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Greece - After the European Elections - Let's organize the next battles ahead

Updated: Apr 10

Statement of the Socialist Workers Party, ΣΕΚ:


The Sunday May 26th election results brought a hard defeat for SYRIZA and Alexis Tsipras personally. The numbers are relentless. The gap with New Democracy reached close to 10 points. Candidates of the governing left Syriza in the local elections record a drop everywhere. But beyond the numbers, there is the political admittance of defeat by Tsipras who said he would ask the President of the Republic for the immediate announcement of parliamentary elections. SYRIZA closes its term in government by surrendering power to New Democracy. The labour movement and the Left are directly ahead of new challenges and it is necessary to draw the right conclusions to organize the battles we have before us.

Capitulation

The responsibilities for this development are beyond any doubt the disastrous adaptation of the SYRIZA government to the political choices of the ruling class and to the needs of Greek capitalism. None of the ministers of Tsipras can blame their responsibilities on the "rightward looking electorate". Those who indeed turned provocatively to the right are the government officials of SYRIZA.

This has been obvious in the area of economic policy over the years. From the transformation of NO -OXI of the July referendum in 2015 into submission to the Memoranda until today's so-called "post memorandum" program with the brutal primary surpluses for the payment of the debt. Workers have been brutally hit by anti-labour measures and their justified anger cannot be erased with declarations of symbolic "relief".

The tactic of Tsipras of running around and saying that he "pulled us" out of the memorandum and that this was done by pursuing a policy that was not of his own choosing and now he would return to the original program of SYRIZA was purely self-defeating: The "success" came with the capitulation to the Troika program and Neo-liberalism, a gift to Mitsotakis.

The same applies in the field of foreign policy. Tsipra's response to the nationalist hysteria raised by New Democracy for the Prespa Agreement was an attempt to prove how much the Greek "national interest" had gained in this agreement. It is a provocative mockery, the fact that fighter jets of the Greek Air Force are flying over Skopje instead of Turkish ones, that this is seen as a "peaceful policy". Cooperation with Trump, with NATO, with Netanyahu, is not an antidote to nationalism, it is what feeds Greek chauvinism.

Even in the area of the treatment of refugees, the government of Alexis Tsipras has managed to betray the great solidarity movement that has welcomed the refugee wave. Cooperation with the EU-Fortress, Frontex, the drownings at sea, shameful detention camps in the islands, murderous "repatriation" in Evros.

All these betrayals were done systematically by the leadership of Tsipras, who made SYRIZA a party of its leadership and chopped every voice that raised even the slightest of objections. Ministers who remained in SYRIZA even after the turn of the summer of 2015 were shown the exit door to be replaced by those handpicked by the Tsipras leadership. Step by step, SYRIZA in the government has demonstrated the tragedy of the reformist left when it reaches the point of managing the inhuman mechanisms of the economy of profit and the state that supports it.

Crisis

However, this miserable system is in a deep crisis, and from day one marks the limits of Mitsotaki's success. The triumph of New Democracy at the polls of May 26 has clay feet and this shows first and foremost from the image of the political crisis that shocks all the countries of the European Union.

Everywhere we have the colossal failures of traditional government parties. In Britain, the Conservatives are in the government and at the same time, they record a one-digit rate in the European elections and Teresa May's resignation from the leadership. In France, Macron who won the presidential election two years ago with a sweeping difference from Le Pen now falls behind her. In Germany, the governing coalition of traditional bipartisan organizations records massive losses. In Austria, the right-wing coalition with the far right collapses into scandals.

The "easy" recipe that the media were talking about, that is, the advent of a "serious" extreme right in governments as an antidote to the crisis of the political system, turns out to be inapplicable. Not just Austria. And in the Netherlands, the extreme right falls. In the Spanish state, the Vox fascists see their momentum staggering shortly after entering the government of Andalusia.

The effects of the political crisis are combined with the prolongation of the economic crisis and become multi-levelled. There is no "magic formula" on the horizon on economic growth. On the contrary, trade wars are worsening and contradictions are intensified within the European Union itself. The myth that Mitsotakis and ND are the opposite trend in this image is just ridiculous. Every attempt of Mitsotakis to escalate the anti-labour administration from where Tsipras leaves it will find stormy resistance in front of it.

The EU and its staffs are everywhere weakened against the mass rage of workers that seeks ways to express its opposition to perpetuating austerity and the corruption of political and economic elites. The Yellow Vests in France are not the exception, nor can they conceal this movement behind electoralism. The real question is what the Left does to make use of these massive shifts of mood throughout Europe and Greece.

