Syriza fell short by two of the 151 MPs needed for an absolute majority in parliament. As widely rumoured during the election campaign and before, ANEL (Independent Greeks, a 2012 splinter from New Democracy, a nationalistic and anti-immigrant neo-liberal party with an anti-Memorandum stance) came to an agreement with Syriza.
ANEL will give Syriza a vote of confidence, but ANEL leader Panos Kammenos is likely to be assigned the ministry of National Defence, with other two minor ministries being assigned to ANEL MPs.
Syriza’s leaders had already said that they were aiming for a government of “national salvation”, and despite protests from Syriza’s left Platform and rank and file, they included in Syriza’s ballot lists two ex-ANEL MPs.
ANEL is a right-wing bourgeois party. It has a deeply reactionary, anti-labour political programme in all key fields. Its anti-memorandum rhetoric relates to sections of the Greek capitalist class and traditionally conservative middle class layers that have been short-changed during the Memorandum years.
In its election campaign, ANEL portrayed itself as a force complementary to Syriza, with a duty to “control” the momentum of Syriza by letting Syriza unfold the anti-memorandum program, but raising red lines on “values” issues such as state relations with the Greek Orthodox Church, immigration, and foreign policy.
When the EU/ECB/IMF Troika and Greek capital press the new government to retreat from radical measures, ANEL will bring forward the slogan of the government of “national unity”, namely unity with the other capitalist parties.
Also, ANEL’s MPs will be very vulnerable to leadership and policy changes within ND. A change in ND to a leader close to the patrician, national-liberal direction of Karamanlis will most definitely cause ruptures and splinters within ANEL.
ANEL is said to have agreed to support Syriza’s Thessaloniki programme:
• Restoration of the minimum wage (up to 751 euros, a 30% raise)
• Restoration of all labour laws and of collective bargaining
• A 12,000 euro tax-free threshold
• Free health care for the uninsured
• Abolition of socially unjust taxing
• Free electricity for 300,000 households
• A program for 300,000 new jobs in the public and private sector
It is not known if there is a commitment from Syriza’s leadership against ANEL’s red lines on national and immigration issues.
The coalition government of Syriza-ANEL will be by its very nature fragile and unstable as the two parties represent conflicting and antagonistic class interests. ANEL may have temporarily agreed to a series of relief measures to alleviate poverty, but the central issue that will arise sooner or later is the issue of the structure of the economy.
Serious pro-working class policies will be impossible without taxing the wealth and attacking the profits of corporations and multinationals. The issue of nationalisations under working-class and social control will arise.
A rapid response to the Syriza-ANEL coalition government came from the Greek left group Xekinima. It regards the coalition as inherently unstable and says:
“Syriza’s rank and file and supporters should be prepared for the coming crisis with ANEL. And there is only one way to do this preparation. Syriza’s leadership should be pressurised to implement a program that is consistently serving the interests of the workers and working classes, which means essentially a socialist program — something of course that the leadership has shown that it has no intention to do so, except under the enormous pressure from the base of the party and society.
“If and when ANEL clarify their refusal to support such a policy and such pro-working class and popular strata measures and against the ruling class, then Syriza can resort to the popular verdict in early elections. The broad masses would have understood that elections are necessary: why ANEL is an obstacle to the implementation of policies that serve the labor and popular layers. Syriza could further increase the power for a majority government and a consistent left programme”.
Syriza should not lose the momentum. It should move rapidly to deliver radical change. The re-opening of ERT and the re-employment of all the sacked media workers would be a signal that democracy has returned to Greece. The issue of reopening of ERT is political and not institutional, and will symbolise the end of the era of the coalition government of ND-Pasok.
To disarm the Greek ruling class before it starts a war against the leftist government, left-wingers should demand socialisation of the banking system and the key levers of the economy under workers’ control. They should work for mobilisations to smash attempts by the capitalists and their trusted agents in the state to block the implementation of the programme.
They should call for European workers to actively show their solidarity with the Greek left government and fight for leftist, socialist governments across Europe as a first step towards United Socialist States of Europe!
The new Syriza government can open a new era for the workers and the working classes. This will not be done by consensus and in consultation with the status quo and big interests — local and foreign capital, EU, IMF, ECB etc. It can be done only through conflict with these forces.
It’s up to the leadership of Syriza to take the necessary measures. And if it does, then the big policy reversal in Greece can produce a domino effect, causing the recovery of the left throughout Europe and internationally and promoting a counter-attack against capital by the labour movement and other social movements.