Electoral breakthrough in Greece and the challenges for the Left

Sotiris Martalis and Antonis Davanellos are members of the Coordinating Secretariat of SYRIZA and leading members of DEA (Workers Internationalist Left). Martalis and Davanellos discusse the situation in Greece at a socialist conference held in Switzerland at the end of May.

SYRIZA, the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left, stunned the world with its second-place finish in parliamentary elections on May 6, climbing from small-party status past the main center-left party PASOK, which has ruled Greece for a majority of the last four decades, and nearly catching the main conservative party New Democracy. After none of these three parties could form a governing majority in the new parliament, new elections were set for June 17, and SYRIZA is predicted to place first or second.

A coalition of eleven different left-wing organizations along with many individuals, SYRIZA is popular because of its stand against the austerity measures that have come as conditions—contained in what is called the "Memorandum"—of the bailout of the Greek financial system by the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund, known together as the "troika."

Sotiris Martalis

 

I WILL try to describe the situation in Greece, how we got to this point, and the situation in the working-class movement.

The electoral results of May 6 are making it even harder for the Greek ruling class to find solutions to its problems. It is facing a double crisis; an economic and a political one. There are three factors that intensify the situation: the economic crisis, which is getting worse; increasing political instability, the inability of the ruling class not only to obtain consensus, but even to gain some passive tolerance from the people from below;  and the dynamic of radicalization and resistance that characterizes a section of the workers and the youth.

The certainties and the “one-ways” of the European Memorandum of Understanding1 received a crushing blow. The expression of disapproval against the two main parties, PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) and ND (New Democracy), as well as the far-right LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally), was sweeping. Out of a total of 6.3 million voters, PASOK lost almost 2.2 million votes, ND lost 1.1 million, and LAOS 200,000. This adds up to around 3.5 million votes, which is above half the total vote. At the same time, the Left gained 1.2 million votes compared to the last election. This is the second time in Greece’s postwar history that the Left has gained such a big electoral increase. The previous time was in the elections of 1958, when EDA (the United Democratic Left) took second place, gaining 24.54 percent.

Of course, we should note a worrying sign of these elections—the rise of the fascist Golden Dawn, which managed to enter parliament with 6.9 percent of the vote. This is not just a far-right party; it is a hard-core neo-Nazi organization that engages in paramilitary actions. They took advantage of the racist hysteria that the mass media and the major parties unleashed, and they pretended to be “against the establishment” to gain votes by appealing to people’s sense of despair. Of course, it’s not them but the rise of the Left that dominates the scene. But still, it’s a threat that must not be underestimated, and we have already organized antifascist actions in many towns and neighborhoods in order to drive them back. 

Returning to the rise of the Left; one would naturally claim that the reason for the electoral results is the fact that the economic crisis and the politics of the Memorandum severed the ties that connected the working class and the middle class with PASOK and ND. The mainstream media interpret the result as a simple expression of anger and indignation, as a “temporary” result, because voters just wanted to punish the Memorandum parties. In the next elections, so the argument goes, people will vote for realistic solutions to “save the country.” This view fails to explain the massive rise of the Left. History has taught us that unemployment, poverty, and the general worsening of economic conditions don’t lead automatically to a rise of the Left. We witnessed exactly the opposite happen after the collapse of so-called socialism in a series of countries in Central and Eastern Europe.     

The political crisis and the rise of the Left are not just a product of the economic crisis, but also the result of two years of hard-fought workers’ and social struggles. It is also a result of certain political choices. This can explain why working people chose SYRIZA as a “tool” to express themselves and not the Democratic Left, the Communist Party, or ANTARSYA.

To describe the condition of working people, the poor, and the middle class, we could say that we are heading rapidly toward a real social disaster.

