SYRIZA (the coalition of the left) party crashed to a humiliating defeat at the hands of the right-wing New Democracy (ND) party in the Greek general election on Sunday, receiving only 31.6% of votes while ND won an outright majority in the Vouli (parliament) with 39.7%.
This was a massive defeat for the ‘left’ reformist Syriza – not for the Greek workers and youth who have fought and are fighting today against the most savage austerity imposed on them by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the EU.
For the past four years this austerity regime has been implemented by the ‘left’ Syriza government of prime minister Alexis Tsipras, and on Sunday the working class and youth expressed their hatred for this betrayal by voting with their feet and abstaining in vast numbers.
42% of voters refused to vote, the highest number of abstentions since the overthrow in 1974 of the military Junta that then ruled Greece.
Syriza was voted into power on the promise that they would end all the austerity imposed by the Troika (the European Commission, the ECB and the EU) that had been faithfully implemented by the previous social-democratic PASOK government.
But Tsipras and his party were clear that they were committed to Greece remaining in the EU and the Eurozone. Austerity would be ended through negotiations with the EU, Tsipras claimed, and it was on the back of this solemn pledge that Syriza came to power.
It soon became clear however, that the EU and central bankers were not interested in ending austerity – only in forcing the working class to pay back, with interest, all the bail-out money and ‘loans’ made to Greek capitalism by the EU banks.
The entire Greek economy, the whole of the state’s income from taxes and other sources, was placed under the control of the EU-appointed Independent Authority – completely outside any control by the elected government.
Of all the 321 billion euros of bail-out money, supposedly given to Greece to bolster its economy, 80% was directly handed over to German and French banks.
The EU didn’t bail out Greece – it was the Greek workers who bailed out the banks after the banking crash of 2008, and it was the Syriza government that implemented every single one of the EU’s diktats.
In July 2015, Tsipras called a national referendum on the austerity demands and, to his horror, 62% voted against bowing down to the EU.
Despite this, Tsipras went ahead and signed a new austerity programme with the Troika, which continued the slashing of wages and pensions, the imposition of very high taxes and huge rises in household bills, the sell-off of state properties and public companies, the privatisation of all sea-ports and airports, along with colossal cuts in health, education and social care. He sold out the Greek workers to save the EU.
In June 2018 he signed yet another Accord with the EU which chains Greece to direct Brussels rule.
Under this Accord, every year to 2060 over 10% of Greece’s GDP will be paid to EU lenders, paying back the 220bn euros ‘bail-out’.
Far from being defeated in this election, Greek workers are fighting. In the run-up to the election a series of strikes took place in the banking, industrial and service sectors despite the fact that trade union leaders and ‘left’ political parties have absolutely refused to organise a general strike against the Accord and for action to bring down the Tsipras government.
The Greek general election and the betrayals of the left reformist Syriza party hold vital lessons for the working class in Britain and throughout Europe.
With Labour Party ‘lefts’ like John McDonnell openly calling for the referendum vote to be overturned and the working class to remain tied to the bankers and bosses of Europe, they are following the same reformist path as Tsipras and Syriza.
The treacherous betrayal of the Greek working class proves conclusively that there can be no negotiated settlement with the EU, it must be smashed and replaced with the United Socialist States of Europe.
This makes imperative the building of revolutionary sections of the Fourth International in every country to lead the struggle against reformism and for the victory of the socialist revolution.