In the coming general election on 20 September, Xekinima (the Greek section of the CWI) calls for a vote against all parties that apply the policies of the latest ‘Memoranda’ signed with the EU, ECB and IMF ‘Troika’ (those parties are SYRIZA, New Democracy, PASOK, POTAMI, and the Independent Greeks) and also against the Nazi Golden Dawn party. Faced with a huge vacuum that has been created on the left after the transformation of SYRIZA into a pro-austerity party, Xekinima calls for a critical vote for Popular Unity (LAE).
The elections take place with a background full of contradictions and difficulties. In very large sections of society what predominates, and justifiably so, is huge disappointment. All those who believed in SYRIZA and hoped that the “government of the Left” would take measures in favour of the labouring masses and against the repeated austerity blows, included in the memoranda; all those who fought for a ‘No’ vote in the recent referendum, which represented a tremendous answer to the blackmails of the Troika, the EU and their local representatives; all those who took part in the movements of the previous period and who thought that the collapse of the traditional memorandum-parties, ND and PASOK, would open new perspectives for better days... all those, today, are trying to heal their wounds caused by the subordination of the government of Alexander Tsipras to the Troika, and are trying to overcome their disappointment and confusion and to look forward.
Which way out?
Today, all the same “old” questions come back to the fore: how can all those who fought against the Memoranda, during the last few years, express themselves? How can people who voted ‘No’ in the referendum be represented? How can the widespread disappointment and lack of trust be overcome? How can all those who want to continue to fight and find a way out of the crisis, express themselves politically and electorally?
Most working people understand – and this has been proven by the history of recent elections – that the traditional memorandum-parties, PASOK and ND, cannot be expected to represent anything new. The same holds for parties like Potami, which in all critical instances (the referendum, the Memoranda, etc.,) have shown that they are one and the same as the old establishment parties. On the other hand, amongst some layers of the population there is a feeling that maybe, with the danger of ND and the rest of the establishment parties returning to government, SYRIZA should be given another opportunity.
The end of SYRIZA as a party of the Left
The reality is that SYRIZA, as it existed up to the referendum, no longer exists. It’s not just due the thousands of resignations of left rank and file members from the party. It’s not only the fact that it no longer expresses any of the demands of the working classes and of the social movements. It is not even that its leading figures leave open the possibility of a future “national government” with SYRIZA’s enemies of yesterday. The most important reason that shows the transformation of SYRIZA from a party of the left into a party of the establishment is its open commitment to apply all the measures included in the last Memorandum, by all means and at all costs.
After all, the reason why these early elections are taking place so hastily (and in agreement with SYRIZA’S “enemies” of yesterday in the EU) is so that the mass of the population do not have time to understand the full dimensions of the measures that are included in the third Memorandum. To give an idea of what is coming after the elections, since last month the lowest pension has been cut from 490 to 390 euros a month.
Vote for LAE
At this time, the best way for the people of the Left to express themselves in the coming elections is by voting for Popular Unity (LAE).
LAE represents, at this stage, the best expression of resistance to the leadership of Tsiras and to SYRIZA’s subordination to the Troika. It shows and proves that when Tsipras decided to throw into the dustbin the pre-election promises and the programme of SYRIZA, big sections of the party membership fought back. It shows that SYRIZA is not the “ownership” of Tsipras and the (unelected) clique around him. And it shows that thousands of rank and file members are turning their backs to the leadership and are looking for new ways forward.
The MPs of Popular Unity (LAE) have kept a constant position in parliament, as regards the historical ‘No’ victory of the referendum and as regards the initial positions and pre-election manifesto of SYRIZA. LAE attracts, at this moment, the support of significant sections of the rank and file of SYRIZA (from the Left Platform, sections of the SYRIZA youth, a section of the tendency of the “53” etc.,) even if they do not fully agree with the LAE. These forces look to the LAE as a way to express their reaction against the leadership of Tsipras. Apart from the various left tendencies and currents inside SYRIZA, LAE also has the support of a significant number of organizations of the far left.