The number of unemployed has reached nearly 1.5 million out of a labor force of 4.5 million. Income is down by an average of 50 percent. And we should keep in mind that before the beginning of the crisis, Greece along with Portugal had the lowest wages in the EU-15.2 Since the Memorandum, suicides have increased by 20 percent. Just two days ago I read in a newspaper about two more suicides: A thirty-year-old killed himself because he lost his job, and a sixty-three-year-old who left a note that poverty led him to death.

For months now, hospitals have been functioning not only with a lack of doctors and nurses, but also with a devastating lack of basic materials. Sometimes they don’t have medicine, sometimes they don’t have gauze and syringes. Just a few days ago, the manager of AXEPA, the largest hospital in Thessaloniki, said on the radio that they don’t have blood bags and in mid-June the hematology and the cardiology clinic of the hospital will shut down. The previous health minister warned that twenty big hospitals will shut down in the near future.   

The image of immigrants searching in the garbage for food is now a common sight in the streets of Athens, where there are an estimated 30,000 homeless people.

Since February, when the second Memorandum was voted on, the minimum wage went down to EUR 586.033 (EUR 489.38 after taxes), while for young workers under twenty-five years old it was reduced to EUR 510.94 (EUR 440.44 after taxes). The reduction of the minimum wage will take down with it a series of benefits that are connected to the National Collective Agreement. Most importantly, the unemployment benefit is calculated at 55 percent of an unskilled worker’s wage. This means that from the EUR 461.5 that it used to be, the unemployment benefit went down to EUR 359.97.

On the question of collective agreements, the second Memorandum said that if a collective contract for a sector expires and there is not a new one signed, in three months’ time the terms of the collective agreement are terminated. This means that anyone who used to be paid according to a collective agreement will lose half his wage. The alternative is to negotiate a new contract in person, or to sign an agreement not for the whole sector but only for the single workplace. Such contracts will lead to a 22 percent wage reduction. You can all understand of course that the employers’ associations refuse to sign new collective contracts. Temporarily, the old collective contracts maintain their validity and their termination was postponed until the next election. 

A huge section of the workforce already works in precarious conditions, meaning in three-month or five-month temporary contracts. Some of them are paid as “freelancers,” by the piece, although they work as regular employees. Even worse, some of them are rented employees. This means that a bank or a ministry rents workers from a private contractor. Lately, one of the major hospitals of Athens, Evaggelismos, used this invention to employ nurses (university graduates) at a monthly salary of EUR 380. 

This situation is the result of the last two years of austerity; but during these two years, the working class hasn’t accepted these policies passively, with arms folded; it waged some hard struggles, it provoked splits in the political parties of the ruling class, and it overthrew two governments (the PASOK government under Papandreou and then the three-party government of PASOK-ND-LAOS under Papadimos).

During these two years, there wasn’t a single week without some strike action, large or small. These strikes put overwhelming pressure on the trade union bureaucracy of GSEE and ADEDY (the confederations of the private and the public sector workers). It was this pressure that led to seventeen general strikes, two of them forty-eight-hour general strikes. In October of 2011, prior to the voting in Parliament for the wage reductions and the layoffs of public servants, we witnessed ten days full with occupations of ministries and other government buildings that climaxed with a forty-eight-hour general strike.

These workers’ struggles served as a bridge from one major confrontation to the other, helping to maintain a continuity of struggle during the time between the ebbs and flows of the wider resistance movement. From the Movement of the Squares that we lived through for a month between May and June 2011, to the local popular assemblies in the neighborhoods, to the “Won’t Pay” movement that led to a massive refusal to pay the road tolls on privatized highways after the government raised its price. This movement reached its peak when it confronted a new tax hike that people called “Haratsi.” Haratsi was the name of an unjust head tax during the times of the Ottoman Empire, and it is still used to describe any unjust tax.

This tax hike was placed on every single household. They sent it together with the electricity bill, and if someone refused to pay the tax, they would cut off the electricity from his or her house. The “Won’t Pay” movement organized local committees in hundreds of neighborhoods and in many towns so that when technicians appeared to cut electricity to a household they would stop them. The committees also organized demonstrations outside local departments of the electricity company. All these actions succeeded and the electricity wasn’t cut to a single household.

