Greece is once again monopolising the international news. This time tons of ink is spilled in order to analyse the recent election results. Some are expressing their concerns and fears about potential political instability while others are enthusiastically welcoming the victory of the radical Left.
Like most elections, the Greek vote on the 6 May gave rise to some interesting developments. The most important of these were the rise of the radical Left (SYRIZA), the advance of the neo-Nazi ultra-right (Golden Dawn), and the spectacular defeat of the dominant two-party system.
If we look more closely, all these developments lead to a single conclusion. The planned wake is over: The Greek people have told the neo-liberals that their funeral has been cancelled, and they have told their uninvited guests, (the members of the Troika – European Union/European Central Bank/International Monetary Fund – who have been hanging around since 2009), that the corpse wants to come back to life. During this wake the guests have been exploiting the humiliated and maligned Greek people. Although the Greek crisis is part of the Eurozone crisis, that is in turn part of the larger global crisis, the international media has been conducting a systematic propaganda campaign against the Greek people urging for the imposition of neoliberal austerity measures to remedy the crisis.
You do not need to be an expert in economics or in rocket science to understand that the plan to ‘save Greece’ was built to fail. The austerity measures have an internal contradiction that leads to recession and an increase in national debt. The economy is in a serious recession without any sign of hope. The salaries and the pensions of low-paid workers have been dramatically cut, government spending has been reduced, taxes are ridiculously increasing while youth unemployment reaches unprecedented levels. The social and economic achievements of the labour movement have collapsed overnight in the face of the barbarous austerity. The ‘kind European colleagues’ were presented as willing to help the ‘troubled’ Greek economy altruistically. What they asked for in return was totally inhuman. Instead of a coherent plan for boosting the economy, the Troika’s only concern was to save the creditors driving Greece to bankruptcy.
The Greeks have realised that the nightmare of the country’s default on its debt and the subsequent exit from the Eurozone is not the worst case scenario. Actually, staying in the Eurozone, under the current circumstances, will condemn more people to poverty. The recession has plunged the Greek economy downwards, while Greeks have lost confidence in the dominant political establishment. The establishment that managed to deliver nothing but rising unemployment and falling living standards got voted out of office.
The 6th May elections were the first time Greek people had the chance to express their collective voice. Over the past three years there have been several social movements, from street protests and strikes to the Greek Indignados, which were ignored by the PASOK government of Georgios Papandreou and later by the technocratic, imposed, unelected government of Lucas Papademos.
Therefore, the result of the Greek election should not be a surprise. The Greeks did not choose to vote for personalities or for ideologies. The electoral gains of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party have to be seen within this context. Greeks voted according to only one criterion. They supported the parties which promised to challenge the inhuman austerity. Greeks voted for the parties that were advocating alternatives; they were standing up against austerity and punished the established dominant two parties that were in favour of the Troika’s rescue plan. The Greek people have been blackmailed into choosing austerity or suffering the consequences of bankruptcy and chaos. The catastrophic rescue plan deepened the Greek national debt and impoverished the working class. Greeks have been regarded as cannon fodder for the neoliberal model that the Troika imposes.
It is interesting to see that the big winner of the elections, the Radical Left SYRIZA party, came first among young voters. SYRIZA, by promising to formulate a shield to protect Greek society against the crisis, prevailed in big urban centres such as Athens and Thessaloniki, where the economic and social crises are particularly acute.
Times are crucial and there is no room for political opportunism. The next elected Greek government should heed this clear message from the people. The threats are many. The anti-austerity forces have a mandate which should be acted on, irrespective of the compromise effort to form a government.
After the second election in mid June, the Greek government, whatever its composition, will be under massive pressure to reach a new deal with the Troika. SYRIZA must be a unified force for the Greek Left. Greek Leftist political forces, such as the Greek Communist Party, the Democratic Left and SYRIZA, should form a united front. The significance of the cause must unite the Left. A greater Left collaboration in the second ballot is needed more so than ever. The entire European ruling class will be backing the two traditional parties: New Democracy and PASOK.
During most of the past three years, Greece has been governed by the so-called Socialist centre-left party (PASOK). Now, Greece needs a truly Socialist government to help heal her wounds and keep the country away from descending into barbarism. A majority of people are against a pro bailout government and therefore Greece cannot continue complying with the terms of the bailout. SYRIZA, if victorious in the next election, should form a Left coalition government that leads the Greek masses in breaking the Troika Imposed ‘Memorandum’.
What Greece and Europe need right now is a Greek government with a responsible program to lead the country out of the crisis. The next Greek government should formulate a viable and feasible plan to put the Greek economy back on track for growth and development. The next Greek leader should convince his European colleagues that he has an alternative plan that is in the common interest of the people. More importantly, it is absolutely essential to merge in a social movement in Europe and beyond in solidarity with the Greek people in resistance to neoliberalism and against the privatization project. People of Europe should stand on the side of the Greek people raising their voice demanding social justice. At the moment Greece has the unique opportunity to permanently unsettle the neo-liberal socio-economic establishment, thereby creating a welcome re-evaluation of inter-relationships in Europe.
Europe should not be afraid of the elections. Elections are the heart of democracy. Long live the ‘dictatorship’of the sovereign people! The change in the Greek political scene is an opportunity for Europe, not a threat. Greeks cannot stand anymore the inhuman and degrading austerity. The wake is over, austerity has been defeated, the predatory capitalism has failed and Greeks will not take it anymore! The litmus test for imposing neoliberal policies has failed because of the people’s resistance. The neoliberal model that was imposed upon Greece has fundamentally failed. That is the clear-cut message that the European governments and people should receive and respect.Tags: Europe
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This post was written by Ilia Xypolia