Greece: The fall of Tsipras, discredited by his submission to capital

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
July 8, 2019

In Greece, the right wing has just won the parliamentary elections, forcing former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to leave the scene. As head of Syriza, a party that raised so much hope among Greek people, he spent four years in power.

During his stint as head of state,  Alexis Tsipras was presented as a left-winger, capable of resisting the big banks that wanted to force the Greek people to pay a colossal debt for which they were not responsible.

The country was strangled by financiers. Greek municipalities, or hospitals or even individuals were sucked into the spiral of over-indebtedness. The financial speculation on Greece’s debt put the country on the brink of collapse.

As soon as they heard the first rumbles of an economic crash, Greece’s creditors placed the country under the authority of a troika representing the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund which started controlling the Greek budget. Under their expert guidance, the successive Greek governments adopted fierce austerity measures against an already impoverished population.

In three years, unemployment quadrupled to 27%. Salaries were halved. Public services broke down: the sick could no longer be treated and necessary medicine was unavailable. The number of people evicted from their homes went sky-high.

When the right wing and the Socialist Party, who enforced these austerity plans, were rejected by working people, there emerged a new party, Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipras, who claimed that once in power,he would stand up to the banks abowing down.nd leaders of the most powerful countries of the European Union, starting with France and Germany.

In January 2015, Syriza won the parliamentary elections with 36% of the vote. Tsipras became Prime Minister. His victory was celebrated in Greece and even outside Greece. In many countries, workers approved Tsipras’s will to oppose financiers.

For five months, Tsipras refused to adopt the austerity measures that the troika was urging him to take. At the beginning of July 2015, he held a referendum in which 60% of all Greek voters confirmed they supported him.

But Tsipras's ambition was merely to be allowed to attend the summit meetings where the financial plans and conditions were being discussed, without ever seeking the active mobilization of workers. With such a policy, he could only end up bowing down.

For one thing,  the bigger banks and governments were not ready to yield anything.They didn’t want Greece’s show of resistance to become an example. For them, “debts have to be paid”!

The banks and governments then decided to cut off all credit to Greece. And, just eight days after the referendum that had just given him the support of the population, Tsipras gave in. He agreed to impose a new austerity and privatization plan despite workers' protests.

For years, Syriza raised many illusions before carrying out austerity policies. The workers’ reaction to Syriza’s trickery is understandable. Not surprisingly, the right wing which was completely discredited a few years back, has taken advantage of this opportunity and is back in power. It will impose more austerity plans and anti-working class policies. It will also add its deeply reactionary touch to a country which experienced military dictatorship from 1967 to 1974.

As workers, we think that the lesson to be drawn from these events is that those who claim to oppose the power of money without attacking the roots of bourgeois power are condemned to become the new servants of capital owners.

Their policy leads into a dead end and the illusions they create disarm the working class. No supreme savior will save us. Our only perspective is to fight it out ourselves. Our only goal is the expropriation of the big banks and big companies. The real utopians are not those whose aim is to overthrow the capitalist social order, but those who believe that the interests of workers are reconcilable with the domination of big capital.