The results of the European elections in Greece confirmed the general trends expressed in the first round of the Municipal and Regional elections (See Greek local elections confirm sharp class polarisation to the left and the right). Those parties that are either part of or are associated with the government, New Democracy (ND), PASOK and DIMAR suffered a clear defeat, as opposition to government policy among wide sections of the electorate was evident. But why did SYRIZA not benefit from this?
The fact that the bulk of the voters who voted against the parties in government did not turn to SYRIZA – that actually suffered a marginal decline in its vote – but to other options within the bourgeois camp, such as Golden Dawn (GD), the media constructed “To Potami” (The River) and LAOS, has given a lease of life to the government and the ruling class by providing a reasonable amount of time in which to reorganize and restructure the political landscape, with the ultimate aim of regaining the initiative and a workable parliamentary majority at the next general election.
The main feature within the two main camps was a distinct trend towards a polarisation of the vote towards the “extremes” on both sides. The historically unprecedented fact that for the first time in modern Greece in a general election the winner was a party that has its roots in the communist movement and is positioned on the left of European Social Democracy is indicative of the radicalisation within Greek society which continues to grow as capitalism enters an impasse.
In the bourgeois camp, GD revealed a greater dynamic and within the camp of the left there was a noticeable increase in the vote of the Communist Party (KKE), although weaker than that of the fascists in the opposite camp. As part of this general trend of increased support for the political “extremes” one should also include the ever-growing levels of abstention, which amounted to 40.04% (up from 37.5 % in June 2012; about 280,000 less voted) and expresses a significant instinctive rejection, mainly on the part of the youth, of the rotten system of bourgeois “democracy.”
Finally, the second round of the municipal and regional elections, confirmed the inability of SYRIZA to achieve – at this stage – a strong shift within the electorate such as that which brought PASOK to power in 1981. Despite its marginal prevalence in the larger regions of the country (Attica), it won only 2 of the 13 regions, few county capitals and also few municipalities in Attica. On the other hand, a remarkable political achievement and an important milestone for the communists and left activists across the country was the success of the KKE in Patras, the third largest city.
It is worth examining in more detail the results of the elections of each party separately and to draw conclusions from this for the general political perspectives. The benchmark for our analysis cannot be other than the parliamentary elections of June 2012, as the previous local elections (2010) and European elections (2009) were conducted in a completely different social and political climate.
Big defeat of New Democracy – an “alarm bell” for the bourgeoisie
ND suffered serious losses in the European elections, marking a new record low. It won only 22.71% and 1,295,805 votes, losing 6.95% and 530,000 votes in comparison to 2012. The fall of ND ranged from 4 to 10 percentage points in the various regions.
In large urban centres ND suffered a severe setback. In Athens-A (the Municipality of Athens) it lost 6.34%, falling from 30.92 % to 24.58%. In Athens-B it lost 5% and fell from 26.22% to 21.22%. In Piraeus-A it lost 5.66 % and fell from 29.68 % to 24.01 %. In Piraeus-B it lost 3.82% and fell from 18.63% to a very weak 14.8%. In Patras it lost 5.1% and fell from 22.72% to 17.62%. In Thessaloniki it lost 8.84% and fell from 32.42% to 23.58%.
The most striking feature of the ND’s results, however, was the fact that it suffered the largest losses in its traditional “strongholds”, i.e. in the provinces, especially in northern Greece, where the decline in many areas reached double figures. Just to mention a few examples, in Drama its losses were -10.2%, in Serres -11.22%, in Pieria -10.65% , in Kilkis -9.37%, in Imathia -9.6%, in Pella -9.75% , in Grevena -10.48%, and in Argolida -9.04%, Laconia -9.01% and in Messinia -9.77%. These losses reflect a further weakening of the ties between ND and the middle class layers of society who have been crushed by the current crisis.
The only places where ND achieved any increase in its percentages were in the openly bourgeois areas, an expression of the fact the ruling class is gathering around its traditional party. Thus, in Kifissia it received 37.09%, in Ekali 59.05% and in Philothei-Psihiko 42.95 %.
