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Greece election

Majority vote against austerity

www.socialistworld.net, 21/06/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Clear socialist programme for struggle needed

Nicos Anastasiades, Xekinima (CWI Greece)

The relief of the capitalist world leaders attending the G20 summit in Mexico didn’t last long. Within hours following the narrow general election victory of Greece’s pro-austerity New Democracy party, the rally of share prices on stock markets ended and Spain’s government bond yields exceeded a euro-busting 7%.

The capitalist crisis can only inflict further pain and ruination for millions of Greek people and beyond. And as the article below on the Greek election concludes, only the fight for a socialist alternative can end this living nightmare.

Nicos Anastasiades writes, from Xekinima, Greek section of the Committee for a Workers’ International:

The outcome of the elections in Greece has left the majority of the population with mixed feelings. On the one hand, there is the victory of the right-wing New Democracy, which conducted a huge campaign of fear and was able to rally all the conservative elements of society. Nonetheless, the parties that explicitly backed the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank (the ’Troika’) bailout conditions got less than 50% of the vote.

On the other hand, the left-wing Syriza, while not coming first in the election and thereby taking the bonus 50 MPs, still got almost 27%, the highest vote that any left party in Greece has won in the last decades.

Alarmingly, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn won almost 7% of the vote.

These results reflect the political tensions that have shaken Greece during the last two and a half years as a result of the economic crisis and the impact of the policies of the Troika.

New Democracy

How did New Democracy, associated with causing Greece’s punishing austerity measures, emerge from the election as the largest party?

It was one of the most polarised election campaigns, probably the most polarised, since the 1980s. New Democracy (ND), accompanied by EU and IMF officials, local and international media, institutions of the ruling class and all the other capitalist parties waged a huge campaign of fear.

"If Syriza is elected we will be kicked out of the euro"... "There will be a social catastrophe"... "There won’t be any medicine and petrol"... were some of the usual phrases used by ND spokesmen.

ND managed to increase its vote from 19% in the previous election to nearly 30%, but this was not done on the basis of support for its programme.

The question of Greece’s future in the euro and Greece’s debt was the main focus of the ND scare campaign. They used the fear of many workers that Greece is a small economy and cannot survive ’isolated’ from the eurozone and EU. According to polls, a third of the population voted with the euro issue uppermost in their concerns. The ND’s propaganda was ’helped’ by Syriza, whose leaders did not have a clear position on the question, and put forward different proposals, creating confusion among big sections of the electorate.

But it was not only the euro question. Syriza was declared as the ’root of all evils’. New Democracy accused Syriza of being linked to terrorism, to political violence and to corruption! This McCarthyite-style witch-hunt was aimed at mobilising the most reactionary elements of the older generation.

Greece: protests during general election 18 June 2012, photo by RT free video

There was a clear split in the voting results according to age. Among the over 55s, New Democracy and Pasok got more than double the percentage vote than from voters aged 18-54.

There was also a clear voter differentiation between the rich areas (for example in Ekali, a rich neighborhood in Athens, New Democracy got 70% and Syriza 6.5%) and the poor ones (in Nikaia-Renti, a working class area, Syriza got around 38% and New Democracy only 17%).

Antonis Samaras, the leader of ND, stated after the results that Greece will "honour its signatures" ie continue along the austerity road. Of course, given the huge combined anti-austerity vote, he was also forced to talk about the need for "policies for growth", saying that he will try to negotiate with the Troika a more ’loose’ economic policy.

It is clear that a new ND-led coalition will be a government of crisis and austerity attacks and will face big struggles. Greek and international capitalists and bankers do not have a ’humanitarian’ approach to the Greek drama. They will continue to impose brutal cuts policies, but perhaps at a slightly slower pace or in nicer packaging.

The new government will continue to provoke huge workers’ struggles and social movements. Now, however, these struggles will have a political perspective, that of bringing to power a left government. This will boost the combativeness and the determination of the masses, even if for the time being, the basic feeling is that of disappointment over the victory of ND.

Left vote

It is maybe the first time in Greek history that the second party in an election has enjoyed bigger celebrations than the first. Syriza made a huge leap, from 4.6% (315,627 votes) in the 2009 elections, to 16.78% (1,061,282) in the 6 May elections, and to almost 27% (1,655,053) on 17 June. This shows the huge potential for the left to grow during a period of crisis.

Syriza became a pole of attraction when it posed the question of power, calling for a "left government" and challenging New Democracy, on the slogans of scrapping the bailout memorandum and ending austerity. By doing so, Syriza gave hope to big sections of workers and youth, who saw a way to end the nightmare imposed on Greek society during the last two years.

