Written by Ricardo Ayala and Gabriel Huland
Monday, 19 January 2015 15:50
After the failed attempt by Prime Minister Andonis Samaras to secure his choice of Presidental candidate, Stavros Dimas in three consecutive ballots, the government has been forced to call an early election.
The loss of control in parliament over who should be the new president is just an expression of the division and crisis in the coalition ND-PASOK in response to the new set of policies demanded by the Troika (the European Commission, the European Central bank and the IMF). This is what really explains the early call for election.
Last December, the ministers of economy in the Eurozone agreed an extension until the end of February for the “Greece bailout”, meanwhile, the granting of the last part of the bailout – 1,800 million euros – would depend on the parliament’s approval of new cuts in salaries, pensions, increase in the VAT and medicine, food, water and energy taxes, termination of public jobs… and the government Samaras/Vernizelos had the pen ready for signing.
The announcement of the memorandum was largely rejected by a hard pressed and desperate people. The general strike in November against the new policies showed that workers were ready to fight back. In addition, the PASOK split: the parliamentary group led by the former prime minister Papandreou formed a new party, the Movement of Democrat Socialists, which removed its support for the coalition and broke up with the duo Samaras (ND)-Vernizelos (PASOK) challenging their majority in the parliament.
The government’s explosion is a result of its inability to impose a new round of attacks on the workers and reflects a division in the ruling class. Greece is again the center of the European situation, nevertheless, the situation is different now. The fights are not concentrated in the Southern countries: a general strike in Belgium and Italy, the demonstration against the set of reforms in France and the mobilisations against cuts in the Netherlands join the opening of a new “front” for the European imperialism.
Said this, what happens today in Greece transcends, by far, the limits of the Hellenic peninsula. The defeat of the Memorandum parties, the victory of the Greek left, and the formation of a government who opposes Troika would be a victory for all European workers. It would show to all of them that it is possible to defeat the Troika and it would open a better scenario to fight back the adjustment.
This is a possibility. But there are big challenges to overcome before the possibility becomes a reality. Syriza still has to guarantee its majority in the election, and in the event of a victory: how keen is Syriza to resist the pressure from European and North American imperialism in order to stop the social catastrophe in Greece?
Electoral polarisation: imperialist pressure before the election
The latest polls published on the media (5 Jan) placed Syriza top, between 28% and 30% of the votes.  Due to the electoral system in Greece, Syriza would need 3% more to get the “reward” of 50 PM that would grant it absolute majority. New Democracy (ND), oscillates between 25% and 28%, followed by the neo-nazi Golden Dawn with between 6% and 8%. The stalinists, KKE and ToPotami (‘The River’, a populist party led by the TV host Stavros Theodorakis), would get 5%. Last in the list is PASOK with 4% (although in some polls they have only 2.2%), behind the Movement of Democrat Socialists which has 4.8%.
Papandreou’s party (MDS) tries to avoid the free fall of the social-democrats, which currently would end out of the parliament. In like situation are the nationalists Independent Greeks, and Dimar (Democratic Left), a split of Synaspismos, which is a major group inside Syriza.
But once again, as it happened in 2012, the meddling of the European imperialist states is interfering in the elections: Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, stated that “I assume that the Greeks — who don’t have an easy life, above all the many poor people — know very well what a wrong election result would mean for Greece and the euro zone.” He also said he was not averse to seeing “familiar faces” remaining in charge and that he would not like “extremist forces” in power. And Samaras, echoing the screams from the EU: our party winning or chaos… as if most Greeks were living in paradise.
The head of German imperialism, Merkel, has opted to discuss in other terms the hypothesis of Samaras’ electoral defeat. A German report from the news magazine Der Spiegel said Angela Merkel is prepared to let Greece quit the euro zone should the people elect a government that abandons austerity, a possibility called “Grexit.” For Merkel, exiting Euro is tantamount to not fulfilling the Memorandum.
According to some media, as Economist, while imperialism, specially Germany, hopes for an absolute majority of Samaras, it doesn’t discard negotiating with a Tsipras government, given that according to the journalist, in spite of the European crisis, The systemic risk for the euro zone of Greece leaving is less salient than in 2012, and thus, the rule is: either previous governments’ agreements are followed point by point or the hypothesis of or the idea of Greece exiting the Euro zone can implemented without further notice. 
The double tactics by Merkel has a clear goal: to push Syriza to avoid any unilateral decision concerning debt. Schäuble, the all-mighty German minister of Finance said it this way: “If Greece goes in another direction then that’s going to be a difficult situation. Every new government needs to fulfil the contractual agreements of its predecessors,” and added that it would not be changed by possible new elections.
But, how is Syriza replying to this pressure from imperialism?
