Greece:Local Elections Show Massive Abstention Against the EU-IMF

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.

Video Footage of Fall Of Military 1973

Greece has told Papandreou he has no mandate

Greece has told Papandreou he has no mandate

Greek voters have resisted the neoliberal austerity measures by
abstaining and spoiling their ballot papers

Costas Douzinas and Petros Papaconstantinou, Monday 8 November 2010 19.00 GMT

Sunday's local elections in Greece were an unusual affair. Important
as they are for the running of local authorities, council elections
have never been seen as critical to the survival of a government. But
on this occasion, the Greek prime minister issued a rather strange
ultimatum to the electorate: vote for Pasok regional and mayoral
candidates or I will resign, call general elections and as a result
people will lose their hard-earned faith in Greece with dire
consequences for ordinary people.

Was this extraordinary gambit a genuine request for a renewed
democratic mandate or the desperate bluff of a gambler down on his
chips? George Papandreou's gesture indicates the febrile nature of
Greek politics in the wake of the austerity and restructuring measures
imposed upon the country by the IMF and the EU in return for a €110bn
(£95bn) loan. Reductions in civil service salaries and pensions of up
to 30%, and the increase of direct taxes and VAT, have led the fragile
economy to a deep depression. Youth unemployment at around 30% will
only increase as the private sector uses the measures as a model to
shed jobs and further undermine long-standing labour protections.

Papandreou's gambit can be explained by the country's unprecedented
economic and political volatility. The Greeks have been bombarded over
the past two months with optimistic messages that the measures are
succeeding in reducing the deficit, increasing tax revenues, changing
decades of civil service under-performance and releasing private
initiative. The support offered by the print and electronic media has
been so unstinting as to make Silvio Berlusconi envious. Papandreou
has taken his penitent message to major capitals while a bunch of IMF-
EU emissaries have been installed in Athens, behaving in every respect
as administrators of a mandated territory.

But the reality is very different from the projected rosy image. Over
the past month the spreads between German and Greek sovereign bonds
have increased to levels not seen since before the IMF-EU loan was
approved. The hike in the price of insuring Greek bonds means that the
markets expect the country to default. The idea of defaulting,
restructuring the debt, even leaving the eurozone was until recently
denounced as extremist and catastrophic. But after Angela Merkel's
amendments to the support mechanism, debt restructuring seems more
likely, and senior government ministers have started preparing the
public for the eventuality.

The intense demonstrations and strikes of this spring subsided over
the summer holidays. But the climate has been hotting up again since
September as people start feeling the effect of the measures on their
pay packets. Opinion polls consistently show large majorities opposed
to the measures and wide disenchantment with the alternating centre-
left and centre-right parties that have ruled the country since 1974
and have led to the spiralling deficits and debt. While the decimation
of the public sector has reduced the deficit, tax revenues are lagging
behind IMF demands and the expected upwards recalculation of the 2009
deficit means that even more stringent austerity measures will have to
be imposed next year. Behind the trumpeted "success", the economy is
faltering, social problems mushrooming and the political elite unable
to manage the crisis. The postwar social contract has been declared
dead and the country's sovereignty is not doing much better.

Against this background, Papandreou's ultimatum can be understood. His
government was elected in October 2009 on a social democratic platform
and had no mandate to impose the most extensive neoliberal measures
seen in Europe. Whether Greece defaults and asks for a severe
"haircut" of the debt or whether it imposes new and more severe
measures, Papandreou's soothing statements will be seen again as not
worth the paper they are written on. This is why the government turned
the local elections into a referendum, blackmailing the electorate and
seeking a carte blanche for further cuts and privatisation of the
country's silver (energy, communications and transport) as the IMF
demands. But yesterday's elections decidedly failed to give such a

In a country where the turnout is usually up to 80%, some 45% of the
electorate abstained and another 10% spoilt their ballots. Pasok
received approximately 34% of the vote, the opposition New Democracy
32% and the Communists 11%. The three radical left parties that had
not managed to field common candidates polled about 12%. If the wider
left had created a united front against the measures, it would have
emerged as the hegemonic bloc confronting the neoliberal logic of the
ruling elites. In view of these results, Papandreou, looking gaunt and
exhausted, announced that he will not call an election but continue
with the implementation of these measures.

How can we explain the unprecedented low turnout and the spoilt
ballots? They bring to mind Nobel winner José Saramago's wonderful
political parable Seeing. Citizens of an unnamed capital city cast
massively blank ballots in two consecutive national elections. The
rightwing government considers this an act of high treason and
declares a state of emergency. Eventually the government leaves the
capital expecting that the resulting disorder will make voters see
sense. Life, however, continues peacefully.

In Greece, too, ordinary citizens resisted the measures by staying
away. Abstaining or spoiling the ballot in a highly politicised
country is a political act of great consequence which leaves the
government with no mandate to continue with its measures. It is the
Greek equivalent to the Argentinian chant "que sa vayan todos" ("you
should all go") addressed to the elites that had led the country to
bankruptcy in December 2001.

The IMF-EU authored chronicle of an economic death foretold will move
to its end game with the banks' plenipotentiaries signing the death
certificate of the welfare state, but popular resistance is now likely
to move up a gear. Strikes, demonstrations and social unrest will
decide the future of the country in the coming months. The Greeks have
a proud record of resistance against foreign and local dominations.
They now need new ideas, people and convergences, if a new politics is
to rise from the current debacle. In this direction the wider left,
the only political group not involved in the debt and corruption
crises, has a major role to play.

Abstain from Greek Elections!

Dont Participate in these forthcoming elections and give a democratic
legalization to the double Papandreic coup

1) In the abolition of the Constitution and the monstrous subjugation
of the country to the dictats of the IMF

2) On the servile plan called Kallikratis and the division of the
country into 13 self-governing cantons to be easily privatised and
added to neighbouring states.

3) Send a message that we no longer expect anything from the
collaboration of the parties. They created a storm expect a hurricane
in return

Greece: Local Elections to Become IMF Plebiscite?

Greece: Local Elections to Become IMF Plebiscite?

On 7th November Greece goes to the polls under the infamous Kallikratis plan which creates 13 federated regions for the whole country, with one region Attiki (Athens basin) having 50% of the overall population of the country. The Kallikratis plan creates Super-Mayors with powers reminiscent of governors of ancient Rome. In essence they herald the break-up of central government as they aim to merge thousands of local councils and give Presidential powers to each Mayor in each of the 13 regions. Under this background Papandreou announced last night (25th October) if he doesn’t win a single region he will resign and go towards new national elections.

Having attacked on behalf of the IMF-EU creditors vast swathes of the population, pensioners, farmers, small shopowners, workers, unemployed whilst not having imprisoned or even attempted to prosecute a single higher ranking government official or MP involved in bribery scandals for public contracts with foreign multinationals (Siemens being one of them). Already according to media reports one in ten are in food kitchens organised around the churches and the constant increases in VAT rates (food to go from 11% to 13% under EU pressure) are constantly eroding the buying power of those in work. Youth of working age from 18-25% who aren’t in education or training are more than 80% unemployed supported by families or relatives. The attacks on millions of pensioners with the lowering of pensions has the effect of undermining the social safety net which operates in place of the government. Papandreou realising an electoral wipeout is on the cards and that he might become the one use Primeminister, attempted to bribe the electorate offering E100 to each pensioner after having cut hundreds already. In addition to this in order to confuse the electorate we have 2 or 3 PASOK prospective candidates in each region with the majority of them declaring they are independent from PASOK without actually having broken from PASOK or even having a single vote in their past which went against the government. Allmost all are calling these elections therefore a plebiscite on the IMF.

IMF-Will not avoid social explosion

With daily strikes and struggles all isolated and separate from each other (school students, national railways, part-time museum workers, newsagents etc) the Left is going from one crisis to the next. Remembering the poor districts of Athens which happen to be in the centre, a leader of the Eurostalinists (who have now split into three factions) Alavanos attempted to speak to an angry public and got yoghurt on his face. The same happened a week before to the KKE’s candidate. As for the PASOK and New Democracy candidate they dare not even show their face. Crime, prostitution, unemployment and ghettoisation with the constant arrival (100,000 in the first six months of 2010) of destitute illegal immigrants has led to conflict in the central Athenian districts which are starting to resemble ‘war zones’. Add to it the daily rise in unemployment there are no jobs, houses, even food so many sleep in abandoned buildings or in town squares. Under the guise of Greece being unable to control its borders the EU is to send an army (NATO) to Evros (region bordering with Turkey) thus complementing the twin role of the IMF-EU occupation. A NATO presence on Greek soil will obviously have one aim and one aim only, to be used against the Greek population in a period of economic and political instability.

