Greek elections (III): Conclusions from a political earthquake

In this third and last part of our analysis of the Greek elections we look at the fate of the PASOK, the new situation on the right with the Independent Greeks and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn - a warning of how things can develop in the future if the Left fails to offer a way out of the impasse - and finally we indicate the programme and tactics that should be adopted in order to unite the left under a revolutionary socialist programme.

[Also read parts I and II]

The punishment of PASOK all over Greece

PASOK was the party which was punished more than any other by the working class vote. Its right-wing leadership paid the hard price for its servility towards the ruling class and the Troika.

Millions of workers have followed last night’s results with evident pleasure, as dozens of arrogant “socialist” careerists and, until yesterday, government apologists of banks, remain outside of the new parliament, having been voted out en masse by their formerly loyal voters.

The results confirmed our position that, because of its established right-wing leadership, PASOK is moving rapidly to total and permanent estrangement from the working class, and especially from the most productive ages (younger than 45 years old). So its electoral strength has fallen from 43.92% to 13.18% within two and a half years! From 3,012,542 votes in 2009, PASOK fell yesterday to 835,000!

In large urban centers and large cities, the traditional strongholds of  PASOK, it received single-digit percentages, and in most cases it finished below the third position that it occupied nationally. In the first constituency of Athens it took third place with 9.71%; in the second constituency of Athens it came in fifth with 9.07%; in the second constituency of  Piraeus it came in sixth with 8.16%; in the first constituency of Thessaloniki it came in fourth with 10.44%;  in the second constituency of Thessaloniki it came in fourth with 11.23%; and in the Municipality of Patras, it came in third with 10.86%.

Given the strong momentum of SYRIZA and the Left in general, the rates of PASOK are not possible to recover during the new elections in June. The most likely scenario is that the Venizelos leadership will immediately put into effect the plans for “refounding” the party, by removing the symbol and meaning of the old left PASOK, and its possible merger with political figures and politicians who come directly from the traditional bourgeois camp, towards building a classic, bourgeois centrist party.

The position of Venizelos seems not to be openly disputed at present. But after a new upcoming successive defeat in June—in the absence of a primary left-wing opposition in the leadership—the conflicts between different right-wing members for the leadership will flare up, with unpredictable consequences for the cohesion of the party.

Historically, yesterday marked the transformation of the PASOK party from a fundamental party of the broad working masses into a party with little impact, mainly on older voters.

Independent Greeks: successor to LAOS in the place of “populist” Right

The party of Mr Kammenos, confirming the polls, won 10.6%, about 670,000 votes and 33 MPs. Just like that, Independent Greeks with their strong momentum succeeded the collapsing LAOS in the “populist” Right space, and are trying to politically represent that portion of Greek capital which has accepted that uncontrolled bankruptcy and a return to the drachma are inevitable, and are trying to reduce the movement of the masses to the left by using a nationalist and anti-memorandum rhetoric.

Mr Kammenos’ party, as we have already noted, should not be seen, even indirectly, as part of the “antimemorandum-progressive” forces. From this perspective, it was definitely a mistake by the leadership of SYRIZA, which has gone so far as to consider the votes of IG as a potential support for a government of the Left. This tactic may not hurt SYRIZA in these elections, but it certainly favoured Mr Kammenos. The latter, presenting himself as a potential ally, and part of an electoral scheme with as great a potential as SYRIZA, gave impetus to his own party.

Mr Kammenos’ party, however, has nothing progressive in it. Its programme is a patchwork of reactionary positions defending Bonapartist methods of governance. It is a big and dangerous enemy to the Left, practically acting as a protective bulwark of the ruling class against it. Accordingly, any form of political relationship with the IG can not be permitted on the side of SYRIZA.

"Golden Dawn": the rise of the neo-Nazi, a warning for the Left and the labour movement

Undoubtedly one of the winners of the elections was the neo-Nazi organization “Golden Dawn”. From absolute political oblivion in 2009, with 0.29% and 19,624 votes, the Golden Dawn shot up to 6.97% and 440,894 votes, winning 21 seats in the parliament! The key to undertanding the causes of this effect is certainly not the “power” of the Nazi ideas and methods of the Golden Dawn, but the same catalyst effect of the deep crisis and decay of capitalism, and the institutions that represent it, in the consciousness of a specific segment of society.

The violent marginalisation of hundreds of thousands of former petty bourgeois; the fear of the few remaining who will follow the same path; and the steep decline in the living standards from the violent stacking of thousands of impoverished immigrants in “ghettos of large cities”, coupled with the absence of a visible solution by the parties of the working class, are pushing the more backward petty bourgeois layers—especially the younger ages who have no memory of the Nazi Occupation and the junta of the colonels—to the far right. The economically worn, politically backward petty bourgeois who is looking desperately for a radical change in the far right, as the crisis deepens and the traditional bourgeois politicians are proving more and more to be big crooks, turns to that which appears “dynamic” in order “to eliminate chaos” that was generated by capitalism, with its symptoms of mass migration and explosive class struggle. LAOS’s Karatzaferis—with its participation in the Papademos government—lost the advantage of appearing, in the eyes of the struck petty bourgeois, as “anti-systemic”. Inevitably, the next choice of a part of this group of people would be the notorious Golden Dawn.

