Socialist Worker

Europe’s rulers try to force Greece's left government into a climbdown

Issue No. 2441

Workers protest outside the Greek parliament in Athens

Workers protest outside the Greek parliament in Athens (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


The European Union’s (EU) rulers and the bosses are determined to make sure last month’s Greek election counts for nothing.

Greeks voted for radical left party Syriza because they’re sick of the “bailout” programme, which is making them pay for the bankers’ crisis.

But in negotiations on Monday of this week, the “eurogroup” of finance ministers tried to force Syriza to sign up to a bailout extension.

The world’s eyes have been on Greece’s new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis as he argues against austerity across the table from its very architects.

The German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble wants to make an example of Greece for anyone who dares to break with austerity.

His Spanish, Portuguese and Irish counter-parts all face elections this year, after years of pushing through austerity. 

They don’t want Syriza to show that there was always another way—and neither does Tory baron George Osborne.

Thousands joined protests in solidarity with Syriza in cities across Europe, including London and Edinburgh.

The biggest were in Greece itself, where workers are also raising their own demands and calling on the government not to back down.

Repayments

The current bailout agreement expires at the end of this month. Syriza will have £5 billion loan repayments due—and nothing to pay them with.

The European Central Bank (ECB) has threatened to pull emergency support for Greek banks unless there’s a new agreement for paying it. 

The rich are already pulling money out of the country. This could trigger a banking collapse.

Varoufakis wants a “bridging loan” as a transition to a post-bailout period. 

But the EU is trying to force Syriza into a total climbdown. It wants it to sign up to an extension to the current bailout—and drop its promised reforms. 

The EU says that Syriza mustn’t give sacked workers their jobs back as it’s too expensive. It says it mustn’t reverse privatisations as this would scare away investors.

Varoufakis has met this outrageous blackmail with offers of compromise.

He had already agreed to keep paying the debt, and on Monday he promised to put off fulfilling Syriza’s manifesto promises for months. 

Varoufakis wants to hold the eurozone together—but the “eurogroup” would rather see Greece leave than compromise. 

Syriza is right to reject the bailout. Workers shouldn’t have to suffer for the bankers’ crisis. 

But compromise won’t defeat the forces who are determined to make us all pay.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.