So the issues that arise in the current period is that the Left continues to disintegrate and with its influence where one would have assumed they would have proven to be a beacon to the population, it continues its policy of supporting separatist struggles without campaigning for them to unite. It might assume that standing candidates in these sham elections (as all economic and political decisions are now taken jointly by the IMF-EU) and that an increase in their votes, due to the fall of the two main parties may allow them a breathing space, cannot be seen on the ground, as no significant IMF imposed measure has been defeated. Without a single defeat of any IMF-EU measure, the issue that will dominate after the public plebiscite of the IMF in the forthcoming elections, will be whether new elections can forestall the coming social explosion or the expulsion of the IMF occurs as a consequence of these new elections...

Wed 27, October 2010 @ 21:54
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discussion of this article
VN Gelis said…

There is discussion that if during the first round of local elections this Sunday the ruling party PASOK doesn't achieve a reasonable result they will cancel the 2nd round and go for national elections thus forcing the population to vote for govt thus artificially increasing their capability. A condition for this may be the deaparture of the PM either after the elections or before.

The suddent appearance of alleged anarchist terrorists once more as in May (though never have any been seen or shown in any media outlet) may serve the purpose of creating more police presence on the streets by creating a climate of fear as bankruptcy is hanging like the sword of Damocles on the Greek electorate if they dont vote as ...advised.

Thu 04, November 2010 @ 22:55
VN Gelis said…

The abstention rate seems to be massive with over half or around just under half voting depending on the 13 Prefecture districts under which these elections are being held. 10% of those that did vote voted white/blank vote (allowed in all Greek elections). So far 5 of the 13 areas are with New Democracy (Right) which implies Papandreou may go for national elections so as to avoid going to a 2nd round of local elections (under the Kallikratis changes) and not gain any large Prefecture.

This abstentions rate is similar to so far to the Euro-election abstention rate.


The KKE has increased its electoral showing so far on a smaller voter turnout but if they dont come 2nd in any Prefecture they dont get through to the 2nd round if it is held.

The Syn/Syriza (ex-Euros) who have had 3 representatives in the Athens area have sufferred big defeats.

So far there is a big anti-IMF swing taking into account Greeks generally vote so abstention here appears to be taking the form of an anti-IMF plebiscite and the two main parties have lost significantly from the lack of voter turnout and the swing away from them is big.

So until the elections are finally over (Monday morning) and the main parties make their positions felt we have to wait and see if Papandreou departs as all the media is stating that he does not want to be known as the Prime-Minister who bankrupted Greece (as discussion is occurring constantly about a 'controlled bankruptcy' of Greece) and all the entails:

i) controlled bankruptcy leading to a possible departure from the Euro,

ii) expulsion of the IMF,

iii) possible coalition governments

not of course in that order or all of them at the same time but these are being discussed possible future scenarios.

Sun 07, November 2010 @ 19:47
VN Gelis said…

A 40-50% abstention rate added with 10% blanc/spoiled vote means that both of the two main parties have lost around 50% of their own electoral base. This has been translated by the FT in an article as a vote for the IMF austerity measures, ie the banksters interest paying bondholdins.

The Right hasn't increased its vote so much as to gain from the electoral fallout of PASOK. If they therefore go for a 2nd round and not for national elections, the Right may gain and PASOK may lose more than 50% of the 13 Prefectures, with a possible increase in abstention as the Left wont vote for the two main parties candidates in any shape or form.

Sun 07, November 2010 @ 21:37
VN Gelis said…

Papandreou announces he wont go for national elections in the end.

PASOK won 8 out of 13 Prefectures now they have to try to keep them

when they go for the 2nd round. In areas where they gained more than

50% of the votes there will be no 2nd round, which so far are 3.

Near enough final results

Abstention, blanc and spoiled ballots 45,47%

PASOK: 19,07%


Abstention rate in 2006 last local elections was 37%

The KKE has increased its votes to 14% in the Athens basin

and will get in total around 200,000 votes.

So on the basis of the figures presented

1 in 10 of the official electorate (from which thousands have been added

fraudulently in the last years on the electoral rolls) voted for PASOK.

This is the lowest share of the vote for any party in power since 1975 and it

is only two months since the IMF measures have hit the pay packets of workers and pensioners.

Will the Left campaign now for abstention from the elections

where they cant stand candidates or will they indirectly call for a vote for

the Right to defeat PASOK over the next week? Or will they call for a vote for PASOK to not bring back the Right (section of the Euros may go for this)

Mon 08, November 2010 @ 09:04
VN Gelis said…

On the same day reports are posted about the 'low turnout' in the Burmese elections:

the extremely low turnout in the Greek elections isn't necessarily headline news.

One wonders why? The day after the next round of elections the IMF arrives again for a new batch of measures. The message being, you voted, you shall pay.

Mon 08, November 2010 @ 17:44
VN Gelis said…

For those who missed it today or didn't catch it an interesting piece on Greece in todays Guardian

Some of the comments are also worth reading and they are many....

Tue 09, November 2010 @ 22:36
VN Gelis said…

Athens Region Final Results

Electors 465.888

Voted: 200.282 / 42,99 %

Valid: 184.241 / 91,99 %

Spoiled: 9.841 / 4,91 %

Blanc: 6.200 / 3,10 %

Abstention, Spoiled, Blanc: 60,5%

Just below 4 out of 10 voted in these local elections.

The KKE has called for abstention in the next round.

Wed 10, November 2010 @ 00:03
VN Gelis said…

Abstention as expected reached around 68% in the Athens basin for the Mayors position. Add to it the blanc/spoiled ballots and another 12% didn't vote.

PASOK achieved a majority with 11.5% of the voting electorate winning 8 out 13 Prefectures.

This they stated is popular recognition that more IMF measures are required as today they arrive once more in Athens. More will follow once all the results are analysed

Mon 15, November 2010 @ 10:06

Greece: truck drivers blockade centre of Athens to halt liberalisation measures

Greece: truck drivers blockade centre of Athens to halt liberalisation measures

After their union leaders tried to bury the resistance of the truckers in July a new wave of strikes erupted in defiance of the threat of emergency decress being issued to truckers. Some 19 points around Athens have been blockaded by trucks. Waves of militant rank and file truckers have demobilised scab trucks by blowing their tyres or cutting their electrical connections, so demobilising the engines. The government has tried everything via the mass media to condemn the militant truckers; they even tried to impede the road blocks but it became pretty impossible to stop truckers with 20-plus tonne trucks with engines revving and threatening to squash puny police cars. In the end the police escorted the truckers into various points around Athens – that is, opened the roads for them.

Ta NEA (daily organ of the Lambrakis press - the biggest establishment paper) condemned the actions of the police and demanded to know why the government not confronting the truckers? "Are they allowing them to get away with everything until they get tired and go home?" In the meantime 6,000 containers are stranded in the ports and and their perishable contens rot. More stuff arrives daily and has nowhere to be parked.

3,000marched in the afternoon to parliament and the police for the first time in the last 10 years refused to teargas them - which has been standard policy. The reason is clear. They are frightened to attack tsince they fear provoking more generalised conflict. All train workers of the national railways OSE have also walked out early for a week's strike against ta court decision which tried to deny them the right to strike. So having camped outside parliament on Tuesday night the truckers are waiting for their numbers to swell prior to Wednesday's vote which aims to ratify the IMF's agenda of the full liberalisation of middle class professions, hauliers, taxi drivers, solicitors etc.

If the truckers manage to bring trucks to the centre of Athens and confront the parliamentarian IMF quislings then they may bring about the defeat of the government. The big disaster is the role of the Left once more. Not a single big organisation – the KKE or the Euros Stalinists – have sent as many supporters as they can to support the truckers. 50 members of PAME marched along the pavements in 'solidarity' with the truckers and then dispersed. They have called for rallies against IMF imposed price rises (VAT rates, electricity, water etc) AFTER the vote in parliament takes place. Divide and rule is the only strategy of the union misleaders. Unifying struggles and supporting the middle class hauliers now they are under total attack isn't for them.

If the truckers are defeated, then the door will be open for many other professions to suffer the same fate. Either which way the government is relying on the politics of the union misleaders to remain in power and appear strong. In reality they are weak and in hiding. The ball for the moment is not in their court.

Wed 22, September 2010 @ 13:55

You would think Truckers would be the first people socialists would want to win over to the struggle as they can literally bring the system to a grinding halt.

