Greek elections: Fragile victory of ruling class while Syriza is enormously strengthened – Part Three

In this final part of their analysis of the Greek elections, the comrades of Marxistiki Foni look at the reasons for the dramatic decline in support for the KKE (Communist Party) and what the ranks of the party should do to reverse this. They also look at what lies ahead for the new government and the tasks now posed for the Syriza leadership and the party as a whole.

KKE suffers biggest electoral defeat in the last 40 years

The KKE, Communist Party of Greece, saw its vote fall to 4.50% from the 8.48% it had won in the May elections, losing half its votes, going down to 277,179 from 536,072 and 12 MPs instead of the previous 26. This is the biggest electoral defeat of the KKE since the fall of the dictatorship in 1974.The leadership of the Communist Party with its policy led to a situation where the party’s votes have fallen to below the 4.54% it received in the elections of 1993, just two years after the split, and also the collapse of the USSR and other Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe, which had a huge negative impact on the morale and consciousness of the working class.

This recent defeat did not surprise anyone. It was the expected result of the total inability of the leadership of the Communist Party to give an expression to the radicalisation and the left turn taking place within large sections of the working masses. The painful result in the elections was clearly a product of the escalation in recent years (on the part of the leadership of the Communist Party), of its attempt to lead the most historic, mass workers' party of the country with the policies, tactics and methods of a Stalinist sect.

If the leadership of the Communist Party had formed a coalition with Syriza, defending a revolutionary programme and also criticising the reformist mistakes of the leadership of Syriza from the standpoint of such a programme, today we would have had a government of the Left which would have been in a position to pave the way for the overthrow of capitalism and a party that would have emerged from the elections as the guarantor of the necessary working class policies of this government. But the leadership of the Communist Party chose to adopt a sectarian stance towards Syriza, "washing its hands" like Pontius Pilate in the face of the real concrete choice between a “Right or Left government" and thus, in practice, provided a crutch for the ruling class to lean on.

The old generations of communists view with sorrow this historical party of theirs, which led the epic popular resistance against the Nazis during the Occupation, winning only a little over half of what today’s Greek neo-Nazis won. And the new generation of communists find it difficult to understand why it is that after two years of massive workers’ struggles, where they fought in the forefront, the vote for their party has collapsed.

This huge defeat of the KKE underlines the urgent need for leadership and policy change. The analysis of the election results carried out by the Central Committee, which justifies once again their line as a political imperative, referring to abstract concepts such as “subjective weaknesses”, shows that with every minute that passes with this leadership and this policy, the KKE will be discredited more and more in the eyes of the masses of the working class. With this leadership and this policy, the party will not recover.

The Marxists of Synaspismos and Syriza who publish the journal “Epanastasi” ["Revolution"] and the magazine “Marxistiki Foni” ["Marxist Voice"] in principle believe that the working class needs a strong Communist Party that will be able to contribute decisively in the victory of a socialist revolution in Greece. This can be achieved, however, only on the basis of the genuine revolutionary, internationalist, democratic and unifying principles of Bolshevism-Leninism, which should immediately replace the various Stalinist in the party. The tools in achieving this vital task are the ideas and methods of Lenin which must be retrieved from historical obscurity, and restored to their rightful place. It is time for every conscious member of the KKE and the KNE [Communist Youth] to come out firmly against this downhill Stalinist path the party has embarked on. The only way of putting a stop to this slippery slope is to immediately create a mass Leninist tendency within the party, which at the next Congress would fight for a genuine Marxist-oriented party.

The Samaras government and prospects

The Greek parliament after june 17The Greek parliament after june 17The ruling class very shortly will have a new government with Samaras as Prime Minister, and with the generous support of PASOK and Democratic Left. The treacherous behaviour of these former “communists”, with their support for this new government of the ruling class, confirms the fact that the position of the leadership of Syriza, which was one of treating them as credible and necessary allies in a government of the Left, was wrong. Meanwhile, the PASOK leadership has demonstrated once again its slavish adherence to the interests of the ruling class.

After the election night was over, Samaras has abandoned his populist calls for "renegotiation" of the Memoranda and has shown once again that in reality he remains firmly wedded to the line of draconian austerity as a means of saving Greek capitalism from steep decline and remaining within the Eurozone. Those workers and voters in the poor working class neighbourhoods that were taken in by the demagogy of Samaras and voted New Democracy cannot expect to see even one single measure in favour of working people from this new government.

Fundamental democratic rights, such as the right to demonstrate and to strike, will be in jeopardy according to the campaign promises of the leadership of ND. Immigrant workers will be targeted by "official" police pogroms with the "unofficial" help of the neo-Nazi thugs of the "Golden Dawn". The new emergency taxes will simply be presented under a new name and tax cuts will be granted only for the capitalists. There will be an epidemic of wage cuts and so-called “free economic zones” with “Chinese” wages and working conditions, will make their appearance, as a model for the entire Greek economy. The collapse in government revenues as a result of the recession will inevitably lead to new measures, perhaps before this summer, as the second Memorandum refers to the need for further cuts of 11.5 billion euros. New reductions in salaries and pensions are therefore inevitable. This time, we will see massive layoffs of government workers, with the use of shock methods and not the gentle practice of transforming them into "reserves".