On the other hand, it is true that LAE has not been able to produce any enthusiasm amongst the mass of people who belong to the Left and in society, in general. There are a number of reasons for this. The first reason is objective. It is due to the general disappointment and lack of trust created by the subordination of SYRIZA to the Troika. However there are a number of subjective reasons as well. The general “picture” of LAE creates questions and doubts. For example, the fact that it’s leadership has been an organic part of the leadership of SYRIZA for a very long time; the fact that there are no new faces amongst the public “face” of the new party; that there are issues related to internal democracy which create doubts; there is lack of clarity and no consistency in what the various representatives of LAE say publicly etc. Finally, the overall picture, reflected in the electoral lists of LAE, does not give the impression of openness or at least an electoral front in which other organizations are really able to engage, apart from the old left current of SYRIZA. All these factors cause serious doubts and hesitations amongst large sections of the new party’s possible electoral base.
Despite all these problems with Popular Unity (LAE), we must not fail to remember what is fundamentally at stake. In the coming elections LAE represents the main vehicle which can express the opposition of the working class, the youth and the broad layers of the labouring people against the capitulation of Tsipras and the leadership of SYRIZA.
Deficits and weaknesses of the rest of the Left
Given the general situation quite a number of left fighters will vote for the KKE (Greek communist party) and ANTARSYA (anti-capitalist Left) in these elections. This is fully understandable. We should, however, say that neither the KKE nor ANTARSYA has been able to offer solutions and a way out for the agonies of Greek society during the past years of the greatest crisis experienced in recent Greek history.
This is not something that society should be blamed for –the deficiencies of the KKE and ANTARSYA are to blame. It is not an accident that the electoral appeal of KKE today is much smaller than it was before the first Memorandum in 2010. Whereas ANTARSYA, at the time when SYRIZA is exploding and bits and pieces of it flying in all directions, instead of getting stronger has experienced an new internal crisis and a major new split.
One of the greatest mistakes made by these two formations of the Left, relates to the issue of the ‘united front’ – that is the refusal to show any intention to collaborate with the rest of the forces of the Left (around policies where there is agreement and when this is required by the common interests of the bulk of the working class and the popular movements, with each party, of course, maintaining its ideological political and organizational independence).
Today these parties are paying the cost for their mistakes. We hope that in the future they will be able to correct their positions, so that they are not completely and permanently cut off from the processes that are taking place inside the Left and society, in general.
What kind of ‘Left’ do we need?
Apart from all the above, the central task, in the view of Xekinima, is the creation of a mass left force which will be ready and prepared to clash decisively with the lenders and the EU, will refuse to pay the debt and will go forward to nationalise the banking system in full knowledge that these policies will mean a clash with the EU and the exit from the Eurozone. The return to a national currency is not a “tragedy”, only for the ruling class. On the contrary, it can provide a basis for the development of the economy and society but only on the basis of another crucial condition: that it will be, at the same time, accompanied by the nationalisation of the key sectors of the economy under workers’ control and management, so that the economy can be democratically planned to serve the interests and the needs of the majority in society, instead of producing huge profits for a handful of ship-owners, bankers and industrialists.
This Left should, apart from the above, be characterized by internationalism, that is the understanding of the necessity of common coordinated struggles with the working class in Europe and internationally. At the same time, it must be characterized by internal democracy because without full democracy internally the Left has no future. Hopefully this will become understood by bigger sections of the Left because, unfortunately, as regards this issue, the Left in Greece has historically shown huge deficiencies.
All the above constitute the creation of a mass revolutionary Left. Without such a mass revolutionary Left the Greek labouring masses will never be able to come out of the vicious circle that we have been thrown into by the crisis of the capitalist system.
The potential for the creation of such a mass left exist today. The “critical mass” exists. It can be found inside Popular Unity (LAE) and also outside. In initiatives like “17 July”, in the left networks inside SYRIZA that left the party (e.g. the ex “53” tendency, the party’s youth etc.,) as well as amongst thousands of “non-party” activists in the social movements or amongst independent left initiatives, who are not necessarily attracted to the LAE.
One of the central tasks of the next period is to manage to bring together all these forces in a truly united and democratic front, on the basis of a clear, class, internationalist political programme, which is ready for a clash with the EU and the power of capital, in order to open the way for an alternative socialist society.
Let there be no doubt that Greek society is indeed ready for this, despite the fact that at this conjuncture it is passing through a phase of retreat. The Greek working people and poor have shown this in the historic struggles of the past years against the Memoranda. Greek workers proved this with the tremendous result of the referendum on July 5, when 61.3% voted No – a No that reverberated around the whole of Europe and globally, sending the message to the lenders and the ruling classes: “No, we are not afraid of you”. And the Greek people will show this capacity for defiance and struggle again in the new period that is opening up, with new struggles against the third Memorandum, which this time includes SYRIZA’s signature.