Greece:Local Elections Show Massive Abstention Against the EU-IMF
“You ask me why sent to prison so many cadres of ours who robbed us? Why did they steal? We didn’t punish them but the institutions of state power did. You ask us ‘why didn’t you cover the Minister of Defence who was your personal friend’? But why did he steal! He sold out our trust, the faith in the people and the government.
They sold out the People, Democracy, the Army, the Country, the Nation. They are being tried by the Judicial system! If you allow them free reign they will corrupt others. That is why they were imprisoned.
By penalising corruption we hold our coffers open and the World Bank, the IMF and the mafias of the banks away from out feet. We will not become Greece!’”
Hugo Chavez (July 2010)
Without a single shot being fired Greece has fallen under the EU-IMF tutelage and become a new protectorate. An inevitability, once the EU created a single currency without a single government. Greece one year now has become a social laboratory where the international bankers offload the crisis onto the working classes, pensioners and unemployed. The biggest abstention against the elections which were fought under the Kallikratis Plan (EU inspired regionalism plan for Greece) were a massive attack against all the establishment parties.
When Papandreou announced to all the Opposition parties either the IMF or I go for elections, none of the political parties demanded elections. Papariga the GS of the KKE said the country can’t afford new elections. PASOK gaining 8 out of the 13 regional Governorships on a voter turnout of 11-12% is a Pyrrhic victory whose outcome will be decided on the streets as 7 out of 10 Greeks voted for no political party. This abstention can be explained as a warning shot, the last, before the political storm returns to the streets, without being corralled by sellouts of the Greek TUC-ADEDY and PAME-KKE union misleaders.
No end in sight for IMF measures
“Everything is up for grabs. If the Euro fails, then Europe will fail” was Merkels comments recently regarding the pressure on the Irish economy. She continued to try and gain political capital from the Greek crisis:
“In 2000 Schroeder and Aichel rushed to allow Greece to enter the Euro and they ignored all the danger signs. It was a political decision, the political decisions are important but those who ignore the events are irresponsible” she underlined.
Austria as well via its Finance Minister Joseph Prel has stated Greece shouldn’t get its 2nd ‘loan’ from the EU’s bailout plan as Papandreou essentially has only cut wages, not sacked half of the public sector as well…
Unemployment has now officially gone up to 12.2% from 9% (in August of 2009) ie an increase of 30%. The month long hauliers strike led to a massive collapse of exports in the region of 10%. One in ten are now in soup kitchens as around 4,000 middle sized have closed. The budget deficit which was 13.6% when PASOK assumed power (November 2009) now stands at 15.4%. All the austerity measures are increasing the government deficits as people have no money to pay for the crisis.
Having imposed the hard Euro policy on Greece it has been bankrupted. No amount of cost cutting, shutting down, hospitals, old peoples centres, savage cuts to pensions and a reduction of 30% for the public sector are going to resolve this crisis, measures which were announced the day after the massive abstention when the so-called Troika (EU-IMF-Central Bank) arrived to analyse the latest economic data.
Why didn’t the Left Abstain from these Sham Elections?
A whole series of sectional struggles continue with the old leaderships keeping each group of workers separate and divided (unemployed shipyard workers Piraeus, Akropolis part-timers, OSE railway workers, Defence workers etc). For the crisis on the left has now led to three organisations standing on behalf of the ex-Euro stalinists each getting a few percentage points. Coupled with the KKE’s standing the vote of the Left as a percentage has increased (25%) but not overall as numbers due to the massive high abstention vote.
In the first round of these elections under the Kallikratis model of Governorship, the Left stood positions for Governor of each Prefecture but unable to garner votes as they are split, to get into 2nd position so they could into the 2nd round. As a result the KKE asked its members to not vote in the 2nd round but to vote of course for local councillors as there were two electoral lists (Governor and Local Councillors). The various factions of the ex-Euros called for a vote for ‘conscience’ implying indirectly a vote for PASOK candidates as one of them, used to be a member of theirs, the candidate that one the Athens basin Governorship.
So the question is why did the Left not get a feel for the mood of the people and use the abstention call as a political weapon against the IMF and the establishment parties PASOK and ND? When the President of the Greek Republic openly stated that he is ‘against those who believe their anger can be expressed by staying on their couch, staying at home’ in other words refusing to vote. When Papariga-General Secretary of the KKE criticised the nation for not voting as well, it is clear that all the parties of the establishment are trying to maintain the façade that they are independent of and that voting will dictate a different policy to the IMF-EU dictates, when in reality all they are interested in is the state subsidy and the positions of power accrued to them in the state infrastructure ie councillors, local mayors and public sector contracts (a source of income for the KKE). Historically the KKE did abstain from the 1946 elections so it is a tactic employed by the KKE of old, which had a different calibre of cadres, not the ones of today who have been schooled within the norms of post-1974 bourgeois legality.
Despite the fact that the IMF imposed measures haven’t even gone past 3 months, the electoral debacle for the ruling party is such that it led to over 60% abstention rates (plus a 10% in spoiled/blanc votes) in many areas and the actual vote for the ruling party was around 1 in 10 of the country’s voting citizens. Coupled with widespread allegations of electoral fraud (used to be big in Greece in the 1950’s and 1960’s when deceased persons, unknown persons appeared on electoral rolls, now the same is occurring with swathes of EU citizens from neighbouring countries who appear on electoral rolls en masse!
The KKE is the party with the biggest influence on the Left. After so many strikes and demonstrations over a 6 month period since the announcement of the arrival of the IMF it hasn’t been able to increase its electoral influence to a significant level this is because the Greek people have shown their disdain not only to the two main establishment parties, but also to the Left as a whole. One of the main reasons which provoked this dissatisfaction is the insistence of the leadership of the KKE into tactics which divide the movement instead of uniting it.
Attacking the militancy of the masses instead of encouraging it, by labelling it as ‘fascist’ when attempts were made to storm Parliament initially in May and again in September by the hauliers, is despicable. Corrupting the popular movement to a movement of protest alone, protest which is limited solely within the limits of bourgeois legality. When at the same time the Constitution and Laws have been trampled on by the employee of the big international banksters, G Papandreou. Another reason is the total lack of programmatic proposals, a requirement for every party which aims to not operate as a component of power, but seeks to gain power.
The real abstention though isn’t from the voters but from the parties of the Left. They have basically stated to all there is no hope for a defeat of the IMF or a single measure imposed. History though has shown that in conditions of severe economic crisis small organised minorities may become a spark which lights a more general fire. The insurrection of the Polytechnic (17th November 1973) was such a spark, against the will of the parties of the time, who hypocritically lay wreaths in their memory. The same occurred during the resistance against the fascist Occupation. Small isolated groups of dedicated militants started the struggle and thousands in the end joined the struggle with millions supporting it.
The problems now facing Greece cannot be solved by elections. They will be resolved in the streets. A return to the drachma on its own cannot solve the economic problems either or a different version of the Euro, as is being discussed widely.
We have to campaign for a broad united movement, not separatist, isolated, defeatist, KKE style.
1) Cancel all debts to foreign bond holders
2) Exit from the Eurozone and the European Union
3) Work for all with a proper living wage.
None of the above can occur if there is no control of capital flows, imports of an agricultural and industrial nature, if the ports are all sold off and everything that is now state owned is privatised.