By Panos Garganas · 9 May 2012
The results of the Greek general election have exploded in the face of the ruling class. The parties that had supported the “technocratic” coalition government, headed by former banker Lucas Papademos, suffered a crushing defeat.
In 2009 these parties controlled 266 of the 300 seats in the Greek parliament. Now they are down to 149 seats between them.
And even this figure is misleading, as it includes 50 seats given as a “bonus” by the electoral system to the party with the largest share of the vote.
Pasok, the Labour-type party, won less than a third of its 2009 result with 13 percent. The conservative New Democracy (ND) is down from 33.5 percent to 19 percent.
The swing to the left was huge. The vote for left parties reached 2,115,000—over 33 percent of the total.
In 1958 the United Democratic Left (EDA) polled 25 percent which unleashed a massive wave of struggle. It took a military coup in 1967 to crush it. This time the movement is stronger and the outcome can be different.
This is not some “superficial” electoral radicalisation. It follows a series of struggles stretching back to 2008. In December of that year there was a youth uprising in Athens after police shot dead a 15 year old school student. In 2010 and 2011 we had 17 general strikes in Greece against attempts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU) to impose austerity.
Activists at the heart of the electoral swing to the left are fighters experienced in strikes, occupations and strong demonstrations confronting police violence.
Both Pasok and ND now hope to blackmail voters for their support. They claimed that a left government will lead Greece into an economic wilderness.
Early opinion polls showed that the main beneficiary of the leftward swing was the most moderate—the Democratic Left.
Instead of softening, however, support for the left hardened. In the end Syriza polled nearly 17 percent, the Communist Party (KKE) 8.5 percent, the Democratic Left 6.1 percent and Antarsya, the anti-capitalist left, 1.2 percent. Antarsya did not make it into parliament but it trebled its vote from 25,000 in 2009 to 75,000.
The only dark spot in the results is the success of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which received almost 7 percent and 21 MPs. Golden Dawn posed under the guise of opposition to austerity. It also benefited from a viciously racist campaign by ND and Pasok, which targeted illegal immigrants.
So the left in Greece has to step up its anti-Nazi campaign while it escalates the fight against austerity.
Deep Political Crisis Could Lead to Fresh Elections
It is very likely that the political crisis in Greece will lead to fresh elections next month.
New Democracy (ND) failed to form a government. Now the radical left Syriza has been given a mandate to do so.
But this will not happen—the numbers don’t add up.
ND and Pasok are trying to regain ground, saying that it is irresponsible to vote for a left government.
We have to continue to fight austerity with strikes and occupations—and not passibly wait for the next election. The prospect of stopping the vicious cuts, through ordinary people refusing to pay the debt, is now wide open.