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
Surviving Capitalist Depression
Michael Emero · 12,009 views today · We live in a toxic society filled with toxic people. Even the ones with the best hearts- including ourselves- have been raised in ignorance, with disinformation. Our examples...
Real Underground Kingdom That Has Existed for Millions of Years Went Unnoticed, Until Recently...
Kid Krunk · 10,725 views today · 28 Stunning Photos Of The World’s Largest Cave
"The Myth of Time" - Martin Luther King Jr.
3 min · 9,870 views today · Excerpt from MLK Jr.'s last sermon, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution". Delivered at The National Cathedral on March 31, 1968 (4 days prior to his...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 8,161 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 7,999 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Hans Rosling Brilliantly Explains Complexity of Population and Resource Issues Using Simple Tools
3 min · 3,672 views today · Let me show you the world, says Swedish academic Han Rosling as he demonstrates the dynamics of population growth, child mortality and carbon dioxide emissions. The challenge...
The Price of Certainty
7 min · 2,837 views today · It’s alarming to see how polarized politics have become in the United States. The wider the gulf grows, the more people seem to be certain that the other side is wrong...
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 1,955 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,864 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...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 1,673 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
How to Fire Your Boss: A Worker's Guide to Direct action
IWW · 1,534 views today · The indignity of working-for-a-living is well-known to anyone who ever has. Democracy, the great principle on which our society is supposedly founded, is thrown out the window...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,481 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
True Justice Should Have Compassion in It
Thich Nhat Hanh · 1,434 views today · I believe that true justice should have compassion in it. When someone does something harmful, destructive, the destruction is done not only to the person who is the victim...
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 1,227 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch
Mark Greene · 723 views today · Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.
NRA's Trump Card - Inside Trump's Era of Guns
15 min · 645 views today · Deregulating silencers, broadening concealed carry and undercutting state gun laws are just a few likely changes after the National Rifle Association supported President Trump...
Growing Huge Amounts of Food on 1/2 an Acre - Urban Abundance
5 min · 487 views today · In the small town of Oxford, Kane and Fiona Hogan have transformed their urban 1/2-acre property into abundant veggie gardens. Their business Urban Gardener aims to build...
Meet the Earthship
7 min · 485 views today · Outside of Taos, New Mexico, you'll find a community of people living in off-grid homes made of garbage. The homes are called Earthships and were invented by Michael Reynolds...
Runaway Inequality Elected Trump. Here's How It Can Help Defeat Him
Les Leopold · 461 views today · One of the best forms of resistance will be our demand for a more equitable and humane economy
The Importance of Empathy
3 min · 414 views today · With an increasingly polarized and divided world, we need empathy more than ever before. Too often we are talking at each other, unable to listen and jumping to entirely wrong...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
The Rise of the Greek Left Is a Call for Pan-European change