News From Greece

[Unofficial report about the general strike and the popular demonstrations of this week; the official statement of KOE will be translated and published soon here]

The 48 hours general strike on 6 and 7 November 2012 was concluded with mass demonstrations all over Greece. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets and squares of big and smaller cities, chanting slogans against the IMF-EU-ECB troika and the “Memorandum 3”, and demanding the resignation of the tripartite illegitimate government.

In Athens alone, over 100.000 people gathered from 5:00 PM of 7 November in Syntagma Square, surrounding the Parliament for more than five hours, despite the heavy rain and the repetitive attempts of the “anti-riot” police to disperse them using scores of tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons (it is the first time after the fall of the dictatorship, back in 1974, that water cannons are used against a central demonstration in Greece).

During the demonstration, the 71 MPs of SYRIZA temporarily left the Parliament, provoking mass enthusiasm when they appeared outside the building behind a huge banner with the slogan “You are destroying the country! Leave now!” Then they marched as a bloc towards the people, chanting slogans; they crossed the police lines and joined the demonstrators on the Square in a pandemonium of applauses, slogans and acclamations.

Later in the evening, the “anti-riot” police did everything possible to “clean up” the Square before the time of the final vote. In total there were more than 100 arrests and at least 5 injured demonstrators. Inside the Parliament, after a completely anti-constitutional “fast-track process” that lasted for less than 24 hours, the pro-government MPs ratified Memorandum 3 as prescribed in 800 pages (!) without even having the “luxury” to read what exactly they were voting for (among other measures: additional cuts of 13,5 billion Euro in pensions, salaries and social services, plus a complete sell-out of the country’s infrastructure and natural ressources).

It is worth mentioning that the illegitimate government ignored the decisions of the Authorities responsible to declare whether a Law (in this case the Law that ratifies Memorandum 3) conforms or not to the Constitution. Indeed, this week ALL these Authorities (the Supreme Court of Audit, the Supreme Court of Civil and Penal Law and the Scientific Service of the Parliament) have declared a big part of Memorandum 3 as anti-constitutional! Moreover, in order to limit the danger even of partial dissent among the pro-government MPs, the ratification concerned the whole Memorandum 3 “en bloc”, with a Law composed by a unique article.

However, despite these tricks, the pro-government parliamentary bloc further shrinked: an additional score of 6 MPs of PASOK and 1 MP of the right wing “Nea Dimokratia” did not vote in favor of the ratification of Memorandum 3. From the MPs of the third government party (“Democratic Left”), who were under heavy pressure and felt the popular anger targeting them, 15 voted “Present”, and 2 of them voted “NO”. Thus, the initial pro-government majority (179 MPs out of a total of 300, thanks to the “bonus” of 40 seats offered to “Nea Dimokratia” by the antidemocratic electoral law) was reduced to only 153 “YES” during this crucial vote. This is another expression of the deep crisis that shreds apart the pro-troika bloc, and confirms the estimation that this government is trembling.

The leader of SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, declared in the Parliament: “We are witnessing the agony of a parliamentarian majority that falls apart. Very soon they will be a minority in the Parliament, as they already are a small minority among the people.” And, addressing the Prime Minister Samaras, he added: “What we heard from you today was the eulogy speech in front of the approaching funeral of a government which, for 4 months now, is doing exactly the opposite from what you promised to the people before the elections, and from what you announced on your programmatic statements when you became Prime Minister.” He concluded his speech saying: “Today, ladies and gentlemen, we live a parody of democracy in this House. But, outside the Parliament, we have thousands of people who, despite the tons of chemicals thrown against them, are once again here in order to defend democracy. We welcome this stand of our People. We are proud of our People’s courage. We know that the fighting spirit of our People has panicked you. But this fighting spirit is at the same time shaking us, and obliges us to remain adamant to the end. Until the Greek People impose their will and save the country!

INFO from GREECE (read below the statement of KOE)

Today, Tuesday 6 November, starts a new 48 hours general strike and a new round of popular mobilizations against the pro-troika government of Mr. Samaras, PM and leader of the right wing “Nea Dimokratia” party. Two days ago, Alexis Tsipras, addressing the Parliamentary Group of SYRIZA, called the people in a united non-violent revolt in order to overthrow the illegitimate government that sells-out the whole country, serving the interests of the IMF-EU-ECB troika and of the bankers. The three parties that support the actual government (Nea Dimokratia, PASOK and “Democratic Left”) have duped a part of the Greek people in the last elections advancing a program of “renegotiation” with the troika, which they never attempted. Instead, they have accepted without any “renegotiation” even new and more catastrophic measures imposed by the troika in the form of “Memorandum 3”.