In the run up to the latest elections, there was a clear trend towards Syriza, but it was not an enthusiastic one. Syriza leapt to 27% in the polls just after the 6 May elections. That means that in the one month pre-election period they did not manage to increase that support, while ND was constantly gaining ground.

On the one hand, people saw Syriza as the only alternative to punish the "parties of the memorandum". On the other hand, people saw that Syriza did not propose a clear alternative to the implemented policies.

The leadership of Syriza kept a clear distance from advocating a socialist programme, which is the only possible way out of the present crisis. They actually tended to water down Syriza’s programme in the weeks before the election and moved to the right.

One of the central tasks facing Syriza therefore is to engage in a serious political debate on the programme that they put forward.

The basic deficiency of Syriza is that it does not have a rounded-out socialist programme to deal with the crisis. There were radical elements in what it proposed, but these were pared back as the election date approached (for example the demand to "nationalise the banks" became "public control over the banking system" and the slogan "for a government of the Left" changed to "a government of all the Greeks").

Xekinima, the Socialist Party’s counterpart in Greece, which campaigned for a Syriza vote, argued for a clear socialist programme. This included ending all austerity, non-payment of the debt and nationalising the big banks and main planks of the economy under democratic workers’ control and management.

Also, part of Syriza’s problem was that different spokespersons were saying different things. ND used that ’multilingualism’ to accuse Syriza of not having a clear orientation. They were not completely wrong in that sense.

Syriza took part in the elections with a programme which created illusions that a change of policy can be achieved without clashing with big capital in Greece and Europe. This alienated some of the most politically conscious sections of the working class (who voted for Syriza but had serious doubts), and a fear among other working class voters that Syriza may become a ’new Pasok’, promising a lot of things that it cannot fulfil.

Another weakness was that Syriza does not have deep roots in the workplaces and the neighbourhoods. There was an attempt to organise local meetings before the election, and some events saw significant numbers attend, but the overall picture was that the decisions were taken at the top of Syriza.

The sharp drop in the votes of KKE (Communist Party), (losing 50% of its votes from 6 May) and the anti-capitalist formation Antarsya (losing 75% of its votes from 6 May) led to Syriza becoming the dominant force on the left in Greece.

But can Syriza replace its programme of reformist illusions and confusion with a socialist programme to create a vehicle for the masses to take power? Or will Syriza fail to develop its potential and be in danger of becoming politically ’absorbed’ by the system?

Xekinima, which participated in Syriza’s local organisations, intends to play a role in this process, working with the rank and file of Syriza and developing alliances, in its attempt to push Syriza in a leftward direction.

Neo-fascist threat

The consolidation of the near 7% of the vote by the neo-Nazi thugs of Golden Dawn is an alarm bell to all workers and progressive people in Greece and Europe. Its ’election campaign’ was a mixture of violence, threats and political cannibalism.

Its vote came from a part of the population which is desperate and alienated due to the economic and social crisis, without any previous political experience, and politically confused and disorientated.

The infamous beating of the KKE MP Liana Kaneli on live TV, which shook a big part of the population, actually seems to have helped Golden Dawn reach that part of the population which seeks ’radical and immediate solutions’ against the whole political system. Its propaganda was also based on the rise of criminality which they try to equate with immigration.

Golden Dawn’s position will now be strengthened, and the left must come together to form anti-fascist committees in every city, neighbourhood and workplace to stop their rise.

New period

In the months to come, Greece will continue to be the weakest link in the weak EU chain. A new governing coalition of pro-austerity parties will solve none of the country’s difficulties but instead will continue to pauperise the already impoverished Greek people. This will at some stage provoke a massive renewed fightback by the working class.

Xekinima conducted a major campaign to support Syriza in the election, and at the same time firmly put forward the need for a clear socialist programme. We will meet the battles ahead with determination, to end this rotten system and lay the basis for a socialist society.

Socialist MEP’s solidarity visit

Paul Murphy the Irish Socialist Party MEP for Dublin was in Greece during the election as part of the European left group of MEPs supporting Syriza. Paul penned the following on his blog immediately after the election result.

"The narrow victory for New Democracy comes after an incredible campaign of terror against the Greek people, which far surpassed the campaign people in Ireland were subjected to during the referendum campaign. A conscious decision was made by the Greek political, economic and media establishment, in collaboration with their European partners, to portray this election as a referendum on leaving the euro and so frighten people into supporting the right.

