GREECE: Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of workers and youth participated in a
24-hour general strike called by the GSEE and ADEDY (private and public
sector trade union confederations), marching in demonstrations to the
main squares in seventy cities and towns across Greece. From early
morning the participation in a mass gathering to encircle the Houses
of Parliament was enormous.
hundreds of thousands of workers and youth participated in a 24-hour
general strike called by the GSEE and ADEDY (private and public sector
trade union confederations), marching in demonstrations to the main
squares in seventy cities and towns across Greece. From early
morning the participation in a mass gathering to encircle the Houses
of Parliament was enormous.
to figures released by the GSEE, in many key sectors participation in
the strike was 100%. For example, we have the following figures:
Refineries 100%, Ship yards 100%, Transport and shipping 100%, Ports
100%, Steel Industry 80%, and Construction 90%. In the banking sector,
DEI (public electricity company), OTE (public telephone company), ELTA
(Greek Post) and the water companies participation reached 90%.
level of participation confirms the fighting spirit that exists within
the Greek labour movement and its ability to lead in the right direction
the struggle of the masses that has been growing over the last three
weeks against the government and its new austerity measures that are
aimed at imposing the conditions demanded by the "troika".
are that there were 250,000 protesters in Athens, 35,000 in
Thessaloniki and 10,000 in Patras. As we wrote yesterday, no doubt, if
the demonstrations in Athens had been allowed to proceed peacefully, the
numbers that had already started to enter Syntagnma Square in the
morning indicated that by the afternoon the number of protesters would
have exceeded the one million mark.
However, as we explained, the
forces of state repression used agents provocateurs, with police
officers in plain clothes as well as the usual troublemakers mingling
with the protesters, who were able to temporarily halt the "wave" of the
masses who were ready to paralyse the Houses of Parliament and the
Maximou building (the official office of the Prime Minister). Thus, for a
while the march of a mass of militant workers and youth was interrupted
by scenes of violent clashes with the police. The latter tried to use
tear gas, with methods reminiscent of the Israeli army in occupied
Palestine, to empty Syntagma Square of protesters. There are many videos
and photographs taken by eyewitnesses which were uploaded on the
internet, that show how in the early morning police in the National
Garden behind the parliament building were piling up sticks and iron
bars to arm the troublemakers. The same videos show masked "anarchists"
moving forward and concentrating under police protection.
even while the TV channels rushed to talk of the "funeral" of the
movement, in the afternoon slowly but surely, thousands of people began
to gather again in Syntagma Square. The masses consisted of workers and
young people, who during the violent events hid in nearby areas waiting
for the situation to calm down, of workers from the private sector who
had not come out on strike for fear of dismissal, but who hastened to
the demonstration in Syntagma Square after their shifts had ended and
finally, of many others who were not involved in the morning rallies,
but who had been outraged by the TV news reporting which had tried to
smear the mass movement.
Immediately, the government and the
bourgeois parties, gripped by panic and fear, tried to hastily come up
with a political solution in a desperate attempt to cut across the
movement of the masses which by the hour was assuming revolutionary
Papandreou turned to the leader of New Democracy, Mr
Antonis Samaras, proposing that they form a new government of national
unity with a “technocrat” as prime minister. The leader of New
Democracy, fearing he would be identified with a government that has
become totally isolated from society, put forward the condition that
such a government should renegotiate the Memorandum and the new
austerity measures called for by the Troika. Samaras did this
deliberately, as he knew that Papandreou could not accept such a
condition, and neither could the real boss, i.e. the “troika”.
essence, by putting this demand on Papandreou, Samaras was refusing to
participate in such a government which would have to legislate a new
series of draconian attacks against the workers. What Samaras fears is
that by entering such a government he would be jeopardising New
Democracy’s electoral fortunes, and thus its ability to be a useful
reserve force for the Greek capitalists, just when the polls show that
New Democracy for the first time in two and a half years are now the
first party with 31%, 4% ahead of the PASOK. The same polls, however,
reveal that that 40% of voters say they would not vote for any party, so
disgusted are they at all the main parties.
