Will Syriza take power in Greece?

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epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Protesters in Athens call for the debts to be written off. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamakai

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

With and Beyond Left Governments

I recently returned from a trip to Greece and keep wondering if there is a way to think about left governments, autonomy, self organization, power from below, confederation and the forces of the State all together – in the same conversation. The answer to this question is still outstanding …

For over 150 years one of the main political debates among those wanting to change the world, get rid of capitalism, and create something new based on equality and freedom is if this must be done through the state. The debate has been especially strong in Latin America over the past 15 years and has begun to dominate political discussions in Southern Europe with the rise of Podemos in Spain and victory of SYRIZA in Greece.

I am among those who do not believe that the state can be transformed from within. I am however a supporter of using left governments so as to open more space for movements, change repressive laws, codify gains the movements have made and receive material support for autonomous projects – as long as they are kept autonomous. How these things are accomplished is a complicated question and one that Latin America has been experimenting with for over a decade, particularly in Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina....



I have begun a project with movement participants in Greece to help facilitate the direct exchange of ideas and experiences with movement participants from Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela. Each country situation is quite different, with each government being progressively more radical and responsive to movements, though at the same time all are full of challenges. Each relationship the various autonomous movements have chosen with regard to the governments provide myriad of lessons and strategies on how, if and when to relate to the government, and most importantly, how this relationship can help strengthen autonomous projects and power from below. Each movement involved in the discussion so far is generally against the relationships that capitalism produces if not explicitly anti capitalist and believe in the development and expansion of power from below and to the left (as opposed to above). All movements, in Europe and Latin America, are involved in concrete projects, from recuperated workplaces, free health clinics, alternative forms of education (including degree programs) and some are mass community based movements, such as the Communal Councils and Communes in Venezuela.


montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

epaulo13 wrote:

Greece’s Government: ‘Molon Labe’

An high-ranking official close to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the Greek government is not planing to give in to its creditors’ pressures and go against the program they had promised to the Greek people who brought them to power.

Greece’s creditors — the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund — are asking for reforms that will bring more austerity to the country that already has more than half of its youth unemployed. The creditors are also asking for heavier taxation in sales, pension cuts up to 15% and cuts in public sector workers’ salaries, the government official said.

The official told capital.gr that the government is not even thinking to resign, noting that “if they want, let them try to overthrow us.”

The Greek government seems prepared to collide with creditors as negotiations continue to stall. The Greek side insists on the “red lines” it has drawn on certain measures while creditors insist that Athens should proceed with required reforms before any further financial aid is released. Thereby an agreement seems unlikely....


This is very clever from a political point of view. A lot of the gun-rights people in the US use "Molon Labe" as well. The Syrizia coalition has some right-wing elements attached to it. Who knows, it might stir some things up.

The whole Euro is an economic failure. They should break it up. It is not giving Europeans the economic prosperity a great trading area with floating exchange rates could have. Canada's ability to drop 20% without major economic disruption (35,000 jobs in Alberta mainly out of about 15,000,000) is a testimony to the validity of each economy having its own currency.

Making profit from countries on loans because of the abject failure of the Euro is not exactly a fair way to deal with countries in the Southern European area. They cannot collect taxes from rich people and suffer from hoarding, and therefore need to run in a constant state of inflation. You cannot impose a strong Euro on them, and whoever thought you could was either foolish, corrupt, or both.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Greece: The Noose Tightens

Events in Greece have taken a dramatic turn, and insolvency is at the gates. On April 20, the Greek government issued a decree forcing local authorities to place cash reserves at the Bank of Greece.

Two days later, Dimitris Mardas, the deputy minister of finance in charge of state revenue, declared that €400 million were missing to pay for pensions and salaries at the end of the month. A few hours later, he said the money was found and that he was now trying to constitute cash reserves. But according to sources, Mardas informed Syriza members of parliament at a meeting that same day that the state reserves wouldn’t be able to make all payments in May.

And that’s despite, in terms of debt payments, May being a relatively “easy” month, with only €750 million due to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), plus another 400 million in interest payments.

June will be more difficult, with €1.5 billion due to the IMF, €700 million to the European Institutions, and 500 million in interest payments. The burden is without a doubt untenable....

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

Perhaps a Golden Dawn-type government would be more acceptable to the EU authorities.

Mr. Magoo

You figure if the going gets tough, the electorate will see racism as the answer?

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

The Golden Dawn will not take over via democracy. Are you kidding? Add the right wing, some rich people, and some elements in the military, and you have the situation in Greece for much of the period after WW2. Fascism will be imposed on Greece.

The alternatives will be austerity or dictatorship. The Greek electorate is the least concern of the Fourth Reich.

Tom Vouloumanos

Thanks for many great links epaulo.

Here's an artcile I wrote for TeleSUR and Znet:


The article diiscusses Syriza's game plan

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

I just saw some of Greece's greatest assets today in Montreal.

A show called 'Agamemnon to Alexander' which is being held in Old Montreal, and closes tomorrow.

