The Greek government is about to announce Parliamentary elections for 6 May.
All the mainstream political parties are trying to shift the political agenda from austerity measures to racist and xenophobic hysteria and law and order policies, with promises to spend money on building concentration camps for all “illegal immigrants”. Then an individual’s symbolic suicide spectacularly ruined their plans.
The political suicide of retired pharmacist Dimitris Xristoulas on 4 April sent a clear political message to the politicians that their “memorandum policies” are leading the majority of the Greek population to poverty, destitution and despair. This is what is at stake in the election: all of us and our needs against them and their profits.
The upcoming elections are the most critical since the formation of the Greek state. The people will not be voting to elect a government or a political party but to take revenge against all pro-memorandum parties, their policies and the effects of those policies: preposterous interest rates; drastic decline in living standards and working conditions. They take place just before the June implementation of a new package of anti-working class measures of 15 billion.
The previous Pasok government and the current coalition, in cooperation with the EU-IMF-ECB Troika, have systematically attacked wages, pensions, benefits, pension funds.
They have dramatically increased direct and indirect taxation on workers while decreasing taxation of the capitalists and the financial speculators.
Unemployment has reached one million.
Bit by bit, the welfare state is being destroyed. Schools and hospitals are being stretched by an increase in demand and underfunding. Continuous increases in electricity and water bills and transportation tickets make even basic necessities a luxury. Many workers have not been paid.
People are partially, temporarily or flexibly employed, with no rights and no collective negotiating powers.
A massive emigration of young people is taking place, for the first time after the Second World War.
Homelessness has dramatically increased. In Athens over 25,000 people are homeless.
Babies are being handed to care homes and charities as families cannot afford to look after them. Children without enough to eat faint in schools.
27.7% of the population live under the poverty line
Pensioners’ income too is far below the poverty line.
The minimum wage has been reduced by 22%
In violation of the constitution 150,000 public sector workers are expected to lose their jobs by 2015. 400,000 shops have closed.
In 2011 450 people committed suicide and 600 people attempted suicide — up 45% on the previous year.
This is the experiment the Eurozone leaders intend to replicate in the rest of southern and then gradually to the very centre of the Eurozone.
The whole of the political establishment, alongside the Troika, determinedly tried to postpone the elections and prolong the stay of Papademos government.
The two mainstream political parties (Pasok and New Democracy) are increasingly worried about their political survival — in all polls they are registering under 40%, half of their electoral appeal during the 2009 elections (77.4% together). Their current combined percentages question even their ability to form a coalition government.
They resort to blackmailing with the “communist threat” — that the non-formation of a Pasok/ND coalition will open the doors to chaos, the return to the drachma, the bankruptcy of Greece. We are continuously told the type of government (coalition government with Pasok and ND at its centre) should not be under negotiation if the Greek people want to safeguard Greece’s position in the Eurozone.
For various reasons, including the political weakness of the left, these elections will not raise the issue of a workers’ government. However, they could lay the foundation for the abolishment and further pushing back of the memorandum parties. That would create better conditions for the resurgence of a more militant, compact working-class movement.
Ultimately the class struggle will be decisive, but these elections could lay the seeds in determining whether Greece will be a “guinea pig” of counterrevolution or a prototype of class struggle of resistance and the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system.
Our struggle, our strikes, our civil disobedience movements are the decisive weapon of the working class in the struggles to come.
However the power of our voting should not be underestimated. The rejection of the pro memorandum parties involves not only the two coalition government partners of Pasok and ND but all the acolytes and splinters that are willing to be part of a coalition government after the elections.
Special attention should be given to the political isolation of the openly Nazi and fascist party of Xrisi Aygi.
The formation of a broad political united front to confront and smash the fascists in the streets and in the elections is incredibly urgent. No space should be given to the fascists, they should be politically exposed. It needs to be explained that the fascists are not part of the anti-memorandum spectrum as the mainstream media try to claim. If Xrisi Aygi enter parliament it will be a terrible, historical turning point.
The strikes, occupations, demonstrations, and civil disobedience movements have to be expressed on election day with electoral support for the left — that is the only consistent and politically valid anti memorandum vote.
It is the duty of the left to raise the issue of workers’ government, workers’ power, workers’ control — socialism in the here and now, not postponed to the distant future. Within the context of this worst historical crisis, there is no time to wait until the ruling class, the Troika and the fascists bury us.
During the last two years of struggle blueprints of workers’ control were evident — during the refuse workers’ and GENOP-DEH workers struggles, and the Office of the National Statistics workers’ occupations.
The demand for direct democracy and self-governance was expressed albeit in a confused and incomplete way during last year’s indignant square movement.
What is needed:
1. Uncompromising class struggle and class confrontation against the Troika, financial speculators, capitalist asset strippers and imperialism.
Any middle of the road solution, e.g. a call for a “progressive government with the radical left at its centre” is an illusion and will ultimately betray the working class struggle. Whichever government is elected on 6 May election, it should be confronted not with the usual 24 hours strikes but with an escalation of our struggle until we can organise a general political strike to get rid of the memorandum and all pro memorandum parties.
2. Self organisation and direct action of the workers’ rank-and-file movement within each workplace, neighbourhood, college, outside of the constraints of the trade union bureaucracy.
3. A programme of action connected to transitional demands, demands linked to our strategic struggle for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism.
4. The restructuring and resynthesising of the workers’ movement for the building of a new revolutionary party which will attract the rank and file of both KKE and Syriza, and the most advanced of the Pasok workers, but most importantly the most vanguard and militant sections of workers and youth that are emerging from the escalation of the class struggle against the anti-austerity movements.
5. Internationalist coordination of our struggle with all workers across Europe and across the world for a world wide socialist revolution. We do not fight to establish socialism in one small Balkan country isolated from the rest of the world.
Our future lies neither in the EU nor in national isolation, but in the coordination of our class struggle with all the workers in Europe for the destruction from below of imperialist EU institutions and the establishment of the united socialist states of Europe.