Elections in Greece: vote for the parties of the Left!

This article was written by comrade Andreas Payiatsos, at the request from comrades of Internationalist Workers Left (Διεθνιστική Εργατική Αριστερά- ΔΕΑ). It was published in DEA’s newspaper and website (April 6) as part of a dialogue between organisations of the Left who have a similar approach to the May 21 elections in Greece. 

After more than a decade of crisis, instability and attacks, after the pandemic and the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the world economy finds itself again on the brink of a new crisis.

Banks are collapsing, many small and medium-sized enterprises are bound to close, millions of people are faced with the spectrum of unemployment, countries may go bankrupt and get trapped in the straightjacket of the IMF, horror and hunger in the neocolonial countries will increase, global competition and the arms race will intensify, the environment is being destroyed beyond any imagination. Global capitalism is once again showing its repulsive face. 

On the other hand, resistance is growing: France, Britain, Israel, Germany, etc., are just examples of the path on which workers’ movements and peoples will enter in the upcoming period in other countries also. 

In these circumstances, mass Left forces that do not sell out or compromise are unfortunately missing, on an international level. In other words, the Left which is able to fight consistently and to suggest specific struggles for everyday issues, alongside the struggle for the overthrow of the system and for an alternative society, is absent. We are talking about a mass socialist Left force, in the true sense of the term, based on workers’ democracy. 

In the forthcoming elections in Greece, the popular masses and the working class are faced with a big dilemma. A hated, cynical and ruthless government has been in office for the past four years. This government is indeed a gang of committed neoliberals and extreme right-wingers, determined to demolish anything that is still left standing and to sacrifice everything to serve the needs of big capital.

Significant sections of the population are faced with the blackmailing dilemma: voting for SYRIZA in order to get rid of New Democracy. The problem is that SYRIZA has by now become a party of the system! Only eight years ago, SYRIZA stabbed the Greek people in the back, after the historic “no” vote in the July 2015 referendum. They betrayed the people and broke their promises, while at the same time they ridiculed the ideas of the Left. They disappointed people of the Left and the movements internationally. As they surrendered to the demands of the Greek and European ruling classes, SYRIZA created the conditions for New Democracy to return to government. It is most certain that they will repeat the same process again, in case they manage to form a so-called “progressive government”, as they claim. 

Movements have gradually regrown in the last period in Greece. We can only name a few examples of struggles, like the one of the delivery platform “E-Food” workers, youth struggles against repression and university police corps, struggles of the artists and the students in art schools, militant mobilisations against rapes and femicides. The general strike imposed from below on March 8, against the crime of the train head-on crash at Tempi was reminiscent of the big movements of 2010-13.  

Militants of the Left bear the responsibility of trying to give a perspective to the current movements and the ones to come. Politically, this means that the Left should be reinforced in the coming elections. The rise of the Left is able to act as a catalyst for movements to rise, while rising movements are important for strengthening the Left. 

At the same time, however, we need to acknowledge that the landscape of the Left is unfortunately disappointing. 

The Greek Communist party (KKE), the main party of the Left, is not opting for a united front strategy towards the rest of the Left and the movement. During the last big mobilisations around the crime at Tempi, the Communist Party refused to put forward the demand for a re-nationalisation of the railway company (OSE); this demand has been however endorsed by the majority of society. It seemed like KKE did not care whether transport, electricity, water and similar utilities are in the hands of private speculators or those of the public sector. On the other hand, DiEM 25, Yanis Varoufakis’ party, has recently moved to the left; this is important and a very positive step. Yet, this party has not been very convincing about its character and prospects. Its discourse remains obscure and even incomprehensible to the grassroots. Its composition and its positions do not represent a guarantee about its stance in case it is pressured to participate in a so-called “progressive government”, eventually comprised by SYRIZA collaborating with PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement). Finally, the anticapitalist coalition ANTARSYA remains stuck on very low percentages. In our view, this is due to its own shortcomings and mistakes: its Achilles’ heel is the fact that they are still refusing to work together with other organisations and parties of the Left, which are not in full agreement with their maximum programme. 

Throughout the history of the revolutionary movement, the United Front tactic, i.e. cooperating with other forces of the mass movement regardless of political or even ideological disagreement, has been imperative, despite any changes in objective conditions. No organisation of the anticapitalist left will be able to advance and become massive, unless it adopts the United Front tactic. The exact form of a United Front may of course vary from one era to another; yet, its essential content remains intact under any circumstances: it is a cooperation on the basis of specific issues between revolutionary Marxists and the reformist Left. 

In conclusion, today there is no organisation of the Left, in our view, able to provide a way out and a perspective for the Left to overcome the crisis it is going through. Therefore, Xekinima, for the upcoming elections proposes a vote for the Left forces, making no distinction among the main parties, KKE, DiEM 25 or ANTARSYA.

It is worth noting that a significant number of organisations of the anticapitalist Left are conscious of the dead-end in which the Left finds itself. These forces call for a vote for the Left in general without choosing a specific party. 

Nevertheless, we need to consider our path beyond elections, looking towards the future. A good starting point is the understanding that capitalism demonstrably and objectively poses the dilemma “socialism or barbarism”. At the same time, taking into consideration the movements developing internationally, as well as in Greece, we need to focus on how to build those forces that will consistently fight to build a mass Left anticapitalist force which is a necessity for society. 

The future lies in the forces of the anticapitalist Left. In order to fulfill their role, these forces need to overcome their “childhood diseases”. We believe that we need to fight for the creation of a common political (federal) formation, on the basis of a transitional programme aiming at overthrowing this system, with mutual respect and a firm commitment to the tactics of the United Front.

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