The Rise of the Greek Left Is a Call for Pan-European change
By Antonis Broumas / roarmag.org
Jan 26, 2015

The Greeks have voted for SYRIZA in order to be able to breathe, but deeper aspirations for freedom, social justice and radical democracy are very high.

Welcome to Greece.

This is the first time since the Spanish revolution of 1936 that a left party wins general elections in Europe. In this weekend’s national elections in Greece the leftist SYRIZA took 149 out of 300 seats and will now form a coalition government with a small right-wing anti-austerity party to run the country.

After seven years of neoliberal overkill the Greek people overthrew the two-party regime that has been governing the country for the past 40 years with socially catastrophic results. The populist-right New Democracy (ND) party took 27,8% and the ex-socialist (now turned neoliberal) PASOK received a petty 4,6% of the votes. SYRIZA has increased its electoral base by 10% since the 2012 elections, by amassing the votes of the underclasses and the violently proletarianized lower middle class.

Change of course for a whole society

SYRIZA is the outcome of a 15 year collaboration between divergent political groups within the fragmented Greek left, which started at the times of the alter-globalization movement. It climbed from 4% to 27% in the 2012 elections, when it managed to represent the social dynamics of the massive social movements, which at that time shook the country and overthrew the previous PASOK government. As movements failed to provide tangible alternatives and the next ND-PASOK coalition government pushed harder on the neoliberal restructuring and its extreme right political agenda, the oppressed strata of Greek society again bestowed their hopes in representative politics.

In this context, SYRIZA has won yesterday’s elections by forging a social alliance on two specific proposals: (1) a social salvation plan to ameliorate the consequences of the neoliberal onslaught on the lower classes, and (2) a plan to re-negotiate the Greek public debt with the EU and the IMF, in order to make it sustainable. Although this moderate political program does not sound leftist, it constitutes a radical change of course from the neoliberal orthodoxy, which has been cemented in both the EU and global institutions, and gives hope not only for Greece but also for wider power shifts in the European Union.

Popular power on the surge

Strange as it seems, the rise of SYRIZA is the result of two years of decline in the Greek social movements. Yet these elections may signal the ignition of a new and stronger round of social struggles in Greece and beyond. The power of representation to passivize voters and stabilize the political system has lost ground. The poor have voted for SYRIZA in order to be able to breathe, but deeper aspirations for freedom, social justice and radical democracy are very high.

The youth, the precariat and the jobless form large and dynamic social groups that will not stay content with moderate social democratic politics. After too many years of suppression and amassing of movements’ power, militants from the grassroots are now mature enough to gain every inch of ground from the state and the Greek oligarchy and fight back from better positions. Social antagonism in Greece is bound to intensify for the right reasons.

Athens calling, echoes spread

The timing for a rise of popular power from below in Greece is better than ever, but its call now echoes throughout most of Europe. Apart from Podemos, Spain is a melting pot of grassroots alternatives and movements’ experiments with representative politics. Politicization at the social base also gives rise to strong leftist or left-populist parties in Ireland, Scotland and in Eastern Europe. Social mobilization in Italy and France rejuvenates. The European movements are more networked than ever before.

In addition, the peoples of the European periphery face similar social conditions due to years of neoliberal austerity and plunder. The victory of the Greek left echoes to them as a hope for radical changes in their own countries. If the European neoliberal elite attempts to crush Greece under hardline austerity, war will be brought home. An alternative Europe beyond the existing neoliberal structures of the European Union is indeed possible. Its future is vested in our hands. Now is the time to build our counter-attack.

Antonis Broumas is a lawyer, researcher and activist focusing on the interaction between law, technology and society. He participates in social movements that promote social autonomy and the global commons.

4.0 ·
1
Trending Today
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 12,997 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 6,649 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,981 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Obama's Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Stansfield Smith · 1,266 views today · It should be a scandal that leftists-liberals paint Trump as a special threat, a war mongerer – not Obama who is the first president to be at war everyday of his eight years...
"Desert Goddess" Remembers Arizona's Glen Canyon
7 min · 673 views today · In this excerpt from the award-winning documentary DamNation, filmmakers Ben Knight and Travis Rummel interview the "desert goddess," Katie Lee. When the Glen Canyon Dam was...
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 427 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 407 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Make The Serengeti Great Again | Resource Scarcity, Demagogues and How Creativity Can Trump Hate (2017)
5 min · 344 views today · A Familiar Tale of Resource Scarcity, Demagogues, and How Creativity Can Trump Hate A quick, original, illustrated allegory that pokes at the demagogues we’ve got with an...
The Political Elite: Idiots... or Criminals?
Michael Emero · 340 views today · I've been seeing a lot of people convinced that the DNC and all establishment Democrats are total idiots. How could they not be, when they sabotaged an easy win (Bernie) to...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 338 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 250 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Defiance in the Face of Oppression - Iranian Artist Atena Farghadani Defends the Right to Draw
Gavin Aung Than · 241 views today · Atena Farghadani is a 28-year-old Iranian artist. She was recently sentenced to 12 years and 9 months in prison for drawing a cartoon.  
Baraka (1992)
97 min · 238 views today · Featuring no conventional narrative, this film presents footage of people, places and things from around the world. From chaotic cities to barren wilderness, the movie takes...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 237 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Deconstructing Hierarchies: On Contrived Leadership and Arbitrary Positions of Power
Colin Jenkins · 231 views today · Bosses don't grow on trees. They don't magically appear at your job. They aren't born into their roles. They are created. They are manufactured to fulfill arbitrary positions...
This Zen Comic Is Full of Timeless Life Lessons
Gavin Aung Than · 224 views today · Desiderata poem by Max Ehrmann beautifully illustrated by Gavin Aung Than
HUMAN (2015)
382 min · 205 views today · What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery?  Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 196 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 195 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 170 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
The Rise of the Greek Left Is a Call for Pan-European change