At this point, we should note that while the Left took part in, and many times led, most of these struggles, it didn’t manage to organize the people; it didn’t manage to establish a network that would enable the continuation and the escalation of the resistance. So, we see today that the hopes of the people to overthrow these policies have shifted onto the electoral field.

But until this day, despite the temporary retreat of workers’ struggles—because the labor movement is waiting for the electoral results and the political solutions that will come from it—there are some strike actions even during the preelection time. Municipal workers in garbage collection in Thessaloniki are waging a fight against the privatization of garbage truck repair owned by the city of Thessaloniki. The heroic steel workers in Halyvourgia also continue their strike and occupation of their factory, which began on November 1, 2011.

It was all these struggles that defined the electoral result of May 6. We saw that in the results in the working-class neighborhoods of Athens, which are the most populous electoral districts. There, the Left’s vote skyrocketed and reached 40 percent, that is, 7.5 percent higher than its national percentage, and SYRIZA won first place, with 21.8 percent.

We can be sure that this turn to the left is not “temporary,” as the mainstream media say, based on two additional facts. The first one is the results of the regional election of 2010. Back then, PASOK lost 1,128,063 votes and ND half a million, and their decline continued in the national election—so the latest results are part of a longer-term trend. The second is the results in trade union elections. There have been elections in some sectors lately. PASKE and DAKE (union organizations affiliated with PASOK and ND) are in big decline, while the Left everywhere is gaining ground. I will mention just one example from my sector, high school teachers. During the elections for local union boards in November–December, the Left raised its vote by 12 percent, gaining a total of 54 percent, with SYRIZA winning the first place, going from 18 percent to 25 percent.

Of course we should keep in mind that the central confederations, GSEE (General Confederation of Greek Workers), ADEDY (Confederation of Civil Servants), and the vast majority of the trade unions are still controlled by PASKE and DAKE. As the conferences for these institutions are organized every three years, I believe that the left turn in the union confederations will manifest itself in the near future.

An issue that we need to address is why, out of all the Left’s forces, it was SYRIZA that won massively, increasing its vote from 4.68 percent to 16.8 percent, while the Communist Party’s vote went from 7.54 percent to 8.48 percent, the Democratic Left (a split from Synaspismos) won 6.11 percent, and ANTARSYA’s vote only increased from 0.36 percent to 1.19 percent.

This has to do with SYRIZA’s constant support and defense of all the workers’ struggles and social movements, and its direct participation in them. This element has to be compared with the attitude of the Communist Party, which has operated in a sectarian way. Not only did it fail to participate in these movements, but it didn’t even support them. In the workplaces, it attempted to block any struggle. Even in the trade union demonstrations, it not only organized separate marches, but these marches also followed a completely different route from the main demonstrations.

The second reason is the character of SYRIZA; it is a unitary coalition of radical left forces, which has directed constant calls for unity to all the other forces of the Left, arguing that this was the only basis on which a major rupture with the establishment could be possible.

The third reason is SYRIZA’s slogan for a government of the Left. This proposal emerged as a political alternative, giving hope to all these people that for years witnessed parliament voting for policies that ruined their lives.

The popularity of SYRIZA is still rising, despite the constant attacks from all the ruling-class and the established parties. In a poll conducted by Public Issue two days ago, SYRIZA was leading with 30 percent, with ND following with 27 percent. This means that SYRIZA winning first place is a possible scenario in the June 17 election.

Of course, we are all aware that governmental power and the real power in society are two different things. We can understand the issues and the problems that such a scenario opens up—even more so when there is not an organized mass movement, and when you lack control not only over the army, but also over the trade unions. In the case of a SYRIZA victory, the challenges will be huge. But even if SYRIZA doesn’t win the election, the self-confidence that will develop in people by a rise of the Left will strengthen the resistance movement from below, it will intensify the pressure on the ruling class, and it will set the stage for the next round of confrontations.