"Tonight’s victory will prove to be pyrrhic and short-lived for the capitalist establishment here. Any right-wing government that is formed will face such resistance on the streets and in the workplaces, together with a massively strengthened left opposition in the parliament, that it will not be able to implement the level of austerity demanded by Merkel and Co."

Health services collapse under austerity cuts

Greece’s public services are collapsing under the hammer blows of recession and austerity.

The health service has suffered a 40% cut in funding for hospitals, including massive job cuts. Health workers have seen their monthly pay slashed by hundreds of euros.

Hospitals are squeezing the supply of essential drugs, cancelling non-urgent operations and rationing health treatments. The cuts have also caused a sharp rise in HIV/Aids and malaria cases.

If all this wasn’t bad enough then the situation facing patients at the psychiatric hospital on the Greek island of Leros is utterly desperate. It’s reported that by next month the hospital will not have enough food to feed its 400 patients. The financial crisis has meant that the government has not paid in €8 million owed to the hospital from the social security fund. Consequently the hospital cannot pay its suppliers.



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NEWS

Scotland: 10,000 attend Hope Over Fear rally
16/10/2014, Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI), Glasgow:
’Political awakening’ continues after independence referendum

Ireland :’The people have risen, they should not kneel down again’
15/10/2014, :
Paul Murphy TD (MP) makes maiden speech in Parliament

Scotland: SNP budget sees another £500 million cuts
10/10/2014, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
For a ’no-cuts budget’ and mass campaign to win back billions stolen by ConDem government!

Middle East: Repel Islamic State and imperialism
08/10/2014, Paula Mitchell (edited version of an article in this week’s Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
For democratic workers’ defence and Kurdish self-determination

New Zealand: National Party forms third successive government
04/10/2014, Socialist Voice (CWI NZ) Reporters:
Labour Party and the Left in crisis

Africa: Ebola crisis spreads
03/10/2014, Andy Ford, health sector, and Tim Sandle, from Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) website:
Consequence of profit before health

Britain: Labour to continue austerity offensive
26/09/2014, Matt Gordon, from the Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party - CWI England & Wales):
Labour conference a carefully stage-managed affair

Ireland South: Is Sinn Féin a genuine left alternative?
25/09/2014, Conor Payne, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Cork:
Seeking alliances with austerity parties

Britain: Capitalist parties in crisis after Scotland revolt
24/09/2014, Editorial from the Socialist (issue 826), weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Build a working class alternative

Iran: Petrochemical workers sentenced to jail and flogging
22/09/2014, Appeal from Campaign in Support of Iranian Workers’:
Protest against Iranian government’s brutal sentences!

Environment: Video of Climate Summit meeting with Kshama Sawant
22/09/2014, Video from The Real News:
Video of New York City Climate Summit meeting with Bernie Sanders, Kshama Sawant, Bill KcKibben, Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges

Scotland: 1.6 million vote Yes in a working class revolt against austerity
19/09/2014, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI in Scotland):
Urgent to build new mass party for the working class

Northern Ireland: Ian Paisley - peace-maker or war-monger?
18/09/2014, Michael Cleary, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast:
A right-wing, sectarian demagogue who courted paramilitary violence

Scotland: Independence referendum
18/09/2014, Editorial of the Socialist, newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
"Britain will never be the same again"

Spain: Millions take to streets calling for Catalonia’s independence
18/09/2014, Rob MacDonald, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) Barcelona:
Only working class struggle can guarantee the right to decide and resist austerity

Scotland: Thousands mobilise to oppose Project Terror in Scotland
17/09/2014, Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI Scotland):
"You will not take this opportunity away from us"

Video: John McInally on Scottish Independence
16/09/2014, Socialistworld.net:
John McInally, PCS national vice-president (personal capacity), adresses the issue of Scottish independence at a meeting of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)

Belgium: First school student protest against cuts in education
15/09/2014, Jeroen Demuynck, PSL-LSP (CWI in Belgium):
Anger against austerity growing

Asia-Pacific: Majority of Chinese expect war with Japan
13/09/2014, Dikang, chinaworker.info:
Warmongering governments ratchet-up national tensions in struggle for regional dominance

Scotland: Defeat Project Terror with socialist policies
12/09/2014, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
Big business, politicians and media attack independence

US: building a movement to end poverty pay!
12/09/2014, Geoff Jones, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) and Ty Moore, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the US):
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South Africa: Community protest over corruption widens
11/09/2014, WASP reporters:
Authorities deploy heavily armed response

Chile: The other ‘9/11’
11/09/2014, Tony Saunois, CWI (first published on socialistworld.net, September 2011):
1973 bloody coup against Popular Unity government

