• Greek Elections: Climate of Extreme Political Polarization

  • By Nassos Eliopoulos | 25 May 12 | Posted under: Greece , Elections
  • It is evident that we are finding ourselves amidst a transitional period out of which a new point of equilibrium is to emerge following the intense political and social conflicts.

    What is at stake in the new elections is the political regulation of the crisis. The implementation, in other words, of the very same austerity programme that has been promoting, for over two years now, internal devaluation both in Greece and in Europe. The potential overthrow of this programme in one single country will bring about a new impetus for the labour movement and the left political organizations throughout Europe.

    Such an overthrow could well give an example of how a TINA political logic endorsing that the exit of the crisis can only take place at the expense of the rights of working people can be beaten. For two years now, the radical Left in Greece has been supporting the conviction that an alternative way exists. This is a way that places priority to the needs of society instead of the speculation of capital and the concomitant privileges that the latter is accustomed to. We can no longer live in a country where an employee with two children pays an income tax of 37.8% while an S.A. enterprise pays a 20% tax, scheduled to be further reduced to 15%.

    One thing is for certain: The coming elections will take place in a climate of extreme social and political polarization. The Coalition of the Radical Left has been, and still is, the target of a ferocious assault launched by nearly all the political forces as well as the media, which are organically related with large conglomerates involving mainly construction and shipping capital. One of the main goals of this assault was to rig the electoral result. The majority of the political forces attempted to implicate the Coalition of the Radical Left in formulating a coalition government with a mandate to renegotiate certain aspects of the Memorandum and the prospect to disentangle from it in two years’ time. However, this would clearly represent a manipulation of the electoral result, since the Coalition of the Radical Left was elected on the premise of immediately cancelling the Memorandum and its concomitant loan agreements as well as the austerity measures accompanying them and not on the premise of continuing the same policies with minor changes.

    A token of how dedicated PASOK and ND are to implementing the Memorandum’s austerity programme, is their direct refusal to freeze the austerity measures scheduled to be sanctioned in mid-June. The latter include new spending cuts amounting to 11.5 billion Euros coming from pensions, welfare benefits and shutdowns of schools and hospitals. To this we should add 15% cuts in wages and increases in the prices of electricity and public transportation. At the same time the banking system is reinforced with an additional 50 billion Euros (so far the banking system has received 150 billion Euros, while its private equity value is estimated to be about 4 billion), without any provision for public control of the banks that would provide the conditions for the implementation of social policy. Last but not least, there is an ongoing attack on labour relations, through the abolition of sectoral wage pacts. According to the data provided by the research institute of the Greek General Confederation of Workers, until the end of this year eight out of ten private employees will be employed on private labour contracts which will result in further decreases of wages ranging from 20% to 48%.

    The electoral battle ahead of us has a historic significance not only for the Greek Left, but for the working people of Europe in their entirety. The Coalition of the Radical Left holds firm its ground in the battle against neoliberal barbarism and continues to fight, despite all difficulties, for a comprehensive and united Left ready to take power and bring to a halt the catastrophic course taken in Greece and Europe.


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