  1. SYRIZA has declared its intent to reject the austerity conditions dictated by the Memorandum of Understanding with the “troika” of the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—essentially, the conditions imposed on Greece in return for the bailout of the country’s financial system.
  2. Prior to the expansion of the European Union (EU) to include twenty-seven member states, the EU included fifteen: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
  3. As the ISR went to press in mid-June, the conversion rate for the euro to the dollar was 1 euro = $1.25.

 


Antonis Davanellos

 

COMRADES, I am very happy to be here with you. I must thank you for the invitation to attend this meeting. This feeling of concrete internationalism is very important for us because the feeling that what you are doing is not just important for a small country, but it is important for militants all over Europe, is making us more responsible toward the heavy duties that we’ll have to confront in our country.

I must ask you to forgive me for my very bad English. I must also give you greetings from all the members of our organization, the Internationalist Workers’ Left (DEA), which is a revolutionary organization that has been in SYRIZA as an independent tendency since the beginning.

But also I must give you the greetings of the national coordination committee of SYRIZA, which is the leading organ of SYRIZA, and in the European field this body wants to have good relations with all the Left, including, absolutely, the anticapitalist revolutionary Left.

In my remarks I will deal with four questions. The first is: What has happened in Greece since the elections of May 6? The results of the election were a political earthquake that has shaken the political life of Greece. The vote was the result of some huge forces and some not so huge but important forces.

The first huge force was the crisis. Sotiris Martalis has described the crisis and given you some examples. In our country, a social disaster has happened. I will give you two more examples, which further highlight the way this crisis shaped the preelectoral political debate. The first example is that in the last twelve months the lowest wage in Greece has fallen by 26 percent. This has never happened in Europe in the last several decades. The closest comparable period is that of the Weimar period (the 1920s in Germany), and everybody knows what kind of events happened after. So people were discussing this.

The second example has not to do with wages, but the hospitals, the health care system is extremely important for the workers. In SYRIZA meetings leading up to the elections we had many where doctors or nurses stood up crying, really crying, and called on us to stop the destruction of public hospitals. They said that we are at the point that in a few weeks, not months, the hospitals will not be the right place to go if you have a serious health problem.

Two comrades from my neighborhood (who have cancer) stood up and spoke, and they said that the medicines for chemotherapy do not exist anymore in the public hospitals. To buy the medication they need would cost EUR 2,000 per month. So there are comrades who have to discuss with their families whether they will buy life-saving medication or if they will continue to buy food for their children. This is the real situation for the population in Greece.

The other huge force was the struggle against austerity. The working class in Greece has fought like crazy—I don’t know in Greek if there is this expression, “fought like crazy”—to stop this program of austerity. It was not just the general strikes—as Marxists, we always support that. It was the blockades of the streets, the occupation of ministries. Three times in the last two years, the Parliament of Greece was under siege for hours. Not by Black Bloc types, not by young leftists, but by nurses, doctors, and all workers—and also the Black Bloc, and also the Left, and also everybody else. Four or five hundred thousand demonstrators, for hours, laid siege to the Parliament to stop them from voting this program of austerity. In concrete terms we have failed, because Parliament has voted for the program. But through this struggle the people came to understand what we are up against: tear gas—not the tear gasses that we are used to in European demonstrations—but the kind used by the military. After them, the special forces of the police; after them, more special forces with fire guns. And after them, soldiers with automatic weapons. So, by this concrete experience people confronted the question of power.

We are not at the revolutionary or prerevolutionary period in Greece because we don’t have something like the workers’ councils, like the soviets. But the question of power has been raised, and for the moment the answer is electoral. How fast the passage from the electoral to the real struggle for power, we will see; I cannot predict.

