Greece

The result of the vote on the latest austerity measures in the Greek parliament on Sunday, February 12, was a "Pyrrhic" victory for the Papademos government. It had earlier set itself the goal of winning the support of more than 200 MPs. Eventually 199 MPs voted in favour of the measures “in principle”, while 190 actually voted for the overall package.

Conditions in Greece are becoming desperate as unemployment continues to rise, wages and pensions are slashed, many small businesses close and the country slides towards a likely disorderly default. The pressure on ordinary working people is relentless.

The Greek crisis has now reached the point of a pre-revolutionary situation. On Sunday we saw the biggest demonstration in the history of Greece. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered to protest the reactionary deal before the Athens parliament. Here was the real face of the Greek people: workers and students, pensioners and shopkeepers, young and old, came onto the streets to express their rage.

Hundreds of thousands of workers, unemployed, pensioners and youth tried to gather On Sunday [February 12] in Syntagma Square and in the main squares of dozens of other cities across Greece, to protest against the government and the Troika. Sunday’s massive mobilisation was unprecedented, reflecting both widespread anger at the reduction in the annual income of workers by an equivalent of three months’ wages, the reduction of the "net" minimum wage to 410 euros (and to 320 euros for youth up to the age of 24) and the new reductions in pensions.

Tuesday's 24-hour general strike in Greece – the 16th day of general strike in the last two years – highlighted on the one hand the willingness to fight which exists within the working class and on the other, once again, the ineffectiveness of such strikes that are not part of a more general and coordinated and long-term struggle.

Greece's "technocratic" prime minister Papademos is desperately trying to make the three parties supporting his government (PASOK, ND and LAOS) agree to yet another round of brutal austerity cuts. The enormous pressure created by the relentless attacks on the working people of Greece is reaching breaking point. Health workers at a hospital in Kilkis have decide to take over their hospital and put it under workers' management. There is a new epidemic of homeslesness affecting people whose lives have been shattered by the crisis and the austerity measures. 

Yesterday, the former vice-president of the European Central Bank, Lucas Papademos was named as Greece's new prime minister. He is to lead a national unity government whose task is to implement sever austerity measures and then take the country to elections in February. We are publishing here an analysis by Greek Marxists as to what this means for Greek and European workers.

October 28 is a National holiday in Greece marking ΟΧΙ (No) Day – the refusal of Greece in 1940 to accept the Italian ultimatum advanced by Mussolini, to allow the Italian fascist troops to enter the country. Not only did Greek forces stop the Italian invasion, but actually forced Mussolini's troops back into Albania. Every year it is celebrated as a day of “national pride”. Not so this year! The masses took over the celebrations and used them to express their anger at the Greek ruling class. Here we publish a report from Athens written on the day of the “celebrations”.

On Thursday in Athens during the mass workers' protests we saw the state collaborating with hooligans and provocateurs against the labour movement. What is now required is a political general strike! Here we publish a statement by the Greek Marxists of Marxistiki Foni.

Today (October 19), the first day of the 48-hour general strike in Greece was sensational. Apart from the government and public utilities workers that participated in the strike massively, hundreds of thousands of workers from the private sector came out on strike for the first time, and also joining the millions of striking workers were tens of thousands of small businesspeople and shopkeepers who closed the shutters to their shops in solidarity.

The situation in Greece is becoming more and more revolutionary as each day passes. The country has been paralysed by a wave of strikes centred on the public sector and state owned enterprises, which is the workers’ response as they attempt to ward off the terrible attacks of the government. This wave of strikes was anticipated by the mass occupation movement in the universities and schools in September, which proved once again that the youth is a sensitive barometer of the class struggle.

The financial crisis in Greece is constantly in the headlines and focusing everyone’ attention on what it could lead to. As we have explained before, the reason for this is not due to the objective economic weight of the Greek economy within European and world capitalism. In absolute terms Greece only accounts for 2% of the European Union’s GDP and even its public debt is only 3% of the total public debt of the Eurozone. The point is, however, that Greece is the weakest link in European capitalism which is now at the centre of the global capitalist crisis.

In spite of a massive mobilisation of the workers and youth, a movement of revolutionary dimensions, the PASOK government managed to push through parliament its austerity measures. This comes at a price, however, for now the masses have had a taste of their own strength and have been deeply politicised. The Greek Marxists of Marxisti Foni and Revolution provide here a balance sheet of the situation.

Yesterday the Greek parliament approved the austerity measures required to get further lending from the European Union. The PASOK government is determined to force through its austerity measures, even though 75% of the population is totally opposed to any further austerity being imposed on them. [Note: this article was written on the basis of discussions with the Greek comrades of the IMT, of Marxistiki Foni, presently intervening in Syntagma Square].

Today the Greek trade unions embarked on a 48-hour general strike against the austerity measures which are being debated today and are to be voted on tomorrow. Papandreou says the cuts and privatisations are the only way of rebalancing Greece’s finances, but the workers and youth on the streets have other ideas.

The powerful 24-hour general strike and the mass demonstrations of June 15 in Greece demonstrated how deep the anger of the Greek working masses runs. It served to send the ruling class a warning: that this is no ordinary protest movement, but one with revolutionary connotations. That is why they hurriedly patched together a new government, in the hope of cutting across the movement. But to no avail!