All this explains why
yesterday’s attempt to patch together a coalition government fell on
deaf ears. This situation, in the final analysis, is due the huge
pressure of the mass movement from below that wants to see the fall of
this government. The masses, led by the working class, are now setting
the trend and pushing this hated “government of the Memorandum” to
stampede out of power.
Last night’s announcement by Papandreou and
yesterday’s events are an eloquent expression of the political
stalemate the ruling class is faced with. In the end all that Papandreou
could do was announce a cabinet reshuffle. By doing so, he pleased no
one. He angered the workers and youth who are in the squares, who want
to see an end to this government. He also angered the ruling class, who
are concerned that his attempt to cling on to power with small
manoeuvres will only serve to push even more people out onto the
As a last resort, what the bourgeoisie is now promoting
is early elections. From these they are hoping to get a new government
with the New Democracy as the sovereign power. They have reached this
conclusion because the can see that they are unable to form a government
that has the authority to curb the upward trend of the mass movement.
opposing pressures of the mass movement on the one side and the
bourgeoisie on the other have already opened up a big rift within the
PASOK parliamentary group. One after another, PASOK Members of
Parliament, have openly expressed their disagreement with the
government, either from the "right" (complaining of timidity and
mismanagement on the part of government) or from the "left" (attacking
the individual measures of the new draconian austerity programme).
Already another PASOK MP has declared himself an “independent”, leaving
the PASOK parliamentary group with 155 of the original 160 that were
elected in the 2009elections, while two others have resigned their
positions as MPs so as not to have to vote for the measures.
is even worse for Papandreou is that he is finding it very difficult to
convince any of his MPs to accept ministerial posts, while a group of 25
PASOK MPs have requested an extraordinary parliamentary group meeting
for this afternoon to discuss what is going to eventually happen.
and youth are now "clenching their teeth" and emboldened by a feeling
that the uprising will very soon lead this hated government of the
"troika" to fall, are preparing to give it the coup de grace, and are
continuing their demonstrations.
In the article we produced last night (in Greek) we stressed the following:
hasn’t resigned yet but he has ‘thrown down the gauntlet’! Let us pick
this up then! Since he doesn’t want to resign, let’s ‘resign’ him. The
great movement that we have created in these days and which is now
setting the political tone must pass to a new, higher and more effective
“The most effective way of achieving this is to intensify
efforts in working-class neighbourhoods, the workplaces and unions so we
can implement directly the decision of the People’s Assembly of
Syntagma Square which correctly raises the need for an all-out political
“And since the ruling class is now facing a
serious power problem, let us strengthen the organs of our own power,
which have emerged through our own struggle, from the popular assemblies
in towns, neighbourhoods and workplaces. Let us proceed directly to the
formation of a Central Panhellenic Committee of Struggle elected by the
popular assemblies which will be able to replace the power of the
"troika" and the banks and to serve our needs, refusing to pay the
extortionate debt and placing the concentrated wealth of the country in
the hands of society as a whole and under the control of the workers.
these conditions the leaders of the KKE and SYRIZA must stop simply
calling for elections. They must contribute directly to the development
and to the spread of the mass movement with a political general strike
and prepare for the possibility of a sharp change in the polling
stations, joining their forces together based on a radical programme of
socialist transformation of society. Only in this way can early
elections, which are now being promoted by the ruling class as a last
resort in order to halt and divert the movement of the masses, produce a
result that would strengthen the mass movement with all its demands.”
the eventual outcome will be, either a new coalition government or
early elections, there are two key elements in the situation in Greece.
the one hand, the mass movement feels emboldened and confident and will
continue to express its determination to influence key political
developments. The possible fall of Papandreou will whet the appetite of
the masses who are pushing to win back all that they have lost with this
government and they will stay mobilised to enforce a fundamental
solution to their problems.
On the other hand, political
instability and the development of a revolutionary situation in Greek
society, brings ever closer the possibility of a default, and any
remaining “optimism” that the “international markets” may still nurture
that Greece will be able to repay its debts will very quickly vanish.
The only thing Greece can export now to its partners in the EU is
recession, economic instability and the “fashion” of popular uprisings.
Source: Μαρξιστική Φωνή (Greece)