitalism itself. Fascists and far right votes turned to ND to defeat Syriza and the left in general.
Syriza wrongly was seen by more than one third of the voters, particularly among workers, unemployed and youth, as a blunt instrument to stop the Right.
The remnants of the neoliberal center left PASOK got a miserable 8 per cent. No credible alternative appeared on the left opening a perspective not just of an opposition but for power.
The Stalinist Communist Party-KKE proved again unable to occupy some of the void left by a discredited Syriza. It stagnated again with a 5.3 per cent vote as during all the last decade of crisis. The main reason is that it combines a “radical” rhetoric with both sectarianism towards other forces of the Left and the workers movement and opportunism towards the ruling class, especially at moments when the bourgeois order is challenged. Not only in the past, when the Greek social revolution emerging from the Nazi Occupation was sacrificed on the altar of the Yalta Agreements between the Stalinist bureaucracy and imperialism but also quite recently they demonstrate that they are incorrigible: in December 2008 the KKE denounced the youth revolt as a...CIA conspiracy (and it was congratulated by the right ND and the far right LAOS); in the Referendum of July 2015, when 61 percent of the impoverished people voted NO to a third package of austerity measures by the troika (and Tsipras capitulated by transforming the NO to YES), the Stalinists called for a boycott of the Referendum helping the Right and the imperialist EU...
The LAE (Popular Unity), regrouping a former left wing of Syriza under Panayiotis Lafazanis that split in 2015 and was joined also by a number of centrist groups, was smashed in the European elections of May 26 and annihilated in the parliamentary elections of July 7. From 2.87 per cent in the elections September 2015 it plunged to 0.56 in May 2019 and 0.28 per cent in July. Its turn to the most reactionary nationalism, particularly in relation to Macedonia, did not save it as a project to build a “more consistent”, “patriotic”, “anti-austerity”, new reformist Syriza...
The MeRa 25/DIEM 25 headed by Yanis Varoufakis managed to enter Parliament by getting 3.44 per cent of the vote, thanks to its relatively good results in the European Elections, collecting support from various areas, mainly from disappointed Syriza sectors. This hybrid non-sustainable formation is centered to one maverick cosmopolitan chieftain, promoted by the mass media internationally and in Greece. A person who never took responsibility for his disastrous role in the first Syriza government or for his agreement with the troika in February 2015 opening the road to the capitulation a few months later. The Varoufakis group contains non resolvable contradictions. It brings together “patriotism” and “Europeanism” i.e. acceptance of an imperialist EU to be “reformed”, neo-Keynesianism and neo-liberalism. These incompatible positions were reflected in the lists of MeRa 25, where among the candidates one can find the most fanatic exponents of neoliberalism in Greece (Takis Mihas) with former members of Syriza, nationalists from LAE, all united on one thing: opposition to any prospect for a socialist revolution.
Most of the organizations of the extra-parliamentary far left joined from 2009 onwards the centrist coalition Antarsya. Although many honest fighters and combative forces in unions, popular neighborhoods, students, anti-racist, pro-immigrant antifascist movements belong to Antarsya, the latter has functioned for a decade now merely as a brand name of an electoral bloc. In the class struggle, constant divisions exist, splitting the forces of Antarsya in demonstrations, unions, antifascist struggles, even in local government elections such as, recently, in the most important municipality of the country, Athens.
The right wing centrists around SEK (coming from the Cliffite tradition) cultivated an opportunist relation with the trade union bureaucracy of GSEE (the General Confederation of Workers of Greece – with no real rank and file basis, traditionally integrated to the State and collaborating constantly with the capitalist bosses). The other left organizations within Antarsya (mainly the NAR) and outside it (including EEK) fight against this bureaucracy and for the political independence of the working class in combative trade unions.
On the political field, SEK having a long record of cooperation with PASOK in the past, with LAE later and always with Syriza, ‘without illusions” as they pretend, now prepares the ground for an “anti-right wing” front with Syriza, while the latter both before, during and after the elections, is moving fast to build a class collaborationist “progressive” front with the center left PASOK/KINAL and even the “democratic” Right. The left wing of Antarsya, led by a majority in NAR, opposes such an orientation.