Just ONE of these pieces is worth more than what Greece owes the Fourth Reich.

I think this stuff has to be kept away from the Stormtroopers who will wish to plunder this booty for the Reich.

Queen Medea's Wreath is worth more than all the money in the world.

Germany owes Greece for occupation and plunder. They can pay up.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..txs tom. i enjoy the reseach. :)

The Greek Crisis: Syriza vs Europe

Moderated by Michal Rozworski. Presentations by:

  • Ingo Schmidt Academic Coordinator of Labour Studies at Athabasca University
  • Peter Prontzos social activist, teaches political science at Langara University
  • Natassa Romanou climate scientist at Columbia University, Syriza member and founding member of Syriza-NY

Sponsored by the SFU Institute for the Humanities, SFU International Studies and the Vancouver Ecosocialist Group, also media sponsor Ricochet. Recorded by dgSolidarity.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Greek Crisis: Very Little Wiggle Room for Syriza (video)

Newsclick interviewed Prof. Jayati Ghosh, Economist, Jawaharlal Nehru University to discuss the possibility of a Greek default in its IMF repayments....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

What does Greece look like at the grassroots?


The Anti-Fascist Movement

The rise of Golden Dawn during the years of crisis has led to the emergence of a larger anti-fascist movement.

The Nazis of Golden Dawn went from 0.3 percent (19,624 votes) in the parliamentary elections of 2009; to 6.9 percent (425,900 votes) in the 2012 parliamentary elections, putting them in sixth place among the political parties; to 9.4 percent (536,910 votes) in the European elections of May 2014; to 6.3 percent (388,387 votes) in the last parliamentary elections in January 2015, which put them in third place.

The decline from 2012 of 37,500 votes may seem small, but it is significant that the drop was concentrated in urban centers, particularly in working-class neighborhoods. Golden Dawn's rise to third place is a product of the weakness of other parties like To Potami and especially PASOK, the former ruling party. Golden Dawn's lower vote totals also came in an election where the main conservative party, New Democracy, lost votes, which is telling.

The main reasons for Golden Dawn's loss in popularity is the eruption of anti-fascist protests after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, a radical and hip hop artist killed by a fascist in September 2013, along with the lifting of protections enjoyed by the organization when the prosecution of Golden Dawn for being a criminal organization began.

Under this pressure, Golden Dawn was forced to make a turn, withdrawing its violent gangs from the streets and trying to show a more "responsible" profile, though still from the extreme right. The fascists' last attempt at a nationwide mobilization on March 21 is further evidence of the group's lower level of support--the organization was only able to mobilize between 300 and 500 people.

After the election of Golden Dawn's Führer Nikolaos Michaloliakos in Athens in February 2012 and the party's rapid growth in the June 2012 parliamentary vote, the fascists were emboldened and increased their street violence, mainly against immigrants. But the anti-fascist movement grew, answering the attacks of the fascists with increasingly large rallies and demonstrations.

The murder of Fyssas was a turning point. Some 20,000 people protested in Keratsini, the area where the murder took place. There were 35 demonstrations nationwide the next day and 100 demonstrations within the next two weeks. Protests in September 2014 to mark one year since the murder took place in 31 cities around the country.

Without this movement from below, it is likely that the neo-Nazis would have continued to increase their attacks and their numbers. Because of the lower level of activities of the fascists, the anti-fascist movement has not been as prominent. But this will change after the start of the trial of Golden Dawn on April 20....


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Greek finance minister hints at strained EU relations: 'I welcome their hatred'

The gulf between Greece and its creditors widened yet further on Sunday with the crisis-hit country’s finance minister brazenly tweeting that he has become a target of hate.


The increasingly ugly game of brinkmanship intensified as prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s radical-left Syriza coalition – elected on a pledge to end the painful cuts enforced on Athens in return for aid – warned of the risk of default if creditors continued to “asphyxiate” Greece by starving it of liquidity.

“We aren’t bluffing,” Syriza’s parliamentary spokesman Nikos Filis insisted at the weekend. “In July and August we have to pay a lot. We won’t be able to pay €20bn without having been financed.”

Attributing the deadlock in negotiations to the determination of lenders not to see other anti-austerity parties rise in Europe, he added: “The issue is essentially political. It’s not only limited to an economic negotiation. They don’t want the new Greek government, it doesn’t suit them. They’ve said it openly.”

Earlier, the country’s deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis said Athens might be forced “to take measures that until now we have tried to avoid” if the political uncertainty continued....



In case you had any doubts that Greece is supposed to act like a good debt vassal, the Eurogroup’s hissy fit over Yanis Varoufakis at last Friday’s meeting, which stoked a raft of unflattering articles, has now led it to demand to that Greek government remove him.



Syriza's slow motion betrayal accelerates:

Greece’s outspoken finance minister Yanis  Varoufakis has been sidelined after three months of fruitless talks with  international creditors, which culminated in an acrimonious meeting of eurozone  finance ministers last Friday.

The Athens stock market surged on the news of the reshuffle of the bailout  negotiators in which Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, promoted two  low-profile UK-trained economists.