Wed 22, September 2010 @ 14:11

The KKE condemned the politically backward ...truckers for using slogans which essentially bring Greeks into disrepute. The media asked the union misleaders of the truckers to condemn the slogans. The slogans were allegedly used by the hooded 'anarchists' no one saw who burnt the workers alive in the Marfin Bank provocation according to the tv station Mega...

The slogans were: 'Repa (Minister of Transport) Go fxxx Yourself', 'Down with the PASOK Junta', 'Air Air get rid of the Cholera', 'Repa you Cxxx we will Enter Parliament'

The Democratic Left a split off from Synaspismos/Euros supported the IMF liberalisation measures during the Parliamentary debate. Synaspismos gave a verbal speech in support of the truckers but like the KKE refused to call out its members in solidarity demos in support of the truckers.

After allnight blockade of Parliament and three attempts at breaking through riot police lines, the truckers lost the vote in Parliament. They will now lose the value of the licences of their trucks and many will lose their trucks to banks as the multinational companies that set up new truck companies will bypass them.

Throughout the whole of today they have continued the blockades around Athens.

Their Coordinating Strike Committee has vowed to continue the road blockades until Friday 24th September when they said they will have a mass meeting to work out whether they will continue the struggle. Whilst the railwayworkers of the national railnetwork OSE are in their 2nd day of their 5 day strike their union misleaders ensured that they did not march to the centre and meet the Truckers.

Now the liberalisation of transport is law by definition the riot police have to break the blockades. The power of the truckers is in the blockades. If they hold out they can continue to cripple the Greek economy. If they dont, it may imply that each section of Greek society may have to go through the Argentinian path which allowed the IMF to run riot for a full 4 years prior to a social explosion by all the dissafected sections of society led to 9 different governments, the cancellation of foreign debt payments and a return to the peso.

Wed 22, September 2010 @ 20:21

Agree with AA. I think this is a very positive development.

It shows that despite the frequent betrayal of union leaders the truckers have th epower to organise their own action and it is a power that through paralysing the economy has the power to bring down the capitalists if the truckers open their mass meetings to the wider working class and take on the questions of the wider working class transforming the legitiamte sectional (and important) demands of the truckers' livelihood to the wider issues of the working class- who rules? the bankers, IMF and EU with their austerity? Or the workers who can plan a society and economy based on democratically planning human need, against the need for any cuts, for a workers' revolution to seize the land, the factories and the wealth currently in the grip of a small elite and have a society run by working class people ourselves.

If anything remotely like this is going to happen the left and the wider working class movement needs to rally to the truckers' side, opening up the wider questions of class politics and full heartedly supporting the truckers' strike, instigating solidarityy action connected to wider class demands- for workers' control, for an emergency workers' budget to respond to the crisis, the immediate cancellation of all foreign debt, emergency taxes to pay for the crisis- full employment for workers at union rates- including massive wealth taxes and expropriations to take through the workers' demands.

Thu 23, September 2010 @ 05:34

VN Gelis said…

The problem is that not all sections of society have the power to bring the capitalists to their knees. If nurses for instance went on an indefinite strike patients would die and the state would save some money in terms of operations, pensions, dole money etc. The rich go private so they wouldn't care. The issue is also political.

The KKE alleges it is a working class party but has become pettybourgeoisified over the decades. Truckers historically have been on the political 'right' ie petty owners, with bank debts and the false consciousness that they will at some point own ten trucks and just collect money from managing them. One of the positives of this struggle is that they have no connection to the dead weight of stalinism and have shown originality in their approach and their sloganeering. They called for an open mass meeting at their union headquarters inviting pensioners groups and other transport workers. But because the union tops are stalinists and they see unity of the workers and the middle class which they cant control like Dracula does with the cross, it was too little too late this time, but it shows the intentions and the possibilities for the future.

The absence of the official Left and the far left is indicative of the extent of the political crisis now the real first wave of struggle against the IMF occurred. It also shows their political direction. Historic leaders of Sinaspismos who left to form Democratic Left have openly sided with the IMF. The next wave of struggle will force the KKE to do the same, as more and more sections of workers and middle class are forced to the streets due to the cuts and privatisations that are continuing unabated.

Thu 23, September 2010 @ 10:26

Jason said…

"One of the positives of this struggle is that they have no connection to the dead weight of stalinism and have shown originality in their approach and their sloganeering. They called for an open mass meeting at their union headquarters inviting pensioners groups and other transport workers. But because the union tops are stalinists and they see unity of the workers and the middle class which they cant control like Dracula does with the cross, it was too little too late this time, but it shows the intentions and the possibilities for the future. "

I think that's key as also is the idea of workers' action committees to unite different sections of the working class (and indeed impoverished or under attack petit-bourgeois, small business owners, traders, owner-drivers etc who the workers need to win to their ranks).

"If nurses for instance went on an indefinite strike patients would die and the state would save some money in terms of operations, pensions, dole money etc."

Yes but that's why it's essential to have other methods of action to supplement strike action, mass blockades, occupations, different section of workers coming out in solidarity action and can include emergency cover under democratic workers' control during the dispute. It can include workers, students, service users and wider community occupying the factories, offices, schools and hospitals and carrying out production for social need.

Thu 23, September 2010 @ 19:35

VN Gelis said…

Truckers have voted to continue their strike against the IMF

Battles occurred in Piraeus (main port next to Athens) where they blockaded it and the riot police got involved.

The strike committee was flooded with enraged truckers who demanded in opposition to the proposal of the union misleaders to have a secret ballot to have an open air one. The slogan which emerged to the news people was 'we will not give in' Molon Lave (which is what the Spartans said to the Persian Army) in reference to the governments 'emergency orders'.

The official Left continues to be spectators of an unfolding drama. They chose to have rallies about the price rises and the liberalisation of energy prices instead of supporting the truckers blockades

Fri 24, September 2010 @ 20:56

VN Gelis said…

Where are the leftist organisations? Who during their ‘insurrection’ regarding the murder of the young student Grigoropoulos a couple of winters ago marched up and down streets blockaded police stations, burning down shops?

Why don’t they now go to support the Truckers blockades to encourage them?

To help them blockade the roads once and for all indefinitely? When the truckers were outside Parliament all night and tried 3 times to storm it why didn’t they turn up?

Why don’t they go even outside the headquarters of the GREEK TUC-ADEDY-PAME (union federations) and pressurise them to call an indefinite general strike of all the nation on the side of the truckers for the overthrow of the IMF imposed junta?

Groups and organisations and people are judged in times of crisis when battles hang by a thread. The persistence of the truckers without a single media outlet supporting their cause, without a single political party proposing a solidarity demo, without political representation in Parliament is indicative of a whole generation of politicians both from the ‘left’ and right.

Fri 24, September 2010 @ 21:16

Fri 24, September 2010 @ 21:16
Jason said…

I think you're right to sharply cirticise the left on this. Obviously the Stalinists' leaders are fearful of real workers' action anyway but what about the Trotskyist and anarchist left? What about rank and file workers? I know little I am afraid about the Greek left.

What is it do you think that lies behind the lack of support? Is it because of prejudice against petit-bourgeois truckers? Is there a bad relationship e.g. have sections of truckers not supported workers?

Whatever the past or the explanation it seems to me that this is a crucial dispute. Truckers like railway workers have the ability to paralyse the movement of goods. The working class should pile in behind the struggle, support the truckers' demands, oppose the austerity measures, demand democratic workers' to set prices and get ready to paralyse the whole economy by demanding an emergecny workers' budget and plan, nationalise the banks, expropriuate the capitalists, appeal to rank and file soldier and police to refuse to break up demos and follow the orders of emergency workers' action committtees not the orders of the bourgeois government.

Sun 26, September 2010 @ 22:20

VN Gelis said…

The anarchists have been absent for around a year. Their last great showing was over the death of the bankers son Grigoropoulos whom the media labelled as an ...anarchist. Since the IMF arrived they have been absent from all social struggles. Most of the far left, maoists, trotskyists have become part of the ex-euros around Siriza/Sinaspismos in order to get government subsidies which are paid when a party gets more than 5% of the parliamentary vote.

Truckers haven't generally gone on big strikes as far as I know, I only ever remember a big one in the 1980's but agreement was agreed quite quickly. This one now has gone on for a month and previously two weeks at the end of July. There are still 6,500 containers in the ports and many areas haven't had sewage emptied as trucks empty it due to the antiquated system. Many islands have many shortages and much of the fresh produce has gone to waste.

