A wave of protests swept Greece last Sunday. The biggest was outside the Greek parliament in Athens’ Syntagma Square—and the shift in mood was clear.
The first protests after the elections were in support of the government. Ten days later, they were clearly more about urging Syriza not to back down.
The numbers of people and banners has grown, including from organised groups of workers.
The main slogans were against the European Union’s (EU) blackmail—but also telling the government “Don’t go back” and “Don’t pay the debt”.
There were other demonstrations last Wednesday. But first around 1,000 workers and supporters rallied outside state broadcaster ERT, which the last government shut down.
Syriza pledged to reopen it, but hasn’t given guarantees of how many jobs and channels will be restored. Workers want it all back, and under their control.
Sacked public sector workers set up a “centre for struggle” —a kiosk for leafleting and campaigning—in the centre of the northern Greek city Thessalonica.
The mayor tore it down, saying it was bad for tourism. But last week they rebuilt it saying, “We haven’t got our jobs back yet, so we’re not stopping the struggle”.
Teachers called a demonstration when the government tried to climb down from restoring their jobs and pay. But they called it off after Syriza pledged to keep its word.
And the dockers’ union has pledged to fight if the government backs off from stopping the privatisation of the ports.
This resistance is what offers a way forward. It can strengthen Greece’s negotiating position.
But Varoufakis has forced himself into a corner by saying he needs to compromise.
This is precisely the time for Greece to break with the euro. But by ruling it out Syriza is allowing the other side to play games.
EU rulers are bluffing when they say they could contain a Greek exit—none of them want their weak economies to absorb the shock. Every EU government is also under pressure from anger at austerity.
This is the Greek government’s strongest card and anti-austerity movements everywhere have a role to play.