Wednesday, 28 January 2015


SYRIZA's Alexis Tsipras: Samson between the pillars of the Greek state.

by Dimitrios Papageorgiou

The results of the Greek elections were not really a surprise to any Greek except those hopelessly in love with the previous government. Everyone knew that after five years of austerity, which has been harder on Greece than most wars, a lot of people gave up hope on any chance of a smooth transition to an era of stability, and felt the need to replace their government.

As I have stated in my Vdare article, SYRIZA was effectively pushed into its present position by the supposedly conservative New Democracy Party through the criminalisation of Golden Dawn which was the main opponent of SYRIZA in gathering the votes of those opposed to government policies. The disaffected – and there are many in Greece – were actually funneled by the establishment and the previous government to vote for SYRIZA, since that was the only option seriously opposed to the austerity measures.

Since GD was branded a “criminal organization” many of the voters automatically turned to SYRIZA as a means of opposing the austerity measures. For example, an unprecedented 12% of New Democracy’s voters moved over to SYRIZA. You cannot explain such a radical change of views easily. Of course, amongst those were many who were feeling insecure about their positions in the comfortable public sector and wanted to guard as many of their privileges as possible, an option that GD was not actually offering.

So, the result of the Greek elections was totally decided by the necessity of overthrowing the economical policies of austerity and public sector cuts. It was not a choice of ideologies. The main debate in Greece was about the economic crisis. SYRIZA has promised a lot of stuff to a lot of people. I would feel surprised if they managed to keep half their promises.

Alas SYRIZA comes with a full package of policies that range far beyond the "mere" economic concerns of normal Greeks. While the economy had been the only subject under discussion on the road to the ballot, the next day things already seemed to be taking on a different shape, with the new prime minister deciding to pay homage at a communist memorial before going to receive the keys to power. His main election slogan "First time left" has been taken seriously by a number of his associates with some of them openly making revanchist comments about the Greek civil war.

First stop, a Communist memorial.
In the festivities for SYRIZA's win one could only marvel at the number of gay pride flags right next to Che Guevara's pictures, an obvious reason for a smile on the face of anyone that knows Guevara's stance towards homos.

The liberal agenda of SYRIZA will also include reform of the position of the Orthodox Church in the Greek State, the advancement of laws suited to gays and other "special groups," and of course its pro-immigration stance is already clear, although none of this was in the minds of most of those voting for SYRIZA.

A party comprised of various far-left tendencies, ex-Maoists, Stalinists and anarchists, coexisting under the flag of attaining real power, will decide the fate of Greece in the coming years. Amongst those in the Greek Government are Mr. Voutsis, father of a condemned anarchist bank-robber, and Mr. Kotzias, who, during the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, wrote a book defending the communist regime in Poland. Mrs Christodolopoulou, who is now responsible for immigration, has already written that she is against guarding the borders and that every state has to have an open corridor for immigrants.

Golden Dawn survives, and waits for better days

GD remained the third party in Greece as it was in last year’s Euro elections, albeit losing some of its vote. It scored 6.3% of the vote, slightly down from its 6.9% in previous national elections and the 9.3% in last year's Euro elections. Considering the circumstances, this is still impressive because, from the point of view of the voters, the party's only value is as a declaration of intent or protest vote.

During the previous years the party has seen its members shot on the streets, its leadership jailed, and a massive campaign of defamation by every major media outlet. Additionally, they did not receive the state money that, by law, they are entitled to. The fact that the party still exists as the third party of Greek politics shows a strength that the system did not expect from this party. The political establishment had hoped that GD would not manage to get the third position so that they could start talking about its decline. This did not happen, but of course the party will face no different stance from the new government.

For its part Golden Dawn would love to see a coalition government between SYRIZA and New Democracy as that would make it possible for it to become the main force of opposition. Alas the system is not stupid and it has shown that it can learn from its mistakes. So when PASOK (the socialist party that ruled Greece for many years) crumbled under the weight of its coalition with New Democracy, we saw a number of small parties forming up. Some of them are already dead like DIMAR, a small centre-left party that served its purpose. The Independent Greeks, a supposedly centre-right party that has just entered a coalition with SYRIZA will probably be headed towards a similar fate. There are at least two or three more parties with positions vague enough to be able to work with any of the major parties.

So, one can only say that while GD managed to survive, the most it can do is wait for a fatal error by the New Democracy party, which will now enjoy some of the benefits of being in opposition, such as being able to adopt more populist rhetoric. It will, of course, face internal trouble over the next months, but its result was high enough to guarantee that it will not go into a free fall like PASOK did, whose voters abandoned it in favour of SYRIZA. In the best case it will be a "battle of the trenches" between ND and GD.

One can say that the decision to make Greece a country run by leftists was taken in large part in the corridors of the New Democracy party, which obviously preferred it, hoping that a "normal" left-right cycle of staying in power would occur between them and SYRIZA, rather than having a stronger GD. One can only wonder how much this decision was influenced by Brussels, who clearly had something to say about everything that the ruling party was deciding. This "invisible" hand on the tiller was so clear that a large number of Greeks protested that their country was run by emails from Brussels.

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