The result of this on-going internal crisis, covered up by compromises between the leading bodies of the main organizations, NAR and SEK, mainly under the pressure of electoral needs, led to demoralization of the rank and file, leaving en masse both organizations and Antarsya. This front never succeeded to build a credible alternative to Syriza for the last ten years. Politicaly, it always presented itself as a militant minority opposition, refusing to promote a strategy for workers power, claiming, as the KKE does, that “there are not mature objective and subjective conditions yet”. The main line for a break form the EU lacks a clear internationalist line, rejecting as “ultra-leftist” and “Utopian” any fight for a United Socialist States of Europe.
For this reason in January 2015 Antarsya made an electoral bloc with “left” nationalists, and, after the capitulation of Syriza in summer 2015, has lost many groups and forces, turning to join or to calling for a front with LAE, an apparently “left” reformist version of Syriza, collapsing later into the most reactionary nationalism, as we already stressed. Again in this case electoralist criteria prevailed – leading to one electoral defeat after the other.
In the elections of July 2019, Antarsya got 23.191 votes, a 0.41 per cent, half of the votes and percentage of that in the previous parliamentary elections, in September 2015, when the electoral bloc Antarsya -EEK got 46.096 votes, 0. 85 per cent.
The proposal by the EEK in March 2019 to form again such a common electoral bloc on a revolutionary program for the European elections was rejected by a veto of the right wing of Antarsya. Nevertheless, in the European elections the EEK called for a critical vote to these left wing forces within Antarysa that support unity on a revolutionary basis.
In the July 7 snap national elections, with only two weeks of time for an electoral campaign and boycotted by the mass media, the EEK, because of huge bureaucratic obstacles and unbearable financial costs, presented independent lists only in 22 from the 59 electoral districts of the country. In the rest of electoral districts,we called again to vote for the left wing within Antarsya. The poor result (about 2000 votes, a 0.04 per cent) does not represent the potential vote in all 59 districts and does not reflect the real influence of our Party. In the recent local elections, for example we got in working class municipalities between 1 and 4.4 per cent, having three councilors elected, and in the central municipality of Athens our candidate Comrade Katerina Matsa came first in votes among the candidates of the revolutionary left. Even in July7, in proletarian districts, as in the western part of Athens, the EEK got good results, and above all forged new relations with workers and won new recruits to the Party. Our main slogans were:
Defeat the Right wing!
Not one vote to Syriza and all parties tied to the troika!
Smash the fascists!
For a revolutionary socialist solution to the crisis of capitalism!
For workers power !
Down with the imperialists of US, EU, NATO! For the socialist unification of the Balkans and of Europe!
Now we are organizing post-election public political meetings to present our policies and discuss not only the electoral results but above all our new tasks in a political landscape dramatically changed. On July 17, we participate in a public debate with NAR about the perspectives of the revolutionary left after the victory of ND.
The new counter-revolutionary government and the crisis
The new ND government does not mark just a simple return of the Right to power, nor “a return to normality”, a “stabilization of a new bipartisan (bourgeois) political system” as claim the Right, Syriza, KKE and most of the extra-parliamentary left. On the contrary, the July elections marked a transition to a new phase of political crisis and class confrontation in the country and in Europe. (For a foresight, look to the recent events in France, with the Gilets Jaunes in their 35 week of uninterrupted mobilizations, the Gilets Noirs occupation of Pantheon, the clashes during the July 14 national celebrations by Macron).
The Greek bourgeoisie and the imperialists wanted from 2016 onwards, when Syriza’s decline started to accelerate, to produce as an alternative a Greek version of a Macron or of an Argentine Macri, a “young, fresh face, with technocratic skills” well embedded in the Greek capitalist oligarchy, and with strong relations with international finance capital.
Macron has risen as an attempted Bonapartist solution to the protracted death agony of the Fifth Republic. The director of the “Karamanlis Institute”, the think tank of ND, declared after the last elections that Greece has to move to its “Fourth Republic’, after the end of the Third Republic that followed the collapse of the military dictatorship in 1974. Indirectly it is a recognition of a latent regime crisis to be resolved by Mitsotakis government.