“Our proposals have been calibrated in a way that they do not violate any of the Treaties”
The previous quote is from Yannis Varoufakis,  an economist at the University of Athens, and likely to be a member of Tsipras administration. The sentence summarises the general meaning of the changes in Syriza’s programme carried out in its last conference in Thessaloniki. As the suspension of debt payment, defended in the 2012 election campaign does not fit in the agreements with the EU, Tsipras claims now that:
“We negotiate within the framework of the EU and European institutions as part of a new realistic debt servicing agreement and development of the real economy for mutual benefit, in order to ultimately achieve the following objectives: Deleting most of the nominal value of the debt to become sustainable by means of a technique that does not harm the people of Europe, but through collective European mechanisms.”
The argument to change the programme is even more remarkable than the change itself: is it the case that not paying the parasitic German and French bankers means harming the people of Europe? By substituting fictional names for real names: “people of Europe” for bankers, Tsipras agrees with the framework proposed by Schäuble.
The cornerstone of the programme is not posing any measure that would question “the scope of EU and the European institutions”, fit for pillaging and subduing the peripheral countries to the dictates of financial capital.
By proposing: “deleting most of the nominal value of the debt”, the programme is ambiguous enough to avoid stating clearly the “size” that Tsipras expects to reduce, but Varoufakis stress that:
Of course, the outcome of that debate would be a compromise. Alexis Tsipras, leader of Syriza knows that: When we start a negotiation, we look for a compromise acceptable by all parts. (Highlighted by the author).
As Tsipras has just dismissed the suspension of debt payment, the question is how much can the German imperialism yield in a negotiation with a future Syriza government?
German imperialism’s attitude by stating that if Greece exits the Euro zone it wouldn’t entail any “systemic” risk is based on the fact that the Greek bailout mechanism was an operation to save French and German banks, which held 26,300 million and 19,800 million Euro from the Greek debt respectively. According to Citibank, the bailout was aimed at reducing the major banks’ share of the Greek debt to 8% in 2015. According to the last data: On average, the total exposure of banks to the Greek debt has been reduced by 55% since 2010. In the case of European banks, the reduction is 60%. But in specific cases, as with the French, Austrian, Belgian, Irish or Portuguese banks, the reductions are bigger than 90%, being Italy the main exponent. According to the BIS, the trans-alpine entities have fully canceled the exposure to Greece. 
That is: the bailout was, indeed, used to buy the banks’ debt and transfer it to the ECB, IMF or EU that hold today most of the Greek debt at the expense of the people’s poverty.
This is why according to Merkel, the Euro, meaning French and German banks, are not in danger. Currently, it is just a political problem to the German imperialism: while France, Italy and Belgium start the deepest adjustment measures, with budget cuts and labour law reforms, it’s unlikely that any real concessions are made, beyond those that the Greek workers can grab by their fights.
There is no way of breaking up with the spiral of budget cuts, salary cuts and pension and labour law reforms, of finishing unemployment without questioning the deepest needs of the imperialist capital embodied in EU. This is the only realistic and pragmatic viewpoint, given that there are no measures to be applied by a future Syriza government that would lessen the social catastrophe in Greece while maintaining the subordination to the agreements that are pillaging the country.
Tsipras: “You can’t repay a debt if you’re not allowed to work”
The profitable business of the public debt after the intervention of Troika grows dramatically: The Greek debt in 2008 was 223,000 million Euros (112.9% of the GDP) while in the third quarter of 2014 it was 321,700 million Euros (117.7%). This means that the country should surrender its whole two-years production to creditors abroad in order to pay it back.
But as we all know that it’s impossible, the debt becomes a tool for pillaging the country and over-exploiting workers at the service of the international financial capital and its satellites in Greece.
In addition to public debt, Greek companies and banks hold equally a debt that is paid through reductions in workers’ wages and precarious jobs. Nevertheless, Tsipras states that the target is not to finish this macabre spiral, but:
“In order to be fully transparent, we’ve been clear about our intention to renegotiate the terms of the debt. We will seek to have a large part of the debt waived, and the repayment of the balance subject to a growth clause. You can’t repay a debt if you’re not allowed to work.” 
One wonders, though: to work for what? And the answer is quite simple: to pay back the debt to the EU institutions in order to prevent the bankrupt of the National Bank, the Piraeus, Alpha Bank and of the indebted companies with the very banks. In order to pay back the debt, Greek workers’ income has decreased 40% since the bailout started, so Greek workers, in opposition to Tsipras statement, have worked relentlessly to pay the debt to bankers and business owners.
But Yannis Varoufakis, likely to be in a Syriza’s cabinet, goes beyond, for he proposes to keep on paying the debt. He states that he will keep flexibility of the labour market and a primary surplus according to negotiation . This statement is in line with the programme passed in the Thesaloniki conference, which does not defend the abolishment of the labour law reforms approved by the governments of the Memorandum.
Concerning the reduction of working hours to ease unemployment there is no single word, following Tsipras assert: “You can’t repay a debt if you’re not allowed to work.”