. . . .

The shake-up signals that Mr Tsipras may be preparing to make concessions to  creditors as Greece struggles to raise €1bn to pay pensions and subsidies this  month, and repay loan and interest of €880m to the IMF by mid-May.



epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Take back the factory: worker control in the current crisis

This is an edited excerpt from Dario Azzellini’s new book, An Alternative Labour History: Worker Control and Workplace Democracy, just out from Zed. Photo: the recuperated Fabrique du Sud in France (by Jean-Luc Bibal).


Greece: Vio.Me from industrial glue to organic cleaners

Vio.Me in Thessaloniki used to produce industrial glue, insulant and various other chemically produced building materials. Since 2010 the workers agreed to be sent on unpaid leave every four to six weeks. Then the owners started reducing the workers’ wages, but assured them it was only a temporary measure and they would soon be paid the missing salaries. The owners’ main argument was that profits had fallen 15 to 20 percent. When the owners did not keep their promise to pay the unpaid back wages, the workers went on strike demanding to be paid. As a response to their struggle the owners simply gave up the factory in May 2011, leaving 70 unpaid workers behind. Later the workers found out that the company was still making profits and the “losses” were due to a loan that Vio.Me formally granted to the mother firm Philkeram Johnsosn. In July 2011 the workers decided to occupy the plant and take their future in their own hands (see chapter 10 on Greece for more details on Vio.Me in? context). As Vio.Me-worker Makis Anagnostou, Thessaloniki explains:

“When the factory was abandoned by the owners we first tried to negotiate with the politicians and the union bureaucracy. But we understood quickly that the only thing we were doing was wasting our time and slowing down the struggle. It was a difficult time; the crisis was showing sudden and intense effects. The suicide rate among workers in Greece rose a lot and we were worried that some of our fellow workers might commit suicide. Therefore we decided to open our labor conflict to society as a whole and the people became our allies. We discovered that the people we thought could not do anything in reality can do it all! Many workers did not agree with us or did not continue the struggle for other reasons. Among those of us who we took up the struggle, the common ground for our work is equality, participation and trust.”

Vio.Me became known internationally and inspired several other workers’ occupations in Greece, even if none was successful at keeping the workplace and/or production. The case best known internationally was the state-owned public broadcasting company, ERT (Ellinikí Radiofonía Tileórasi). After the government announced on June 11, 2013 that all public TV and radio stations would be closed (to be restructured and reopened with fewer workers, fewer rights and lower wages) workers and employees occupied the radio and produced their own program until they were brutally evicted on September 5.

The Vio.Me workers restarted production in February 2013.

“Now we produce organic cleanser not the industrial glue we produced before. Distribution is informal, we sell our products ourselves at markets, fairs and festivals, and a lot of products are distributed through the movements, social centers and shops that are part of the movements. What we did last year is basically keep the factory active. We cannot yet say we have had a very positive outcome regarding production, distribution and sales. Earnings are quite low and not enough to maintain all the workers. Therefore some workers have lost faith, or got tired and left Vio.Me. Recently our assembly decided unanimously to legalize our status by building a cooperative.”


montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

It is difficult but the workers must try to accumulate and deploy capital so they can gain market share. There could also be supply chain opportunities between worker-owned and worker-friendly companies. The system is so powerful it can be used against itself.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..this keiser & herbert piece discusses dual currencies. i don't necessarily agree with the point of view but found this aspect interesting. it could possibly create the space needed to decide what to do. it relieves the pressure placed by the troika to reach a deal. to cave. maybe. the currency discussion begins at 3:04.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

A Very European Coup


Following the German lead, the black arts of threat, blackmail and misinformation have been put into overdrive. Daily anonymous briefings and hostile commentary against the government in the press are accompanied by official threats about a pending ‘Grexit’. The Greek government did not reciprocate. It did not attack its tormentors and it formally complained about the continuous leaking of its negotiating position to the press despite a confidentiality agreement.

Get Syriza

No other interpretation can explain the emerging establishment position except “Get Syriza”: either overthrow the government or make it accept such humiliating conditions that it would lose popular support or make the party split. Yanis Varoufakis was told that if there is a liquidity problem the government should not pay salaries and pensions for a couple of months. The attacks soon took on a personal dimension – Varoufakis was attacked for his dress-code, didacticism, academicism and bad manners. He is “foolishly naïve”, he should be replaced – giving rise to a diplomatic incident with the Greek ambassador in Berlin lodging a formal complaint. The CEO of the Frankfurt stock exchange called Tsipras and Varoufakis “Taliban”, while Spiegel claimed that Varoufakis displays symptoms of psychosis. Like a schizophrenic he believes in a parallel reality in which it is not Syriza to blame but the capitalism around it.