Immediately after the formation of the new government, it is taking rapidly many quasi-Bonapartist features. It is composed by technocrats tied with the international finance capital, cadres working for Greek shipowners, industrialists and bankers, and sinister figures known for their repression skills in the “deep State”, connected with the US Embassy and other imperialist centers.
The Mitsotakis government, from its first days, started a blitzkrieg against the people’s conditions and freedoms and rights: concentration of the secrets services and of all State mass media in the hands of the Prime Minister, abolition of the political asylum in university camps, continuous threatening, provocative parades of special riot police forces in Exarcheia in Athens, declaration of an anti-immigrant policy copying that of Orban in Hungary, promoting as Security Minister Michalis Chrysochoidse (known also as the man who masterminded the murderous attack by special repressive forces DELTA against the EEK in a demonstration in 2009 where comrade Angeliki Koutsoumbou was nearly killed and a dozen comrades seriously injured). Notorious anti-Semites and “former”(?) leaders of fascist organizations such as Adonis Georgiadis and Makis Voridis were promoted to key ministries. The struggle against the previous military dictatorship of 1967-1974 was insulted as a “mental disease” by Daphne Michailides, the new vice-Minister of Labour!!
A program of privatizations of energy, raw material, transport etc. is presented. In foreign policy, one of the first actions of the ND government was to recognize ….Guaido in Venezuela, expressing its agreement with Donald Trump’s policies not only in Latin America but also in Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, Iran, the Balkans and Europe.
But this ultra-reactionary government that is trying now, taking advantage of the summer season, to impose its agenda in an anti-popular blitzkrieg (like Macron in summer 2017), is based on shaky grounds.
One key electoral promise to the petty bourgeoisie, ruined by over-taxation during the 5 years of Syriza government to secure huge primary surpluses of 3.5 per cent imposed by troika, was to lower taxes by renegotiating primary surpluses with Brussels. But Resling, the head of the European Stability Mechanism, immediately stressed that these primary surpluses are the “cornerstone” of the “management” of the gigantic debt of Greece (the biggest in the EU, 180 per cent of the GDP).
The Greek banks with 40 per cent of non performing loans are on the brink of an official default. They do not give any loans for investment for a decade now. The ND government speaks to ask for a “credit line” from the European Central Bank, which does not include bankrupt Greece in its Quantitative Easing schemes. If such a credit line is agreed, it means that a new, fourth bailout program will be imposed with more austerity measures on an already exhausted, impoverished population. International finance circles and articles in the international bourgeois press ( including the Financial Times) express their great fears that social tensions, kept under relative control under Syriza, will escalate under the New Democracy government, leading to new political explosions in Greece, in conditions of deepening of the world capitalist crisis. A new phase of turbulence is starting not only in the post-Brexit EU and in the Eurozone but, above all, with the new phase of the Third Great Depression, a “synchronized global slowdown” predicted even by the IMF, the ECB and other institutions for 2019-2020. The crisis will destabilize completely the political situation. With the new escalation of class struggle, life will become very difficult for the three Ms- Macri, Macron, Mitsotakis- sealing their end!
The EEK stresses that only a revolutionary solution to the crisis of the bankrupt capitalist system is possible, with the abolition of the debt, nationalization under workers control of the strategic sectors of the economy and its re-organization on new social bases under a workers government and workers power, breaking from the imperialist EU and fighting for the socialist unification of Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok!
A first step in that direction is starting with the intense discussions among the revolutionary left now. It is urgent the re-arming of the revolutionary vanguard of the working class and youth in Greece with a really revolutionary and internationalist perspective, strategy, tactics, program and organization.
The crucial battles in the class war are in front of us, not behind. The EEK is marching forward to these battles more confident than ever, building our revolutionary Party, despite all obstacles, locally and globally, always under the red flag of the Fourth International and of its Re-foundation in our challenging times!
July 13-15, 2019