One cannot ignore the great losses ND suffered in the European elections, and only concentrate on its successes in the local elections. Overall it is pro-government candidates – both “official” and “unofficial” – who won the local elections where they gained control of 11 out of 13 prefectures, but this was due to SYRIZA's political weakness. These losses of ND in the European elections are testimony to the growing popular opposition to the harsh austerity policies and excessive increases in tax levels that have been applied by the ruling class over the last four years.
The very low overall percentage that the main coalition partner achieved raises the question of the political legitimacy of the government. The prime minister (Samaras) and leader of the second party, ND, with its 22.75% (which is a fall of 1/3 if we take into consideration the number of abstentions), no longer has even any minimal legitimacy to carry out the new harsh measures that the Troika is demanding, nor to negotiate a “settlement” of the debt in the name of the Greek people. Of course, the democratic façade presented by bourgeois politicians – who are nothing but professional demagogues – is the last element one has to take into account. However, the feeling of government officials and members of ND that they are in a boat that is slowly but surely sinking, is a factor that objectively can destabilise the government and make it vulnerable to any sudden shifts in the economic situation and the class struggle.
At present, the concerns of Samaras and the other leaders of ND about their own political future may be counter-balanced by the fact that their clear defeat did not take the form of an absolute disaster and above all by the fact that SYRIZA has not shown any signs of a strong momentum forward. But all of them realize that staying in power on the basis of the economic crisis and continuous Memorandums is impossible. Thus we see how from the very evening of election night, the politicians of the ruling class appeared as cooks in a kitchen with Samaras and his friends trying to invent new “recipes” for the immediate political future.
PASOK’s “Olive Tree” in free fall
The fact that PASOK and its allies were able to avoid an absolute collapse, under the name of “Elia” (the Olive Tree), was what most relieved the ruling class, as it has provided some respite for the fragile coalition government. Undeniably, however, the percentages received by “Elia”, simply express a collapse in “slow motion” and cannot justify in the slightest any note of optimism about its political future.
PASOK’s “Olive Tree” received 8.02% and 457,517 votes, losing 4.25% and 290,000 votes, i.e. one third of its previous voters. In Athens-A (Municipality of Athens) it lost 1.66% and fell from 8.72% to 7.06%. In Athens-B it lost 2.09% and fell from 8.54% to 6.45%. In Piraeus-A it lost 1.98% and fell from 8.44% to 6.46 %. In Piraeus-B it lost 2.32% and fell from 7.94% to 5.62%. In Patras it lost 4.05% down from 10.63% to 6.58%. In Thessaloniki it lost 3.29% down from 10% to 6.71%.
This decline reflects the absolute loss of influence of PASOK among the working class and the poor layers who were its traditional “strongholds”. In areas with the most proletarian composition “The Olive Tree” received minor percentages. Indicatively, in Perama it won just 4.88%, in Nice 5.8%, in Peristeri 5.57%, in Aigaleo 5.97%, in New Ionia 6.78%.
Venizelos on election night appeared in a very good mood, but only for purely personal reasons, as it turned out that he is not the only weak link in the government, as the low votes for “The River” and DIMAR, leave him as the “boss” (albeit of a force in decline) in the processes that will unfold within the so-called centre-left. At the same time, the results did not strengthen his main competitor within the party, Papandreou, who had informally, but unfortunately for him, invested in the “lamest” horse of the centre-left, DIMAR.
In the municipal and regional elections, PASOK managed to salvage some good results through support for “independent” pro-government candidates, Kaminis and Boutaris who were re-elected in Athens and Thessaloniki respectively. This provides a material base for the survival of the crumbling, former mighty, PASOK party bureaucracy. In any case, this election seems to have marked the formal end of PASOK as an acceptable party within a section of the working class and probably will mark its dissolution and transformation into another bourgeois “centre” party. It is the final seal on its path of bourgeois degeneration, which accelerated from the mid-1980s onwards. The “lesson” of PASOK should be a lesson for the leadership of SYRIZA and those who are promoting the need for the party to shift to the “middle ground”. Under the present conditions of deep crisis and sudden changes in social consciousness, what took 30 years to develop within the PASOK could affect SYRIZA within just a few months after an attempt by the leadership to manage capitalism like any other social-democratic party.
