The new government faces serious opposition to its austerity plans, writes Panos Garganas in Athens
Greece’s parliamentary election results will not resolve the political and economic crisis that is tearing through the country.
The conservative New Democracy party managed to squeeze into first place by a tight margin, overtaking the radical left Syriza by a mere 170,000 votes. But it will not be able to form a government on its own.
During the election New Democracy’s leader Antonis Samaras promised he would “renegotiate” the bailout agreement with the European Union (EU) and secure a “softening” of austerity.
He repeatedly stated that only “responsible” and “experienced” parties could do that, and not the “demagogues” of the far left. And yet in his victory speech this was the first election promise that he dropped.
Samaras’s real agenda is a new wave of privatisations coupled with a tougher stance against strikes and demonstrations.
But his government will be weaker than its immediate predecessors—which found they could not pass austerity measures because of working class resistance.
Sparks will fly in Greece in the coming months. Any attempt to privatise the electricity or water supply will involve confrontation with some of the best organised sections of the Greek working class.
Syriza received 26.9 percent of the vote, up from 16.8 percent in May. The Communists and other left parties opposed to austerity polled 4.8 percent, down from 9.7 percent.
But the total left anti-austerity vote has risen to just under a third of the electorate. In the working class constituencies around Athens and Piraeus this figure rises as high as 43 percent.
This powerful radicalisation to the left is the result of a wave of resistance including 17 general strikes in two years and mass occupations in squares and workplaces.
It comes despite a massive blackmail campaign orchestrated by EU leaders designed to scare the Greek people into accepting austerity.
Angela Merkel of Germany, François Hollande of France and even US president Barack Obama made statements warning that Greeks must accept more austerity in return for the EU bailout.
We were told that voting for the left against the bailout deal would mean expulsion from the eurozone and being plunged into an even deeper economic catastrophe.
But in reality the economic crisis is still getting worse across Europe. Spain is now caught in a banking crisis. The “contagion” is threatening to spread to Italy and further. Under these circumstance there is no chance that the EU deal will offer any respite to Greece.
Samaras and the EU leaders have every reason to be worried. A marginal election victory for their side will not be enough to stop workers fighting back in Greece.
Antarsya, the anti‑capitalist left coalition, saw its vote squeezed back to its 2009 level of 0.3 percent. Many militant workers voted for Syriza to keep New Democracy out.
Now the Syriza leadership is under heavy pressure from the ruling class to be “responsible” and “loyal” in opposition.
On election night almost every TV commentator advised Syriza MPs to distance themselves from movements on the ground.
Many leading figures in Syriza have been adapting to this pressure during the election campaign.
But we are confident that the rank and file are way to the left of these leaders.
Revolutionaries have to relate to this mood and help the fightback unfold. That is what we in Antarsya will be trying to do over the coming weeks.
Golden Dawn, Greece’s main Nazi organisation, held on to its share of the vote. It was helped by openly racist campaigning by New Democracy.
The conservatives put forward an agenda that tailed the Nazis—mass expulsions of “illegal” immigrants, talk of “reoccupying” the cities.
The only difference was that New Democracy promised to do this “lawfully” through the police force, as opposed to Golden Dawn’s vigilante approach.