the general election held on May 6, Greek voters dealt a massive blow to
the two parties of the establishment, which had between them held sway
since the overthrow of the fascist ‘Regime of the Colonels’ in 1974, and
which supported the austerity measures that were imposed on the country
by the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The conservative New Democracy (ND) party emerged with the highest
vote, 18.9 percent of the total, and was hence eligible under Greece’s
modified proportional representation system for 50 additional
parliamentary seats, for a total of 108. Although its share of the total
vote fell by a hefty 14.6 percentage points over the last general
election in 2009, because of the bonus it got 17 more seats.
The outgoing governing party, the centrist Pan-Hellenic Socialist
Movement (PASOK) was the biggest loser, getting a mere 13.2 percent of
the vote (a huge drop of 30.7 percentage points) and losing 119 seats
(inclusive of the 50-seat bonus) to end up with a mere 41.
The establishment’s losses were the gain of anti-austerity radicals.
The Coalition of the Radical left (SYRIZA), a grouping of ecologists,
feminists, socialists, communists, Eurocommunists, Maoists and
Trotskyists, received 16.8 percent of the popular vote, and 52 seats.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) marginally increased its vote to
8.5 percent and received 26 seats. The Democratic Left (DIMAR), an
alliance of Eurocommunists and social-democrats who split from SYRIZA
and PASOK, got 6.1 percent of the votes and 19 parliamentary seats.
Massive gains were also made by the anti-austerity radical right. The
conservative Independent Greeks, in alliance with the centrist splinter
from PASOK, the Pan-Hellenic Citizens’ Chariot (Armapoliton), gained
10.6 percent of the votes and 33 seats.
More sinisterly, the ultra-right, ultranationalist Golden Dawn party
received 7.0 percent of the votes and 21 seats. Golden Dawn declares
that it follows the policies of the pre-war fascist military dictator
Since, in order to form a government 151 seats are required in the
300-seat Greek Parliament, and since none of the leaders of the three
main parties were able to cobble together a coalition government, Greece
will have to face another general election.
The issue at this election was transparently the highly unpopular
austerity measures, which have impoverished ordinary Greeks. The
combined vote of the two establishment parties dropped to below one
third of the total, whereas anti-austerity parties (including those
below the 3 percent cut-off line for parliamentary representation)
increased their share of the vote to above 60 percent .
However, the question of austerity is merely part of a much more
fundamental concern: that of democracy. The subject at issue is whether
the Greeks are to be ruled by representatives elected by secret ballot,
or to be remote-controlled by faceless bureaucrats running financial
institutions over which voters have no say.
As Argentine political analyst Adrian Salbuchi told the Russian
autonomous ‘RT-TV’, Greece had a choice its sovereignty, it could
‘Either it keeps its sovereignty or it capitulates to the “Vulture
Troika” - the European Central Bank, European Commission and
International Monetary Fund - who work for the Bankers, not the People…
better to endure pain and hardship, and sort out the mess made by your
politicians in connivance with international bankers on your own,
wielding whatever shred of sovereignty you still have than allowing the
Banker Vultures sitting in Frankfurt, New York and London decide your
The unified European currency, the Euro has been dropping ever since
the results of the election were announced. Previously European leaders
such as the redoubtable conservative Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel
had been fully committed to defending the Euro and were in no mood to
make concessions regarding the austerity measures.
Now, however the opinion polls consistently predict that, after the
new general election due for June 17, the fiercely anti-austerity SYRIZA
will be the biggest party (and hence eligible for the 50 bonus seats)
and will probably form a coalition government, possibly with DIMAR and
the KKE. It seems highly unlikely that the austerity measures will
remain in place.
The danger for the Euro is that, unsupported by the EU and the IMF,
Greece may default on its loans. It is being urged to do so by many
economists, many of whom (like Salbuchi) point out that Argentina
defaulted and managed to bounce back. The ‘Argentine Option’ is being
discussed favourably, even by such journals as the USA’s ‘Business
Even The Economist magazine, the mouthpiece of Britain’s financial
class, commented that ‘There is no question that a Greek exit from the
euro would be convulsive and impose enormous costs on the Greek economy
and its people. But will those costs be any higher than if Greece stays
on its current path? That question is far from settled.’
Now even Chancellor Merkel is said to be softening her rigid stance
on the matter of austerity. The reason for this sea-change is the
realization that is dawning in the corridors of power that the
destruction by the economic recession of the social compact which held
modern capitalist societies together is making moot the continuation of
the status quo.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said last Wednesday on television that
‘austerity has failed across Europe’. This opinion seems to be shared by
many in Europe, who have seen their living standards suffer while those
of the rich have been maintained. The financial institutions which
caused the crisis, they feel have not been punished, but innocent
ordinary people have.
The New York Times reported a woman in the central Syntagma Square as
saying ‘We have nothing to lose. We have no fear’, indicating that this
was a fairly widespread sentiment. This is a new spirit which could
rejuvenate the ‘occupy’ movement which spread like wildfire across the
advanced countries last year. The people are ready to seize back their
democratic right to control their destinies.