Will Syriza betray Greek poll result?

by our European Affairs correspondent

THOUSANDS of Greeks poured into central Athens to rejoice at the news of the decisive rejection of the Eurocrats’ bail-out deal on Sunday. In Paris the leaders of Franco-German imperialism met soon after to plan their next moves. President Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel had clearly hoped for a big yes vote that would undermine the Syriza government and possibly even force premier Alexis Tsipras to resign. But others joined in the jubilation.

Cuban President Raul Castro congratulated Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, after his victory at the referendum held on 5th July. Raul said that the result showed the support of the Greek people for the brave stance of the government headed by Tsipras. This was repeated by Fidel Castro, the father of the Cuban Revolution, who said that the courage of the Greeks was admired by people throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

And Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured Greeks that he will support them in the financial hardships they face after the Greek people overwhelmingly voted “No” to further restricting terms of an international bailout programme.

But the real purpose of the snap poll called by premier Alexis Tsipras was simply to strengthen his hand in the negotiations with the Troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The Troika wants to impose an even harsher regime on the Greek working class including pension cuts and tax increases, in exchange for a new financial aid package. Tsipras wants the Eurocrats to accept Syriza’s plan which is almost 90 per cent identical to that of the Troika. It accepts most of the demands for more cuts to wages, jobs and social welfare to stimulate capitalist “growth” and it is committed to Greece keeping the Euro.

This week Tsipras moved to counter Franco-German efforts to bring his government down by dumping his outspoken finance minister and getting the mainstream bourgeois social-democratic, liberal and conservative parties to sign a joint statement with his Radical Left coalition in support of his negotiating strategy. The Greek communists (KKE) refused to sign it.

Greek communist leader Dimitris Koutsoumpas said: “No one has authorised anybody to go and sign new memoranda, new painful measures for our people. And these measures will be harsh.”

The KKE says that whatever happens — a new bail-out that will crucify the workers or a Grexit and the restoration of the drachma — it will be at the expense of the Greek people. And if they resist the mass forces of repression are ready to supress them.

Press reports have emerged concerning a plan drawn up prior to the vote, code-named “Operation Nemesis,” to deploy the army alongside riot police to crush social protest. It supplements the existing “Polyderki” plan which was drafted ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics and was updated last year to take into account possible unrest due to the worsening economic and social situations.

The communists are calling for complete break with the European Union and a unilateral cancellation of the debt and a government prepared to nationalise all the means of production. That clearly is not on Syriza’s agenda.

Greece wants an agreement with its creditors that will show: “there is the light at the end of the tunnel” in regard to resolving the country’s economic crisis, Tsipras told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

“We don’t want to clash with Europe, but we want to change the situation in the country, the way of thinking that is drowning Greece and the Eurozone with it,” the Greek leader said.

“Europe is at the breaking point, the so-called Greek crisis is actually a European weakness. We must find the final solution to the debt crisis which feeds on itself. This is a European, not solely a Greek, issue. And, as a European problem, it demands a European solution,” Tsipras said.

“I want it to be clear — the Greek government’s proposal to finance its liabilities and debt restructuring will not be a new burden for European taxpayers. The money given to Greece, let’s be frank, never reached the Greek people, it was to rescue Greek and European banks.”

Millions of Greeks voted No to austerity. Millions of Greeks stood by the Syriza government despite the trail of broken promises that began the day they won the elections in January. Millions of Greeks believe the vote is the start of a new fight-back against the austerity regime that has brought mass unemployment and forced millions of Greeks onto the bread-line. What they will get remains to be seen