The outcome of the Greek referendum considerably exceeded the expectations of the SYRIZA-led coalition government that called it, as well as most observers. They were painted into a corner by their own conciliation of the neo-liberal leaders of Europe, faced with their humiliating ‘offer’ of a bailout in demand for further massive cuts in pensions and social benefits. The SYRIZA government was faced with what in effect was an attempt to force a recently-elected government out of office; Alexis Tsipras turned to the Greek working-class masses and asked for their backing.
Their courage in resisting the demands of the Troika far exceeds that of their left-reformist leadership. This was shown by the immediate aftermath of the 61% landslide victory of the ‘OXI’ (no) side, despite the NAI (yes) side having the backing of the entire privately-owned news media, with an avalanche of mendacious propaganda and disinformation. The no vote took place in the context of international blackmail, and the squeezing of Greek finances which has led to the closure of banks and a limit of €60 per day on withdrawals from ATMs, on top of the years of ‘financial waterboarding’ austerity and the severe impoverishment of much of the Greek population. This heroic defiance takes place in economic siege conditions whose clear aim is ‘regime change’. But in this case it backfired.
The new phenonemon represented by the SYRIZA/ANEL (Independent Greeks) coalition has not been theorised by the left as yet. The question of the coalition with the Independent Greeks is something of crucial importance, which has to be addressed theoretically and programatically.
My strong suspicion is that even those who are most enthusiastic about the politics of SYRIZA are uneasy about it. Various people have expressed real reservations about it, saying it is a bad sign, that it will not last long, etc, and they may well prove to be right about that. But no one has offered a theorisation of what is going on here.
Lets be very clear. This is a popular front government, and the situation is very dangerous. It could be just as dangerous as the Chilean Popular Unity experience for the working class. Though that is not certain; there are some complexities and differences also.
Socialists, communists and class conscious working class people should critically support the current election campaign of SYRIZA in Greece. We should, while not taking responsibility for the programme of a SYRIZA government, nevertheless support measures by such a government that are directed against the austerity directed from Brussels, Berlin and Paris, assuming such measures are enacted.
As is well known, a massive economic and political crisis led to two Greek national elections in 2012. The immediate issue was finally settled with an unstable coalition led by the main right-wing capitalist party, New Democracy (ND), supported by the main bourgeois-populist pseudo-socialist party, PASOK, and the right-wing splinter party from SYRIZA (or rather its immediate precursor) known as Democratic Left. That government enforced the Eurozone’s bail-out conditions, involving massive attacks on Greek workers’ wages and salaries, and what remains of welfare and public health provision, to the point that Greek society came close to ripping apart. There was a very dangerous and worrying growth of Golden Dawn, an outright fascist party that openly took its inspiration from Hitler’s National Socialists, together with a torrent of violence and racist terrorism against African and other migrants living in Greece.