I will refer to two more forces—not so huge like the others. A very important force was SYRIZA. I know that there is a discussion in Europe about SYRIZA, the Communist Party, and the revolutionary Left. In all these years SYRIZA has taken part, with witnesses, to all the struggles. At the days of laying siege to the Parliament, SYRIZA was there. Not all the Left parties were there. The Communist Party demonstrated, weakly, in other places.

SYRIZA has a clear and honest policy of unity of the Left, and by that we mean an appeal to all the organizations from the revolutionary Left to the Communist Party‚ that we must all together create a political united front capable of accepting and organizing the social bases of the Social Democratic Party who are leaving the Social Democratic Party very quickly. This policy of unity on the Left has been understood by the people as a message that we can win‚ not historically, not after three decades, but now, here and now. And we have the need to make this message more concrete.

This is the last reference I will make to the forces that prepared for May 6. SYRIZA had the courage to say: We have tried to overthrow the government. We must have a proposition to overthrow the government even through the elections. So the slogan of “a government of the Left” was something very important for the people, because it has started a real feeling that we can win; we can overthrow the government, and give place to a government of the Left.

The second point that I want to raise is what happens after the elections because SYRIZA has found itself facing a very big, a very important test. It is being put under tremendous pressure by the Greek ruling class to agree to form a “government of national unity” or “national salvation.” All the political parties—I mean the bourgeois political parties—who were saying that we cannot change a word of the Memorandum, are now saying: “We can renegotiate the Memorandum. It’s impossible to change all of the Memorandum. So come all together, we are brothers and sisters, and create a common government of national salvation to save Greece.” This is the polite language. Behind it was the other language, with very serious threats and huge pressure from the capitalist parties, from the regime, and from the big embassies in Athens. SYRIZA resisted the pressure. We insisted on the policy of “government of the Left” and said no to a government with bourgeois political parties. Central in the everyday political fight was the question of renegotiate or overthrow the Memorandum.

The resistance of SYRIZA to this pressure sent to the Greek people a new and very important political message; that they are afraid, and that we must, and that we can, finish the job we started on May 6, meaning: overthrow the government and create a government of the Left.

The day that I left Greece, the polls were showing that SYRIZA is the first party, with 30 percent, by far the first party among private sector workers, public sector workers, among the unemployed, the youth, and in all the working-class neighborhoods around Athens and Piraeus. We are very weak among farmers and among small shopkeepers where we are the third or fourth party. But no one can deal with the situation in Greece with these results of SYRIZA in the working-class areas.

The third point that I want to raise is with what program, with what policy, is SYRIZA dealing with the situation. This is a hard problem, dear comrades, because by program in this situation we mean concrete policies, not abstract wishes. And when policy is concrete, the pressures become huge and the dilemmas very hard. SYRIZA’s program was announced by Alexis Tsipras yesterday [June 3] at twelve noon in Athens. This program was discussed; nobody was sure if SYRIZA will have the power to withstand the pressure. The first point of the program is that if we will be the first party, and if we will create a government of the Left, our first act in Parliament will be to cancel the Memorandum. As Tsipras said yesterday in Athens, it’s like pregnancy, you cannot be a little pregnant or too pregnant. You are either pregnant or you are not. So the vote on the Memorandum will be yes or no. Yes to everything or no to everything. So that means we have finished with the discussion about renegotiation.

The second point is that we will cancel the lending convention with the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the IMF, because it has three very bitter, very hard conditions. The first is that in this convention, the Greek public debt is under British law, which is very friendly to the lenders and very hostile to the debtors. The second is that it gives absolute priority to the payment of the debt regardless of circumstances. It’s creating, at the same time, a fund where all the public money is going, and from this fund, the lenders can take the money first. The rest is for everything else: wages, hospitals, and schools. The third point is that this convention puts an end to the immunity of public property‚ and that means that the lenders can seize public property as payment for debt. After this we are saying that we will renegotiate the public debt; that means that we will control the debt, that we will support the nullification of the biggest part of the debt, which we are sure is illegal and odious. And for the rest of the debt we will ask for a moratorium on any payments. And if the lenders will not accept these terms, the government unilaterally will stop any payments of the debt.

