Greek elections (I): If the Left were united they could have won

(We publish here the first of a two part article written by the Editorial Board of Marxistiki Foni) The results of yesterday's parliamentary elections in Greece – a political earthquake –are a clear indication of the growing radicalisation of society on the basis of the historic deadlock of capitalism and the movement towards an openly revolutionary situation. 

[Also read parts II and III]

SYRIZA is the big winner of the elections and has emerged as the undisputed voice of the turn to the left among the working masses. The high percentage it received and its surge towards the concrete possibility of gaining power, is giving back confidence to the working class and the poor masses after two years of numerous defeats, and has placed the ruling class with their backs against the wall, throwing them into confusion and panic.

The big losers on the other hand, are the conservative New Democracy party and the bourgeois leadership of PASOK, who suffered an unprecedented electoral collapse, while the main supports of a bourgeois government, LAOS and Democratic Alliance (Dimokratiki Symmachia, of Dora Bakoyanni) also emerged crushed and failed to get enough votes to enter the new parliament. The only party of the traditional bourgeois camp which gathered a satisfactory number of votes was the party of Mr Kammenos, the “Independent Greeks” (Anexartiti Hellines), based on anti-austerity demagogy. The "Golden Dawn" neo-Nazis (Chrysi Avgi) benefited from the disintegration of the traditional bourgeois parties and the political confusion among the backward petty bourgeois layers and thus were able to win a relatively high percentage, a warning to the Left and the labour movement.

The Communist Party revealed a picture of stagnation, failing to win new supporters from a "sea" of voters who were moving to the left. Finally, the party of the “Democratic Left” (Dimokratiki Aristera) saw the high electoral appeal it had just three months ago suddenly "deflated" and has been unable to sink deep roots within the working masses.

These election results do not allow for the formation of a bourgeois coalition government, as New Democracy and PASOK together failed to get a majority in parliament, in spite of the bonus 50 MPs that New Democracy was awarded due to its coming first. That explains why new elections, expected to take place in June, are an absolute necessity for the bourgeoisie, but they are also a new and even more historic opportunity for the left.

"New Debacle"

The leadership of New Democracy, which was seeking enough votes to be able to govern alone, won only 18.87%, with close to 1,200,000 votes. And it was only thanks to the legalised “fraud” of the electoral law that they won 108 seats. The party lost 14.6% from its 33.47% in 2009, which until then had been a historical low of this traditional party of the bourgeoisie and it also lost almost one million votes in absolute terms! This result is a disaster for New Democracy and objectively poses not only the question of its leadership, but also of the very sustainability of the party.

The electoral results of ND in the larger cities collapsed to historically low levels compared with the past data for the main bourgeois parties in the country. In the first electoral district of Athens they fell by 15.95 percentage points (from 31.75% down to 17.79%); in the second electoral district of Athens by 14.22% (from 26.62% down to 12.4%); in the second electoral district of Pireaus 23.06% points (from 23.06% to 9.77%); in the first district of Piraeus 16.33% points (from 32.97% down to 16.44%); in the first electoral district of Thessaloniki 15.55% points (from 30.3% down to 14.80%); in the second electoral district of Thessaloniki 17.61% points (from 37.62% down to 20.01%).

Already a number of leading figures within the ND, agents and apologists of the ruling class, are openly posing the question of the party leadership and have issued a call for a reunification of the fragments that have previously broken away from the party (LAOS, Democratic Alliance, Independent Greeks). However, apart from the fact that that the time until the next elections is very limited, the return of ND to its previously high results cannot be achieved through a mere "reassembling”of these fragments, because in the period we have entered, the majority of Greek society is clearly moving to the left.

Despite all the comical political manoeuvres of Mr Samaras, that contributed to the decay and obsolescence of ND, the party's electoral debacle was not the result of poor leadership, but ultimately reflects the growing political weakness and impasse of the ruling class, as Greek capitalism is moving full steam ahead to a disorderly default and exit from the eurozone.

SYRIZA – An opportunity to win power and the new tasks before it

Yesterday's results reveal that SYRIZA is being transformed day by day into a strong mass movement for power. Its success was due, above all, to its persistent call for a government of the Left, which gave political hope back to the desperate masses of the working classes and the poor.

