Greece

Greece joined the European Union in 1981 and adopted the euro in 2001. What impact did these two events have on the Greek economy? Within the general boom conditions across Europe pre-2007, Greece also boomed, but this hid the real underlying weaknesses of the Greek economy, in particular its declining productivity.

The suffering of the Greek people is deep, very deep. Austerity is pushing larger and larger sections of the population into poverty. With this comes also a seriously worsening healthcare situation which is a direct consequence of the cuts imposed by the Troika, and suicides have also been going up in line with the increase in unemployment.

One year ago 60% of the Greek population said OXI [No] to the Troika’s austerity. One year later we see austerity continuing and getting much worse! I have been travelling to Greece at least once a year for close to twenty years to attend meetings and conferences and in the recent period the decline in living standards has been palpable.

Greece has been in and out of the news headlines, as other more pressing events push it into the background, such as the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, or the risk of a Brexit vote in the UK referendum on the EU, or the tumultuous class conflict gripping France. Nonetheless, Greece remains the weak point within the EU. Its crisis is being “managed”, i.e. delayed, but the country moves inexorably onwards towards a major crisis that will affect the whole of Europe.

On Sunday, May 22nd, the Greek Parliament voted in favour of a new austerity package. The austerity measures include a raise in taxes of 2.8 billion euros, the largest privatisation programme in the history of the country and the acceptance of an automatic mechanism that triggers generalised cuts in the event of excessive budget deficits in the future.

An analysis by the Greek comrades of the IMT of Thursday’s general strike, an important political development marking a new stage in the class struggle. But where should the movement go from here?

Spain is moving inexorably towards a Greek-style situation with Podemos potentially being placed in the same situation as SYRIZA. The same process is underway across the whole of Europe. Therefore the lessons of Greece must be taken on board by the European left if we are to avoid the same mistakes made by the SYRIZA leadership. Here we provide the outlines of a speech given by Stamatis Karagiannopoulos of the Greek Communist Tendency (the IMT in Greece) during his recent tour of Spain.

Here we provide an analysis of Popular Unity’s first steps, its programmatic statement and the political tasks facing the party. This was written before the recent Greek elections, in which the party failed to win any MPs, but its criticisms of the party programme and methods remains valid.

SYRIZA won the elections yesterday, which Tsipras claims gives him a mandate to continue on the road he had already embarked on this summer, i.e. to apply the conditions dictated by the Troika. He, however, conveniently ignores the not unimportant detail that his government coalition (SYRIZA-ANEL) lost a total of 416,000 compared to the vote in January.

Greece goes to the elections on Sunday, the outcome of which will be determined by several factors, an important one being the sense of betrayal and disappointment among many of the SYRIZA voters, but there is also a process of radicalisation taking place on the left.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras just announced he will step down. He has lost his parliamentary majority and Syriza is split, with left leader Lafazanis announcing the formation of a new party, Popular Unity. Speaking in a televised address last night, Tsipras stated that the Syriza government would tender its resignation and call an election. Tsipras said Greeks still have struggles ahead of them, but that Greece is “determined to honour” the latest so-called bailout package. What does this mean?

It was after midnight on July 15 when the Greek parliament finally approved an omnibus law containing all of the “prior actions” demanded by the institutions. The vote was met with strike action, demonstrations, a rebellion by 38 Syriza MPs and the opposition of the majority of the party’s Central Committee members. Tsipras survived but he had to rely on the votes of those parties which passed the previous two Memoranda which Syriza was elected to oppose.