The threats have been followed by punitive measures bordering on illegality. They have been described as fiscal strangulation and liquidity Chinese water torture. The Europeans are not returning to Greece the 1.9bl owed by the ECB on Greek bonds or any part of the last installment of 7bl from the previous agreement. Furthermore, the ECB piled on the pressure by pulling the normal credit lines and capping emergency lending. Mario Draghi, totally inappropriately for a “neutral” central banker, stated that if Greece continues with the privatisation of airports, it may receive some of the sums owed. As far as liquidity is concerned, the ECB has adopted a drip-drip approach offering small sums of euros to the banks and keeping them begging on a weekly basis. This is probably illegal. Greece is still part of the old bailout programme. The ECB as the issuing bank is legally obliged to offer liquidity to the Eurozone commercial banks....


montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

In Canada, we can use US Dollars, Pounds, or Euros as well as Canadian dollars, if the other party will take them. We can have accounts in all four of those currencies, so it is not even a matter of cash. There is no reason Greeks cannot use any currency they want. Greece could even issue its own currency, which would be well-taken up by speculators. Just the trading action on the new Drachma would be enough to keep it up. That money could go back to the Fourth Reich and Greece could carry on. The Greek Central Bank could keep pumping out New Drachmas and running down the Euro-Denominated debt, and issue US dollar bonds instead which would have no currency risk for outside investors. In turn, the Greek Central Bank would build up a reserve.

What Germany wants is a fascist coup in Greece so the profits will be extracted to the Fourth Reich expeditiously. Greece has all of the elements necessary to pull this off. Neo-Nazi collaborators and Golden Dawn, allied with the extreme rich who hold billions off shore (these families have been trading for centuries), and military elements.

The choice offered by Germany is austerity or dictatorship. The response from many Greeks to this may not result in either austerity or fascism. There may have to be activity to proactively defend the duly-elected government of Greece. In the West we like to think democracy was invented in Greece, however we are now finding similar systems have sprouted up all over the world from time to time.

This should be an offence to anyone who thinks of themselves as a basic democrat or believer in democracy. The Fourth Reich is trying to run over a democratically elected government in the country that at least in our tradition is the one which invented democracy.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

We do not need a national conflict between Greece and Germany

The day of the first national celebration under a left government in Greece brings up mixed feelings, especially given SYRIZA’s strident rhetorical opposition to nationalism prior to its recent electoral surge in crisis-struck Greece and its subsequent ascent to power on January 25th this year, exactly two months ago.
On March 25th, the decision of the SYRIZA-ANEL government to celebrate Independence Day with the usual major military parade in Athens combined with various parallel events, including traditional Greek songs and dances in the Greek capital’s downtown Syntagma Square, causes SYRIZA’s supporters on the Left embarrassment and even dismay; the decision comes amid rising concerns that SYRIZA is insufficiently prepared to stand up to  the nationalistic rhetoric of its right-wing coalition partner (ANEL-Independent Greeks) by asserting the value of concrete class and economic analysis.


Greek nationalism as a weapon against German economic hegemony?

Based on the above, one gets the impression that Greek nationalism is being employed as a weapon in response to German nationalism (or economic hegemony). Yet, at the same time and despite both the coalition with Independent Greeks (dictated understandably by the urgent economic agenda) and the very tough process SYRIZA has faced while trying to negotiate an end to austerity at EU level, the party has seemed largely unwilling to drop its progressive, liberal agenda: the government is putting forward a number of legislative bills that aim to defend human rights for marginalised groups –including immigrants, prisoners and same-sex couples– who have been consistently attacked in Greece, especially during the “austerity memoranda era”.
With the criminal Nazi gang Golden Dawn now the third largest party in parliament and its leaders now released from jail with their trial about to begin, SYRIZA is facing major challenges not only abroad but also on the domestic front.
In this context, and while embarking on yet another battle front with Germany regarding the war loan and reparations, one could argue that SYRIZA needs all the support it can get and it is thus understandable that it should seek to mobilise national pride at home. Yet, I believe Greek nationalism can not –or, more accurately, should not– be our response to any other nationalism....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

A Brief Clarification about Populism

By: Slavoj Žižek

A recent interview of mine, first published in Mexico and then reprinted in some other Latin-American countries and in El Pais, may have given a thoroughly wrong idea of where I stand towards the recent populist trend of radical politics.

Although the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela deserves a lot of criticism, we should nonetheless always bear in mind that it is also the victim of a well-orchestrated counter-revolution, especially of a long economic warfare....


When, on March 9 2015, President Obama issued an executive order declaring Venezuela a “national security threat,” did he not thereby give a green light to a coup d’etat? At a more “civilized” level, the same is happening with Greece.


German media recently characterized the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis as a psychotic who lives in his own universe different from ours – but is he really so radical? What is so enervating about Varoufakis is not his radicalness but his rational pragmatic modesty – no wonder many radical members of Syriza are already accusing him of capitulating to the EU. If one looks closely at the proposals offered by Varoufakis, one cannot help noticing that they consist of measures which, 40 years ago, were part of the standard moderate Social-Democratic agenda (in Sweden of the 1960s, the program of the government was much more radical). It is a sad sign of our times that today you have to belong to a radical Left to advocate these same measures – a sign of dark times but also a chance for the Left to occupy the space which, decades ago, was that of moderate Left center.