The troika and especially Germany, in conditions of recession and indebtedness across Europe, will not help the new government in any fundamental way, except perhaps for a slight extension of the period in which repayments have to be made and the concession of so-called "growth" funds – i.e. they will prescribe aspirin for cancer! But the depth of the recession is such that it would very quickly become clear that without any major new loans and new cuts in spending, Greece will not be able escape a generalised default  and a return to a national currency.

As the crisis deepens in Portugal, Spain and Italy, Greece is rapidly being seen as an "unnecessary burden" within the strong areas of the eurozone. The constant need for repeated "rescues" will no longer be tolerated, as this creates a precedent for other over-indebted countries, whose "rescue" would be infinitely more costly. In addition to promoting a pan-European policy of draconian austerity, German and other European capitalists require a "scapegoat" to be made an example of, and which better candidate can they find than Greece? Therefore, the prospect of Greece being pushed out of the euro, despite the election of a right-wing government "vowing" to stay in the euro, remains the most likely perspective.

Had a government of the Left been elected, the troika, and especially the German bourgeoisie, would have push for an early exit of Greece from the euro, among other things for political reasons as they would have wanted to expose Syriza in the eye of its voters and to put the blame on Syriza for the financial disaster and also reducing the large European-wide political influence the party has. With a Samaras government, the looming exit from the common currency will be presented as being a more consensual affair and would also be accompanied with some financial rewards to "sweeten the pill" and promises of some future  reintegration. The 70 billion owed by the Greek state to the private banks in the form of the "public" debt, they will attempt to cover directly with the money from the "bailouts" and which would possibly be accompanied by a new deal involving some further "concessions" to big European capital.

Thus the Samaras government will most likely have to manage the precipitous move towards a disorderly default and exit from the euro. In these circumstances the attitude towards the government of the working class and petit bourgeois layers that have been seriously affected by this crisis will soon become a militant one. The workers and poor who voted Syriza now feel disappointed by the rise to power of ND. But they also realise that they have in their hands a valuable political weapon, which they did not have in previous years, a strong and popular Syriza. The sense of political strength that Syriza gives to the working class will boost the forthcoming struggles against the new austerity measures, the mass layoffs and the attempts to restrict democratic rights. These struggles will soon erupt as an inevitable response to the attack by the Samaras government.

In the course of these struggles the new unified Syriza will be built, tempered and prepared to come to power on the back of a massive wave of popular support. In the course of this process a vital question is that of correcting the serious mistakes of the leadership, in terms of its tactics but mainly in the programme of Syriza.

The widespread view held within the leadership of the party that electoral victory was not achieved because the radical political stance that was adopted "startled" the petty bourgeois and the pensioners is fundamentally a mistaken one. Actually, the opposite is true. It were the unclear "moderation" and the reluctance to adopt a coherent and revolutionary plan that confused thousands of petty bourgeois, pensioners, housewives, unemployed and politically inexperienced youth, creating the widespread impression that Syriza "did not know what it wanted”, so they chose PASOK, Democratic Left or abstention. The majority of these people are not "solidly conservative". What they feared was to support a leadership who were presumed to have populist intentions, but also with a programme that lacked clarity.

If the leadership of Syriza shifts towards the so-called "moderation" of the Democratic Left – as is already beginning to happen in the media with Stathakis and Papadimoulis who are receiving a lot of coverage – then the thousands of Syriza supporters will be disappointed and the authentic voices of right-wing "moderation," Venizelos and Kouvelis, will take advantage by getting an extended lease of life. The ruling class through the media are already taking advantage of these "moderate" views and are specifically targeting figures within the party such as Lafazanis [traditionally the leader of the left of the party], but also what they view as “extreme trends and currents” within Syriza, in an attempt to push the leadership of Syriza to the right, to get them to "clean up" the party and remove what they view as the annoying voices of the Left, in order to guarantee that once a Left government inevitably comes to power it will leave intact the foundations of rotten Greek capitalism.

These attempts to shift the party to the right and undermine its radicalism can only be stopped by the thousands of ordinary activists and supporters. In order to achieve this, what we need is to call as soon as possible a democratic congress to refound Syriza as a unified, mass workers' party with the right of tendencies to exist. At such a congress, the forces that base themselves on revolutionary Marxism must unite around a programme, which in our view should be based on the principles and positions of the proposals we worked out and presented in a creative discussion with thousands of activists of Syriza in early June. [See Η Μαρξιστική πρόταση για το πρόγραμμα της κυβέρνησης της Αριστεράς].

  • Say no to the disapointment! Say no to the pioison of scepticism and pessimism! The struggle goes on from better positions!
  • Syriza must take a leading role in fighting back against the measures that will be presented by the new government and the troika!
  • No shift to the right! Correction and completion of the programme from the standpoint of revolutionary Marxism!
  • We must organise the thousands of Syriza militants now!
  • Put an end to the paralysis of agreements reached by the leadership that do not involve the rank and file – open the doors of Syriza to the workers and youth!
  • For a democratic congress to reorganise Syriza as a unified mass workers’ party with the right of tendencies!
  • For the Marxist orientation of a revolutionary Syriza through the creation of a mass revolutionary, Marxist tendency!
  • For a government of the Left to implement a programme of socialist transformation of society!
  • For an internationalist policy, for the Socialist United States of Europe!

 Source: Marxistiki Foni (Greece)