Sri Lanka:Veteran trade union leader dies
09/09/2014, United Socialist Party:

Bosnia: Privatise to colonise
08/09/2014, Sonja Grusch, Socialist Left Party (CWI Austria):
How looting of the economy led to mass social protests

West Africa: Ebola outbreak - a crisis of capitalism
08/09/2014, Peluola Adewale, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI Nigeria):
Profit drive obstructs treatment and prevention

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Is the US promoting a “colour revolution” in Hong Kong?
18/10/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong):
Beijing’s scare propaganda doesn’t stand up to examination

Britain: Workers need a pay rise - how can we pay for it?
17/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
End poverty, inequality and capitalism

Ireland: Byelection triumph marks turning point in anti-austerity struggle
14/10/2014, Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Paul Murphy wins parliamentary seat as 100,000 march against water charges

Middle East: US-led policy of air attacks on Islamic State lies in ruins
13/10/2014, Tony Saunois, CWI:
As battle for Kobane rages, IS forces make major gains in Iraq

Ireland: Paul Murphy elected to Irish parliament in stunning byelection victory
12/10/2014, socialistworld.net:
Anti-Austerity Alliance victory shocks political establishment, reflects mass revolt against water charges and austerity

South Africa: "A workers’ party must emerge"
11/10/2014, John Malanga, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI South Africa):
Dire position of South African capitalism and inequality adds momentum towards creation of workers’ party

Israel/Palestine: After the Gaza war
07/10/2014, Shahar Benhorin, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI Israel-Palestine):
No justice for Palestinians and no peace for the region - For a socialist solution!

Hong Kong: Pro-regime thugs attack protesters
06/10/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI Hong Kong):
Organise democratic defence committees to repel attacks and kick out CY Leung’s government!

Kurdistan: The battle for Kobanê
02/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Regional war poses new challenges for struggle for Kurdish self-determination

Iraq /Syria: US-led bombings will worsen divisions
01/10/2014, Judy Beishon, from the Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
Stop imperialist slaughter!

Hong Kong: Massive anti-government protests after attempted police crackdown
30/09/2014, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Anger over police violence fuels spontaneous “umbrella revolution” and growing strike movement

Scotland: Independence referendum - A working-class revolt
24/09/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
The referendum has turned British politics upside down – even though the No vote won

Greece: "This destruction of workers’ lives serves the bankers"
23/09/2014, Speech by Apostolis Kasimeriss, an Athens bus driver, to Italian socialists:
“We must all keep going…we have no other way to survive than to fight-back”

Belgium: Right wing coalition aims for structural attack on workers
19/09/2014, Eric Byl, LSP/PSL (Belgian section of the CWI), Brussels:
Massive social resistance is looming

Sweden: Conservative collapse, extreme-right gains
17/09/2014, Per Olsson, from Offensiv (newspaper of the Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna - CWI Sweden):
CWI success, defended four council seats

US: Inequality and fight-back in the world’s richest country
16/09/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Socialist Alternative articulates political strategy to break from Democratic Party and capitalism

Brazil: Will elections mark the end of the PT government?
15/09/2014, Andre Ferrari, LSR (CWI in Brazil):
Space for Left alternative to win support

Ukraine: Fragile ceasefire holds but country remains “a tinder box”
10/09/2014, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
Only united working class action can secure lasting peace

Scotland: 10 days that can shake British capitalism to its foundations
08/09/2014, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI in Scotland):
“In the past four weeks support for the union has drained away at an astonishing rate. The Yes campaign has not just invaded No territory; it has launched a blitzkrieg.”

Britain: Crisis brewing on all fronts
05/09/2014, Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
The 2015 general election is a mere eight months away yet impossible to call. But what is clear is that none of the capitalist parties hold any real attraction for working class voters.

Beijing slams door shut on Hong Kong democracy
02/09/2014, Statement by Socialist Action (CWI Hong Kong):
Mass resistance against one-party dictatorship is the only way forward!

Iraq: Only united action can stop sectarian war
16/08/2014, Robert Bechert, CWI:
Iraqis and Kurds must not trust imperialist ‘helpers’

Socialism and national rights
15/08/2014, From Socialism Today No.181, September 2014 by Peter Taaffe, General Secretary of Socialist Party (England and Wales), CWI Secretariat:
Ukraine, Israel/Palestine and other countries

Ukraine: Crisis deepens
09/08/2014, Clare Doyle, CWI Secretariat:
Military conflict escalates

CWI School: World capitalism fails working people
07/08/2014, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
System offers economic crisis, insecurity, poverty and wars