So what will happen if the Syriza government fails? The consequences will be catastrophic not only for Greece but for Europe itself: the eventual defeat of Syriza will add a new weight to the pessimist insight that the patient work of reforms is doomed to fail, that reformism, not a radical revolution, is the greatest utopia today (as Alberto Toscano put it). In short, it will confirm that we are approaching an era of much more radical violent struggle.



Governing is not easy, and it’s especially difficult in these situations. And Syriza leaders don’t have experience at it. They are not bad people, and in ordinary situations, they might even be good leaders. But the strategy being pursued is bad and their attitude based on being afraid of the Europeans is worse. This is a fight over power, and Greek leaders simply aren’t willing to advocate for their own people in any serious way. They are deluding themselves about who they are up against. The Greeks will feel dignified for a time with this new government, but that won’t last forever. And then the results will start to matter.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

The Syriza strategy has come to an end

In a joint interview with German daily Der Tagesspiegel and ThePressProject International, Syriza MP and economist Costas Lapavitsas says that the time has come for Greece and its partners to understand that “they are flogging a dead horse”.


So there is no middle way?

There is no middle way. The Eurozone will not allow it. Do I think the leadership was surprised? Yes, I suspect they were to a certain extent. Because my reading of the situation is that the leadership genuinely believed that you could change the political alignments, you could change electoral arithmetic, and on this basis change Europe, change European policies.

So what should the Greek government do in your opinion?

Greece needs to consider the true alternative path which is to leave this failed monetary union. It is clearly the only way that was there from the beginning – which is basically exit. If you are going to apply such a programme, as Syriza has proclaimed, which is not radical – Syriza’s programme is just moderate Keynesianism -, you need to think seriously of how you are going to get out of the confines of the Eurozone.

Do you think Syriza has the mandate for it?

A straight answer is no. Syriza has a mandate to fulfil its programme. Indirectly, not directly, it has a mandate to keep the country in the Eurozone. But this question was never openly posed to the Greek people.

Is the solution a referendum?

The first thing to do is not so much discuss the idea of a referendum but actually that of the alternative strategy. There has to be a genuine public debate at last. That’s not easy because for five years this country has been subjected to the most incredible misinformation and scaremongering campaigns. So the atmosphere has been very badly poisoned. It is not impossible to have this debate now but it is much more difficult than a few years back.

In my judgement, the best strategy right now is what I call a consensual and orderly exit. Not a contested exit.

Can you elaborate on that? 

I think Greece should set a target for itself to negotiate an exit basically without rupture, without falling out, without fighting, without unilateral actions. This would mean: Exit takes place and Greece seeks deep debt restructuring....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Greek Book Publishing in a Time of Crisis (video)

The Greek social and material crisis has forced many book stores and publishers to close while writers and readers are considering new political ideas. Some have decided to create their own self-organized publishing projects. Nikos Katsiaounis is a publisher that helped create such a project, Exarcheia Press. Journalist Chris Spannos traveled to Greece and interviewed Nikos about Greece's modern book publishing history, the emergence of self-organized publishers and the effect of capitalist crisis. Chris interviewed Nikos in the office of Exarcheia Press, named after the central Athens radical district Exarcheia.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Durand, Kouvelakis and Keucheyan: "Make common cause with Greece"

Syriza coming to power in Greece at the end of January has finally disproven the argument that it is possible to implement an alternative to neoliberalism within the framework of the European Union. The EU treaties are neoliberal, in their very DNA. Since the 1986 Single European Act, or even before then, we have seen constant proof of the EU’s neoliberal DNA, and even its hardening. Up till now, the untrammeled hegemony of neoliberalism could have been blamed on this or that government coming into office: in this view, the reason why austerity policies reigned across Europe was that a François Hollande, a Matteo Renzi or some other social-liberal lacked courage or betrayed their campaign commitments to reorient European policies.

But with Syriza, that argument has collapsed. After all, Alexis Tsipras and Yanis Varoufakis have clearly been working with some determination to try and bring about change at the continental level; but they have done so in vain. Since 4 February the European Central Bank has cut off the main source of financing for the Greek banking system, while the payments from Europe itself were broken off in summer of 2014.  The noose is tightening, pushing the country toward a disorderly bankruptcy and chaos, unless of course it accepts the humiliating terms imposed by the EU.

The conclusion? That the alternative to neoliberalism must proceed by way of a break with the European framework, and thus – how could it be any other? – through Greece leaving the Eurozone. Any basic self-defence measure that the Syriza government takes in the face of the constant aggression to which it is subjected by the EU and ECB, such as defaulting on the debt payment or taking the banking system into public hands, will place it outside of the Eurozone. And of course such a break would be no panacea. There are no good solutions for Greece, only less bad ones. But a break with the EU holds the possibility of a renaissance for this heroic people, which in recent years has been subjected to unprecedented torture-by-austerity....