The truckers are voting again today and they are being manoeuvred into having a closed ballot by their union misleaders, instead of a show of hands, so the ballot boxes can be manipulated. Every trick in the arsenal of government unionism is being used to end the strike with the latest arguement being that the market needs two weeks to recover, so why not stop now and start again before things get really serious.

The three other groups (SWP, WRP, Mandelites) who never joined the Euros have refused to support the truckers. At the same time all week strikes have occurred in the trains and now the buses have started as well. So taking into account the KKE has influence in both unions, coordination again is zero, the purpose being to dissipate the anger across different sections of transport workers to prepare them for ...privatisation.

Tue 28, September 2010 @ 20:28

VN Gelis said…

The vote just came through from the Strike Committee, 74 to 6 to continue the strike. Their leader refused to say which way he would vote prior to the vote, but made a statement that whichever way the vote goes he wants all sides to support it.

Tue 28, September 2010 @ 20:55

VN Gelis said…

A 41 year old trucker died after being tear gassed at the blockades of the port of Piraeus a couple of days ago. He was buried today. He is the first victim of the IMF imposed liberalisation of truckers licences. The union leadership have produced no statement regarding his death.

Greece has been threatened by the EU if it does not issue new truckers licences and the government is processing a new sub-law which states that all truckers who refuse to move their trucks from the blockades will be imprisoned immediately for 3 years, removal of licences and taking over their trucks if they have deliveries for the public sector eg hospitals or schools. One trucker on a road blockade on the Athens-Corinth motorway has been imprisoned allready.

The Greek TUC refused to have a general strike today, in case workers rallied to the truckers cause and instead called for an evening rally in the centre of Athens. Despite that railwayworkers were out and so were bus workers during the day.

Wed 29, September 2010 @ 19:04

VN Gelis said…

Despite the death of the trucker, no left protest march occured as after all he was a worker who has just been made bankrupt and the purpose of the left is to maintain disunity, division and ensuring with all its organised forces that the 'workers disunited will always be defeated'.

All night union meeting occurred in the truckers headquarters with many rank and file truckers locked out of the headquarters. As there are different sections of the union, and different sub-sections, public service truckers (delivery vehicles) ie to hospitals, schools, sewage clearance etc there are also private sector truckers for supermarket deliveries, retail etc. who controls each section and who takes decisions without informing the base is what the conflict has boiled down to at the moment as the government is threatening to lock them all up and they aint backing down.

The old leaderships are now in conflict with the Strike Committee who are organised around the various blockades and they want a say if any decision is taken against them. The Minister for Economic (non)Development said he would meet the leaders of the various unions and cut a deal to end the strikes. They voted to end the strikes to restore 'peace in the market' which is collapsing due to the non-delivery of goods from the ports and the evident shortages in a whole range of shops. The leaders of the Strike Committees claimed they weren't consulted again. The anger boiled over when truckers outside the union lit a firecracker against the union sellout leaders.

The leader of the Strike Committee declares here that they will meet on Friday (today) to vote against the sellout.

A note: some of the union leaders of the 9 Federations which voted to end the strike are members of the Left KKE and Syriza (public sector truckers)

Fri 01, October 2010 @ 09:39

Fri 01, October 2010 @ 09:39
Jason said…

Thanks for these updates. Keep them coming.

Sun 03, October 2010 @ 09:31
VN Gelis said…

Ok, Jason.

The 2nd strike appears to have ended, one of the reasons being that the Strike Committee didn't choose to take control of the situation and expel the old leaderships proposing itself as the way forward. The media made a big hue and cry about the costs to the economy being so far E1.5billion and tonnes of goods trapped in containers in the ports. Immediately after the ending of the strike the Chinese Premier was in Athens giving a speech about how they will buy up Greek bonds and not allow the country to default.

Taking into account Greece is run by the shipowners this brings to mind a little known deal that was attempted in the late 1960's by the then shipowners Onassis and Niarhos who wanted to own and control all public facilities, ports, oil refineries, transport under the title Omega Project. If the Chinese want a foothold in Europe and they are using bankrupt Greece as its base this will intensify competition with Germany, who is Europe's biggest export earner?

Next on target are the railways, the solicitors, the chemists as well as the national Electricity company which has just massively increased its rates for all low income earners where liberalisation processes will be rammed through. The Minister of Health Loverdos stated that if we fail in our IMF course, Greeks may resort to a 2nd Goudi, which was the onset of Greek nationalism at the turn of 20th century which started the movement for the re-unification of Greek lands against the decaying Ottoman Empire and the weakening of the European (German) imposed monarchy on Greek political life.

Mon 04, October 2010 @ 09:39
VN Gelis said…

Greek police storm Acropolis protesters today due to protest by unpaid part-time museum workers.

Bus drivers are now under attack facing a 20% wage cut and privatisation.

Train drivers of the national railways as well.

Local elections are scheduled in November where PASOK are expected to get a drubbing with a mass boycott by the electorate. From IMF headquarters in Washington stories are circulating that Papandreou knew the extent of the budget deficit prior to taking power and kept it hidden - a byword to drop him if there is an electoral collapse...

Thu 14, October 2010 @ 23:51
VN Gelis said…

Firefighters have occupied Parliament Square with tents protesting against cuts.

Eyewitness Account Greek Hauliers on Indefinite Strike Against IMF Decrees

Eyewitness Account Greek Hauliers on Indefinite Strike Against IMF Decrees

On 8 September Greek hauliers held a truckers’ march into the centre of Athens with their horns blowing. They were reacting to the decision of the Minister of Transport two days earlier that he has reneged on an agreement made to end the August strike that outlined a transitional period of reforms of the Hauliers terms and conditions of employment. He now insists on the immediate implementation of all the changes without negotiation. As the scene is set for a resurgence of the strike in August we publish here an eye-witness account by V N Gelis of last month’s strike and the role of the union leaders in ending it.

“You are taking our livelihoods not simply our licenses” became the battle cry of 35,000 Greek road hauliers who launched an indefinite strike which lasted a whole week before its sell out by its leaders.

When the hauliers met for their mass meeting in the Peroke Theatre in central Athens their despondent voices were heard from one wall of the theatre to the other. They characteristically wore a black armband and came to hear the President of the Federation of Georgiatos who wanted to tell the crowd the proposal of the Minister Reppas that “dialogue will continue only after the cessation of the strike”. They forced the leaders to continue the strike...

They rejected the government’s plans to open their service up to multinational competition. It was common knowledge that the multinational COSCO which bought the Greek ports on behalf of China asked for 30,000 new licences for transporting goods with Chinese personnel who will be paid a maximum of €300 for their work.

They tried to find a “compromise solution” but their proposals were ignored by the IMF who now essentially run the Ministry of Transport.

The leaders of the union asked for the pensions of hauliers to reach the amazing amount of €680 a month, to allow for three years for the law to be implemented and not backdated to last June, and the implementation of it for all hauliers to be over a five-year period not a three year period as 5,000 hauliers bought their licences recently and the 35% drop in their value will affect them disproportionally.

New licences were bought for around €300,000 a 35% drop will mean they are now currently worth €200,000 but the debt will remain at the amount for which they were bought.

The Minister of Transport Reppas replied with so-called development tax rebates and allowing each driver to take another licence which will not be worth anything anyway. Even if the majority of the Federation wanted to announce the ending of the strike under these circumstances of a mass meeting with all present, it was impossible as there was nothing on the table.

The KKE’s representative at the Peroke theatre greeted the leadership of the hauliers without raising a single point of difference with the government plan despite being self-labelled as the “class struggle union”

So how did the union leaders get around selling out the strike? Four or five days into the strike after two mass meetings and two large demos to the Parliament – and with trucks also parked on many motorways up and down Greece – the government brought forward an “emergency order” which basically allows the military to act as strikebreakers.

This has only been used once or twice before since 1974 against port workers in order to break their strikes. This was the perfect excuse the union misleaders needed to sell out the strike. Why?

Supermarkets had mass shortages of goods. In two supermarkets I visited they had run out of the basics seven days into the strike. There were many fuel shortages in petrol stations. Hospitals couldn’t get supplies. More importantly the tourist industry was going to get crippled which is Greece’s main earner in the summer months.

Whilst the hauliers appeared on TV stating no one can force them to go to work and they won’t accept the provisions of the “emergency order”. Army conscripts were also heard to voice reservations that they didn't want to act as strikebreakers. This could pose bigger problems for the government in the future as without the army on your side you lose the ability to threaten people.