Of course, the neo-Nazis offer absolutely no “medicine” to ensure the interests of their voters, and it is at least naïve to think that this is their intention. The history of the leaders, and the political path of  Golden Dawn, shows that they are auxiliary troops of reaction, a group founded to do the “dirty work” that the formal mechanisms of state repression cannot make, which is to terrorise, without “legal” limitations, leftist activists and immigrants. Their programme contains no solutions to the suffering caused by capitalism. It is full of the rhetoric of physical violence against those who rise up against capitalism.

Contributing to the rise of the Golden Dawn was the massive political default of the Left leaders. They do not have the appropriate programme, and until recently did not have a visible power solution to gain the mass support of the ruined petty bourgeois. Especially for immigrants, there was never a serious, massive initiative to organise them into the left parties and unions, nor to integrate them with the native working masses of the cities in common forms of struggle against the capitalist degradation of their lives. So the neo-Nazis, with state backing, attempted to exploit this gap, portraying themselves as people who can restore “law and order”, especially in central Athens. This brought them nationwide fame, helping them obtain large vote numbers in all constituencies of the country.

What are the prospects for Golden Dawn? This basically depends on the Left, and especially on the leadership of SYRIZA after the electoral success of 6th May. It is important to follow the correct tactics in order to form, as soon as possible, the government of the Left, shunning any cooperation with bourgeois parties and, above all, to give a political vent to the long suffering masses with an appropriate programme.

This programme must include at its very least the nationalisation of the banking system by eliminating their debt and provide them with cheap credit; the nationalisation of the wholesalers to eliminate the “middlemen”; the nationalisation of centralised manufacturing and conducting a programme of public projects to give jobs to the destroyed middle classes and immigrants, who wander, destitute, in the center of the capital and are convenient scapegoat for the racist poison of the Golden Dawn. Only in this way will we eradicate the influence of Golden Dawn, and transform it again into a marginal political current.

At the same time, of course, one of the first measures of a government of the Left should be the declaration of the Golden Dawn as illegal, along with every other fascist gang that promotes terrorist violence against migrants and the organisations of the Left and the labour movement.

ANTARSYA: sectarianism drowned its "revolutionary" intentions

The group ANTARSYA, a federation of small parties and organisations that speak in the name of the “revolutionary Left”, got just 1.19% and 75,439 votes. ANTARSYA suffered a terrible defeat, especially if one takes into account the expectations of many leading members, who spoke about their entrance into parliament. Once again, the comrades in ANTARSYA are refusing to draw conclusions from a constantly recurring historical law: when the broad working masses are radicalised, they turn to their traditional mass organisations.

The only result of the persistence of small groups competing with the mass workers' parties and groups, around the illusion that the influence of these parties can be displaced, is to push pure leftist political activists to the political margin, in frustration and cynicism. The place for any true revolutionary today is in the developing, single, mass party of SYRIZA, in a coordinated struggle for Marxist orientation of the Left and a revolutionary socialist solution of power.

Abstention, voters’ moves, and “quality findings”

Abstention in these elections increased from 30% in 2009 to 35%. Most of this abstention is due to the economic weakness of voters who live in large urban centers who cannot afford to travel to their place of origin to vote. This is evidenced by the fact that in the constituencies of the major urban centers, participation levels were almost the same as in 2009.

The absence of an organized network of PASOK and ND for the free transport of voters to their place of origin this year played a key role. The era of charter flights, ships and the dozens of coaches that transported voters in the past, is over for the former major parties, which are heavily in debt.

Of great interest are the political movements of the voters of the big losers of the elections, PASOK and New Democracy, according to the “exit poll” conducted by five large polling companies on the election day.

PASOK rallied only 34.4% of those who voted for them in 2009, losing 2,179,000 votes! The vast majority of their former voters, 34%, turned to the traditional Left. 19% went to SYRIZA, 10% to DIMAR, and only 5% went to the Communist Party, because of the sectarian policy of the leadership. To the right of PASOK, 8% turned to the “Independent Greeks”, 4.5% to “Golden Dawn” and only 4% turned to the ND.

The ND lost 1,104,000 votes, and only 53% of their core voters from the elections in 2009 voted again for the party. The biggest “drain” from the ND was made towards the Independent Greeks with 15%, and the Golden Dawn with 7.5%. Leaks towards DYSI of Mrs Bakoyannis were only 4.5%, even less than that towards SYRIZA, who won 6% of the ND voters of 2009.