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Greek debt default avoided after €200m payment to IMF

Greece gained some breathing space in its battle to stay solvent on Wednesday after it met the deadline for a €200m (£149m) debt payment and the European Central Bank extended its lifeline to the country’s banking system.

The International Monetary Fund confirmed it had received the repayment, allowing the debt-stricken country’s rescue package to remain in place until next week when another €750m is due to the Washington-based organisation.

In a separate boost for Athens, the ECB raised the ceiling on aid to Greek banks under its Emergency Liquidity Assistance programme by €2bn, to €78.9bn.

Amid fears of a bank run, the ECB has increased the limit gradually, keeping up the pressure on the Syriza-led government to strike a deal with its creditors.

The lending trio of the ECB, European Commission and IMF issued a formal statement on Wednesday presenting a united front, after reports that the IMF was pressing its partners to write off part of Greece’s debt.

The three institutions said they “share the same objective of helping Greece achieve financial stability and growth,” and would work towards “concrete” progress at Monday’s planned meeting of eurozone finance ministers.


Fears that Greece would run out of funds this week and miss a €2bn public sector pay and pensions bill alongside the IMF payment proved unfounded after the finance ministry scrambled together the funds. Athens has amassed a war chest to maintain debt repayments following a boost in tax returns, steep public spending cuts and the re-allocation of regional and local authority reserves to the central finance ministry....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

It’s Time for a Rupture

The Syriza government’s decision to transfer all available public sector funds to the Bank of Greece marks a political turning point. This high-risk move exposes in the clearest possible way the nature of the situation as it has evolved in the two and a half months since the February 20 agreement.

The argument that was put forward then in favor of that accord was that it “bought time,” at however painful a price, so as to prepare the ground for key summer negotiations.

The claim was that for a four-month period the European Central Bank would call a halt to the torture it had been imposing on the country’s economy since February 5, when it decided to terminate the most important mechanism for funding the Greek banks. As it is now generally recognized, the government was dragged into signing that unbalanced agreement through pressure from an accelerating outflow of bank deposits and the threat of bank collapse.

Now, with public coffers emptying to forestall a cutoff of debt servicing and inescapable state obligations, it is evident that the only time that has been bought is time that works to the advantage of the Europe institutions and that the Greek side is exposed to an intensifying blackmail as its position deteriorates.

The unprecedentedly belligerent climate at the Eurogroup meeting in Riga, with the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis being pilloried and ridiculed by his counterparts (even those from countries of the weight of Slovakia or Slovenia) shows clearly enough how much humiliation the government has had to swallow over the last two months....


ikosmos ikosmos's picture

[u]Russia invites Greece to be the 6th member of the new BRICS Development Bank.[/u]

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras thanked Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak for the invitation and said Greece is interested in the offer. The bank is expected to be one of the largest financial institutions to fund various infrastructure projects in the BRICS countries and emerging economies.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/business/20150511/1022006611.html#ixzz3ZrCYq987

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i feel it would be a mistake to hold a referendum. better to raise and educate on options.

Schäuble's subplot – a Grexit, it seems, no longer worries Germany


There was, though, one intriguing sub-plot. Germany, in the form of finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, suddenly seems taken by the idea of Greece holding a referendum.

“If the Greek government thinks it should have a referendum, then it should organise a referendum,” said Schäuble. “Maybe this would be the right measure to let the Greek people decide if it is ready to accept what is necessary, or if they want to have the other thing.” By the other thing, he means an exit from the euro.

In one sense, Berlin and Brussels’ sudden conversion to a plebiscite is surprising. When a former Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, suggested holding a referendum in 2011 he was summoned to Brussels and told to drop the idea sharpish. Asking the people to decide was deemed far too dangerous.

So what’s Schäuble’s game? Depressingly for Athens, the moral seems clear: a referendum no longer carries the same fear for Germany. Berlin thinks it holds a winning hand whatever happens....



..from post #325

Is the solution a referendum?

The first thing to do is not so much discuss the idea of a referendum but actually that of the alternative strategy. There has to be a genuine public debate at last. That’s not easy because for five years this country has been subjected to the most incredible misinformation and scaremongering campaigns. So the atmosphere has been very badly poisoned. It is not impossible to have this debate now but it is much more difficult than a few years back.

In my judgement, the best strategy right now is what I call a consensual and orderly exit. Not a contested exit.

Can you elaborate on that? 

I think Greece should set a target for itself to negotiate an exit basically without rupture, without falling out, without fighting, without unilateral actions. This would mean: Exit takes place and Greece seeks deep debt restructuring.


Russia Invites Greece to Join BRICS Bank


"Greece has been invited by Russia to become the sixth member of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB). The $100 B NDP is expected to compete with Western dominance and become one of the key lending institutions.

Tsipras said Greece is interested in the offer and promised to thoroughly examine it. The new bank is expected to challenge the two major Western led institutions, the World Bank and the IMF, and is expected to start functioning by the end of 2015, with headquarters in Shanghai."