So sensing this situation could get out of control, where people in other occupations joined this strike against the IMF and its PASOK quislings, the union leaders met behind closed doors one fine Sunday morning and then the media announced the ending of the strike.

A strike was sold out without being actually defeated and it showed it was a spark that could have lit a more general fire, but the union leaders and the parties of the Left were found wanting once more.

Thu 09, September 2010 @ 13:50

Greek Hauliers have started an indefinite strike again. They are alleged to have attacked the president of northern Greece's CBI during the Thessaloniki trade fair. Their sellout president condemned the violence of the Hauliers but not the violence of the riot police who teargassed them.

A video of the event has appeared in this paper.

Sun 12, September 2010 @ 18:48

Hauliers Strike Update...

Blockades have occurred on national motorways and many demos in various cities over the last week.

Lamia was cut totally off in the centre. Different things are occurring in different parts of the country.

Truckdrivers act against the line of the union sellouts.

Much will be decided as to whether people will rally to the autonomous movements of hauliers blockades and whether this will take some organised form or will provisionally go backwards.

Hauliers have started blocking the motorways without a general plan of action. In every blockade autonomous groups are being created under which they decide to go against the official union policy of Tzortatos & Co.

In the Metamorphosis blockade an area on the outskirts of Athens they decided to block both sides of the motorway and at the same time allowed cars to go through the pay tolls by occupying them and allowing them to go through for free.

Truckers have also called for open mass meetings with all the layers of workers and pensioners affected by the IMF measures in the Haidari blockaded which was voted for unanimously. They announced their decision using mobile phones to other truckers around the country, and they want them held at their union offices on Tuesday 12th September 2010

They have also forced scabs to stop working and the one of the union leaders has condemned this via the mass media. Kiousis who owns 35 trucks (and with the ‘liberation’ of the profession will want to acquire more) attacked the strike breakers under the guise of the ‘right to work’. Alongside him was the Hauliers Leader-Tzortatos owner of 17trucks who under pressure of the deranged and corrupted journalists of the IMF mass media, pressurised him to support the strikebreakers.

This evening on SKAI tv it was reported that in 3 blockades they are also proposing in the open mass meeting to be held on Tuesday to have allnight camps outside of Parliament and to call all the people with them and to not leave until victory.

Sun 19, September 2010 @ 17:28

Strikebreakers on this video showing their demobilised trucks after strikers cut off their electrics.

The vote for the 'opening of the professions' one of the IMF imposed measures is going to occur on Wednesday. The KKE hasn't called for any direct support to the Truckers or any of their mobilisations although they are holding a demo outside Parliament on 23rd September when the vote is to go through.

If the truckers march into the centre of Athens with 2,000 trucks as some have stated they will then the situation may go out of control of the union misleaders.

At the same time the President of the Greek CBI has stated that 5,000 containers are blocked at ports all over Greece and much produce may go rotten.

Sun 19, September 2010 @ 19:08

Video of strikers trying to block scabs plus map of all the road blockades around Athens.

Also how the strike is affecting the market with tonnes of stock remaining in the ports

Sun 19, September 2010 @ 19:28

IMF and Eurobandits out of Greece - Greece out of the Eurozone

IMF and Eurobandits out of Greece - Greece out of the Eurozone
Communist Organisation of Greece (KOE)

May 5th 2010
The KOE proposes the exit from the Euro zone, the renegotiation of the
foreign debt and a plan of productive and economic reconstruction in
favour of the working people.

A. The developments

The EU finds itself in the heart of the crisis, wounded as never
before. The diverging strategies and the explosion of the
contradictions within the EU and the Eurozone (European Monetary
Union) may lead the course of the “European integration adventure” to
unanticipated consequences. While the integration formally advances,
in reality it sheers off. The hegemonic role of German imperialism and
the insolvable interconnection of the EU institutions with the most
parasitic and rapacious financial capital reveal today more and more
clearly the real nature of the EU: an absolutely anti-democratic, anti-
social, aggressive, barbaric and cynical imperialist construction.

The EU is internationally in the vanguard of the application of the
harshest neoliberal policies against the working masses. The EU
prostitutes the concept of independence and of popular sovereignty.
The EU rapidly deviates from any degree of democratic legality that it
was until recently claiming to have from the electorate. The EU offers
whole countries as sacrifice to the altar of the markets. The EU tries
to impose anti-labour experimentations to the whole continent.

A.1. The confession of the Greek bankruptcy

What falls apart today is not only the policy of the two main
bourgeois parties, the right-wing “Nea Dimokratia” and the social-
liberal “Pasok”, but the whole course of the Greek bourgeoisie during
the last three decades. The de-construction of the production, the
economic disintegration, the social regression, the regimes of
tutelage and of economic occupation are not at all “mistakes” of the
last years, nor were they provoked by the global capitalist crisis.

The actual impasse is a bankruptcy pre-announced by thirty years of
transformation of the country into an exemplary model of modern
compradorism, suffocatingly tied to the imperialist centers. A model
that declared war against the production, because in that way it could
obtain easy profits for the ruling class. The actual impasse is a
bankruptcy pre-announced by the imposition of the infernal debt
machine and of the dependence, by imposing to the people an increasing
financial tribute paid during decades to the international capital
markets. The neoliberal amok of the public wealth banditry, of selling-
out the national property, of profits’ privatization and of losses’
nationalization: this is the policy that brought the country in the
actual situation. The regime of tutelage by the IMF, the European
Central Bank and the markets is a natural conclusion of the dependence
by imperialism.

The problem of Greece is not fiscal. It is a problem of productive
destruction and de-composition, which today results to a fiscal and
debt loop. We are facing an absolute coincidence of the Greek economy
with compradorism (the tertiary sector actually represents 80% of the
GDP), which is fully depended by the banking expansion (building
construction) and/or by the international economy (tourism). And of
course we are also facing an impressive collapse of the balance of
payments. The development of Greece during the previous period must
not be examined through the percentage of the GDP increase, but
through its qualitative features: an insecure, ramshackle, self-mined
development that increased enormously the class and social

Today’s outcome is absolutely related to the course of Greece in
Europe, and more specifically to its entrance in the Eurozone. The
productive disintegration in the name of the free market, the huge
increase of the disparity between center and periphery, the increasing
deficits in the balance of payments, the fiscal asphyxiation, the
neoliberal strait-jacket of the Stability Pact and the permanent and
non-negotiable choice of the Greek political personnel to continuously
put all the burden on the society: all these policies led to the
creation of this model, which is actually collapsing.

The loop roped around Greece’s throat was to be expected: despite the
books’ manipulations, the numbers did not and do not come out. The
deficit of 30 billion euros and the interest payments of around 15
billion euros yearly (with the sinking funds transferred from one year
to another through an extremely usurious refinancing) cannot be faced
off, especially in conditions of international financial crisis and of
increasingly onerous new lending.

The unconditional surrender of Greece to the IMF is imminent and
underway, despite the government’s assurances to the contrary. But
even with this “mechanism of support” the collapse just takes a short
new lease of life. And of course the regime of international tutelage
and control becomes complete and official. The bourgeois parliamentary
democracy now reveals fully its fake character, as the decisions are
adopted elsewhere. The most nightmarish scenarios of the post-election
period are confirmed daily, one after the other, while the society
sinks in an unprecedented asphyxia. And the worse is still to come.

At the same time, the developments in the field of economy and of
society are provoking broader repercussions. The new episodes of the
Aegean Sea’s surrender to NATO’s control are showing that the increase
of the foreign control and dependence by the imperialists will bring
along broader pressures and dangerous tensions in our region.

A.2. Bankruptcy of the government and of the whole political system

The government’s management, apart its more general responsibility for
the actual situation, has also gone bankrupt as far as its recent
conducts are concerned. After each “big success” of the Pasok
government, as it was greeted by the mainstream Media, the lending
becomes even more unbearable and its possibilities become rapidly
exhausted. The “support mechanism” is completely insufficient and
unable to fill the fiscal and lending holes under the present
conditions of productive collapse. Even by the measures of a pro-
market, pro-capital, anti-people government, the government of
Papandreou is a complete failure, despite the impressive and full
support it receives by the mainstream Media. That is to say, we
actually have a government composed by simple employees of the
European Commission, the ECB and the IMF, which is totally incapable
to line the slightest policy that could win or save anything. However,
this is a secondary aspect.