Shift to the right of SYRIZA produces stagnation
The emergence of SYRIZA as the first party in these elections is undeniably of historical significance. It is a major obstacle to the ruling class that a party like SYRIZA, from the communist tradition of Greece, is the first party in Greek society, which leaves the traditional party of the bourgeoisie, ND, in second place, and with a net advantage of nearly four percentage points. But this is only a superficial view of the election result. The real essence becomes clear only if one compares these latest results to those of June 2012 and views the situation through the eyes of hundreds of thousands of workers, who see in SYRIZA a political tool that could help them to radically change their condition. From this perspective, however, the election result of SYRIZA was not a success and does not reflect current expectations.
SYRIZA won 26.6% and 1,516,404 votes, down from 26.9 % and the 1,655,022 votes it won in June 2012, a loss 0.3 % and 140,000 votes. If one considers that from 2012 onwards the working masses, the “social backbone” of SYRIZA, have suffered the onslaught of many draconian measures and have also been through the experience of massive class struggles, this small electoral setback confirms that the party’s current policies do not excite the workers and do not convince them that it can offer them the necessary solutions.
The dynamic of SYRIZA to be catapulted towards power seems to have slowed down, particularly in the areas where it had the greatest impact in the June 2012 elections, i.e. in the large urban centres of the country, where the party's social base lives and works. In Athens-A (Municipality of Athens) SYRIZA increased its vote by just 0.12% and from 26.96% went to 27.08%, but actually lost 5,500 votes. In the predominantly working class area of Athens-B it lost 2.04% and from 31.43% fell to 29.39%. In Piraeus-A it lost 1.88% and from 28.15% fell to 26.2%. In the very working class area of Piraeus-B it lost its highest percentage in Attica, i.e. 3.88 %, and from 36.31% fell to 32.43%. In Patras it raised its percentage marginally to 36.58% from 35.7 %, but lost about 2,000 votes. In Thessaloniki it lost an impressive 11.22% and from 35.77% fell to 24.55%.
These losses in the most advanced, key areas of the country were balanced by increased votes in the provinces, which go from 2 to 4 percentages in regions where traditionally the right-wing did better, such as Arta, Thesprotia, Ioannina, Pieria, Halkidiki, Laconia, Messenia and Argolida. The increase in these areas represents a delayed reflection of the trend of radicalisation that was recorded strongly in the major urban centres in June 2012. However, without any significant growth of the influence of SYRIZA in the major urban centres, it is not possible to achieve a strong nationwide swing that would result in victory in parliamentary elections.
What was the factor that acted as an obstacle to the development of SYRIZA? First we need to remember that this “downward” trend had been analysed by the Communist Tendency, immediately after the results of the first round of the municipal and regional elections, in an important analytical article on our website. Our political conclusions received the ironic response from the apologists of the leadership (of both the two main tendencies within the party) who pointed to the strong “local” and personal element of the municipal and regional elections, arguing, in the words of the President of the party Tsipras, that “the best goals are scored during the second half”, clearly implying that they expected a big victory in the European elections. Unfortunately, our perspective that SYRIZA would fail to benefit from the losses of the government parties was confirmed. And the main reason is not the hostile campaign of the media (as this has been incessant since June 2012) or a certain “backwardness” of society. The reason is the mistaken, social-democratic political line of the leadership.
The main “pool” of the electorate from which SYRIZA could have attracted a significant number of votes, and therefore increased its lead on ND, particularly in the major urban centres, was the significant number of young people who chose the “The River” (according to exit polls the “The River” received 7.8% among 18-24 years olds), all those who decided not to vote for a right-wing party, those who voted for the smaller parties (collectively the percentage of parties that failed to get a seat in parliament was 17.1%) and above all, the large percentage who abstained.
