Communists rally as Greeks go to new poll

by our European Affairs correspondent

GREECE goes to the polls again in June after all efforts to form a new coalition collapsed this week. None of the three biggest blocs won a majority in the May general election and none of them have been able to form a working coalition or agree on a “unity” coalition to deal with the debt crisis that has brought the country to its knees.

Greek president Karolos Papoulias has appointed a senior judge to head a caretaker administration and a new general election will take place on 17th June.

The Greek economy continues to dive with official figures showing that the Gross Domestic Product fell by 6.2 per cent during the first quarter of 2012. For the fifth consecutive year, the Greek economy remains in recession — the result of a drastic adjustment programme that has increased unemployment, poverty and slashed public services.

In Athens the National Confederation of Commerce warned that the deep recession caused by cuts in wages and pensions, as well as rising taxes, has led to an average of 1,000 businesses going bankrupt every week. According to data released in Athens about 26,000 companies will be forced to close over the next six months, adding to the more than 100,000 that have already shut their doors since the beginning of the crisis.

Opinion polls give the left social-democratic Syriza bloc the lead over the two parties that have dominated Greek politics since the overthrow of the military junta in 1974. Support for Syriza soared in May while voters deserted the conservative New Democracy and the social-democratic Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement in droves.

Syriza is calling for renegotiation of the draconian bail-out terms imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund but it is committed to remaining within the Eurozone. But Syriza calls for a “united left” with the Democratic Left and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) have been dismissed by the communists who say that these social-democratic parties of whatever hue are all committed to the “EU one-way street” and that the ultimate outcome would still leave Greek workers bearing the brunt of the capitalist crisis.

Thousands of workers showed their support for the communists at a rally in Athens on Monday. There Greek communist leader Aleka Papariga called on the people to support the struggle saying “Hope is here: a strong KKE”.

She pointed out: “The statement of SEV (Hellenic Federation of Enter-prises) that a coalition government with the anti-memorandum Syriza would help in the renegotiation which the govern-ments and business groups in all the crisis-struck member-states desire, is not accidental nor is it a provocation”.

“The only government which can meet the challenges of the crisis and the people’s needs is the one which will unilaterally cancel the debt, denounce and overthrow the Memorandum-Loan Agreement, disengage Greece from the EU and make the people the only master of the wealth, which they create and which exists in Greece.

These pre-conditions are not desired or proclaimed, even in their slogans and speeches by any other party,” the KKE declared in a renewed call for Greek workers to support the KKE at the next election and close ranks around the Party’s programme”.