The basic element is that this government is completely and
consciously aligned with the demands of the imperialist powers. This
is a government fully and doubly subordinated to the interests of the
big imperialist centers in both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. And it is
totally committed to the failed model of the last decades’
“development”, which led to the actual collapse. This government must
be fought against, must be the target of the huge popular majority,
which is threatened today with annihilation. We must work in order to
make the conditions ripe for throwing out this government, through the
elaboration of a progressive, popular, left way out.

Moreover, what is also revealed today is the bankruptcy of the whole
political system: the bankruptcy of policies, fake visions, once upon
a time famous politicians, bourgeois parties and governments. It is
the bankruptcy of all those forces referring to the notions of “center-
left” or “center-right”, which converged in “national aims and
visions” that inevitably led to today’s impasse. But, also, it is the
bankruptcy of a Left that either supposedly contested the “old dogmas”
or mechanically reproduced slogans, thus loosing the possibility to
confront the enemy, to express the people, to take political
initiatives – and was in that way led to its subordination to the
“modern” bourgeois dogmas, or, in the best case, to the inability to
oppose them in a convincing way.

B. For another Greece in another Europe

Today we must open a central debate about the course that Greece must
follow. This is a struggle directly related to the identity and the
perspective of the country. This is a big confrontation between a
system that belies and crushes itself, crushing along with it the
society as well, and the need to overcome this system. Even if today
this need is still not realized by a majority, the issue of the
country’s and of the people’s global course is objectively on the
table. Thus, we support:

- The immediate overthrowing of the tutelage and international control
regimes, of the economic asphyxia and of the social demolition, and
first of all the overthrowing of the IMF-ECB yoke.

- A course of reconstruction having as central points the exit from
the Eurozone, the renegotiation of the foreign debt, and a series of
measures protecting the public interest.

- A middle-term plan of productive and economic reconstruction in
favour of the working people.

- The coordination and cooperation of peoples, movements and fronts
aiming at a democratic and progressive change in Europe.

B.1. The IMF, out of Greece

The “support mechanism” of the Eurozone, in which the IMF will have a
prominent role with still unknown parameters, will prove to be the
worse of all the previous “solutions”. The country and the working
people are condemned in a protracted asphyxia, with successive
measures that will accompany each installment of the “aid”. The
measures adopted until today allow the activation of the mechanism,
but the financial markets and our “saviors” are considering them
absolutely insufficient for the execution of the plan. The implication
of the IMF means that the governmental power is now formally
transferred outside Greece, and that the actual Greek political
personnel will be either considered as expendable or it will serve
exclusively as spokesman of the real governors. The actual government
is fully responsible for this development and must account for
shredding apart the last remnants of bourgeois democracy, for leading
the country from bad to worse, for putting the working people in front
of the firing squad.

B.2. Exit from the Eurozone

The entrance of Greece in the European Monetary Union and the adoption
of euro have been greeted with huge celebrations. The “powerful
Greece” which “is now protected against any international economic and
financial tempests” and will be able “to serve the public debt under
the most favorable conditions” because it has the “protective shield
of euro” (and many more such dithyrambic affirmations) have today been
demolished. The “protection” offered by the euro has become a pile of
breakages and flinders, as we live the biggest postwar economic wobble
and social regression.

The entrance in the Eurozone proves more and more, day by day, to be a
plumb. It may have not provoked the actual economic impasse; however
the EMU has increased it dramatically, and deprived the country of
critical tools for its defense. Basic rules of the EMU, such as the
interdiction for a member state to trade bonds directly with the
European Central Bank, the interdiction of solidarity with member
states, the non-existence of mechanisms of ultimate support, and last
but not least the Stability Pact itself, have sent the country in
front of the firing squad of the financial markets.

The only positive aspects of the euro (the low interest rates and the
strong currency) triggered a nominal development; but at the same time
these aspects covered the distorted, undermined, insecure and (over
all) unequal character of this development. Furthermore, they hushed
the collapse, only to end up as a boomerang through the over-debting
and the over-lending. The euro excluded the devaluation of the
national currency, but accelerated the devaluation of the labor force
value, the depreciation of the salaries, the degradation of the living
standards and of the labor relations.

The exit of Greece from the Eurozone, the recovery of the monetary and
fiscal policy, the recovery of the ability to draft and execute
national budgets, are a precondition for any effort aiming at a
productive, social and economic reconstruction that will be led by
radically different priorities. Such an effort presupposes (but also
creates) new correlations of power. It won’t be an easy path, but it
will be the only one that will not end in a new crushing of the
society – on the contrary, such a path will lead into a social

B.3. Renegotiation of the debt

The actual economic and social asphyxiation is owed to productive and
economic impasses piled up during three decades. The debt amortization
under the present fiscal situation becomes mathematically impossible.
Even if the interest rates decrease (a development that seems not at
all likely), and/or if the new lending by the “support mechanism” has
interest rates slightly lower than those of the market, the
obligations of the next five years are extremely onerous.

The renegotiation of the debt can save huge resources, which until now
are bulging each week the portfolios of the international financial
capital. Such a renegotiation is the most effective shield against the
bankruptcy (which in reality has already happened, despite the fact
that it has not been announced, in order to secure the continuous
death toll offered by the public funds to the financial markets). Such
a renegotiation of the debt must be accompanied by the nationalization
of the banking sector, the drastic control over the capitals’ traffic
and, above all, by a long-term plan of productive reconstruction.

Extracts from the communiqué of the Leading Committee, 16 April 2010

Economics of the EU and Greece

What has been sold by leftists and globalists who stand for the EU is
that it is a form of charity which helps the small countries of the

As the chart below shows Greece contributes the most as a percentage
of its income to the EU.

All the 'surplus' it receives goes straight into agriculture which is
then for export to the northern industrialised countries which cant
grow enough food for their populations.

Hence the volumes of fridges produced by Germany have a higher net
value than what is produced by agriculture in Greece.

Greece therefore received absolutely zero from the EU and props it up.

On paper Greece is a net receiver of EU funds to the tune of E8billion
whilst contributing E4billion.

Greece, the EU’s highest military spender between 2000 and 2005,
finally realized the cost of military purchases to its economy and
decided to curb its military spending.

Greece bought 4 percent of all arms sold in the world in the past five
years. Greece buys 31 percent of its arms from Germany, 24 percent
from the US, 24 percent from France and 21 percent from other

Turkey’s military spending gradually declined and fell to $11.6
billion in 2008, while Greece’s military spending consistently
increased, reaching $9.7 billion in the same year.

CAP was supposed to secure indigenous growth first ie europe first but
instead the Eurocrats have allowed imports to cripple European
agriculture. The losses incurred in this run into billions for Greece.

Therefore 3 decades of membership of the EU have ensured Greece goes
bankrupt and is looted dry, but a globalist with no maths or economics
states the exact opposite.

Factor in the 3 million illegals who work just to send money home,
implies the land of greece is used to prop up the Germans and the
French and their industries.


The Latin-Americanization of Greece and the lessons for the European South*

The Latin-Americanization of Greece and the lessons for the European


At the beginning of February 2010, the European Commission (EC)
announced plans for Greece which were characterised by The Guardian,
with the usual British kind of understatement, as "the most intrusive
scrutiny of an EU member state's fiscal and economic policies and book-
keeping ever attempted", while the Commissioner himself stated, "this
is the first time we have established such an intense and quasi-
permanent system of monitoring" --a system that involved a stiff regime
of quarterly reports from the Greek government on progress towards
fiscal probity and the right of the EC to order extra action, if
needed. That was followed, a month later, by the announcement (made by
the Papandreou government on behalf of the EC) of swingeing spending
cuts and huge tax rises hitting the lower social groups. These
measures involved, in a nutshell, shaving off a month's salary from
the already low (by Eurozone standards) incomes of people employed in
the public sector --who are estimated to be about one million, i.e. 20%
of the total labour force-- squeezing of public spending, rises in
indirect taxes including VAT, freezing of pensions and worsening of
social security conditions with respect to pensionable age,
privatisations etc.

The severe cuts in civil servants' salaries and in public spending,
which will be complemented by the indirect negativeeffects on incomes
(through the multiplier effect), would bring about, according to
Deutsche Bank' s predictions, a decline in the GDP by 4% this year
alone, whereas the total decline of GDP during the implementation of
the program in the next three years would be in the range of -12% up
to -20%. The inevitable effect of these predatory measures will be an
increase in poverty in a country --which (together with Spain) is the
joint record holder of poverty in the Eurozone-- with almost 20% of the
Greek population, being on the margin of poverty, struggling to
survive. Furthermore, unemployment will become massive, as the
dismantling of the productive structure, brought about by the opening
of markets since the country' s joining the EU, will be complemented
now by the effective dismantling of the public sector. However, as the
public sector traditionally played a significant role in absorbing the
excess labor within the country, the effects on unemployment would be
drastic. The combination of poverty and unemployment, with the uneven
effects of the increase in indirect taxes on low incomes, will further
increase inequality, one of the highest in the EU. The inevitable
result would be the creation of a number of wealthy oases for the rich
(locals and foreigners), in the midst of huge deserts of poverty
concentrated in monstrous urban conglomerations --exactly as it happens
in similar cities all over Latin America at the moment.