All these did not vote SYRIZA because they received mixed messages from the leadership. Rather than see SYRIZA’s determination to take the path of struggle for a government of the Left, which could bring about profound changes, rejecting the Memoranda and uprooting the causes of the crisis, they saw political zigs-zags and unclear positions. They saw it adopting as a central political plank its notorious “mature approach”, in reality reconciliation with capitalism, rather than challenging the system full on. It is enough to talk to any young person of any major city to easily understand the phenomenon that the youth see SYRIZA as a party that is increasingly becoming part of the “system”. This was confirmed by the overall reduction of the impact of SYRIZA on young people between the age of 18 and 24. The exit polls showed a fall within this group of 25%, down from the previous 35% in the elections of June 2012.
The upward dynamic of June 2012 was halted by the vague rhetoric about the fate of the memoranda, the pro-capitalist speeches and statements of the party president [Tsipras] in the USA, Berlin, Brussels and the various forums of Greek and foreign entrepreneurs, provocative public retractions from left-radical commitments, with the bourgeois professor Stathakis expressing these changes at every chance he gets, the political evasiveness about a future referendum on the debt issue, the standing of right-wing candidates such as Voudouris and so-called “mistakes” such as Karypidis and Sabiha, the unwillingness of the leadership to take real initiatives in the movement to bring down the coalition government, the avoidance of giving clear answers on the question of the economic programme that is to be implemented after the inevitable confrontation with the Troika, the recent election campaign that was based on patriotic elements and simply revolved around the skills of certain people (Tsipras, Dourou, Sakelaridis). Even on the eve of major electoral battles, our Comrade President rushed to reassure the bourgeoisie through the newspaper "VIMA" (interview of May 17) that SYRIZA would be willing to work for “social salvation” together with PASOK and ND, if they changed leadership and made some political self-criticisms… All these elements of the shift to the right of the leadership are the causes for the party’s stagnation on the electoral plain
The truth is that in spite of all these facts that point to a growing conservatism on the part of the political leadership, the working class and the poor layers largely supported SYRIZA one more time and provided it with a lead nationally and in the region of Attica. This shows that there are large reserves of patience and a class instinct that led the working people to the conclusion that, despite its errors, a defeat of SYRIZA by the bourgeois parties would amount to a very serious defeat for the working class and would be a great advantage for the bourgeoisie.
The workers, however, will not always be so “generous” towards the leadership of SYRIZA. It is most likely that, despite the continuation of the social-democratic turn of the leadership, the workers and youth will push SYRIZA into power when the critical moment of national elections comes. But they are not going to be for ever patient with a SYRIZA government. Any attempt on the part of its leadership to form a government coalition with bourgeois parties or to abandon their radical promises once in power, could lead to a sudden “deflation” of the party and a turn of the advanced layers of the workers to the Communist Party, while, the politically disillusioned and less advanced layers of society could turn to bourgeois options such as “The River”, or they could abstain, or even turn to the fascists...
In this sense, the outcome of the European elections is a serious warning for SYRIZA. Every activist should study carefully the actual lessons that emerge from these results, avoiding the poison of complacency that befits bureaucrats and careerists, but not pioneers and selfless fighters of the left.
On the industrial front major battles are looming against cuts and layoffs. But even more important than these battles is the fight that must be given so that the party can meet the aspirations of the working class and youth, and meet the needs of our era that will lead to the explosion of major new class conflicts. It is the political battle to adopt a revolutionary, anti-capitalist agenda, which can excite millions of working people and give them a tangible, socialist perspective. This is the battle that is consistently being given by the Communist Tendency.
The rise of Golden Dawn – warning to the Left
GD is one of the winners in these elections, having achieved a small, but clear and uniform nationwide increase in their percentages, which had already clearly emerged from the results of the first round of the municipal and regional elections. Now it ranks third, having received 9.38%, up from 6.92% in June 2012 and with 536,409 votes, up from 426,025 in the June 2012.