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Greece Reconsiders Privatization of Largest Port

The Greek government will go ahead with the controversial sale of Greece's largest sea port, according to reports Thursday. Three companies have been invited to re-submit bids for the port of Piraeus, according to an anonymous official cited by Reuters. If accurate, this would mean the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has quietly reversed one of its more decisive policies since coming to power. In late January, the Tsipras government said it planned to keep a majority share in the port as part of “a strategic move to reconstruct the country's productive apparatus.” According to the official that spoke to Reuters, the government now hopes to complete the sale of the port between September and October....



The people voted Syriza and they got PASOK.

Mr. Magoo

The people voted fantasy and got reality.

"We have chutzpah!  We don't wear ties!  The rest of Europe is sure to fold!"

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i see no evidence that the people voted fantasy but there is plenty that some of the syriza leadership chased it. and i believe that all is not lost as syriza's direction can still be changed. that was not the case with pasok. there is more that has yet to be played out. the movements have been watching and have yet to come forward. it is doubtful syriza will use the police to crush them when they do. not like pasok did. these are important distinctions. imho.


Mr. Magoo wrote:

The people voted fantasy and got reality.

"We have chutzpah!  We don't wear ties!  The rest of Europe is sure to fold!"

They're living with the reality of austerity and the imposition of the shock doctrine. They can't afford to sit back smugly as someone halfway across the world can.

Mr. Magoo

They're living with the reality of austerity and the imposition of the shock doctrine.

And also with the reality of their country spending more money than it had.  But instead of voting in someone with a good idea for how to raise more money to pay their debts, they voted for someone whose solution to debt was to say "screw that debt!".

I doubt that this is about SYRIZA secretly being neo-liberals in sheep's clothing so much as about SYRIZA's plan just not having legs.

They can't afford to sit back smugly as someone halfway across the world can.

Gee willikers!  Are you referring to *me*?  Smile


Since coming to power in January, the Greek government, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza party, has believed that the threat of default – and thus of a financial crisis that might break up the euro – provides negotiating leverage…

But their calculation is based on a false premise. Tsipras and Varoufakis assume that a default would force Europe to choose between just two alternatives: expel Greece from the eurozone or offer it unconditional debt relief. But the European authorities have a third option in the event of a Greek default. Instead of forcing a “Grexit,” the EU could trap Greece inside the eurozone and starve it of money, then simply sit back and watch the Tsipras government’s domestic political support collapse.

. . . .

Tsipras and Varoufakis should have seen this coming…The Cyprus experience suggests that…the EU is likely to force Greece to stay in the euro and put it through an American-style municipal bankruptcy, like that of Detroit



epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Workers move to stop Greece’s Syriza government backsliding

The Greek government, led by the radical left Syriza party, is backsliding under pressure from the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF). But workers are not taking this lying down.

The government was in talks with EU finance ministers on Monday of last week, and had to pay £544 million in debt repayments to the IMF on Tuesday. 

The EU and IMF are pushing Greece closer to bankruptcy by withholding £5.2 billion of bailout funds in order to force through “reforms”.

Syriza has gone back on its “red line” that there would be no cuts to pensions. It is postponing the promise not to tax the first £8,700 of workers’ wages.

It has also agreed to privatise one of Europe’s largest ports in Piraeus, near Athens, and now the EU wants it to privatise energy too.

But workers at the formerly state-owned Hellenic Petroleum refinery have seen what privatisation means. An explosion there severely injured six workers on Friday of last week. On Saturday the whole refinery went on strike.

And the Piraeus dockers struck on Thursday of last week (see below).

Sacked workers marched into the offices of state broadcaster ERT in Athens on Monday of this week. 

Government legislation passed to get their jobs back will take time to implement. Workers were told they would return piecemeal, in alphabetical order....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Call for “rupture now” by the Political Secretariat & Central Committee of Syriza


For all those reasons, the only way out is the choice of rupture with the lenders. With a suspension of repayments [of the debt], measures that restrict the “freedom” of capital flight, governmental control over the banks, taxation of capital and of the rich for the financing of pro-people measures, support of this policy with any and all possible means, and with the possible break from the EMU.

 For all of the above, we invite you to discuss in the open event of Rproject on Tuesday 19/5 in 7:00pm at ESIEA. Today, the future of workers, unemployed, pensioners, young people is judged. And at the same time, the future of the Radical Left in Greece, but also internationally.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Greek PM Tsipras Seeks Deal Amid Reactions Within SYRIZA, Election Talk

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is seeking a realistic deal with creditors that will leave both sides satisfied amid voices within SYRIZA that call for a rift with the European Union. He even says that if the agreement is not voted by the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition, he may resort to elections.

Tsipras insists on a political solution and will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the sidelines of Thursday’s EU summit. Negotiations on a technical level are starting again on Monday in Brussels but they are progressing slowly, while there are concerns that it is very likely Athens will not be able to make the scheduled 1.5-billion-euro installment payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in June, starting with a payment of 300 million on June 5....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Greece and the need to make sacrifices

The choices before Greece are stark: either to accept the demands of the Eurogroup and its allies, or implement its government’s radical programmes and stick to them. If there is any real prospect of real change, the people must be willing to fight for it. It won’t happen by itself.

