Workers and young people around Europe and the world were inspired by the victory of left party Syriza, which increased its vote from less than 5% in 2010 to be the biggest party - all on the basis of making a stand against cuts and debt.
Working class people in Greece and beyond will be keen to ensure the Syriza leadership carry out the promises it has made. We must use this example to build a mass working class party here which can stand firm against cuts, crisis and capitalism.
Pay restraint, savage cuts in public services and mass unemployment have been the diet of workers across Europe for years. Many governments have been ejected from office, only to be replaced by other parties that have continued to offer the same thin gruel. Now in Greece, for the first time, the endless parade of pro-austerity governments has been broken.
Syriza, a left anti-austerity party, has won the elections. This was despite a massive campaign by the capitalist class, in Greece and internationally, to try and frighten Greek workers by saying that voting against austerity would lead to disaster. Correctly, the Greek working class and a big section of the middle class concluded that they had already suffered disaster at the hands of the capitalists and the troika and that the time for change was long overdue.
Throughout Europe, including in Britain, millions are avidly following events in Greece and wondering if it is possible to build a mass party that is opposed to austerity in their own country. Meanwhile the capitalist pro-austerity politicians are quaking in their boots. In Britain Labour leader Ed Miliband’s response to Syriza’s victory said everything about the road a Labour government would take: "Who the Greek people elect is a decision for them. We have set out our path for Britain: to make sure our country is fairer and more prosperous and balance the books." In other words Labour will continue with the same old austerity that we have suffered for the last five years. This was proved yet again last week when all but five Labour MPs voted for the Con-Dems proposal to build an additional £30 billion of ’deficit reduction’ into the plans of the next parliament.
But Greece is a stark warning to the Labour Party. Its Greek sister party, Pasok, was in power from 2009 to 2012 and carried through eye-watering cuts. It has now been punished by the Greek electorate - receiving less than 5% in Sunday’s election. Syriza meanwhile has gone from less than 5% of the vote to being the biggest party. The same fate that has met Pasok could face Labour in the coming years. Those trade union leaders and left Labour supporters who have praised Syriza need to realise that it took the creation of an alternative to the equivalent of Labour before anti austerity policies could win an election.
It is crucial that workers in Britain begin to create a new party that will stand for the millions not the millionaires. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is preparing the ground for such a party. TUSC involves a wide range of trade unionists (including the transport workers’ union RMT), socialists and anti-cuts campaigners. As Dave Nellist, leader of TUSC explained:
"On 7 May we intend to stand over 100 parliamentary candidates and 1,000 council candidates in Britain’s elections, all challenging in the same way as Greek workers have done, the idea from all the big parties promoting austerity that ’there is no alternative’". We appeal to all those who are inspired by the election result in Greece to join us in building TUSC’s election challenge in May.
We also appeal to you to consider joining the Socialist Party. The victory of Syriza marks an important step in breaking with austerity. However, to be able to do so completely and permanently requires breaking with capitalism - a system that always puts the profits of the 0.1% before the interests of the majority - and building a democratic, socialist society. This would require taking into democratic public ownership the major companies and banks that dominate the economy in order to put their huge wealth and resources to use to meet the needs of all.
The elections in Greece will put discussion on socialism - what it is and how to achieve it - on the agenda for a new generation. If you would like to know more apply to join the Socialist Party or get in touch with your local Socialist Party branch.