Greece’s coalition government, led by the radical left party Syriza, has collapsed because it capitulated to bosses’ pressure to sign a new bailout agreement. This forced Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras to call a new election.
He is trying to present this as a democratic initiative. In reality, Tsipras is trying to hide the fact that his government has collapsed because people oppose the measures it’s pushing through.
Syriza was elected in January promising to end austerity. It has broken its main pledge—and this led to a revolt against the government by some of its own MPs.
There is also widespread opposition to the bailout agreement among workers. In the referendum on an austerity deal in July, 60 percent voted no and the backbone of that was the working class. Some 80 percent of working class people voted no. So every Syriza MP faced a very difficult situation with their constituents.
The crisis led to 25 Syriza MPs breaking away and forming a new party, Popular Unity (PU). It is now the third largest party in parliament.
This is a positive development. It is a clear breakaway to the left by people who refuse to vote for the bailout agreement and austerity. It confirms that pressure on the government comes from the left.
And it reinforces the confidence of working people to fight austerity.
Antarsya, the anti-capitalist coalition, sent out an invitation to all left groups including PU. It said we should cooperate in fighting austerity and outlined a programme on how this could be done.
The main points of that are cancelling the debt, breaking with the European Union (EU) and nationalising the banks under workers’ control. We are waiting for responses.
PU is preparing a draft statement to form the political basis of the new party. It is keeping a distance from the anti-capitalist programme.
PU has broken from Syriza but has not broken completely from the logic of Syriza. For instance, leading members say breaking with austerity means a confrontation with the Eurozone but not breaking with the EU.
So that’s an obvious sticking point. Leading PU members also tend to see a break with the eurozone in national terms, not class terms. And they think we can rely on parliament to impose a programme against austerity, instead of looking to workers’ action.
PU should take its split from Syriza to its logical conclusion and break with Syriza’s strategy. Then there could be a joint election campaign with Antarsya. But if not, we can still have united actions in opposing austerity.
Going into the election, the government will try to avoid confrontation with groups of workers. And the programme for privatisations will be implemented after the election.
So the campaign against privatisation of ports will continue but won’t come to a climax until after.
The election will also affect other struggles, such as the strike campaign over understaffing in hospitals.
The date of the election is expected to be declared on Friday of this week. The most likely date is 20 September, which means three weeks of campaigning.
Antarsya will hold a national meeting this Sunday. If PU responds positively to our proposal we can have a joint election campaign. If not, Antarsya will run its own campaign.
In Greece parties need to get 3 percent to elect MPs. We want to clear this hurdle so that Antarsya can enter parliament.
Syriza will be the leading party after the election. But it’s doubtful whether it will get an overall majority, so it could have to seek coalition with one of the parties to the right.
We are likely to end up with a more right wing government. But class polarisation is strong. So we are also likely to see a stronger left wing opposition in the next parliament with PU, the Communist Party and, with any luck, Antarsya.
This is what we are fighting for.