After the election in Greece

June 25, 2012

The conservative New Democracy party will lead a new government in Greece after two stunning elections in which it barely defeated the Coalition of the Radical Left, or SYRIZA, a coalition of left-wing parties and organizations committed to tearing up the "Memorandum"--the former government's commitment to drastic austerity measures that have plunged Greece into a depression and slashed working-class living standards.

SYRIZA skyrocketed from minor party status to win 16.7 percent of the vote in the May 6 election, and 26.9 percent on June 17--outpacing other left options, including the Communist Party and the smaller anti-capitalist coalition ANTARSYA. Frighteningly, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn also did well in the polarized vote, and will have 18 seats in the new parliament.

The Internationalist Workers Left, a revolutionary socialist organization and one of the founding groups in SYRIZA in 2004, issued this statement about the results on June 17, and what comes next for the left in Greece.

1. The results of the election on June 17 were a continuation of the political earthquake of May 6, which radically altered the balance of political forces.

The showing for the left, expressed in the decisive support for SYRIZA among the working class and the popular classes--created panic among the local ruling class, and also among its international allies. At the same time, it created a wave of hope, excitement and solidarity for the resistance movement and the left, both at the European level and globally.

This achievement of the working class of May 6 and June 17 must be defended, and it must be completed.

2. The results of this election prove that the goal of overthrowing the pro-austerity forces and electing a left-wing government that would take on the task of stopping the attacks of the capitalists, the EU and the IMF in order to protect the interests of the working class was possible. SYRIZA, by throwing all its forces in the pursuit of that goal, in a determined way and with an honest attitude based on unity, succeeded in winning massive growth on a level that is unprecedented in all the years since the military junta that fell four decades ago.

Another day of mass demonstrations fills Syntagma Square in Athens
Another day of mass demonstrations fills Syntagma Square in Athens (Ioannis Poulopoulos)

3. The first-place finish for New Democracy is a "pyrrhic victory" for its leader Antonis Samaras. Despite the scandalous support by the mass media, the capitalists, the banks and international institutions, his party ended up way behind the percentage it received in the 2009 election, when the right wing suffered a crushing defeat.

In order to form a government, Samaras once again needs collaboration with PASOK, which saw its support vanishing, especially in the working class and popular districts.

The two pro-austerity parties, although they have a governmental majority in parliament, are desperate to draw the Democratic Left of Fotis Kouvelis inside the new government. This is the best proof of their fear of the coming developments, their fear of the inevitable confrontation with the resistance movement.

It is also a proof that they plan to govern based on the dictates of the Memorandum. If this three-party government is established, it will have no essential difference with the previous Papadimos government. And it should be confronted by the people with the same militancy, aiming at its overthrow, in the shortest possible time.

4. All the promises made by the mainstream parties for "re-negotiation" of the Memorandum are demagogy, and there should be no illusion about them. The "re-negotiation" is limited to the issue of how and when will they pay the creditors. They don't touch the essence of the Memorandum, which is a commitment to programs of constant and savage austerity.

5. The enduring electoral support for Golden Dawn is the dark side of this election. In the coming period, Golden Dawn will be a threat, not only to immigrants, but to every activist. It will constitute a hostile force to the left and the resistance movement. But the forces to confront the fascist threat do exist. The struggle against this threat should be much higher in our priorities.

6. SYRIZA has to further radicalize its policies to take up the task of building a left-wing opposition, inside and outside the parliament. The strong support that the people gave to SYRIZA must be used for the fastest possible organization of a working-class counterattack, with its first goal being the overthrow of the Memorandum and the austerity measures.

Contrary to all those voices calling for "responsibility," adaption to "parliamentary respectability" will only lead to the evaporation of the dynamic that won 27 percent of the vote, and the disappearance of SYRIZA's leading position today among the workers, the unemployed, in the neighborhoods and so on.

In this context, SYRIZA should insist on a policy of uniting--seriously and honestly, with no trace of arrogance--with the Communist Party and ANTARSYA. A united front of the left remains a pre-condition for a working-class victory.

But the other forces of the left should also abandon the passive policy of waiting for a defeat of SYRIZA in the future. If such a defeat was to happen, it would be a defeat for all the left and for the whole resistance movement.

7. DEA fought decisively for SYRIZA. The election of two of our comrades to parliament is the result, and a recognition of our collective efforts. DEA will continue to work for the organization of SYRIZA in the neighborhoods and in the workplaces. We consider this task to be the main precondition to transform the massive electoral base of SYRIZA into a real political and social force in struggle.

United, we can win! We can succeed in bringing a radical change in Greece, and we can fuel the fire that is simmering in Europe.

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