The third point of the program is the nationalization of the banks. The Greek banks were given something like EUR 200 billion in bailout money; by this money we are saying that the public has already bought the banks, and so from this moment the banks will become public property under public control, under democratic control, and under workers’ control. This escalation of demands is not simple—it’s not easy to discuss workers’ control, only when you are discussing it abstractly. But the last twenty years of neoliberalism in the banks has had the result of destroying the unions in the banks. So we don’t have enough forces inside the banks to create the workers’ control of the banks by decree. It’s a process from below and from above. We will do exactly the same for all the big public services: electricity, telecommunication, water, transport. All these are already privatized.

The next point is very important for the discussion between the revolutionaries because it is important to always tell the truth. The program of SYRIZA says throw out the austerity policies. And concretely this means three things: The first—no more cuts. The Memorandum program states that in June the government of Greece must support a new program of austerity of EUR 11 billion. This will not happen. Second, immediate augmentation of the lowest wages and pensions to their level before the cuts. That means an increase of the lowest wages and pensions by 25 to 30 percent. And the third point is a commitment to a gradual increase of all the wages and pensions to the standards that they were at the end of 2009, meaning before the crisis. That also would mean an increase of 30 percent.  When we are speaking about gradualism here, we are meaning that this will depend on the class struggle, on the economy, and on political developments. That’s why SYRIZA is repeatedly calling the workers saying that all these problems cannot be solved only by a particular kind of government.

The last point of the program is the answer to the everyday question when we are talking about developments in Greece: where will you find the money? There is a crisis; there is no money, so where will you find the money to do all this? The answer, comrades, is very simple. You can find the money where the money is. The last point of the program is heavy taxation on interest and on profits.

This program, if someone examines it theoretically, is a left-reformist program. Under the concrete circumstances of Greece today, it’s a revolutionary program in my mind, and the proof of this is that this program is absolutely unacceptable, absolutely out of the parameters of discussion, absolutely out of any kind of consensus from the ruling class in Greece, from the ruling institutions in Greece, including banks, and by all the international alliances of the ruling classes in Greece. I’m speaking of the European Union, the IMF, the Obama administration, and the European Central Bank. They have sent clear messages that a program like this means war. We will see.

The last point that I want to raise is who can impose a program like this? The main player is SYRIZA. SYRIZA was the winner of election on May 6. We are very polite; we are speaking of the victory of the Left. The reality is, it was a victory of SYRIZA. I will give you some information on SYRIZA.

First, the composition of SYRIZA. SYRIZA is a coalition between a reformist party with the name SYNASPISMOS, which has been inside the movements and all the political developments of the last fifteen years. It has changed leadership many times, and in the last year it has expelled its right-wing tendency, which has formed, and ran in the May 6 election, as the Democratic Left. It was a Euro Communist style tendency. Apart from SYNASPISMOS, there are five organizations of the revolutionary Left and some organizations that in the 1970s we could have called centrists—between the reformist and revolutionary Left. A second point to understand is that SYRIZA is not a new party. It has behind it ten years of political history. As DEA, we have left SYRIZA twice. We have made absolutely clear that this is a coalition when things are going well and we are all together in a political synthesis, then okay, we will continue.

Every time that SYRIZA goes through a new period of fights and things like this it is characterized by turns of the leadership of SYNASPISMOS to the left.

I know it is not easy to follow, so I will give you an example. Two nights ago, I was present at a very sharp discussion about the problems facing SYRIZA. During the discussion, it became obvious that there were two tendencies pressing to turn toward other policies. Both were based on fear. The first tendency was that the duties that will fall on us are very heavy. We cannot do it, so we must turn to the protection of the European Union. We must turn to a policy of renegotiation of the Memorandum. The other tendency was to the left, based also on fear, saying that the duties that are falling on us are very heavy, we cannot do it, so let’s organize to lose the election. Let’s make some serious mistake in order to lose the election. The discussion was heated and at the end we finished by publishing the program that I have outlined. So comrades, we will maintain the policy of the government of the Left, and ask, like Trotskyists believe, like the Fourth Congress of the Communist International has said, that the parliamentary development with a government of the Left can add fire to the counterattack of the working class, which can confront in reality the question of power, not just in government, but in all of society.