The powerful dynamic of SYRIZA has been centred on all the progressive social movements, which always, sooner or later, spread and grip the entire population of a country; the working class and the large urban centres. Within this major layer of the masses, SYRIZA is now the undisputed first party and if we add to their votes those of the Communist Party, we see how a powerful communist left has emerged and also that a government of the Left is the basic political demand of the working people.

SYRIZA won nationwide an amazing 16.78%, gaining 12.18% points more compared to 2009 (when it received only 4.6%) and nearly 1,100,000 votes in total, 800,000 more than in 2009 (when it only won 315,655).

The rock-beds of support for SYRIZA are the mass working class constituencies and large cities, where the allied forces of Syriza generally won first place. In the second district of Athens, the biggest constituency of the country, SYRIZA won 14.41 percentage points more, reaching 21.81% compared to  7.4% in 2009 and now ranks as the first party. In the first district of Athens it won 11.11% more than in 2009 , winning an overall 19.09%, up from from its previous 7.98%. In the second district of Piraeus it won 18.6% more, winning a total of 23.85%, up from the 5.65% it won in 2009. In the first district of Thessaloniki it grew by 11.68% points compared to 2009, winning 17.46%, up from 5.77%. In the second district of Thessaloniki it was 10.35% points up, winning an overall 14.42% , compared to 4.08% in 2009. In the Municipality of Patras it advanced by 20.13% points, winning 25.41%, up from 5.28% in 2009.

Some impressive examples are the results of SYRIZA in working class areas of Athens. In Peristeri SYRIZA increased its votes by 17.5% points, winning 24.0% compared  to 6.5% in 2009. In the Municipality of Nea Ionia the increase was of 17.6% points, winning 24.62%, up  from 7.36%. In the Municipality of Perama it gained 17.8% points, winning 22.03%, up from 4.23%. In the Municipality of Keratsini-Drapetsona it grew by 18.63%, points winning an overall 24.41%, up from 5.78%.

This clearly shows that with these massive increases in vote, SYRIZA has been transformed into the basic mass party of the working class. After three decades of domination of PASOK, the political leadership within the working class has returned to the communist movement. This is a great historical opportunity that the leadership of SYRIZA should not let go to waste. It has the duty to refuse any kind of cooperation with bourgeois parties and, based on the huge support it has received from the working masses, it must present the cause of socialism, calling constantly on the Communist Party to form with it a political alliance for the struggle for power.

Furthermore, it is time that SYRIZA abandoned its present structure as a weak alliance between a large traditional party (Synaspismos) and several small left-wing organisations and "individuals" and transformed itself into one big mass party to organise the working class and the youth.

It is also time for SYRIZA to drop its weak programmatic demands, and begin developing the political programme that meets the present situation. The Marxists of Synaspismos believe that what SYRIZA really needs in these times of historic crisis and decline of capitalism is a socialist programme based on the idea that the main task of a government of the Left is to replace this rotten system with a democratically planned economy, where the commanding heights are nationalised, while at the same time tearing down the bureaucratic, authoritarian and corrupt bourgeois state, replacing it with institutions of labour, a genuine socialist democracy [for more on this issue see our recent article SYRIZA: The "10 points" and the government of the Left].

The working class and the poor masses cannot wait. The capitalist crisis is condemning them to poverty while the growing bourgeois reaction – in both its more moderate expression of Samaras, Chrysochoidis and Kammenos and the more extreme neo-Nazis of the "Golden Dawn" – is sharpening its teeth. The forward momentum of SYRIZA today is a powerful one, but the road to power is not without serious obstacles. After the initial confusion and panic of the ruling class, in close cooperation with the "troika", they will fight back on many fronts, with political and economic reprisals, and they will attempt to take advantage of every possible weakness, retreat and illusions on the part of the SYRIZA leadership in the possibility of a "smooth", "peaceful" and "gradual" road to power and social change.

In order to banish the Troika once and for all, to abolish their laws, to win back all the rights they have taken away from us and implement our programme, we must be ready to fight seriously for power! We must organise the struggling masses, ensuring that they have the necessary means to defend themselves against the official and unofficial state violence and terror. In every workplace and every neighbourhood, it is time to create broad defence committees of the Government of the Left, which will guarantee the implementation of the programme once in power.

Marxistiki Foni