The political crisis is deepening, penetrating even the three pro-troika parties, with some of their MPs already abandoning them and declaring that they will not support Memorandum 3. The international dimension of this crisis is revealed also by the contradictions now publicly expressed between the imperialist forces, with the USA and Germany quarreling about the “appropriate solution” for Greece. At the same time, the social catastrophe takes unprecedented dimensions, with the unemployment rate over 25% according to the official statistics (over 55% for the youth) and a quarter of the population trying to survive below the poverty line.

Press release of KOE about today’s general strike

Today hundreds of thousands of people participated massively and vigorously in the general strike and the mobilizations all over Greece, sending a clear message to the internal and external “troikas” that are attempting a final and fatal blow against our society and country.

The massive participation in the demonstrations in many cities shows that a new round of struggles is now opening. We are participating in a new round of action of the broad popular masses, which continue to seek political solutions and a way out of the crisis.

Despite the weaknesses and the hesitation after the last elections, despite the blackmail and the manipulations of the tripartite government, the people once more manifested its presence, reaffirming its role and its will.

As we are facing the ongoing catastrophe of our society and country, a coordinated political struggle to stop the new measures and oblige this government of subordination and sell-out to leave is necessary. These remain the goals and preconditions to completely overthrow this political system.

Today’s mobilizations, as well as the huge demonstrations in Madrid and Lisbon, prove that the peoples have the possibility to mark the events, that they can pave the way towards real change.

Stop the measures that bring misery to the people and destruction to the country!

Let’s overthrow the internal and external “troikas”!

Comment by the International Relations Department of KOE

August 6, 2012

In certain circles of the Left, on European and international level, are often and easily reproduced some erroneous opinions about the situation in our country, and more specifically about the impressive success of the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA) in the last two national elections. Those opinions originate, mostly, in statements and documents produced by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). We are of the opinion that these positions of KKE are suffering by extreme subjectivism, while they lack any essential self-criticism about the political line of KKE – which, by the way, was the main reason of its crushing electoral defeat on 17 June 2012, when it lost half of its electoral base. Thus, we would like to bring to the attention of certain circles that reproduce these positions (and feel free to even add on top their own insults and imaginative lies against SYRIZA) some basic truths about the Greek political reality…

Yesterday, Sunday 1 July, the 5th edition of Resistance Festival was successfully concluded with a debate under the theme “A country in transition – Struggling for a different Greece”. The leader of SYRIZA and head of its parliamentary group, Alexis Tsipras, and the other three panelists (Sofia Sakorafa, SYRIZA MP, Eftychis Bitsakis, philosophy professor, and Rudi Rinaldi, member of KOE’s Secretariat) discussed in front of more than 1.500 people under the coordination of the writer Loukas Axelos. The debate, also enriched by several interventions of other participants in the meeting, expressed the climate of creative reflection that prevails in society after the deep changes in the political scene and the possibilities open for the Left and SYRIZA.

The previous two days a series of other debates and seminars has been realized, confirming the particular political and internationalist aspect of the Resistance Festival [ the full program (and photos) can be retrieved in the festival’s website: http://www.resistancefestival.gr/ ]. The Organizing Committee expressed its gratitude to the dozens of volunteers, members and friends of KOE, who worked tirelessly under most difficult conditions, overcoming all the material and financial constraints and thus making possible the successful realization of the Resistance Festival for the fifth consecutive year.

The Organizing Committee is particularly grateful towards all the international delegations for their precious participation, which contributed decisively in the success of the event: from overseas (Argentina, Revolutionary Communist Youth / Reunion, JERF / USA, Kasama Project and Occupy Movement), from the inspiring movements of the Arab Spring (Egypt, Popular Socialist Alliance / Morocco, Democratic Road / Tunisia, Communist Workers Party), from Europe (Catalunya, Republican Left / France, Front of the Left / Germany, Youth Rebell / Netherlands, Rode Morgen / Portugal, Bloco of the Left / Scotland and Britain, Revolutionary Communist Group / Turkey & N. Kurdistan, several delegations, among them DCP, ESP, MKP, PF). On its part, KOE salutes a series of fraternal movements and parties from all over the world which finally were not able to send delegations, mainly because of the shameful refusal of EU's consular authorities to grant them a visa of entry in Greece; among them, the Nouveau Parti Communiste Haitien, the Rassemblement des Travailleurs Africains - Senegal, the New Socialist Movement (Georgia), etc.

