Sunday 25th January saw general elections in Greece, with SYRIZA – the left-wing party – winning 36% of the vote and 149 seats in parliament – just short of the 151 needed for a majority. SYRIZA’s victory marks an historic event, and is an important step in the process of radicalisation taking place in Greece and across Europe. All eyes will now be on what actions the SYRIZA leadership takes.
Sunday 25th January saw general elections in Greece, with SYRIZA – the left-wing party – winning 36% of the vote and 149 seats in parliament – just short of the 151 needed for a majority. SYRIZA’s victory marks an historic event, and is an important step in the process of radicalisation taking place in Greece and across Europe. All eyes will now be on what actions the SYRIZA leadership takes. We publish here two recent statements from the Communist Tendency of SYRIZA, the comrades of the International Marxist Tendency in Greece.
Historic victory of the Left – First time in history a party with roots in Communist movement wins elections
A SYRIZA-KKE agreement is the only way to form a stable self-standing Left government able to implement a radical, socialist programme. This historic opportunity must not be missed!
The 25 January 2015 proved to be a historic day, not only for the Greek people but also for the European and international working class. For the first time in a country of the developed Western capitalist world, it is possible to form a majority government with parties that have roots in the Left/communist movement, despite and against the persistent and constant attempt by domestic and foreign capital to thwart this prospect.
Today’s historic victory of SYRIZA is a dramatic change in the correlation of forces between the working class and capital in Greece, that will find an echo throughout Europe given the crisis of capitalism globally. The total share of the vote of parties with roots in the communist movement (SYRIZA and KKE), with the main protagonist being SYRIZA, at a time when the electoral strength of the traditional bourgeois party, New Democracy, is disintegrating, reflects the class consciousness of the vast majority of working people, and the abandonment of bourgeois parties by a significantly large section of the petty bourgeois, who having gone through the painful experience of the crisis and the austerity Memoranda and are no longer under the sway of their deeply held illusions about the merits of capitalism.
The vote in this historical election campaign was clearly based on class. The big electoral advantage of SYRIZA over New Democracy, especially in the large urban centres, was an expression of the workers, the unemployed, pensioners on low pensions, and those petty bourgeois layers that have been crushed by the crisis, voting to punish the parties they perceive as representing their class enemy, the bourgeois parties, which with their policies have only spread more poverty and unemployment.
But apart from this historic victory, the current election result, above all, presents a unique historic opportunity for the Left. The formation of a self-standing Left government would be possible, and it would be able to bring an end and reverse the effects of austerity, and also denounce the public debt that is the yoke on Greek society, and to realise the strategic aim of the communist movement which is to overthrow the capitalist system and carry out the socialist transformation of Greece and Europe.
The working masses have already demanded deep social change with their spectacular shift towards SYRIZA, producing its meteoric rise from a party of 4% to now becoming the primary political force.
SYRIZA’s big share of the vote and the notable growth of the KKE’s influence, particularly in the large urban centres, indicates that the founding socialist ideas and principles of the Left, not only are no longer ‘taboo’ for the majority of society, but that they actually view these ideas with considerable sympathy.
This day calls for celebration on the part of the thousands of Left activists across the country. After decades of persecution and political marginalisation of the communist movement, the formation of a self-standing Left government is now feasible. But tomorrow, for all conscious Left militants, the celebrations must give way to an organised political struggle. The ‘Communist Tendency of SYRIZA’ calls for this struggle to be carried out on the basis of the following political demands:
Self-standing Left government! No collaboration with the Independent Greeks (ANEL) or other bourgeois parties; the KKE is the only natural ally of SYRIZA at present! This historic opportunity for the Left must not to be wasted! There must be a SYRIZA-KKE agreement on the basis of a radical, socialist programme!
No retreat from the radical commitments in the “Thessaloniki programmei”. For the immediate implementation and completion of anti-capitalist, socialist measures!
The Greek ruling class must be entirely disarmed before starting the war against a Left government: this requires the nationalisation of the banking system and commanding heights of the economy and the mobilisation of workers to smash any attempt on the part of the capitalists and their faithful servants in the state to prevent the implementation of a Left programme!
Disarm the ‘Troika’; liberate the people from the yoke of predatory debt through unilateral action; call for European workers’ active solidarity towards a Greek Left government and for them to fight for the direct election of left socialist governments across Europe with the aim of instituting a European Federation of Socialist States!
It is a grave mistake on the part of SYRIZA to cooperate with the Independent Greeks! Do not waste this historic opportunity! There must be a coalition between SYRIZA and KKE!
No to coalition of SYRIZA with Independent Greeks – declaration of the Communist Tendency of SYRIZA
Yesterday’s electoral victory of SYRIZA, the modest strengthening of the KKE and the consequent defeat of the bourgeois parties, constitute a historic opportunity, but also a clear political mandate from the working class and the poor social layers towards SYRIZA to form a self-standing Left government.
