Socialist Worker

As Greek government falls, how can workers win?

by Panos Garganas in Athens
Issue No. 2434

Supporters of the anti-capitalist coalition Antarsya and other workers protest outside the parliament on the day of the vote

Supporters of the anti-capitalist coalition Antarsya and other workers protest outside the parliament on the day of the vote (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


Workers were celebrating outside the Greek parliament in Athens yesterday, Monday, as the coalition government led by Tory Antonis Samaras finally collapsed.

Women cleaners at the ministry of finance, the ERT media workers and school workers all rallied together. 

They’ve been fighting to get their jobs back after being sacked by Samaras.

Migrant workers, occupying a recycling plant near Athens, also joined them.

They hadn’t been paid, so they shut the place down and went into occupation just before Christmas. 

These new and ongoing struggles strongly represent what workers have been fighting for.

The workers cheered when they heard the government had failed to win the majority it needed to elect a new president and stay in office. 

People were hugging each other, and they marched around the square.

This is the mood all over Greece. 

A general election has now been called for 25 January, which the radical left party Syriza is likely to win.

The media are reporting that Syriza’s lead is narrowing as people worry about what will happen. 

It’s part of a scare campaign, started by the government and taken up by the media. 

But it’s a scare campaign didn’t even convince conservative MPs to back the government. 

Yet this isn’t the only obstacle, with both the International Monetary Fund and private speculators trying to blackmail Greece. 

The Capital Group investment fund met Syriza in the City of London and threatened to pull out of Eurobank, one of Greece’s four big banks. 

There has also been a very serious development in the run-up to the vote.

An MP from the right wing Independent Greeks party alleged that there had been an attempt to bribe him to vote with the government. 

The courts refused to take his evidence seriously and investigate it. 

These show some of the obstacles a left government could face from inside the state. 

The big swing to the left means that none of this is likely to stop people voting for Syriza. 

Respond

So the question is what happens next—and how would a Syriza government respond?

Syriza is calling for the European Union (EU) and European Central Bank (ECB) to respect the people’s democratic will.

In effect to keep funding Greek banks even if Syriza demands a renegotiation of the national debt.

But these institutions have shown contempt for democracy so many times.

The ECB itself holds the largest part of Greece’s debt, so asking for renegotiation would mean asking it to write down the debt. 

The likes of ECB chief Mario Draghi and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker won’t suddenly agree to it.

We have to confront them.

The signs are that Syriza’s approach will be appeasement, so the anti-capitalist left has to organise pressure from the left and below.

People anticipate that a Syriza government will bring real gains for them—and not just economically.

The people who were outside parliament expect to get their jobs back, and that will be the first confrontation with a new government.

The courts still haven’t set a date for the trial of the Nazi Golden Dawn and a Syriza government would have to deal with this too. 

Anti-racists have been campaigning to overturn Samaras’ attacks on migrants’ children, demanding that anyone schooled in Greece should get the right to citizenship.

And the biggest recent demonstrations have been on the issue of police violence and repression.

All this is why Syriza has the lead, and what shapes people’s expectation of it will be after the election. 

The anti-capitalist left coalition Antarsya has already begun campaigning. 

Our candidates are reaching out to workers and raising these questions. 

It’s about how we make sure that what we’ve been fighting for will actually materialise after the election.

 

 


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