Monday, 26 January 2015
Greece, Syriza win but where next??
So many leftists on twitter and around the globe seem ecstatic that the anti austerity alliance party Syriza have seemingly won the Greek elections. Many hopes and expectations lay ahead. I sense a very bumpy road and a lot of conflict to come. This is just the start not the end. Syriza, a party born from a coalition of Eurocommunists, social movements and anti-globalisation activists, is riding high and looks set to take a large share of the votes once all is said and done in Greece in the snap elections called recently. Whether enough for an outright majority its in no doubt this is a big moment in the Euro crisis which started way back in 2008. The general sentiment among Syriza officials and activists is that they will win the election and form the next government. The party won the European election in May 2014 and achieved some significant wins at the regional elections. It has been leading nationwide polls for months, scoring 29 per cent in late December 2014. The majority-friendly electoral law allows for an absolute majority at 35 to 40 per cent of the vote, depending on the number of parties passing the threshold. If Syriza succeeds in forming a government then it will face a huge number of challenges on the domestic and European level. At home, it will encounter fierce opposition from big business, the austerity parties and the Greek media. Greek economic elites might use the EU’s legal framework to work against Syriza. For example, bank owners could file lawsuits at the European Court of Justice against the restructuring of the banking sector. For Syriza itself, being in government may strain the relationship between the party leadership and its supporters and change the dynamic within the party. Syriza will have to find a balance between its two roles – first, representing a credible alternative to the establishment, and second, bringing forward a project for government. Care will have to be taken not to damage the party’s links to the social movements, and it will need to extend its presence within society to build bedrock of support to withstand the attacks. A party m very new and made up of a lot of various trends of Marxists, trotskyists indeed my former party the CWI have a section within Syriza don’t expect them to have much say though they will make a lot of noise but very little will come of it. They have also taken on a lot of ex Pasoc members and party officials who putting in a British context have seen a lot of defectors from the Labour party who have seen their party discredited in many peoples eyes as they were one of the first party’s to force through austerity doing the ECB’s European Central Banks and the Troikas job for them. Syriza will come to power with the pledge to re negotiate the bank bailout and try they might. But Syriza will certainly try. One of the first actions of a Syriza government will be to demand a reduction of public debt in Greece and Europe through an international debt conference. European governments and institutions will probably enter negotiations without making any concessions. Karitzis says, 'They are convinced that we will eventually compromise, that time is against us, and so they won’t be too hostile in the beginning.' Giorgos Chondros, director of Syriza’s department for environmental policy, expects negotiations to drag on for a while. 'We will not only have to fight the Greek elites, but also the European ones. This makes our situation much more difficult. We’ll need the support of movements in the whole of Europe.' John Milios anticipates 'psychological warfare' from EU elites and creditors. Greece will most likely violate some of the provisions of the EU’s deficit rules. 'There is no doubt that the numbers we see about Greek government accounts, the banks’ asset books, are all forged,' Yanis Varoufakis, professor of economics and Syriza advisor, says. The true state of public finances will probably come to the surface soon after a Syriza government is instated. Party figures argue that for economic reasons the Euro zone cannot afford to kick Greece out. European elites could, however, exert pressure in other ways. They could trigger a bank run inside Greece. They could tarnish the image of Greece as a tourist destination. The European Central Bank (ECB) could stop returning profits from interest on Greek government bonds. Less structural funds for infrastructure projects like roads might be awarded to Greece – according to Varoufakis, the rules concerning these funds have been loosened in the past to support the current Greek government, meaning they could simply be applied more strictly to harm a Syriza government. Investors in Greek government bonds have been reassured by 'winks' from Berlin and the ECB, suggesting that should Greece not pay, the debt would be covered. Varoufakis warns that 'they might as well do the opposite to increase financial pressure on a left government.' All of these measures would damage Syriza’s ability to deliver important promises to re-establish free access to healthcare, increase the lowest pensions and introduce rent subsidies. Possibly the most serious strategy would be for the ECB to threaten to stop providing liquidity to Greek banks. Varoufakis describes this as a 'nuclear weapon' which could bring the Greek banking sector down almost immediately. It would be extreme, but not unthinkable: In December 2014, the ECB threatened to effectively cut off Greek banks unless the government complied with Troika wishes. Varoufakis is convinced that a Syriza government must be prepared for this form of blackmail if it is to last long enough to negotiate a new deal for Greece. Despite all these challenges, there is still optimism among Syriza members. Although many consider it possible that their government could last only for a few weeks, they say their chances are better today than they would have been in 2012. They see fractures within the neoliberal bloc that they can try to exploit, like the ECB’s fear of deflation, the position of Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and the recent conflicts within the French government. By getting into government and implementing first measures, Syriza hopes to accelerate existing debates, especially within European social democracy and the trade unions. I am no longer in favour of taking a electoral route to change I think its a dead end strategy but if Syriza do win power I do think we should support them to a point. If there looks to be a backlash in the streets where the likes of the Golden Dawn are set against Syriza supporters us as Militant anti fascists we must stand with them and with the Greek working class. This is getting serious now. If Syriza do not carry through their programmed and leave millions let down and hopeless I dread to think of the backlash from the far right and how this will play out. Whilst I am no support of electoral projects I do think there’s support needed for Syriza even if in a critical sense to build confidence of workers to rejoin the class struggle in Greece to rejoin the struggle against austerity and give hope to other nation such as Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Italy and so on that we can fight back and win. We need to get to the point where workers feel confident enough to feel they can run society for themselves. Whilst we may be some way from that factory and workplace occupations and strikes can all add to workers confidence that things do not have to be this way The possibility of a new society is there if we are not sucked in by various sub plots and diversion tactics which no doubt will be coming. It is no surprise tonight to hear our prime minister in the UK David Cameron who is now saying Europe face’s further times of uncertainty following these Greek elections. If a small nation like Greece voting in a supposed anti austerity party despite all its faults and it does have many then just wait until the Spanish, Italian and French working class begin to re start the fight after a lull. The euro crisis never went away as much as many bourgeois commentators hoped its back with a bang now and Greece is where we will be watching closely for things we can learn from. Solidarity with the Greek working class tonight. Remember change is in the streets, the factory’s the workplaces and communities not in the ballot box.