The Left

There is no automation that transforms the possibilities opened by the crisis of the system in steps ahead for the Left. This is what the workers live through almost everywhere. In France's Yellow Vests itself, Melancon, who went into the second round of the presidential election two years ago, has now registered a single digit in the European elections. In Germany, Die Linke fell and was overtaken by the rise of the Greens. In Britain, the "Corbyn phenomenon" managed to lose the European elections, falling to third place just as the May's government collapses.

The common denominator of these failures is the political cowardice of reformism in the face of challenges and its willingness to search for "realistic" solutions in the context of "real correlations". The wave of refugees pushed the question "can everyone come?" Mélenchon in France and in Sahra Wagenknecht in Germany chose to answer "No" and began to seek compromises with the racist policy of exclusions. They found themselves following and not leading the people who are giving inspiring battles of solidarity. Corbyn sat at the same table as May looking for ways to keep Britain in the EU markets but by closing its borders for migrants even from EU countries! All this left the Greens, even the Liberals, to appear more "progressive".

Similar problems are on display with the leaderships of the Left here. The KKE failed to gain from the people that turned its back on Tsipras. Its electoral returns are not in line with its proclamations. It would be a tragic mistake to blame this stagnation on the people that "did not draw the appropriate conclusions". Better to look for the causes of this in its leadership's mistakes. In the years of SYRIZA's rise, KKE raised walls against the people at the base of Syriza stating that the Communists had nothing to do with the rest of the Left. It never sought joint action with the people to the left from SYRIZA. This sectarianism could not be corrected at the last moment, with the Rizospastis (party press) stating that the party was supported by Yiannis Milios and Aglaia Kyritsi.

LAE (Popular Unity) paid even harsher for the controversial attitude of its leadership towards the Macedonian nationalist rallies. Instead of breaking the 3% threshold as expected, it was at levels below 1%. The break with SYRIZA in 2015 never ended in a break with the reformist strategy.

We insist Anticapitalist Left

The anti-capitalist left, ANTARSYA has to draw valuable conclusions from these experiences. There is no reassurances in that "we endured under these conditions". The Antarsya number of votes has dropped in the European elections and in the peripheries, wherein 2014 it had reached 2.3% nationwide. Elevated demographic formations (Nikea, Piraeus) are rare exceptions in stagnant or declining results. In particular, the NAR (New Left Current) leadership needs to take a self-critical look towards it's disruptive and sectarian positions. It is not acceptable for ANTARSYA to be charged with choices that refer to the people of the KKE as "stalinist-fascist", and the people of SYRIZA as "bourgeois" and with hostility towards the electoral ballot formation "Antarsia in the Neighborhoods of Athens" (United Front of SEK, KEERFA, immigrant communities, LGBTQ community among others).

There is no automation that transforms the possibilities opened by the crisis of the system in steps ahead for the Left. This is what the workers live through almost everywhere. In France's Yellow Vests itself, Melancon, who went into the second round of the presidential election two years ago, has now registered a single digit in the European elections. In Germany, Die Linke fell and was overtaken by the rise of the Greens. In Britain, the "Corbyn phenomenon" managed to lose the European elections, falling to third place just as the May's government collapses.

The Socialist Workers' Party salutes all the comrades of the local groups, ANTARSYA and the broader anti-capitalist left, who actively gave the battle of the May 26th election, and calls for a joint struggle for the parliamentary elections. It is a battle that prepares us for the hard struggles that come. The first step is to support the left-wing factions in the second round of the local elections against the right. To show in practice to the people of KKE and SYRIZA that we are not absent in the struggles.

We have before us struggles against redundancies, cuts and privatizations. The strike movement needs support for initiatives such as the Hospital Coordination and the coordination of initiatives of joint actions from bellow without exclusions.

We have to continue and step up the fight against racism and the fascist threat. The fall of the neo-nazis of Golden Dawn from third to fifth place with reduced percentages is a result that came as a fruit of the struggles of the anti-fascist movement. The completion of the trial by the sentencing of the murderers and their leadership being organized by the fascist battalions is ahead of us and opens the prospect of dismantling this criminal organization. KEERFA has contributed to this with its unifying initiatives for ten years now. And at the same time we should not leave any room for Velopoulos fascists to take the baton and organize these stormtroopers where the Golden Dawn fails.

The needs of the electoral battle mean that the four-day Marxism 2019 scheduled for June 27-30 may need to be moved to another date. But this does not mean that it is not a priority to mobilize up all the militants and fighters with the revolutionary ideas of the Marxist tradition. One hundred years after the inauguration of the Comintern, all of today's battles are embedded in the same great prospect of overthrowing this system that is not reformable but can only by shattered by the activity of everyday people of the working class. Forward and all together in the common struggle.

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