GD showed a remarkable growth of its influence in the large urban areas. In Athens-A it won 10.37% (+2.56%), in Athens-B 8.35% (+1.97), in Piraeus-A 10.6% (+2.37%), in Piraeus-B 11.31% (+2.04), in Thessaloniki 8.99% (+3.18%) and Patras 7.03% (+1.39%). It had an upward trend in working class areas where there is high unemployment, achieving in Perama 13.79% (+2.8%), Nikaia (the place where Pavlos Fyssas was murdered) 10.53% (+1.81%), New Ionia 8.2% (+1.91%), in Peristeri 9.65% (+2.77%). These data show an increased influence of GD among the crisis-ridden middle classes and among the politically backward sections of workers who have been reduced to misery.
But the most impressive rise of GD was achieved in the rural areas, where the ND suffered big losses, and mainly in Northern Greece. Specifically, in Pella, Imathia, Kilkis, Kastoria, Serres, Pieria, Rodopi, and Halkidiki GD raised its percentages on average by 4-5% compared with June 2012! GD did better in bourgeois areas as well, demonstrating that a small section of the ruling class is consciously lining up behind GD as a reactionary shield in the face of the forthcoming explosion of the class struggle. Thus, in Kifissia it received 6.58% (+2.1%), while in Psihiko-Philothei it won 6.46% (+2.2%).
The debate as to whether or not those voting for GD are ideologically fascists, is abstract and misses the political essence of the phenomenon. Undoubtedly the big majority of the voters of GD are not admirers of Hitler, nor have they adopted the reactionary and demagogic Nazi ideology. The crucial question, however, is not whether all these voters are ideologically or not fascists, but whether a large portion of them could increase the ranks of an active fascist movement, such as those in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, which GD could rely on in order to crush by force the labour movement and the Left and to seize power. The answer to this question is clearly negative today. The blind protest voters of GD do not seem willing to participate actively in a reactionary movement. Furthermore, the balance of power is overwhelmingly against the fascists and in favour of the labour movement and the mass left parties.
The rise of GD certainly no longer relies on a lack of information about the criminal nature of their actions, after so many revelations in the bourgeois press and persecution/imprisonment of its key leaders. The idea that persecution by the government, the police and the judiciary, in conjunction with an ideological “crusade” in favour of bourgeois parliamentary “democracy”, would weaken the influence of GD has proved ridiculous. All this had a negative effect only on the morale of the cowardly fascists, and has led to the rapid collapse of their well-financed and well-structured gangs of thugs and murders – all of which had previously benefitted from the active contribution of the very same state “persecutors” of the fascists today. On the contrary, the corrupt and rotten character of the “democratic” state “persecutors” and “media critics” of the fascists has obviously resulted in providing moral justification for the fascists in the eyes of the politically backward and lumpenised petty bourgeois. As long as people like Samaras, Venizelos and Pretenteris are presented as the main opponents of GD, then it will win more sympathy amongst the layers of the crisis-ridden petty bourgeoisie.
What the rise of GD basically represents is a political warning. As long as the Left does not challenge for power on a revolutionary programme that is capable of tackling, among other things, the basic problems of the downtrodden and politically backward petty bourgeois masses in the cities and the countryside, as long as it passively observes the actions of the fascists in the neighbourhoods – which will inevitably escalate again after their electoral successes, with the new wave of admiration and compassion that this will provoke within the ranks of the security forces – the more chance there is that we will be facing the prospect of the involvement of the fascists in a government coalition at some stage. This, of course, would come after their image has been cleaned up somewhat with an acquittal and release of their imprisoned and “persecuted” executives.
The KKE’s clear but as yet weak recovery
The KKE, confirming the upward trend it had in the first round of the municipal and regional elections, saw an increase of its votes in the European elections. It received 6.09% and 347,467 votes, up from 4.5% and 277,227 votes in June 2012. The growth of the KKE could be seen in all areas, but was strongest in the major urban areas.