Following decades of persecution, and political marginalisation, the Greek communist movement would be able to govern with 42% support from the electorate and with a comfortable majority of 164 seats in the Greek parliament! But unfortunately, the leaders of the Left with the leadership of the Communist Party (KKE) being primarily responsible, and with the relative willingness of the leadership of SYRIZA to form alliances with bourgeois parties, they have thrown this historic opportunity for a self-standing Left government out of the window, and thus, objectively and irrespective of their intentions, they are betraying the clear mandate they received from the Greek people for deep political and social change.
The looming collaboration of SYRIZA with the Independent Greeks is a serious political mistake and will prove in practice to be tragically disastrous for the working class. The Independent Greeks are a bourgeois party. They have a deeply reactionary, anti-labour political programme on all key matters, such as the economy, government, education, foreign policy, etc. The ‘anti-memorandum’ rhetoric is a demagogic veil covering its reactionary programme. How ‘anti-memorandum’ this bourgeois party is was reveiled during its voting behaviour in parliament regarding memoranda legislation and when the system came to a standstill during the recent presidential election. The parliamentary group of Independent Greeks, brimming with bourgeois career politicians, leaned decisively towards the government camp.
The impact of a coalition with the Independent Greeks will be politically painful, given their insistance on “red lines” with regard to any programmatic position of SYRIZA directed against the fundamental interests of the Greek ruling class. The Independent Greeks will serve as the open agent of capital in a government whose main component is SYRIZA. On the very first application of real pressure by the ‘troika’ (ECB, EU Commission, and the IMF) and by the Greek capitalists, the new government will be forced to retreat from whatever radical measures it may wish to implement, and the bourgeois gang of Independent Greeks will withdraw support for the coalition and try to institute some kind of ‘national unity’ government (with the bourgeois parties). This has in fact been the consistent call of the leader of the Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos, during the pre-election campaign period.
If indeed there is a change in the leadership of New Democracy with someone from Karamanlis’ faction, a number of MPs and members of the Independent Greeks will begin to go back to their natural home (i.e., New Democracy), the traditional party of capital in the Greece. The leadership of SYRIZA must take these risks into account and instead of with the Independent Greeks, it should work energetically for unity with the KKE, seeking a programmatic agreement for the formation of a stable and solid Left parliamentary majority coalition. It urgently needs to do now what it should have done before the elections, io.e. to bolster the “programme of Thessaloniki” with anti-capitalist and socialist measures, such as those found in the programme of the KKE. Now there can be no excuses about the shared “strategic goal” between the two parties which seems to be the argument being used by the KKE leaderts. Now with a joint force of 164 MPs it would be possible to pass parliamentary measures to undo the Memoranda and to move against capitalism, with the socialisation of the main levers of the economy and the uprooting of the corrupt and authoritarian bourgeois state apparatus.
At the same time, the joint forces of the Left of 42%, which in the cities exceeds even 50%, can mobilise with enthusiasm the people to guarantee the implementation of a genuine socialist programme.
On its part, the KKE leadership must urgently adopt a genuine Leninist stance on the issue of forming a government, capable of connecting communism to the masses rather than marginalising the party. This tactic involves appealing to the leadership of SYRIZA to commit to pro-labour policies with key anti-capitalist and socialist measures. On the basis of such demands the KKE should declare that it is willing to support a SYRIZA government, thus holding the SYRIZA leadership accountable for its policies and thus exposing the existence of whatever tendency in SYRIZA favours class compromise and collaboration that unfortunately exists in its core. With the KKE’s advance refusal of any cooperation with SYRIZA, however, the KKE leadership provides ample political excuses to the SYRIZA leadership to escalate its turn to the right. Not only does the KKE fail to expose in the eyes of the working class these realities, but it confuses a large part of it, causing it to believe that cooperation with the Independent Greeks is therefore the only way forward, given the KKE’s intransigence, something which would be catastrophic for the working class. It is no coincidence that all political and ideological representatives of the ruling class, have immediately expressed their clear relief at the stubborn refusal of the KKE leadership to consider any cooperation whatsoever with SYRIZA.
If the SYRIZA leadership were to eventually adopt the call for a radical socialist cooperation with the KKE, and the KKE leadership were to continue to refuse to offer any kind of support for a SYRIZA government, then SYRIZA would have to call new elections to win a clear majority for a self-standing independent government without the need to cooperate with any other party. New elections would be “risky and outside of normal procedure” for the bourgeois parties, but not for the people, given that it is almost certain that they would produce a clear majority and lead to an entirely independent self-standing SYRIZA govenment. It is far better to have another electoral battle and have our hands untied to implement our radical programme than to tie our hands by collaborating with a bourgeois servant of the industrialists such as Panos Kammenos and his party, the Independent Greeks!
The Communist Tendency of SYRIZA calls on the SYRIZA leadership not to collaborate with the Independent Greeks. We are issuing a last appeal to the SYRIZA leadership, but also to the KKE leadership, to take stock of the magnitude of their historical responsibilities and to form together now a robust socialist coalition government. The forces of the “Left Platform”, the main Left tendency in SYRIZA, must not accept any cooperation with the Independent Greeks, and must stand with the Communist Tendency of SYRIZA and the entire left-wing party rank and fiole in defending the only correct class-based political alternative, which is to pursue a socialist coalition between SYRIZA and KKE.