Written by Daniel Sugasti
Monday, 20 July 2015 20:11
The betrayal is consummated. The Greek Parliament, at the request of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, approved the brutal colonialist package of measures that the Syriza’s government agreed with the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, IMF) a few days ago, in exchange for a third “bailout” that will benefit the German, French and Greek banks, which could reach 85,000 million euros in three years.
229 MPs out of 300 passed the deal; 64 rejected it, half of them belonging to the dissident wing in Syriza. Among those who opposed, the most notables are the current ministers Lafazanis and Stratoulis and the former ministers Varoufakis and Nadia Valavani, plus the president of the parliament, Zoe Konstantopoulou. Six Syriza’s parliamentarians abstained and one was absent .
Hours before the vote, thousands of protesters marched in Athens to protest against the adoption of the agreement. The trade union ADEDY, which brings together public service workers, called on a day of strike and a rally in the capital. There was also a demonstration of PAME, a trade union linked to the Greek Communist Party (KKE), which brought together more than 10,000 people in Omonia Square. Other parties, such as ANTARSYA also expressed their repudiation of the agreement. The Syriza government, determined to ensure the deal with Merkel – just as the parties of the “old politics” – sent the police to the Syntagma Square, which suppressed the protests and arrested dozens of anti-austerity activists.
Also in the afternoon, 52% of Syriza’s Central Committee released a declaration against the approval of the deal with the Troika.
Amid the heated climate, the session started. In a mood completely opposed to the recent massive rejection of austerity in the referendum, where the “NO” won by more than 61% of the vote, Tsipras succeeded to pass a much worse deal than the one rejected in the ballots with the enthusiastic support of the defeated “YES” parties: New Democracy, PASOK and To Potami.
Likewise, the Independent Greeks (ANEL), a xenophobic nationalist party allied with Syriza to form the government in January, had its 13 MPs approving the agreement. “If the government falls, there will be no hope for Greece, no hope for Europe,” said the leader of this group and Defense Minister Panos Kamenos.
Tsipras’s capitulation means a step forward in the process of Greece’s colonization, which has a harsh impact on the lives of the working people.
The Greek government must implement harsh austerity measures: increase in VAT, which will involve at least an increase of 720 euros per household; a reform of the pension system which raises the minimum age for retirement to 67 years in 2022; plus an original “fund” of public assets, controlled by the Troika, in which will be deposited the income from the privatization of ports, airports and possibly even the state electricity company. The Greek economy is definitely in the hands of imperialism.
In return, the Troika will “release” the money for “rescue” through a dropper. For now, the ECB offered a “bridge loan” of 7 billion euros for the next three months – with the explicit order to “recapitalize” the banks – as long as the adjustment measures are adopted strictly against the Greek people.
Obviously, as with the previous two “rescues”, the money will go to repay the IMF (two billion euros) and the ECB (3.5 billion euros). The remaining maturity is reckoned at 3 billion euros to the ECB in August, and 1,544 million euros to the IMF in September.
The subjection of countries like Greece to the dictates of the Troika generates the same vicious circle of Latin American debt. The more you pay, the more you owe. If the third bailout is fully disbursed, the “European aid to Greece” would reach 260 billion euros as from 2010. As we know, such “aid”, always accompanied by tremendous adjustment plans and colonization, not only was not asked by the people (indeed, was flatly rejected both in the last referendum and in more than 30 general strikes since 2010) but was never used to improve the lives of the Greek working people. Only 11% of this money was used for current expenses of the Greek State. The remaining 89% is allocated to interest payments and, to a lesser extent, to the amortization of the debt generated by the very “bailouts”.
When the global economic crisis began, the public debt represented 120% of Greek GDP. Today it is equivalent to 177%. This mechanism of spoliation is so perverse that the IMF itself admits that even blindly applying all the terrible austerity measures associated with this third “rescue” the Greek debt will be “nearly 200% of GDP” in less than two years . Tsipras and Syriza got a “good deal”!
Unity to face the colonial plan
The betrayal of Tsipras and Syriza should not cause demoralization. On the contrary, it should serve the working class and the unemployed and precarious youth to draw lessons.
The first one is that it is not possible to rely on the mechanisms of democracy for the rich. The Greek case, in this sense, is illustrative. The people voted for Syriza expressing mainly a rejection of the austerity that was being applied by the traditional parties, New Democracy and PASOK. More recently they clearly voted for NO to the colonial intent of the Troika. However, in the Parliament, away from the people, the government of Syriza, allied with the defeated YES parties outrageously transformed the NO into a YES to the dictates of finance capital.
The second important lesson is about the role that neo reformist parties (reformism without reforms) as Syriza in Greece or Podemos in the Spanish State, or the Portuguese Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc). Exactly for their reformist program, they are unable to break the capitalist rule and, despite the anti-austerity rhetoric, end up capitulating, or ruling, in the case of Greece, at the service of imperialism and of the colonization of their countries.
Inigo Errejón, considered the “number two” of Podemos, said: “We would support what is being supported by the Greek Parliament.” As Syriza, his party can’t see the horizon beyond the euro: “It was to agree or exit the euro.” The fundamental question, that reformism is incapable of accepting, is that there is no way to end austerity and prevent the colonization of Greece and Spain while staying in the euro zone.
The complete bankruptcy of these parties is most evident in the words of Varoufakis himself: “And then the referendum happened, and the referendum gave us an amazing boost, one that would have justified this type of energetic response against the ECB, but then that very night the government decided that the will of the people, this resounding ‘No’, should not be what energised the energetic approach. Instead it should lead to major concessions to the other side: the meeting of the council of political leaders, with our Prime Minister accepting the premise that whatever happens, whatever the other side does, we will never respond in any way that challenges them. And essentially that means folding… You cease to negotiate.”  Even in the field of negotiation, the former “radical” minister of Tsipras government can only admit the capitulation of Syriza.
True activists should reflect on the events in Greece. Disillusionment with Tsipras, highly progressive, must be transformed into anger and readiness to fight.
The task now is to unify the struggles of all sectors to face the austerity measures that will be applied by Tsipras. It’s needed to hit together and unite the working class and the youth. To maintain the mobilization steadily, but completely independently of both the government and employers parties.
As for the so-called “left Syriza” known as the Left Platform, it is necessary to demand them to break once and for all with this government and with that party. For a long time the role the Left Platform is reduced, in practice, to legitimize the decisions taken by Tsipras. They continued with him after the shameful agreement in February. What now? A clear split is necessary to launch an uncompromised opposition to the Syriza government, the main executor of the plans of the Troika in Greece.