The elections of June 17 represented the political climax of the class confrontation circle, that opened with the voting for the first memorandum [with the IMF, accepting the bailout/austerity package] in spring 2010 by the Papandreou government.
Within the last two years, the resistance movement has politically moved a great distance: from the economic battles of the first period (the first round of general strikes), to the political battle, as was represented by the turning point of the “indignation movement”, and its climax with the demonstrations during the protests of October 28 2011, culminating in this year’s political battle with the “struggle for power” at the double elections of May 6 and June 17.
More than 15 general strikes, tens and hundreds of smaller and larger struggles, and three great protest moments (May 5th 2010, October 19th 2011 and February 12th 2012) were politically condensed into the struggle for the formation of a government of the Left in these last elections.
The massive labour and popular movement that rallied around SYRIZA is a result of a collective awareness that without a political fight, without political change, without a government of the left, we cannot stop the war machine of the austerity forces: we cannot advance the struggle and, in the end, we cannot win!
Deepening Class Polarization
The elections revealed a deep class polarization with unprecedented sharpness on a large social scale. The confrontation of the two competing class camps took shape around the politically divisive question of the continuation or abolition of the bailout/austerity memorandum.
On the one side, rallying around SYRIZA, stood the working and popular strata that demanded an end “here and now” to the terms of the bailout/austerity package that worked at the expense of their rights and their gains. These popular strata put SYRIZA in first place in several important working class areas (the constituencies of Evoia, Voiotia, Xanthi, Athinon, Attiki, Pireus.)
On the other side were middle and upper class strata that supported [Centre Right] New Democracy (ND), which also included parts of popular strata that either fell victim to fear-mongering, or supported ND on ideological terms (“law and order”, anti-communism, racism, etc).
The process of construction of these camps had intense ideological and political elements due to the content of the confrontation and the dilemmas that accompanied the electoral debate (cancellation of the bailout/austerity memorandum and rupture with the troika, remaining “at any cost” or exiting the Eurozone, etc.).
This was also due to the fact that, in order to “repatriate” part of the right wingers that moved to right “anti-memorandum” position, ND gave the elections an ideological tone. In addition, [fascist party] Golden Dawn expressed in the most extreme and cruel way the racist ideology of “prison-guard state” and “Keadas” * against those who are “abundant”.
Although the process of construction of these camps is not linear in ideological and political terms, this process of bipolarism has a definite social basis and is also determined by political, programmatic and ideological factors. But if the existence of the bourgeois political camp is self-evident for the ruling class, for the working class it is a process of political and ideological awakening and regroupment. We are at the beginning of this process and its deepening remains an open question.
Narrow Win and Shaky Foundation
From this perspective, the electoral win of the pro-bailout camp and its main pillar, New Democracy, constitutes a relative victory for the political representatives of the domestic and international forces of capital, handing the political advantage to this camp. Similarly, for the hundreds and thousands of people that struggled hard all around the country for a government of the left, the outcome of the elections constitutes a relative political defeat.
The 1 655 053 workers and other people who supported and voted for SYRIZA are feeling justifiably disappointed. They know that the “war machine” of the austerity camp will keep up working against their gains and rights and that a great historical opportunity is now lost. If our objective is – and it should be – the interests of all these people and not the result of the elections or the narrow political “interest” of SYRIZA, then we don’t have the right to celebrate or to be “relieved” with this result.
Of course, the growth of SYRIZA’s electoral results from 4.6% to 27% within a month, the collapse of support for the pro-bailout camp and reaching so close to the goal of a Left government; all these constitute a historic change in the balance of political forces. However, if the goal in the first elections (May 6) was to block the formation of a pro-austerity government, in the June elections the question was “they, or us.” This objective mobilized a popular current that supported SYRIZA. Judged by the criterion of the popular strata that voted for SYRIZA, this objective was not achieved.
The victory of ND is marginal, not only because of the slight percentage (2.5%) that ND was ahead of SYRIZA, but for important political reasons:
1. Because the political support systems have been to a large extent destroyed, they are forced to push for a coalition government of New Democracy, PASOK and the “left” support of the system, Democratic Left (DIMAR). If it took 3 months for the Papademos government to prove feeble despite its vast parliamentary majority, it won’t be better for the Samaras’ government. After the formation of this coalition government, any “anti-memorandum” traces of the ND will collapse very soon, along with PASOK’s attempt to survive politically, while the Democratic Left will be cancelled as a left partner of the system. So, it is certain that very soon cracks will appear in this government.
2. Because the troika [consisting of the European Union, European Central Bank, IMF] is not willing to offer Samaras’ government any margin, not only for renegotiating the terms of the bailout, but even for slight changes to it. The temporary extension of the terms of the bailout for one year and the weak “growth bonus” is not going to prevent the “humanitarian crisis” in Greek society, the deep recession, and the “death spiral” of the Greek economy. A new, third, agreement is inevitable. A new Greek debt restructuring is also inevitable along with a Greek exit from euro – if the Eurozone, meanwhile, survives. In the short to medium term, the Samaras’ government will wobble severely from such events.
3. Because the bipolar political system that has emerged from the last elections has nothing in common with the bourgeois, pro-austerity bipolar political system that collapsed, since it represents a class bifurcation. The political forces forming the new government reflect the class camp of those who benefit from the austerity agreement and its class policies, while SYRIZA represents the labor and popular strata suffering from those policies. If this class political polarization is consolidated, then the crisis and the instability of the bourgeois political system will deepen acutely.
Fighting the State and Fascists
The fact that the victory of the pro-austerity forces is marginal and that the Samaras government will soon reveal its weakness does not mean that this government will not be dangerous for the rights and gains of workers, or that it will be easily derailed or fall like a ripe fruit. The Samaras government will clearly be a civil war government. It will implement tough measures, with violence and repression, racism and anti-communism, to establish “law and order.”
The state of emergency and the fascist terror will “hit red.” The Golden Dawn, the fascist party of counterrevolution, will endeavor to take advantage of the mistakes and weaknesses of the Left. The social and “humanitarian crisis” creates anger and despair that, if it is not politicized by the Left, will become a force for the state of emergency and the fascists.
Finally, the domestic and international system will fully support this government and won’t repeat the mistake of going into elections without first ensuring that these will offer them a victory, being ready this time to use any kind of “constitutional diversion”.
Therefore, the struggle against the government will not be easy. A line of “responsible” and institutional opposition, or a return to a stereotypical “movementism” is not what is needed right now.
The bourgeois-pro-austerity camp will try to take advantage of its governmental power in order to create the conditions for crushing our camp. With this goal, the “deep state” will cooperate with the Golden Dawn fascists, while the government will give them space to act against the movement and the Left.
To confront all these, we urgently need a plan of general regroupment of our class camp, not only in action, but also in terms of political and ideological regroupment. And this has to begin right now, since the political time has been accelerated. Only in this manner can we regain the political advantage to resist the government and pave the way for a left government and the social transformation.