In Athens-A it received 6.24% (+1.5%), in Athens-B 7.44% (+1.5%), in Piraeus-A 5.42% (+1.49), in Piraeus-B 9.26% (+2.69%), in Thessaloniki 5.59% (+ 1.80%) and in Patras 8.06 % (+2.90%). In the working class areas it had a greater percentage increase than the average rate of growth nationwide. Indicative is its result in Perama with a +2.5% increase, in Nikaia +2.70%, +2.70% in Peristeri and Nea Ionia +2%.
The results of the KKE, especially in working class areas, show that their electoral base can shift to and back from SYRIZA. In June 2012 we observed a shift of voters from the KKE to SYRIZA. In the European elections we witnessed a move in the opposite direction. The Communist Party has won back all the votes that SYRIZA lost due to its social democratic turn. Typical of this are the cases of Athens-B and Piraeus-B.
However, the growth of the Communist Party vote is very far from what would be required in the current circumstances. In an era where large masses of workers and youth are abandoning the parties in government and rejecting the turn to the right on the part of SYRIZA, votes of between 5 and 6% indicate a crisis and do not show a real upward momentum. The fact that the impact of GD and parties of recent bourgeois construction, such as the “The River”, is greater than that of the Communist Party with its deep historical roots within the working class is proof of the fact that the election results for the Communists are not a cause for celebration, but require political analysis.
Particularly damaging for the KKE was the ultra-left line employed by its leadership of remaining equidistant from the bourgeois candidates and those of SYRIZA in the second round of the municipal and regional elections. According to the exit polls on election night, the Communist Party, unlike SYRIZA, attracted a very small percentage among those who decided how they would vote at the last minute. It is clear that the sectarian line of maintaining equidistance from both the bourgeois camp and SYRIZA had a negative impact when it came to the KKE winning the vote of all those vacillating between them and SYRIZA.
This is in no way the result of polarisation of the new “two party system”, as is already being proclaimed by the leaders of the party, but an unfortunate weakening of the KKE’s appeal as a result of the mistaken tactics of its leadership. It is no coincidence that the majority of the rank and file of the party, wherever they were faced with the choice of a bourgeois candidate versus a candidate of SYRIZA, followed their own infallible class instinct and did not respect the discipline of the party line but voted for the candidate of SYRIZA.
The fact remains that, despite the extreme sectarian line of its leadership, the Communist Party managed to win the City of Patras, the third largest municipality in the country (K. Peletidis received 25.6% in the first round and 63.53% in the second), while SYRIZA failed to win any of the very large municipalities. It even failed to reach the second round in Patras, which means that objectively there are very promising perspectives for a growth in the impact of the KKE among the wider masses of the working class.
This victory proved that the clear class language and the explicit anti-capitalist/socialist programmatic positions, although undermined by the sectarianism of the leadership, can win the masses, in contrast to the claims of the leadership of SYRIZA, which presents as obsolete and politically foreign to the working people every political appeal that has as a reference point the overthrow of capitalism.
The example of the victory in Patras can be used to build the future of the Communist Party, and the entire Greek communist movement. If an anti-capitalist/socialist appeal can touch workers in Patras, the same can be done in Athens and all the other major cities. If this could be accompanied by an open and genuine Marxist reappraisal of the reasons for the fall of USSR and the other bureaucratically deformed workers' states, and above all, a decisive change of tactics towards SYRIZA based on the Leninist line of the United Front, the Communist Party could play a crucial role, bringing closer the victory of socialism in Greece and in Europe. They could pull the masses away from the social-democratic illusions currently defended by the leadership of SYRIZA and then steadily win them over to the programme of communism. This political task belongs to the thousands of Communists, members and supporters of the party.
A “River “that will quickly dry up
The new formation known as the “The River” won 6.6% and 376,000 votes. That a party hurriedly built up by the bourgeois media can receive in its first appearance such a remarkable vote highlights the absolute lack of any political representation for wide layers of society. At the time of writing, there is no available data on the political and class composition of the electorate of the “The River”. It is not particularly difficult to understand, however, that these hundreds of thousands of voters are disappointed by the old bourgeois parties and are looking for something completely “new”. The fact that its highest votes (above the national average) were received in the major urban areas indicates that the “The River” received the support of educated and active layers, mainly of petty bourgeois origin, which traditionally have a volatile nature.
