Syriza is set to win Greece’s general election on 25 January.
A strong left wing within Syriza wants a left-wing Syriza government to confront the EU leaders and the banks which stand behind them; tackle the shipping magnates, church hierarchy, military machine, and business oligarchs who siphon off Greece’s wealth; and empower the working class.
The majority leadership of Syriza is more cautious. They reckon instead to form a “government of national salvation”, a coalition with this or that centrist group, and to renegotiate Greece’s terms with the EU and the European Central Bank so that its debt burden is eased and social cuts can be reversed.
The Greek working class and the Greek people are battered by five years of economic assault.
Over one-third of them live below the official poverty level. Trade-union collective bargaining has been trashed. Real wages have been cut by at least a quarter, on average. Unemployment is about 26%. Hundreds of thousands people face eviction from their homes for debt. Health care is scarce: hospitals can’t buy supplies because they don’t get the payments they expect from insurance funds.
For now, they hope that a Syriza-led government can win some relief.
But the EU leaders are likely to stall. They will offer only minor concessions.
In the battle likely to open up between the Greek people and the EU leaders, Greece’s hopes depend on Europe-wide solidarity.
If labour movements across Europe apply enough pressure, the EU leaders will be forced to ease their grip. And that will be a gain for other workers, too.
A cancellation of Greece’s debt — which the European Central Bank could organise at will — or even a loosening of the debt stranglehold on Greece, will force a loosening for other countries too.
Indeed, that is why the EU leaders prefer to stall. If the Greek workers show that staging 20-odd general strikes, mobilising large street protests, and electing a left government can win concessions, then workers in other countries will be encouraged to do the same, and will expect at least the same concessions as Greece.
The lesson holds for the British labour movement, too. A victory for the Greek left will make untenable the Tories’ plan to increase cuts, and the Labour leaders’ craven commitment to continue cuts.
Solidarity with the Greek working class!