Indicative for the outlook of the first three parties in these elections is the distribution of their voters per age. PASOK, reflecting a bleak political future, was the lowest amongst ages 18–34, at 7.5%. PASOK rises to 10% with ages 35–54, while only with ages over 55 years is relatively high, and reaches 21%.

The ND at ages 18–34 years only gets 13.5%, and only 17% at the ages between 35–54 years. As with PASOK, the ND shows a high rate only at ages over 55 years, with 29.5%.

The age composition of SYRIZA voters reveals promising growth rates, as in the ages of 18–34 SYRIZA reaches 17.5%,  at the ages 35–54 reaches 20%, and drops to 11.5% at ages older than 55 years.

In aggregate, voters younger than 50 voted as follows: SYRIZA 19.7%, “Independent Greeks” 12.3%, ND 11.7%, Golden Dawn 9.5%, KKE 8.4%, Pasok 8.2%, DIMAR 5.8%. Voters over 50 voted as follows: ND 23.9%, PASOK 19.4%, SYRIZA 15.2%, KKE 9.5%, “Independent Greeks” 7.6%, DIMAR 5.6%, Golden Dawn 4.2%.

Particularly important is the fact that the “heart” of productive age, i.e., in the age bracket of 45–54 years, SYRIZA traditionally had low rates, but now ranks as the first party. This is the confirmation of our prediction, which was made at the end of last year in our document on Greek perspectives, where we estimated that the increased popularity of SYRIZA will change it into a classic (and indeed, as shown, the main), mass workers' party.

Towards new elections—Onwards for the government of the Left!

The election results broke the plans of the ruling class and the Troika for the establishment of a coalition government of the bourgeois parties, and put SYRIZA in an orbit towards the power to form a government of the Left.

In recent days the ruling class, faced for the first time since 1944 with the possibility of a rise to government of a party that belongs to the Greek communist movement, revealed their panic by unleashing a campaign of slander and provocation against SYRIZA. So the leadership of New Democracy and PASOK, which until now have faithfully served the interests of the bankers at the expense of the people, suddenly—from a supposed “democratic sensibility”—appeared ready to support a government with Alexis Tsipras as the Prime Minister “to negotiate the Memorandum”...

With this dirty trick, they tried at best to keep SYRIZA as a political hostage, damaging the party irreparably in the eyes of the working masses and, at worst, to attribute the responsibility for the “anarchy of the country” and “uncertainty” caused to the economy by the new elections. In this insidious campaign, an influential role was played by the leadership of DIMAR, who called on SYRIZA to join together in a government of “broad parliamentary majority”, i.e., a coalition with the bourgeois and their leaderships.

Fortunately, so far the leadership of SYRIZA—despite individual mishaps from Mr Dragasakis and Mr Papadimoulis—keeps, in general, an attitude of refusal of coalition with the bourgeois parties. In our view, the soundest approach for the comrade president in the process of “exploratory mandate” would be the immediate return of the government’s mandate to the President of the Republic, since there is no possibility of forming a government with the Communist Party, both because of an insufficient number of seats between the two parties, and the persistent refusal of the leadership of the Communist Party. Instead, the meetings with Mr Samaras and Mr Venizelos—agreed to from fear that SYRIZA may be stigmatised as a force that promotes “anarchy”—sowed confusion and concern among thousands of supporters of the Left, that they may end up trapped in a government with the bourgeoisie.

The Marxists of Synaspismos, who publish the newspaper Revolution and the magazine Marxist Voice (www.marxismos.com), from the first dirty attempt to transform SYRIZA into a hostage in a bourgeois government, defended the choice for new elections, in order to ask the people for the clear mandate for a government of the Left.

As we emphasised in our recent statement, the clear mandate should be sought on the basis of a programme to cancel the debt, the removal of all anti-labour measures of recent years, and the establishment of a planned economy with socialisation of its core areas. This government should invite the working people of Europe to fight to spread its political example and show practical solidarity with workers in Greece struggling against the violent reprisals being prepared against it by international capital and the Troika.

We stressed that, after exposing the full role of the leadership of DIMAR as a willing executor of the plans of the bourgeoisie against SYRIZA, the only ally of SYRIZA may be the Communist Party. But since the leadership of the Communist Party consistently refuses this perspective, we must ask the workers to massively support SYRIZA in the struggle for a leftist government, insisting on the need for the workers to guarantee, through their own organisation in every neighborhood and workplace, the electoral victory of SYRIZA and the implementation of a true socialist programme.

This is the only way to honor the support that the working class and the poor gave us on May 6th and to permanently transform their present hope to mobilised enthusiasm for a radical social change.

  • NO CONSULTATION
  • NO COOPERATION WITH THE BOURGEOIS PARTIES!
  • GOVERNMENT OF THE LEFT WITH A SOCIALIST PROGRAMME, THE ONLY SOLUTION FOR GREECE!
  • UNITED SOCIALIST STATES, THE ONLY SOLUTION FOR EUROPE!

Source: Marxistiki Foni (Greece)