“The River” is a disposable bourgeoisie party, as was DIMAR. With positions and programme that essentially do not differ from current government policy, this party will serve as a temporary prop for the next bourgeois government until it collapses together with it. The petty bourgeois which has been severely affected by the crisis will very quickly abandon it on the basis of experience.
However, regardless of what future this new party may have, SYRIZA and the KKE could have won a significant layer of its voters. If the two mass parties of the left, SYRIZA and the KKE had presented a genuine socialist programme and a united front that provided clear solutions to the problems of working people, this would have attracted the vacillating and very sceptical petty bourgeois layers who turned to The River, and it would have relegated to history the political clown Theodorakis and his bosses, by exposing the political manoeuvres of the ruling class even before they started.
The smaller parties: DIMAR’s political extinction, marginalisation of Independent Greeks, return of LAOS and low impact of ANTARSYA
DIMAR with the devastating effects of the 1.2% and 68,700 votes that it received in the European elections is on the verge of extinction. That section of its leadership that has most sold out to the bourgeoisie, argues that this low vote was due to its “premature withdrawal from the coalition government”, demonstrating the total inability of these political careerists to distinguish the truth from lies, as they are organically inclined towards the latter.
The truth is exactly the opposite. DIMAR was wiped off the political map because it had participated in the coalition and voted in favour of dozens of anti-working class measures. In a very short time – just four years – these social-democratic saboteurs of SYRIZA and respected political servants of the ruling class, have received their just desserts for the role they have played.
Any idea of SYRIZA collaborating with the supposedly “more progressive” remnants of DIMAR would only do damage to the party. Any contact with parties that have been part of the coalition government, such as DIMAR, would leave SYRIZA holding the hot potato. A collaboration of SYRIZA with DIMAR or its remnants would not attract any new voters to SYRIZA. On the contrary, it would drive away tens of thousands that justifiably abhor the party of Kouvelis. [The leader of DIMAR]
Another important aspect of the election results was the large drop in the vote for the Independent Greeks (ANEL). Their vote fell from 7.51% to 3.46%, down to only 197,400 from the previous 462,406! The defeat of the Independent Greeks is the result of several factors that have impacted on the bourgeois parties. The opportunistic and demagogic character of this party has been clearly exposed. Their disastrous result confirms the perspectives of the Marxists that a consistent “anti-memorandum” party cannot exist within the camp of the bourgeoisie and will result in splits and further weakening of the Independent Greeks.
The surprise within the bourgeois camp was Karatzaferis’s LAOS that has re-entered the political scene with its 2.7% and 154,000 votes. This small victory for LAOS, which overtook the combined neoliberal sects of Tzimerou and Skylakakis (“Create Again” and “Action”) and the political alliance of Polidoras-Psomiadi (“Union for the motherland and the people”), is due to the shift of a significant section of ND voters to the right who were seeking a more “constitutionally” acceptable option than the “extremist” Golden Dawn.
Lastly, ANTARSYA’s vote was slightly up compared to June 2012 (from 0.33% to 0.7%, and 44,000 votes). But it is so small that it is not an important factor on the Left. This once again proves that when the broad masses of workers express themselves politically, they prefer to unite around traditional workers’ parties that have deep roots in society and do not look to small organisations of the left.
Immediate political prospects and the one way of a left coalition
Although the coalition parties (PASOK, ND, DIMAR) suffered a massive fall in support, from 48.19% to 31.93%, the results in the European elections, together with those in the municipal and regional elections, have given a brief breathing space to the government, which they will try to use to manipulate public opinion by carrying out a cabinet “reshuffle” and putting up a pretence that they have “understood the message of the electorate”. On a purely parliamentary level, the government can now pass tough measures in the autumn by exploiting the collapse of the Independent Greeks and DIMAR, and try to win for themselves the voters that are abandoning these pro-government parties.