Apart their participation in the festival’s events, the international delegations took part in other activities as well. Among them, the most important was a seminar of exchange of information and experiences about the situation in their respective countries (including an extended report from KOE about the developments in Greece, which was followed by a lively questions & answers session). Finally, we mention the appreciation of the public for the rich cultural and musical program, which has become a distinctive characteristic of this annual meeting of peoples and movements in struggle. We renew our appointment for the 6th Resistance Festival in summer 2013!

Statement of KOE

As we have already noted on a number of occasions, a crucial aspect of the recent political period in Greece is the radicalism and the new mass movement emerging among the people. In both elections, there was a significant people's movement that managed to terrorize "yesterday's rulers." The elections of 17 June were also a difficult battle under highly polarized conditions. On the one hand, popular power was mainly expressed in the form of the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA) itself. On the other hand, the right wing New Democracy represented a pro-Memorandum, pro-Troika axis with strong anti-left and far-right characteristics. The old dominant forces aimed to strike the people's movement, stop SYRIZA and curb the overall morale of the Greek people. All key international and European forces of capital rallied around these goals, along with the pro-austerity domestic forces.

In these circumstances, we must recall that SYRIZA earned only 4.6% of ballots cast and 315,000 votes in 2009. This jumped to 17% and 1,060,000 votes in May 2012, then 27% and 1,655,000 votes in June 2012. Such a result was inconceivable even a few months ago. It demonstrates a tremendous shift in the consciousness of Greek society. It reflects the steps taken by the popular movement within two years and shows a convergence of popular power with the Left. In other words, SYRIZA finally succeeded to articulate the intense search of broad masses for a way out of the crisis, as well as their rejection of the bankrupt political system.

The results of the two recent elections, which brought the impressive collapse of all the pro-Memoranda parties (PASOK, New Democracy, LAOS, Democratic Alliance) compared to their score in the 2009 elections, and the fact that most of the votes that they obtained was based on their pre-electoral promises for "renegotiation" of the agreements with the Troika, lead to one conclusion: The policy of the Memoranda and the regime imposed by the Troika are delegitimized in the conscience of the Greek people. And this fact constitutes the major problem of the once mighty bourgeois parties. Nobody can ignore this reality; nobody can govern pretending that this policy is "approved" by the Greek people.

* The following text is based on a “non paper” released by circles of KOE on Sunday 17 June 2012 at 21:00 hours, i.e. before the final results of the elections. The official statement will be translated into English soon.

Initial thoughts on the electoral outcome

We salute the big political current directed towards the Left, the big popular current seeking salvation for the country, ignoring the unprecedented anti-democratic pressure from the black net of domestic centers of political and economic power and of global imperialist institutions [1].

These elections, to a large degree, were centered on the morale and the fighting spirit of the Greek people. The Greek people recognize very well the right way forward for the country. It is for this reason that even the pro-austerity and pro-Troika forces were compelled to adopt a lukewarm anti-austerity rhetoric [in their electoral campaigns].

The geopolitical dimensions of the developments in Greece 

Article by Rudi Rinaldi (published in the weekly “Dromos”, issue Nr 117, 26 May 2012)

It is not only fears of the domino effect that might worry the various international centres and powerful countries. It is not simply a matter of economic turbulence or shocks that feeds world-wide interest. Our country has been at the epicentre of international rivalries and processes. It would therefore be a mistake to imagine that some autonomous process is driving the evolving situation, without considering the interference in terms of players' strategies, tactics, traps, rearrangements, new alliances, challenges and double games.

Objectively, the election result of May 6 has created a new environment. The failure of governance in Greece is a blow to the European political project under ‘Merkelism’. Greece is not Hungary (the geographic centre of Europe), but it is at the centre of the grid of the international system’s central contradictions. It is a meeting and coupling point of these contradictions. Controlling this situation is of particular importance for the manipulation of political developments. Greece is not just a guinea pig for policies that, after they have been tested on it, will be exported to other EU countries as well. It also has central importance as a site for the balancing of international relations. Thus, the role of governing in Greece is critical to the geostrategic plans made for both Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Popular force and political balances

The latest and new element (and perhaps unexpected by many) is the emergence of the ‘popular factor’ that, by selecting SYRIZA as its expression in the central political scene, has created a new situation and is forcing readjustments on all the already unstable scenarios. This being the case, it is useful to go behind the rhetoric to see what the real goals are. Does the U.S. want the strengthening of a ‘German’ Europe? What is the impact of the rearranged alliances (in the broader Middle East and south-eastern Mediterranean) on the policies of the United States, Russia, Israel and the European powers? To what extent are the "markets" (and their disproportionate effects) influenced by the strategic goals of various key players?

Subcategories

News and photos from the rebellion of December 2008 in Greece. Statements by the Communist Organization of Greece.

Other documents and news from our activity in Greece.

Our international news bulletin.