Will it be easy? Absolutely not. I am not convinced that the powers of the regime will let us win the election. They have the power—for example, in the banks—and they can create events to change the sentiments of people.  They also have some other powers. I must say something about the fascists, the Golden Dawn. Golden Dawn is not simply a far-right organization. They are hard Nazis. The name Golden Dawn comes from the early tradition of the Nazi Party, a small sect inside the Nazi Party that even Hitler had rejected. They are a crazy, militarized organization.

I will raise another related question. The special forces of the police voted separately, in the barracks. The result of these elections was 50 percent went to Golden Dawn. For the first time since the overthrow of the military dictatorship, there is in Greece news that inside the army, there is an officer’s initiative discussing what will happen if the “bandits” of SYRIZA come to power. So, that’s the reality. In a few weeks we will have an extremely important political fight, which will open a new period in the political life and the social life of Greece.

My last point is this: internationalism. In reality, the problem that we are facing cannot be solved only in Greece. That does not mean that we have to wait for the time when all the countries at the same time, no.... It means the way of thinking: we are trying in Greece to prove that this small country can be the weak link of the very strong chain of the attack of the capitalists in the whole of Europe.

And you know, comrades, every chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If the chain breaks in Greece, then what will happen in Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, and so on? That’s the one point. The other is that everything that you are doing, everything that our comrades are doing in every part of Europe is a huge help to what we are doing in Greece.

I will give you an example. In the worst time that I have had in the last years, I went back home after a demonstration of twelve hours having faced off with the police and tear gas. I was ready to die. I turned on the television; it was the time of the international news, and they were discussing a small demonstration in Spain. I saw a picture of a young woman carrying a placard which said: “Message to the Greek comrades: Hold on, we’re coming!”

I cried with joy, because this is the real power with which we can win our struggle: internationalism. Of course, they are strong, but always, comrades, remember: they are speaking about the PIGS. Who are the PIGS? Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain. Then think of what the working class in these countries has done in the past; and they can do it also in the future.

Furthermore, on the basis of international law and the principle of peaceful conflict resolution, we will pursue improvements in Greek-Turkish relations, a solution to the problem of FYROM’s official name, and the specification of Greece's Exclusive Economic Zone.

THE INCUMBENT economic and social system has failed, and we must overthrow it!

The economic crisis that is rocking global capitalism has shattered the illusions. More and more, people understand that capitalist speculation is an inhuman organizational principle for modern society. It is also widely acknowledged that the private banks function only for the benefit of the bankers, harming the rest of the people. Big business and bankers absorb billions of euros from health care, education and pensions.

An exit from the crisis requires bold measures that will prevent those who created the crisis from continuing their destructive work. We are endorsing a new model for the production and distribution of wealth, one that will include society in its totality. In this respect, large capitalist property is to be made public and managed democratically along social and ecological criteria. Our strategic aim is socialism with democracy, a system in which all will be entitled to participate in the decision-making process.

We are changing the future; we are pushing them into the past!

We can prevail by forging unity and creating a new coalition for power with the left as a cornerstone. Our strength in this endeavor is the alliance of the People: the inspiration, the creative effort, and the struggle of the working people. With these, we will shape the lives and the future of a self-governed people.

Now the vote is in the hands of the People! Now the People have the power!

In this new election, the Greek people can and must vote against the regime of the Memoranda and the Troika, thus turning over a new page of hope and optimism for the future.

For Greece and for Europe, the solution is with the Left!

Issue #106

Fall 2017

April 1917

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