However, with the undeniable predominance of SYRIZA and the constant bickering within the “centre-left” camp, the ruling class cannot risk an early general election. Prior to the Presidential elections in February 2015 – when SYRIZA has the potential to force the calling of a general election – the government will most likely to try to exploit the remaining time left to it in order to attempt to radically reorganise the bourgeois political camp. This will most likely begin with Venizelos, who will officially dissolve PASOK and create a new “centre-left” party, which will be an attempt to glue together all the pieces of this political area into a “compact” political grouping.
It also cannot be excluded, that faced with a situation where SYRIZA emerges as the first party, the ruling class may try to fuse together the various “pro-European” bourgeois parties into one bloc that could hinder the Left from assuming office.
At the same time, the pressure that the bourgeoisie will bring to bear on SYRIZA will escalate after the party wins the elections. The best scenario for the bourgeoisie would be a split in SYRIZA, which could weaken the party and thus deprive it of electoral victory. We will see the bourgeois increasing its pressure on the most right-wing, social-democratic and careerist elements within the leadership, who will be issuing public statements and actions friendly to the bourgeois, in an attempt to provoke the left base of the party to follow Tatsopoulos [a SYRIZA MP who left the party in January] in an attempt to undermine morale and unity.
However, whatever manoeuvres the bourgeois may carry out, the ground beneath their feet is very unstable. Greek capitalism is not showing any real signs of recovery. It is very unlikely that any significant “productive investment” will take place while the huge debt, and the probability of a left government coming to power, are hanging over the heads of the bourgeoisie. Failure to achieve high growth rates sufficient to provide the necessary surplus to ease the debt servicing will increase the existing deficits and lead to new, savage cuts in spending, cuts in wages and pensions and further layoffs, while the capitalists will be demanding more and new “incentives to invest”, i.e. wage cuts and tax exemptions. The class struggle that went down sharply last year as a result of the frustration of the working class in a situation where the labour movement leaders offered no overall plan to bring down the government, will inevitably recover. Soon the present government will no longer be able to benefit from the lull in strikes and protests that it has been able to take advantage of in the recent period.
On the basis of this deep and incurable social and political crisis of the regime, the weight of the mass left parties will be strengthened. The current balance of forces in parliament between the bourgeois camp, both inside and outside the government (the Right, the Centre-left and the Golden Dawn) and the Left (SYRIZA, KKE and the extra-parliamentary Left) is negative for the latter, with a ratio of about 65 to 35 in favour of the former. This balance will tend to shift decisively as weak Greek capitalism fails to address the most pressing issues facing the working masses, together with the experience of coming class struggles, will lead to sharp turns to the Left.
However, in order to take advantage fully of these objective trends, SYRIZA and the KKE need to adopt the correct policies. The inevitable tendency to rally around SYRIZA as we approach the general elections, together with the clear upward trend of the KKE vote, should be used to offer a socialist perspective to the working people. A “government of SYRIZA and the KKE on a socialist programme” should be the main slogan raised within the movement of the working class and youth.
The results of the European elections show that it would only need a small increase of votes for the two parties – which can only come about with the creation of such a front – a Left coalition could become a political reality and with the current electoral law (introduced by the bourgeois to guarantee stable parliamentary majorities) it would lead to a big parliamentary majority and thus a Left government, which, with the mobilisation, democratic control and the active support of the working people, could begin the process of overthrowing capitalism in the country, with the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy.
- Stop the social-democratisation of SYRIZA!
- The only way forward is the communist reorientation of the policy and programme of the party.
- To abandon the sectarian tactics of the leadership of the Communist Party and for the party to join a Leninist United Front!
- There is a political ally for SYRIZA – the KKE!
- An immediate alternative government for the working class is possible and we must fight for it!
- Fight together with the Communist Tendency of SYRIZA for a SYRIZA-KKE government on a socialist programme to uproot the Memoranda and capitalism, paving the way for a socialist Greece in a United Socialist Europe!