We publish here a statement on the recent Greek Elections by the International Workers Unity-Fourth International (IWU-FI)-SC
In the elections of 25 January the left has triumphed. Syriza and its leader Alexis Tsipras have achieved 36.6 percent of the vote, with 2,246,064 votes. The ruling party New Democracy, conservative, defeated reached 27.8 percent. The triumph of the left is a very important fact that impacts on all workers and European youth. And also on the peoples of the world who for decades have been struggling and facing the adjustments and cutbacks of the bosses’ governments, agents of imperialism and the IMF. Moreover when many took the left for dead and in some European elections there is the threat of the progress of the vote of the extreme right, type Marine Le Pen and the National Front in France or the Greek neo Nazi formation Golden Dawn.
Greece: a country ravaged by the IMF and foreign debt
These legislative elections to form a new government took place in advance due to the tremendous political and social crisis in Greece. Crisis that has been intensifying every year since the governments have been applying the adjustments and cutbacks agreed with the European Union (EU) and the so-called Troika (EU, European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF) commanded by Angela Merkel and international banking. Amid the global capitalist economic crisis, opened in 2007, the banks and the multinationals want the workers to pay for the crisis.
Greece is the weakest link in the European imperialist chain, coupled with an acute crisis in Spain, Portugal and Italy. For years the Troika has been unleashing adjustment after adjustment on the Greek working people and youth. With the fairy-tale of “aid” international creditors have pumped billions of dollars in exchange for tough austerity plans. The consequences are obvious. A country with 11 million inhabitants has lost, since 2009, one million jobs. Thirty percent of businesses have closed; wages fell by 38 percent and pensions by 45 percent!! And the foreign debt has reached the equivalent of 175 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The more it pays the more it owes.
But the working class and youth have not been standing still but instead have been resisting for years this brutal adjustment. They have carried out about 20 general strikes, partial strikes and demonstrations of all kinds. Thus they are hindering the plans of the Troika and complicit governments. This is why Greece is experiencing political instability and a worsening of the crisis in the political regime.
Syriza ‘s victory shows that the masses are becoming radicalised and seek a change to the left
The massive vote for Syriza (Greek acronym for Coalition of the Radical Left) shows that there has been an electoral turn to the left. We must take into account that Syriza, just a few years ago achieved only 4.6 percent of the vote. The formation of Syriza has its origin in the left current Synaspismos, which essentially consists of militants who left the Greek CP (KKE) in the split of 1991. Many of them then assumed reformist positions of the so-called “Eurocommunism”, and began to ally to other sectors and groups of the atomized Greek left. Only in the last elections it began to grow to 16 percent and then to 26 percent, to the beat of the adjustment application, the discrediting of the old parties and workers and popular struggles. This vote expresses the political rupture of millions with the old politicians and parties that adjusted and agreed to the Memorandum of cuts with the Troika. Thus, the old Greek reformist left, nucleated in PASOK (acronym for Panhellenic Socialist Movement), the social democracy that ruled a long time with Papandreou, now has been reduced to 4.6 percent. Most of PASOK’s electoral base were workers, popular sectors and youth. Papandreou, who split from PASOK and formed the Democratic Socialist Movement, only reached 2.4 percent and was outside parliamentary representation. The neo-Nazis of Golden Dawn managed 6.28 percent, with 17 members of parliament. The KKE (Greek PC still considers itself Stalinist) reached 5.4 percent, with 15 members of parliament.
The more than 2 million votes to Syriza express this exhaustion with the governments of the Troika and the search for substantive changes, to the left, of rupture with adjustment policies. In this sense the vote to the left is a hard call to attention and fear for imperialism and the Troika. They are afraid of the contagion effect in their countries.
Without a break with the Troika, the EU and the debt payments, there will be no solution for the workers and youth of Greece.
The electoral victory of the left and the installation of a government headed by its leader Alexis Tsipras, open a new political stage in Greece. Millions of workers and youth have high hopes and expectations for change. Millions of workers in Europe and the world will also be expectant. Even in Spain there are local government elections in May and there is a similar expectation with the new formation Podemos (We Can), which according to several surveys could defeat the PP (People’s Party) of Rajoy and the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers Party).
The revolutionary socialists of the IWU–FI respect the logical expectations of workers and young Greeks and that they see Syriza as their government. But, from the onset we warn that workers should not give any blank check to the new government. The Greek working people must continue to rely on their mobilization to enforce the changes to which they aspire to end the adjustment and achieving a reversal of the situation. We are categorical in stating that the only way to open those changes involves an emergency plan to cancel the Memorandum, starting with an immediate No Payment of the debt and progress in the rupture with the Troika, the Eurozone and the EU. There is no room for half measures. Debt and agreements with the EU are the main cause of drama in Greece. If it does not start from there, there will be no solution.
In that sense we must point out that this would not be the way the new government of Syriza would adopt. Tsipras has committed to finish with the adjustments and to increase wages. But instead of suspending all debt payments, Tsipras and Syriza leaders speak, for example, of a “renegotiation” to keep paying in better conditions. Alexis Tsipras, told the German daily Handelsblatt, in late December that: “A government led by Syriza will respect all obligations that Greece assumed, as effective member of the Eurozone, seeking to reach a balanced budget and trying to meet fiscal targets at the EU level”. Then, on 20 January, he reaffirmed to the British Financial Times, that “a future government led by Syriza will keep all commitments previously assumed by Greece with the EU in budgetary matters and to eliminate the deficit”. Also, regrettably, Syriza has already dropped its 2012 proposal to renationalise privatized companies: “renationalisation will be impossible given the illiquidity of the state” (Yannis Varoufakis, of Tsipras’ government team).
Many comrades who have expectations in Syriza may tell us that we exaggerate, that we must “give time” to the new government or that these are “tactical statements”. We do not want to be a killjoy. We say only that there have been other cases where the same proposals and arguments were given. In response to our alerts we were accused of being “ultras and hasty”. But unfortunately, these projects of conciliation and of seeking agreements with bosses sectors failed. Now Syriza even starts by agreeing with a small right-wing party (Independent Greeks who came in 6th place) to assume. We already have the experiences of Latin American governments that played with the same arguments that Syriza does today. The cases of Lula and the government of the PT Left in Brazil, of Evo Morales of the MAS in Bolivia or of Chavez in Venezuela. In these countries no substantive anticapitalistic measures were taken and, in the case of Lula-PT, they directly negotiated with the IMF, and the workers saw their expectations of change cheated. In Venezuela, where Chavez came to power 15 years ago with great expectations, the country is sinking in crisis, with food shortages, layoffs of workers and the highest inflation rate in Latin America. This is why we reaffirm that the need remains for the working class to be independent of these governments and to be a protagonist with its struggle, with its own organisations, with its mass meetings and by helping to form a new revolutionary socialist leadership in these processes.
In this path we call to the Greek workers, youth and the rank and file of Syriza, to its most militant sectors, to demand with their mobilization, for the government of Tsipras and Syriza to take a break with an economic model based on the indebtedness and looting, which breaks with the Troika and the EU and which ceases to pay the debt. And that an emergency plan be drawn including substantial measures to exit the crisis such as the nationalization of banks and the re-nationalization of all privatized enterprises and properties, among others. From there will come the mass of money to give fair wages and pensions, work and health and education.
International Workers Unity – Fourth International (IWU–FI)-27 January 2015