When Alexis Tsipras was appointed prime minister of Greece, as a main result of the victory of the radical leftist coalition Syriza which he led in the parliamentary elections of January 25, some political scientists in Latin America and other countries saw certain similarities between the ongoing political events in Greece and those in Latin America in recent decades.
These elections in Greece were very important for those opposed to the anti-social policies of the Troika (European Economic Commission, IMF and European Central Bank), because a victory of Syriza would mean a strong questioning of the adjustment/austerity policies implemented in Greece and the whole European Union.
With 36.34% of the vote, Syriza won 149 seats in Parliament, surpassing the conservative New Democracy party led by the then-acting prime minister, Antonis Samaras, who won 27.81% of the vote and 76 parliamentary seats.
The Syriza and Anel (Independent Greeks) parties, which won 13 seats with 4.75% of the vote, agreed to form a coalition government which was announced by Anel leader, Panos Kammenos, and Syriza leader, now Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, after a brief meeting between the two.
The Greek parliament has 300 seats and 162 of them are now held by the brand new ruling coalition.
The Atarsya party, to the left of Syriza, won 6% of the vote –the same proportion as that obtained by the Greek Communist Party–while the Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party (EEK) obtained 0.3%. The left in Greece has thus become the national electoral majority.
Obviously, the Greek people voted against the policy of starvation imposed on their country by the European Union for the benefit of international bank creditors and to avoid the bankruptcy of the Greek banks.
Almost a decade of adjustments imposed by European big capital and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has provoked an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Greece, and a desperate economic situation in Europe.
Alexis Tspiras’ electoral commitments are strong and clear. He would help the poorest families; provide shelter, electricity, food and free health care for the victims of the austerity programs; end privatization; re-hire laid-off public employees, and implement a package of social measures contained in the Thessaloniki agenda which was the centerpiece of his electoral campaign.
But once in government, Syriza is facing serious difficulties to honor their electoral promises to solve the social problems which caused misery, and simultaneously fulfill their proclaimed pledge to uphold their commitment with the governments and banks in Europe to keep Greece in the European Union.
While Syriza has avoided presenting itself as an alternative to the capitalist system as a whole, its electoral victory is an expression of the wide field of development that the global crisis has opened for the revolutionary left in the world.
What happened in Greece in recent years is a clear example of how the structural adjustment policies of the Troika lead to social ruin. They have applied extreme neo-liberal policies in terms of privatization and cuts in public spending on health and education, among other austerity measures. All of these were aimed at creating conditions that would guarantee more business and profit for entrepreneurs and serve the interests of banks and creditors.
Important political scientists have, however, recalled that in Greece in the 1980s Prime Minister (later President) Andreas (George) Papandreou –of the Socialist Party of Greece– having promised to leave NATO, close the military bases, leave the European Union, and develop many social programs, failed to fulfill almost all his promises and then joined the US bandwagon, in exchange for perks. But the thing is that the Greek people would hardly put up with another similar felony!
Those who compare the Greek phenomenon and its effects throughout Europe with the political earthquake which, in a few years, has made Latin America the geographical area most densely governed by progressive leftist political movements, refer to what appears to be looming in Europe: popular movements outside the traditional parties becoming powerful political forces and altering the balance of power. Spain, Italy, UK, France and even Germany and the Scandinavian countries can attest to this.
February 11, 2015.
* A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippman.
* Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana. He was Cuba's ambassador to Romania, general director of the Prensa Latina agency; vice president of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television; founder and national director of the Technological Information System (TIPS) of the United Nations Program for Development in Cuba, and secretary of the Cuban Movement for the Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples.
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