The Greek government won a vote of confidence last Friday—only to resign on Monday.
The Labour-style Pasok government reached the point where it could not impose the austerity measures being demanded by the European powers.
It was such an impasse that even prime minister George Papandreou realised that, despite winning the confidence vote, he couldn’t press on alone.
The “troika”—the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank—wants the government to impose austerity.
But Papandreou couldn’t do it because of the strength of working class resistance.
So he is stepping down for a coalition with, at least, the Tory-like New Democracy party.
The coalition will be a humiliation for New Democracy. For the last two years it has argued against agreements with the troika.
The party’s leader has argued that it must oppose them because otherwise the only opposition would come from the streets.
Now that opposition is so strong that he must join the other side.
But a coalition doesn’t mean a stronger government.
Those at the top admit this—saying the new government will sign the troika agreement and then call an election early next year. It is a desperate move.
The Greek papers hailed the coalition deal as an “historic agreement”. They are convinced things will now move on—but the people don’t believe that.
There will be a huge protest on 17 November, the anniversary of the 1973 Athens Polytechnic Uprising against the military dictatorship.
The new government will put forward a new budget before Christmas. When this happens there will be a general strike.
This is clearly demanded by the whole of the left, and the union leaderships will have to call it. If they don’t, they’ll leave the field open to the left to call people out—and people would respond.
Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel say that Greece is a special case. But now Italy is on the brink of a crisis too.
The Greek bailout will collapse if there is crisis in Italy. Stabilising Greek debt assumes that elsewhere will be stable.
There are similar issues in Ireland and Portugal.
It’s not just a problem for Greece’s rulers. It’s a problem for the whole of capitalism.