No wonder that the announcement of the measures have created a huge
"river of anger" that poured in the streets of Athens and other major
cities in repeated general strikes and sometimes violent
demonstrations. Particularly so, as it is more than obvious that the
measures announced will neither catch the enormous tax evasion, nor
shall they force repatriation to the country of the 10 billions of
Euros or so, already escaped abroad in the last couple of months since
the crisis was announced, to be added to at least 60 billion Euros
which had already fled the country! However, had these funds and the
local wealth been subjected to a drastic proportionate extra property
tax (something which is of course inconceivable for the elites), the
famous debt problem could have been solved in a flash, without having
to beg for new loans from the foreign elites, which (with profit in
mind of course!) have been imposing onerous conditions that the future
generations will have to pay for many years to come. This, despite the
fact that it was the same elites and privileged social strata (local
and foreign) who created and primarily benefited from the debt and the
growth 'bubble' it led to.

The predatory measures imposed on Greece by the Directorate of the EU,
expressing the Eurozone's political and economic elites, clearly give
the impression of a complete colonisation of the country by the
transnational elite. It is, obviously, one thing to implement similar
measures by a formal consensus of the people (as in Britain, Holland,
Sweden, etc.) and quite another to enforce compliance with such
measures, as it happens now in Greece. Particularly so, when these
measures do not have any popular legitimacy, given that the ruling
"socialist" party was elected a few months ago on a program that
provided for policies entirely different from those imposed now on the
Greek people. This, despite the fact that the leadership of the ruling
party was fully aware of the economic crisis --which is basically
chronic-- and deliberately deceived the electorate, with the help of
the political and economic elites controlling the mass media, which
were keen to have a "socialist" party elected as the only one capable
to implement such measures because of its comprehensive control of
trade union bureaucrats.

The fact that the economic crisis is chronic is expressed by the post-
war dismantling of the production structure, which was brought to
completion with the opening of its markets to the world market --a
process that was accelerated by Greece's integration into the EU at
the beginning of the 1980s. The effective dismantling of the
productive structure, in turn, inevitably led to the creation of "a
consumer society without a production basis" and a continuous growth
of the external debt, and consequently of the public debt that has
presently exploded. Naturally, these developments did not --nor could
they-- lead, anyway, to the formal bankruptcy of the Greek state, as
this would have opened huge holes in the pockets of German and French
holders of Greek state bonds and would put at risk the stability of
Euro itself. Particularly so, when other countries in the European
"South" face similar problems --i.e., what the capitalist markets call
the "PIGS" (Portugal, Italy/Ireland, Greece, Spain). However, the
price to be paid, particularly by the lower income strata (workers,
employees, under-employed, unemployed and pensioners) in the coming
years, will be very heavy indeed. No wonder the measures were
presented by the media, in a massive brainwashing campaign, as
unavoidable, something which is true only if we take for granted the
present institutional framework of today's capitalist neoliberal
globalisation, namely, the open and liberalised markets, which are the
ultimate cause of the crisis along with the consequential treaties of
Maastricht, Lisbon and the Stability Pact.

In this context, competitiveness, (which depends on low wages and
employers' contributions/taxes, high productivity, price stability,
etc.) plays indeed a crucial role with respect to an exporting economy
that bases its development on the free movement of commodities and
capital (like Germany or China!). The Euro, therefore, cannot be
separated from the Stability Pact, as is hastily suggested by the
reformist Left, because --in the given institutional framework-- it is
only when the common currency is complemented by criteria like those
prescribed by the Stability Pact that monetary stability and the
competitiveness of the advanced capitalist countries in the Eurozone
can be achieved. In other words, the policies of squeezing wages,
prices and budget deficits, are necessary for the EU economic elites
to be able of surviving in the competition with the corresponding
elites in USA, China, etc.

But, if such policies are to the benefit of countries like Germany,
which played a leading role in the design of the Euro, they are in no
way beneficial to countries like Greece, Spain, or other countries in
the European "South". Thus, it is true that the policy of "hard euro"
and the consequent policies of squeezing wage costs had led to a
significant improvement of German competitiveness and consequently of
the German balance of payments which, starting with a deficit of 1% of
GDP in the Balance of Payments on Current Account in 2000, achieved a
huge surplus amounting to 5% of its GDP today. It is also true that,
in the same period, the labour cost in the European South has risen
faster than in the North and that in countries like Greece and Spain
the increase in labour costs, faster than in Germany, has led to the
decline of their competitiveness and has consequently worsened their
balance of payments (Greece's deficit tripled in absolute numbers and
Spain's increased by as much as six times, etc.). --which ultimately
led to an increase in the public debt to finance the bubble of
"growth" that Greece or Spain had enjoyed since their adoption of the

Yet, this does not mean that to avoid surpluses in the North and
deficits in the South all countries in the Eurozone should follow the
same policies of squeezing wages and salaries. One should not forget
that, historically, wages in the South were (and still are) almost
half of those in the North (e.g. the minimum monthly wage in Greece,
Spain and Portugal in 2006 was less than half of that in the European
North). Therefore, implementation of such policies throughout the
Eurozone would simply lead to further divergence between the North and
the South rather than to convergence, which is supposed to be a main
aim of EU and the EMU! In other words, a real convergence in wages and
salaries would have led to such huge differences in competitiveness
between the European North and the South that no transfer of funds
from a new institution (like the proposed by the reformist Left
European Monetary Fund) would have been capable to eliminate. This is
why a real convergence within a capitalist market economy has not been
achieved even within single capitalist nation-states like Italy,
Germany, UK, etc., let alone a monetary union like the EMU!

So, the problem with the EU and the EMU is neither their "lack of
solidarity" towards a member state, nor the policies of "hard Euro"
followed by the European Central Bank and the German and other elites,
as the reformist European Left suggests. The real problem is the EU
and the EMU themselves! As it could be shown by both theory and
historical experience, in any economic union consisting of members
characterised by a high degree of economic unevenness (as is the case
with the EU), the establishment of open and liberalised markets for
commodities and capital would inevitably lead to a situation where
those that primarily benefit from the free movement of commodities and
capital would be the more advanced regions/countries (which have
already developed high productivity levels and advanced technologies)
at the expense of the rest. It is not therefore surprising that,
historically, none of the presently advanced capitalist countries
--which are now keen to promote the freedom of trade, etc.-- opened its
own markets before it had already achieved a high level of
competitiveness for its own exports, under protected markets.

It is, therefore, imperative that the anti-systemic Left, in Greece
and in Southern Europe in general, directly challenges the present
European integration in terms of markets and capital, and fights
instead for the establishment of a new confederation of European
peoples, initially in the European South, where they share common
economic, political and social problems. This is a first step towards
the creation, in the future, of a new institutional framework which
institutionalises the equal distribution of political and economic
power among South European peoples, and among all citizens within each
part of the confederation --a development that could serve as a model
for the integration of European peoples as a whole, within a pan-
European confederation of Inclusive Democracies. This implies the
elimination of power structures and relations, which characterise the
present so-called "democracies" and capitalist market economies, and
their replacement with new societies where the peoples directly, and
not through "representatives," control the political process, as well
as the economic process through the collective ownership and control
of economic resources, within a framework of self-management by
workers, peasants and students of factories and offices, farms and
education places respectively, in a way that reintegrates society with

Whatever Happened to the Struggles-Interview for PR

How do you assess the results of the last six months of strikes and protests against the government/IMF cuts packages? Has the government been forced to modify, delay or abandon any elements of the austerity drive?

The demonstrations led to a mass explosion of workers’ anger. The general strike on 5 May for the first time led to conflict between the base of the KKE (Greek Communist Party) and its followers who were carrying PAME flags (their trade union body). This was the high point which was cut short by the government’s provocation against the Marfin Bank workers.[1]

In reality the only people who are hoping for some sort of solution are the international banks who have received many times over the amount of capital they have loaned. To understand how Greek debt has accumulated one must remember that six months ago Greece re-paid a loan which it had received during the revolution of 1821!