Not less is the change about the renationalisation of privatised companies defended by Syriza in 2012. Varoufakis explains:
“… renationalisation will be impossible, given the lack of liquid assets of the state. Regarding public services, the problem is not the fact that they have been privatised. The problem is that they were dismantled or strangled by austerity and terrible cuts…”
Social catastrophe is deepening
Greece has been devastated by six years of recession that made workers 40% poorer than in 2008. After the bailout, labour law reforms and continuous adjustment plans, added by a strict supervision by the Troika, the social catastrophe resembles that of a country destroyed by war.
In 2014 unemployment among young people, 15 to 24, reached 49.5% (56.6% for women). 66% of unemployed people are long term (over two years), and around 2,500,000 people don’t have National Insurance coverage (out of a population of 10,000,000).
The country experienced in the last seven years an economic reduction higher than 25%. The GDP per capita in 2013 fell to 12,500 Euros, going back to 2001 figures, being 4,874 Euros less than in 2008 (17,374 Euros) when the crisis started.
Having said this, the dilemma in Greece is the following; there is no chance of making reforms without splits.
The choice of Syriza’s leadership of opposing the Memorandum while defending whatever the cost the stay in the Euro zone have no counterpart in the French and German imperialism. There is no way to circumvent a problem which is posed by actuallity itself. A partial payment of the debt will not stop the social catastrophe, because it would not break Greece’s subordination imposed by imperialism’s chains.
Syriza is at a crossroads: the expulsion of Greece from the euro zone if Syriza does not accept the Memorandum as a whole or, if it does poorly for German demands, it can come in the form of a “bank closure” by the ECB, without a “formal expulsion” from the euro zone. This would lead to complete paralysis of trade and production.
This framework would present the need of leveraging the working class organisation and mobilisation for the re-nationalisation of banking and foreign trading, and measures against the interests of capitalists, both imperialists and Greek. Likewise, the expropriation of major industries and companies, under workers’ control would be at the basis of an emergency plan whose main goal is to guarantee the fulfillment of the most urgent needs of the Greek people: food, health, transport, energy, etc. And most importantly, appeal to international solidarity, in particular to European workers, that are returning to the path of general strikes in Italy and Belgium. If things don’t go this way, the cost of exiting the Euro will be paid by most of the population. But this measures are totally out of the horizon of Syriza’s leadership and they will never apply them.
There is also the possibility of accepting the EU demands to avoid being expelled from the Euro zone, keeping the Greek people in agony. Accepting the second choice is to bet sentencing the Greek people to poverty. This situation would also lay out as a hypothesis the strengthening of Golden Dawn, as bearers of the “split with the EU and Euro zone” slogan, which according to some polls it gathers currently 8% of the voting intention.
In the oncoming election Syriza becomes the main tool of the Greek workers to beat the parties of the Memorandum and the pillage. Because of this, we call for a vote for Syriza. And we call the Greek workers and Syriza’s rank and file to demand from Syriza to split with the economic model based on debt and pillage, because any partial payment of the debt will maintain the spiral of degradation and the sentence to poverty of the Greek people.
We assert that the only actual way to satisfy the big expectations of Syriza’s rank and file and voters must be: the immediate suspension of the debt payment and the refusal of any agreement with the Greek capital and the EU institutions. And although the break with the Euro zone is not part of their programme they must assume it as an inevitable consequence to break with the looting of the country by suspending the payment of the debt.
We also warn the workers that beating the parties of the Memorandum is only the first step, for voting is not enough: it is required to advance in the struggle and to prepare to fight back the attacks of imperialism and the Greek capitalists.
Finally, any of the hypotheses of development of a Syriza’s government is determined by whether or not the workers are able to occupy the center of the political stage, and forge a leadership to match the ongoing events.
 Polls by E-Voice, Palmos (http://electomania.es/grecia-syriza-al-borde-de-la-mayoria-absoluta-o-nd-recorta-distancia/)
 According to the Greek electoral system, a party would get absolute majority if they obtain 33% of the votes.
 “What this suggests is that the pressures within Greece to avoid a confrontation, either by Syriza doing less well than expected at the polls, or through a more emollient stance by Mr Tsipras if he does win power, may just be sufficient to avoid a Grexit.” How Greece might avoid a Grexit, The Economist. Jan 5th 2015, by P.W.
 Some analysts question Merkel’s certainty on the possibility of “contagion” of a new Greek default. They claim that the reduction of Germany’s exposure is small compared to other countries. For further reference: La banca alemana concentra la mayor exposición a la deúda grega del mundo.
 The telegraph. (December 2014). Greek candidate willing to call European leaders’ bluff.
 Wolfgang Münchau, one of the most influencial Financial Times columnists, has stated: Let us assume that you share the global consensus view on what the euro zone should do right now. Specifically, you want to see more public-sector investment and debt restructuring. At the same time he states that this measure would anticipate what is inevitable; the inability of Greece to keep on with the payment and the restructuring would maintain the basis of the current model. Radical left is right about Europe’s debt