New Democracy (Tory) leader Antonis Samaras is intensifying his attempts to create a centre-right front against Alexis Tsipras and the prospect of a government of the left in Greece.
He wants to get ND into government by exploiting the bonus of the 50 seats that is given to the top party. According to all polls, the election on 17 June will be tough for ND, with a close contest for the lead between the Radical Left and ND.
On 21 May a merger was announced between ND and Dora Bakoyannis’s ultra neo-liberal party Democratic Alliance.
Bakoyannis, whose party failed to enter the parliament in the 6 May elections because it was below the 3% threshold, will be placed in first position on the ND ballot list, which will guarantee her election. Other members of her party will be placed in electable positions.
Just last November Bakoyannis said: “ND has adopted an ultra-right, ultra-nationalistic, populistic orientation that is not compatible with the European context. ND has adopted national socialist opinions. ND exploits the genuine patriotism of people and diverts it in anti-European nationalistic parochial directions”.
The ideological basis of the common electoral platform of ND and Bakoyannis is ultra neo-liberalism, with emphasis on reducing the “wasteful” state. In her election platform for May, Bakoyannis promised to outdo the Papademos government’s planned 150,000 public sector redundancies. She wants the privatisation programme speeded up, and labour laws and workers’ rights dismantled.
Samaras states that the common aim is to rescue Greece from the crisis and secure Greece’s position in the eurozone. According to him, Syriza is going to lead Greece out of the euro and into a bigger crisis.
Both Bakoyannis and Samaras accuse Tsipras and Syriza of misleading the Greek people, using populist language, and exploiting people’s anger to lead Greece out of the EU and into bankruptcy, isolation, and chaos.
Georgios Karatzaferis, of what was previously the main far-right party, Laos, has for his own opportunistic political reasons declined a call from Samaras to join forces, but already three ex-MPs from Laos are expected to announce to join the ND lists : Plevris, Velopoulos and Kiltidis.
This two-sided expansion of ND exposes the fuzzy borders between dogmatic “small-state” neo liberalism and the xenophobia, nationalism and anti-Semitism of Laos.
Laos has repeatedly called for military dictatorship. Its founding statement proposed that political decisions be made by a council including military officers and Church officials. Athanasios Plevris, an ex-Laos MP who will now be a candidate on the ND list, is the son of the Laos ideologist Kostas Pleveris, who published a book Jews—The Whole Truth, in which he praised Adolf Hitler, and called for the extermination of the Jews, depicted Jews as sub-humans, and described himself as a “Nazi, fascist, racist, anti-democrat, anti-Semite”.
Makis Boridis, another ex-Laos MP and current ND MP, was before joining Laos the youth secretary of EPEN, a party that was created from inside prison by the military dictator of Greece from the 1967 junta Georgios Papadopoulos. As a student, Makis Boridis participated in violent attacks against anarchists. There are pictures of him holding hammers alongside his fascist gang, and posing alongside French fascist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Two other ultra neo-liberal parties which failed on 6 May to cross the 3% threshhold to get MPs are expected to announce a common list for 17 June: Action (Drasi), led by Stefanos Manos, and “Recreate Greece”, led by Thanos Tzimeros. If the new list wins MPs on 17 June, it will provide indispensable help for ND.
On 6 May elections the three hard-core neo-liberal parties got 6.5% between them..
That indicates a sizeable presence in Greek society, for the first time, of a power that clearly and comprehensively advocates the destruction of all social protection, welfare provision, and labour legislation in order to entrepreneurship and promote growth (over the corpses of the workers and youth: but that’s a detail that does not seem to be particularly important to the neo-liberals).
Layoffs for four hundred thousand public sector workers, says Stefanos Manos. Fund education with vouchers, says Bayokannis. Ban demonstrations in the streets and parties suspected of wishing to overthrow the regime, says Tzimeros.
In this crisis the ultra neo-liberals converge with the populistic nationalistic ultra-right in their attempts to crush the working class and encourage global capital to invest in a Greece which has Bulgarian wages of €200 and €300 per month and German prices.
These developments make it even more urgent issue to rally the Left coalition to overturn the cuts and pave the way for a government of the Radical Left.
The whole left should register the left turn by workers and the poor to Syriza, and refuse to participate in the witch-hunt against Syriza launched by the bourgeois parties (assisted by the Stalinist KKE).