The Greek government is taking out loans to pay back previous ones and as a result the foreign debt now stands at €325bn and about another €50bn will be added to this in 2010. Meanwhile, public debt amounts to 120% of GDP and instead of getting smaller will rise to around 150% by the end of 2010.

The government will be obliged to proceed to take even harder and more vicious austerity measures. It won’t abandon or change its policies. It is not intimidated by a series of 24-hour strikes and demonstrations; in essence a number of street parades at a safe distance from the centres of power.

Why did the trade unions fail to intensify the protests beyond one-day strikes as the summer progressed? Wouldn’t an indefinite strike of transport and the public sector have brought the government down? Was it that the rank and file were not prepared for the sacrifices of an extended strike, or were the leaders of the trade unions too fearful?

The reasons for the failure are political. The Greek TUC leaders who are generally known as “godfather workers’ leaders” are political appointments which lead to their top chiefs eventually entering Parliament or some other type of state subsidized NGO. With such a career path mapped out they never want to rock the boat. The other union leaders associated with the KKE, under the umbrella known as PAME, split from the Greek TUC more than a decade ago and refuse to march together with the TUC. Despite the numbers on the demos and general strikes, no unified action was ever achieved in any general strike. We arrived at the ridiculous situation after the 5 May strikes whereby the KKE refused to go near the centre of the city and marched to the tourist spots of the Akropolis in order to disperse.

After calling their own supporters “fascists” for attempting to storm Parliament, the KKE held a mass rally on 15 May where at least 200,000 gathered and where the usual Stalinist policy of escalating the fight in the not too distant future was announced; but the actual outcome was division, disorganization and dissolution. On the one hand they refuse to strive to overthrow capitalism; on the other, they refuse to call for Greece to leave the EU – and so provoke an Argentinia-style default – since they argue that capitalism will still dominate the country.

In practice therefore their policy is to strengthen the position of the KKE and their unions and little else; they have done everything in their power to keep the workers’ movement divided and disunited. The rank and file showed its militancy at the 5 May demo when thousands occupied the steps of Parliament to demand that the “thieves were prosecuted” and that the “politicians are forced to pay”. With this action the rank and file instinctively realized that the traditional one day token strikes were leading nowhere.

Without a united workers’ response – joint demos, joint disruption of capitalist functioning (as happened during the lorry drivers’ strike) – the 24-hour parades only have the effect of demoralising large groups of workers as the crisis of leadership becomes a crisis for the whole of the class. They could at least have organised a blockade of the IMF offices in Athens or called for the surrounding of Parliament to not allow the MPs to leave, or even for camps to be set up outside Parliament, something that would rally the people to the cause.

Instead the forces of the left demoralised and disorganised the resistance, by assuming that the methods of yesteryear (a general strike every so often followed by a march) would guarantee some type of crumbling of the will of the politicians.

How do you assess the economic situation going into next year? Recovery or further recession and worse?

In the April-June period this year Germany experienced a strong recovery but Greece’s recession deepened. Tourism is down at least 15% from last year. Building construction (which represents 25% of GDP) has gone into freefall down by at least 33%. Unemployment according to INE-GSEE (Greek TUC’s Labour Economic Institute) is scheduled to hit the one million mark by December 2010, that is, about 20% of the workforce. Thousands of shops which are not part of large chains are closing daily – an estimated 17% so far of 3,500 outlets. The centre of Athens is starting to resemble a post-industrial war zone.

There is much petty crime, drugs are traded openly in broad daylight and at night the centre turns into an area where there are very many street prostitutes.

The IMF packages aim to speed up the sackings of workers to aid in the continued privatisations that have been announced in the train companies and the national electricity system which to date have remained under state ownership.

The full liberalisation of a whole host of middle class professions: hauliers, black cab drivers, pharmacists, solicitors, lawyers etc. aims to allow big companies to take over these sectors and turn the staff into salaried employees. That way they can increase productivity, and profits with lower costs possible to the consumer and other businesses.

One has also to take into account that in Greece social security payments for the unemployed only last one year and in order to qualify one has to have worked a full two years. After that there is nothing.

The consequent fall in consumer spending and the increase in taxes (e.g an across-the-board VAT rise to 23%), the rise of official inflation to 5.6%, coupled with the short term increase in interest rates on government bonds (8%) and the three-year imposition of zero wage increases in both the private and government sector, point in one direction only: a collapse of GDP and therefore the tax base of the government.

This is guaranteed as it is impossible for Greece to export its way out of the crisis while it is a member of the Eurozone and paying the punitive rates of interest to foreign bond holders. In the first six months of 2010 there has been a 4% fall in GDP so if this continues through to the next six months we could be looking at around a 10% fall.

When will the major social effects of lower pensions, benefits and pay really bite? Will this force people back onto the streets?

The demonstrations this year occurred essentially prior to the measures being taken in order to forestall them. As such one can say the struggle was generalised before the crisis really started to bite across the board. One cannot predict what is going to happen next or when a new strike will provide a spark for a generalised anti-IMF insurrection. But no one, including the mass media, is predicting calm waters ahead; instead, everyone is waiting for a storm.

The wage freeze, cuts in pensions and mass sackings in the public sector, the looting of the population, the collapse of social welfare and the stopping of public works, does not only make people despair but it intensifies the crisis of the market and make the recession tip over into a full blown depression.

When people are condemned to a level of poverty in which thousands upon thousands will go hungry, the state threatens to sink itself. Where is the government going to generate the increased tax revenue it requires to fulfill the demands of foreign creditors?

Can you say something about the role of education sector, the role of students during the last wave of strikes? What role will students play in the September/October period in relaunching generalised struggles?

Mostly adults were on the demos against the IMF. Students and university students, whilst taking part, haven’t been involved in their own occupations against the IMF measures. Very many joined either the Greek TUC or KKE-PAME organized demos.

Due to the pension attacks about 12,000 teachers in primary and secondary education have asked to receive their pensions and quit their job. This has created a shortage of 20,000 teachers when schools open again in September. The government has announced it will only recruit another 3,000 leaving a massive shortfall which will be covered by compulsory overtime of between 5-10 hours for each teacher. And this is happening alongside reductions of between €1,000-€3,000 a year for every teacher.

The enforced transfer between primary and secondary schools or vice-versa to cover shortages is also one of the Presidential measures passed. Women teachers will be hit by the retirement age being raised to 65. So the attacks on women and students are among the most brutal of the IMF-government measures.

So when the summer holidays are over students will return to schools without many teachers, with an increase in the remaining teachers’ workload and with the latter having a big hole in their pay packet. Taking into account that youth unemployment has already reached about 40% for all young people between 18-25, a whole generation are never going to have a reasonable chance of a job so probably see no point in studying.

Have any parts of the far left grown in the course of the strikes and demonstrations? Has Pasok suffered a major loss of support?

Many workers who had either voted for PASOK or the other big parties rallied to the KKE during the demonstrations. The demonstration of 5 May was definitely the biggest ever since the fall of the military in 1974. There must have been more than 800,000 present – the centre of Athens was jammed, people could not march anywhere as the roads were full. After the IMF measures PASOK politicians have had difficulty going to restaurants or appear in any public place.

Middle class professionals confront them in almost daily tirades such as, “give back the stolen money” and “pay our restaurant bills”. Almost always the police are called to “restore order” after various things are thrown at the politicians such as ashtrays, salt and pepper pots etc. But only 3 PASOK MPs have jumped ship.

The only real growth that occurred in the left was thousands joining the KKE contingents on the demonstrations, but this was before being called “fascists”. This slander has provoked internal conflict, leading already to splits in one section of the official left (Synaspismos-Syriza, the ex-Eurostalinists). But this growth had more the character of participating in the demonstrations as opposed to people actually becoming members. Yet the large number who occupied the steps of Parliament chanting “thieves, scumbags, politicians” shows that they are ripe to go further than the existing political and trade-union leaderships will sanction.

The indefinite Greek hauliers’ strike which crippled the economy for seven days at the end of July was a spark that was about to light a more general fire. Twice in mass general assemblies truckers voted to continue their strike. No parties of the left either called for or led solidarity demos in support of the hauliers. The hauliers’ union – behind the backs of its members – called off the strike for fear of it leading to a full blown national crisis in the middle of the summer season. The KKE sent a representative who gave a typical trade union bureaucrats speech of supporting the strike on paper but in practice it did nothing to aid them.

[1] This was the incident where three bank workers died when their bank was set on fire during a demonstration in May


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