And now what to do?

For a united front in defense of the social, democratic and national rights of the Greek people.

By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
22 May 2023

Much can be written about the May 21 election result, the result of the convergence of deep “objective” trends (economic, social, demographic, geopolitical) and the policies of the leadership of SYRIZA-PS [Coalition of the Radical Left – Progressive Alliance] and the other political forces (“subjective factor”).

The election result of May 21 left Greece without an opposition, like a car without brakes.

This result is de facto, if not the approval, at least an absolution for the major scandals of the government, which can only lead to a moral decline of the country. Without dignity, no social or national formation can possibly defend itself. It is bound to disintegrate.

This result leaves the poorest sections of the population, people whose primary residence is threatened by auctions, or those who cannot turn to private health care, defenseless at the mercy of predators.

All this at a time when a new economic tsunami is probably heading towards us from abroad, and when we are being asked for crucial concessions of sovereignty in the Aegean.

What needs to be done

The leadership of SYRIZA-PS must – not for political or factional reasons but, above all, for national reasons, for the viability of the (Greek) social formation, for the country itself to regain some of its lost balance – call for the creation of a united front in the next elections and in the struggles that will inevitably follow for the defense of the Greek people and of the country.

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The responsibilities of this leadership are enormous and heavy and must be looked for, but after the next elections. A great democratic debate, without any exclusion whatsoever, must be initiated within the broader left and all the ‘anti-memorandum’ (MoU for the application of bail-out programs), to find what is to blame, why we got here, etc. Afterwards.

The priority goes now to the electoral battle in order to prevent as much as possible the parliamentary omnipotence of Mr Mitsotakis’ Right, to counterbalance an omnipotence that would be dangerous. After all, the election result is not so much a triumph of the Right, who has only gained 100,000 votes compared to the previous elections ; it is the collapse of the Left, with Syriza losing 600,000 voters, while a huge percentage of the electorate seems to have permanently withdrawn from the electoral conflict.

At the same time a front of struggle must be organised at the base, against the auctions, in hospitals, by preparing for the creation of a wide network of consumer cooperatives, etc.

The battle must be fought around a small number of clear axes, which could be, for example, the ban on auctions of main residences, the indexation of the minimum wage, the renationalisation of the public electricity company and the railways, the halting of further privatisations, for immediate measures to support the NHS. The list is indicative to give an idea of what I mean. What is important is that the measures proposed be clear and coherent.

It is crucial for the scope of such a gesture that the programme should include a complete and unequivocal rejection of any discussion of sovereignty issues in the Aegean islands, or the right to their defense. These issues, i.e. the withdrawal of (Turkish) territorial claims in the Aegean and of any objection to the right of Greece to defend its islands, must be publicly raised as conditions to Ankara before any discussion of the possibility to refer existing disputes to The Hague (International Court). The government should also be asked to state this clearly and publicly, at home and internationally.

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The platform for such cooperation should also include firm opposition to any further continuation and escalation of Greece’s involvement in the war in Ukraine by means of shipping more arms to Kiev. This position is endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the Greek people.

The positions that have been defended from time to time by part of the leadership of the left on national (foreign policy) issues and the issue of refugees and “open borders” have caused enormous confusion among the population and have divided the left-wing voters. Although the Right’s policies are in fact no different, it has managed to “blame” the Left for them. They should be left off the main political agenda. It would seem equally preferable if other difficult reforms, which society has not yet discussed and which are causing major conflicts, were left out of the political competition. For all things there is a time when they can be discussed maturely and seriously before they are accepted or rejected.

What matters now is to prevent a social and national catastrophe, to prevent the consolidation of an undemocratic regime, to save the country.

Normally, all the political forces of the rest of the left except SYRIZA and PASOK should agree with such a platform. Of course, judging by the words and the expression in the face of the leaders of PASOK and KKE (Communist Party of Greece), it would seem that all they are interested in is how to “defeat” SYRIZA, not what will happen to the country. They seem to have been overwhelmed by joy at the collapse of SYRIZA, even if this collapse does not lead to the rise of a “consistent” (according to their opinion) “left” or “social democracy”, but to the rise of an all-powerful neoliberal right, which has revised even its own national and democratic elements of policy.

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A front such as described here can also include the left beyond SYRIZA (Varoufakis, Konstantopoulou and smaller movements). But even if they do not want to participate, which they should if they are interested in the Greek people and not only in themselves, these last movements should at least unite to enter Parliament. This would also be a useful exercise in the necessary taming of egoisms.

If the leadership of SYRIZA-PS does not take such an initiative and if the other organizations of the left do not agree, they will be responsible for another, heavier betrayal against the Greek people.

Published in Greek

translated by Christos Marsellos