by Baba Aye
For the sixth time in eight years, Greeks will be going to the polls as snap parliamentary elections have been scheduled for September 20. This was after Syriza lost its majority seats following the exit of more than 20 of its members of parliament who broke with the radical reformist party after it betrayed the Greek working class “NO” vote against further austerity measures.
This reflects the sharpening of class struggle that has seen more than 30 general strikes and mass mobilisation since the country’s so-called “financial crisis” started. The Greek state revealed in 2009 that the budget deficit of the country was 15% and not 3.4% as falsely painted hitherto, causing a panic and demands from creditors (mainly German and French banks) for payment.
This was at the root of the “bailouts” which the Troika of the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund have made available to the Greek state after signing Memorandums of Understanding (MoU). These MoUs committed the state to introducing austerity measures as conditionalities for the bailouts to be released.
Syriza’s rise was as a result of its anti-austerity stance as an opposition party. But since becoming the ruling party in January, it has gradually inched towards being a more “responsible” ally of the system, despite its continued radical posturing. It claims that it has no choice but to continue negotiations, thus accepting that the odious debts are justified, because most Greeks want to still remain in the Eurozone.
But this position cannot be tenable after the 62% referendum vote of “OXI” (“NO”) to austerity at the beginning of July. That is the stance of its MPs and others that have now left Syriza to form a new party called Popular Unity.
Antarsya (Anti-capitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow) is a smaller coalition of revolutionary groups in Greece, which include SWL’s sister group, SEK (Socialist Workers Party), that has consistently maintained the propriety of defaulting on the debts and quitting the Euro. The Popular Front and Antarsya need to forge an alliance in defence of the working class of Greece for a revolutionary resolution of the deepening crisis.
No option is an easy one. But the point of departure for activists that want to change the system must be workers’ power and not parliamentary kneeling down before the forces of imperialism that are hell bent on humiliating the working people and making them suffer, unjustly.
It was the Greek bosses and not the poor who were primary beneficiaries of the illegitimate loans in the first place. And even the IMF has made it clear that the debts payment is unsustainable. Wages and pensions have been cut, unemployment has risen to over 25%, and social security faces attacks. Syriza’s signing of the new MoU will only worsen this terrible situation.
Syriza’s strategy stems from reformist illusions that the system can be changed basically through the parliament. But even at that, Syriza has shown its utter disregard for internal democracy. It reached agreements with the Troika without a party resolution to that effect and in utter disregard for the people’s NO vote at the referendum.
The way forward lies in mobilisation of the working people’s popular power from below. The weeks and months ahead are very crucial in this era of crises and revolts that engulfs Greece and indeed the world at large. The struggle of the Greek working class is right now central to the working class’ fightback against the bosses and for self-emancipation. We must all stand up together and say NO TO AUSTERITY IN GREECE! HANDS OFF THE WORKING PEOPLE!!