Greece’s election: end of a chapter

Submitted by AWL on 17 July, 2019 - 7:43 Author: Theodora Polenta
new democracy

The 7 July election in Greece confirmed the trends that emerged in the Euro elections:

• a comfortable ND (New Democracy, equivalent of the Tories) dominance that revolved around engaging the centre right and alt right voters

• a lack of momentum from Syriza (the leftish party that has governed since 2015), which paid the price of its capitulation and transformation into a pro-memoranda, pro-austerity party

• the weakness of the anti-capitalist Left to persuade and inspire

• the continuing fall of the Golden Dawn, leading them out of Parliament for the first time since 2012.

Abstention was at a historically high 45%. We are entering a new period in which a two-party system similar to the old one between ND and Pasok seems to be there, but without the depth or the stability of the old .

New Democracy got 39.8% and 2.2 million votes. It regained the number of votes it received in 2009, but remains far from its number of 2007 (three million). ND did not collect a large number of votes from those who voted Syriza in the 2015 elections. The electoral percentage of ND was largely due to the mobilisation of the votes of centre-right and the collapse of alt-right formations such as Anel, who did not participate in the election. There was a swing from loose Golden Dawn voters to ND.

Due to fears about ND leader Mitsotakis’s tough neo-liberal agenda, Syriza kept 31.5% of the vote. Statements from Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras show him recognising no structural error in their politics. Instead he wants a “transformation of Syriza into a great democratic party” (that is, a party whose sole aim is to take power).

The most positive development in the election was the non-entry of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi gang into parliament.

That development was due to a number of factors, but one was the constant mobilisation of the anti-fascist movement exposing the criminal Nazi gangs, and the ongoing trial of the Golden Dawn leadership. There must be no illusions that fascism has died in the polls.

Aside from the relatively good result from MERA25, a new party set up by former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis which got 3.44% (194,149 votes), the left did badly.

KKE (the Greek Communist Party) lost votes slightly, staying around 5.3% despite an active election campaign and the erosion of Syriza.

LAE (Popular Unity, a party set up in August 2015 by former Syriza Leftists) continued on a course to annihilation, receiving 16,000 votes, just 10% of its score in September 2015, and half of what it got in the European elections in June 2019.

Antarsya (a left coalition including SEK, linked to the SWP in Britain) got 0.4% (23,000 votes), half what it got in September 2015 and less than its 36,000 in this year’s European elections. The remaining left-wing lists took less than 0.1%.

Instead of the Leftist leaders to reflect on this electoral defeat, it seems they are trying to blame it all on a shift to the right of the electorate.

MERA25 convinced a part of society with its positions where the left could not. Yet it is only a regroupment of former left-wingers with neo-liberal pro-Europeans and others on a mixed-economy euro Keynesian programme against austerity.

LAE had already eliminated all references to Marxism and the working class, transforming it into a petty-bourgeois party with nationalist leanings. Its degeneration comes from a refusal to break with Stalinism, its traditions and practices.

LAE offered a “drachma road to socialism”, a pseudo-technocratic focus on the benevolent development of the productive forces, and triangulation to the alt right.

It had carried articles describing the movements supporting Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen as anti-systemic, anti globalisation forces). It had taken over the alt-right nationalistic narrative on Macedonia (against the Syriza “traitors” who negotiated the Prespes agreement to recognise “North Macedonia”). It had adopted chauvinistic nation-centric positions on issues such as Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus question.

Despite the militancy of Antarsya activists in social struggles and some good results in municipal and regional elections, its score revealed a strategic deadlock. Its programmatic and political inadequacies, its limited social composition, and the contradictory choices of its components created confusion for its physiognomy and its political orientation.

Maybe, I think sometimes, the only way to learn to fly is when all of our roads are blocked, when their fences are even taller, and their labyrinths have no way out. When the dim light is diminished, then, maybe then, the need for escape and resistance grows. When our legs have no roads to traverse, then maybe we will grow wings in our backs.

Those who dream know deep inside that sooner or later our tomorrow will arrive... Part of the revolutionary communist left...

It is high time to open an in-depth discussion in the subversive left, to discuss the mistakes, and put forward a transitional program with subversive positions which have a direct connection with the current phase of the movement, and to create a left front that can give a way forward to the popular strata.

In the coming period, attacks on workers’ and people’s rights will intensify, especially as a threatening new international recession looms.

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