Despite its economic woes, the government still enjoys considerable popular support, both in its programmes and its efforts to negotiate an economic settlement. It is trying to negotiate a loosening of the noose around the country’s neck. But to really be free, it would need to cut the rope entirely. Radical? Yes. Painful? Definitely. Dangerous? Certainly, but it is the only way of achieving a level of autonomy that would allow a people to choose its government and the way in which it is governed. So which is it to be: rule by unelected European technocrats and the IMF, or rule by the people? Most people are not willing to make sacrifices but the alternative is perpetual slavery....


Abolish the bailout 100%': rally organised by Greece's public sector union Adedy in Athens, 11 May 2015. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

The moment of truth for SYRIZA

Antonis Davanellos, is a member of the Internationalist Workers Left (DEA) that co-founded SYRIZA, and currently a member of SYRIZA’s Central Committee and Political Secretariat and one of the party’s best-known left voices. In this article for DEA’s newspaper Workers’ Left, he analyzes the decisive confrontation to come in Greece.

MANY OF us didn't accept the rhetoric about SYRIZA's program put forward during the election campaign to gain votes, but which begged a crucial question: Would it be possible to carry out a radical anti-austerity program while accepting the limits of the eurozone and through negotiations with its "institutions"?

Today, we know the answer: No.

The EU and the IMF are trying to crush SYRIZA by forcing it to face a dilemma: Accept all the terms and conditions of integration into the euro system or face the immediate overthrow of the government. Their motive is both economic, because SYRIZA's anti-austerity program is incompatible with the prevailing policy, and also political, because they want to protect Europe against the spread of the SYRIZA-Podemos threat to austerity policies.


In any case, the crucial decisions cannot be made by a small and closed circle at the top, even with the best intentions. SYRIZA--from its central committee to its local branches--must be asked to decide. The party must stand against the headwinds that become increasingly menacing.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

SYRIZA faces a decisive test


CAN YOU give us an outline of the different positions within the party?

AS YOU can imagine, this is not so objective--it's my own point of view.

There is a right tendency within the party that says we must stay in power by any means necessary, and that means we will have to sign the agreement from the lenders, whatever that agreement contains.

There is a large center--let's say, a majority--around Tsipras that is saying we should fight for an agreement that is connected to the SYRIZA program, but not the whole thing, and that means not crossing the "red lines" that the government has said are non-negotiable--for example, no more cuts in wages and pensions imposed as a condition of the bailout. I think this majority is in a quandary now because the creditors aren't accepting these "red lines," and the government will have to announce by the end of the week what they have decided to do about it.

Then there is the left wing of the party that is saying the negotiations with the creditors has proven to be a huge trap, and we must get out before it's too late. That means not only defending the "red lines" that the government has insisted on but also supporting other measures that SYRIZA promised during the election campaign. When this debate comes to the Central Committee, the question will be what influence the left has and how much support it wins from a part of the center.

There is an open discussion in the Greek media asking Tsipras to confront the left within SYRIZA. There have some awful articles in the media demanding that Panagiotis Lafazanis, the best-known leader of the Left Platform, be expelled, along with DEA and others.

This shows that the Greek ruling class and its media understand the reality inside SYRIZA--that there is a strong left opposition. But it also needs to be said that for the moment, nobody has been expelled from SYRIZA, and there aren't even steps being taken in that direction.


The pressure on the government until now has mainly come from within the party, based on local chapters and organizations discussing this demand and pushing the government in that direction. But at the same time, the discussion has been going on in the hospitals and the health care system as a whole.

Now, for the first time, workers in the hospitals have decided to go on strike on May 20 to demand more personnel and more money for the public health care system. Organizations of SYRIZA will take part in this strike. This will send a new message to the government that it isn't possible to ask people to wait for so long when there are basic needs that have to be met.


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Europe faces second revolt as Portugal's ascendant Socialists spurn austerity

Europe faces the risk of a second revolt by Left-wing forces in the South after Portugal’s Socialist Party vowed to defy austerity demands from the country’s creditors and block any further sackings of public officials.

"We will carry out a reverse policy,” said Antonio Costa, the Socialist leader.

Mr Costa said a clear majority of his party wants to halt the “obsession with austerity”. Speaking to journalists in Lisbon as his country prepares for elections - expected in October - he insisted that Portugal must start rebuilding key parts of the public sector following the drastic cuts under the previous EU-IMF Troika regime.

The Socialists hold a narrow lead over the ruling conservative coalition in the opinion polls and may team up with far-Left parties, possibly even with the old Communist Party....


montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

Why not expropriate private property, use the income to pay off the debts, and then sell the properties off?

Mr. Magoo

Why stop there?  Expropriate the property, sell it, then expropriate it from the chump who bought it.  Repeat until financially solvent or until nobody cares to buy stolen property any more.

In fact, to NOT do so would be peculiarly inconsistent, wouldn't it?  You take Bob's property from him, sell it to Jim, and allow Jim to keep and enjoy it??