At the same time, we should not cease to criticise Syriza for its reformist policies and its defensive stance towards the eurozone blackmail.
We do not want to return to the drachma, and we are not going to actively campaign for an exit from the euro within the context of capitalism. Our slogan should be clear: No sacrifice for the euro. We refuse to sacrifice the majority of the Greek population to rescue the euro and the Greek bondholders’ interests.
The dilemma drachma or euro has been built up as a blackmailing slogan. Behind the call to “stay with the euro” is hidden a demand to accept the EU/ ECB/ IMF memorandum policies.
A government of the Left should immediately reverse the austerity packages already voted through, independent of whether if that “safeguards” Greece’s position in the euro or “increases” the chances of our exit from the Euro.
It is also the duty of the revolutionary left to warn about the dangers of a “popular front” left government of the Allende type.
We should not remain blind to the popular hopes invested to a government of the Left, but we stress that a real government of the Left should be a workers’ government, based on the organs of workers’ power (workers’ committees, popular assemblies, workers’ defence squads etc.)
Defence minister welcomes Nazis
On Thursday 17 May, all the media interest was directed towards the entry into the parliament for the first time of elected MPs from the openly racist and Neo-Nazi gang of Golden Dawn.
Cameras captured the Nazi symbol on a ring worn by the wife of Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos. The Golden Dawn MPs refused to stand up when Muslim MPs swore in the Koran.
KKE secretary Aleka Papariga turned aside to avoid facing the Golden Dawn MPs, and ex-leftist (now Pasok) MP Mimis Androulakis refused to participate in the inauguration of the government in protest at the Golden Dawn’s entry into parliament.
But Frangos Frangoulis, the new caretaker Minister of Defence, greeted Nikos Michaloliakos with a warm handshake.
Shortly before Pasok leader George Papandreou resigned in late 2011, he and then defence minister Panos Beglitis sacked the entire General Staff of the armed forces, leading to widespread suspicions that they were worried about a coup. Frangos Frangoulis was among those sacked in that clear-out.
Golden Dawn has praised Frangoulis over the arrival of 400 Abrams tanks from USA which, according to Golden Dawn, will make Greece the top armoured force in Europe.
Golden Dawn demands: “Increase the power given to the military forces”. “Massively increase defence spending”. “Liberate the North of Epirus [i.e. southern Albania] and unify it with mother Greece”. “Liberate occupied Cyprus”.
The newspaper VIMA (11 May) estimates that one in two police officers voted Golden Dawn.
Pasok Prime Minister George Papandreou mobilised the army to suppress strikes against cuts. In August 2010, soldiers broke the strike by truckers against the deregulation of their profession. In October 2011, the government placed striking refuse workers under military discipline and forced them back to work. On 4 February 2011, Athens News Agency reported that the army’s 71st Airborne Brigade had staged a mock battle with anti-austerity protesters.
In May 2011, a CIA report declared that a coup in Greece was a possibility.
This should be viewed in the context of the €8 billion of annual military spending that has not been cut in the last two years’ vicious attacks.
An exit of Greece from the euro (whether it is a forced exit, or a soft negotiated exit) would unavoidably lead to a reduction in military spending. Unless there is a workers’ government, able and willing to organise workers’ control to safeguard livelihoods, chaos and uncontrollable anger will prevail. The call for a military man or a colonel to govern the country with an iron fist may gain ground.
It is of paramount importance that the main forces of the left (Syriza, KKE, Antarsya) form a united front to confront the fascist threat.
KKE has only recently started to recognise the danger of Golden Dawn and open a front against them, at least in its newspaper. The political consequences and the conclusions about direct action are yet to be drawn by KKE.
It is true that a robust and combative working class movement that leads the struggle against the austerity measurements, the poverty and the unemployment enforces and strengthens the unity of the working class against racist prejudices and it has the potential to defeat stop the growing of the fascists. But it is a mistake when some sections of the left to underestimate the necessity to build up a specific political front to fight against the fascist and racist threat.
The need for workers’ and popular committees or councils to form workers’ defence squads and workers’ militias is urgent to fight capitalist sabotage, the fascist gangs, and the threat of a military coup.
The key is the self-organisation of the masses. This should be linked with the revitalisation and creation of neighbourhood communities of solidarity, social kitchens, and community exchange of goods and services, as counterposed to the fascist thugs’ persecution of immigrants and “other undesirables”.