Greek Solidarity Campaign update 4Posted: June 19, 2012
18 JUNE 2012
1. A CLOSE FINISH: New Democracy 29.66%; SYRIZA 26.89%. Yes, the election result is a disappointment; but it should be noted that Syriza’s vote rose from 4.6% in 2009 to 26.89% on Sunday 17 June 2012. In contrast, New Democracy’s fell from 33.5% in 2009 to 29.66% this time and PASOK’s from 43.9% to 12.28%.
The EU establishment had threatened the Greeks with Armageddon if they didn’t vote the right way. Alex Tsipras commented, “The future does not belong to those who terrorise but to those who bring hope.”
Middle-of-the road commentator Nick Malkoutzis said: “SYRIZA, with the freedom it will have as an opposition party and boosted by the swelling current of support that swept it to second place on Sunday, will be in a position to become a formidable force of resistance. In the fluctuating world of Greek politics, Sunday’s defeat may yet prove a victory for the leftists.” Full election results and Vangelis’s ‘take’ on the results given below.
2. THE NEXT GSC ORGANISING MEETING IS THIS WEDNESDAY - for discussions about the post-electoral situation in Greece, reporting on and planning solidarity work -is from 6.30 to 8pm on Wednesday 20 June at UNITE OFFICES, 128 Theobalds Road Holborn, WC1X 8TN (between Old Gloucester St and Boswell St – nearest tube Holborn, on Central and Piccadilly lines), followed by a drink in a local pub.
3. MONDAY 18th JUNE – 7 pm Boothroyd Room Portcullis House (near Parliament) – Jeremy Corbyn MP, Manuel Cortes (Gen Sec TSSA), Professor Vassilis Fouskas (Richmond University), Maria Margaronis (The Nation), on ‘LESSONS FROM GREECE. (organised by next generation labour
4. ON TUESDAY 19 JUNE, come and hear TONY BENN AT THE COALITION OF RESISTANCE PUBLIC MEETING – STOP THE CUTS / DEFEND OUR SERVICES / RECLAIM THE NHS at 6.30 Friends Meeting House (almost opposite Euston station), Euston Road, London NW1 with Stathis Kouvelakis a Syriza candidate in Sunday’s election, Len McCluskey (UNITE general secretary), Christine Blower (NUT general secretary), Wendy Savage (Keep Our NHS Public), Katy Clark (Labour MP), Salma Yaqoob (Respect), Owen Jones, Clare Solomon (Co-editor of ‘Springtime: the new student rebellions’), Rachel Newton (People’s Charter), Danielle Obono (Front de Gauche), Andrew Burgin (CoR), Vassilis Fouskas (Professor at Richmond University) Chaired by Romayne Phoenix (Chair of CoR and Green Party).
5. LAST SUNDAY’S ELECTION DAY SOLIDARITY EVENT - 17th June - outside the European Commission building and then, briefly, on Parliament Square had, at its peak, 50 people. See attached photo which also shows the new GSC Banner made by Alice Kilroy. It was a good-spirited event. Some of the slogans used: “IMF and Goldman Sachs / Give the Greeks their money back // We’ll break open the Metaxas / When Lagarde starts paying taxes // The Troika and their banker backers/ Are just a bunch of rich malakas // Don’t believe the propaganda / Greeks don’t need the memoranda // Don’t be bashful, don’t be shy / Seize the time and Occupy // In Athens London and Berlin / We’ll fight back and we will win // In or out the Euro-zone / Greece shall never stand alone!”
6. UNISON NORTH Mental Health & Community Branch in Conjunction with REEL News Film Night on what is happening in Greece ‘ Greece – Our Present is Your Future’ – Chestnut Community Centre, 280 St Ann’s Road N15 5BN 7-9pm Wed June 28.
7. RECENT AFFILIATIONS include: national train drivers’ union ASLEF, TSSA, SERTUC, Islington UNISON. JOIN UP! You can be a supporter (which puts you on mailing lists for free) or a member with voting rights for £1 per month. As a number of national unions and the South East Regional TUC have already, you can also affiliate an organisation.http://www.greecesolidarity.org/?page_id=37 You can run off an information leaflet with membership form http://www.greecesolidarity.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Greece-Solidarity-Leaflet.pdf
8. FINAL FULL ELECTION RESULTS
VOTES FOR PARTIES WITH NO SEATS
|Recreate Greece – Action – Liberal Alliance (DX-DRASI-FS)||
|Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS)||
|Ecologist Greens (OP)||
|I Don’t Pay Movement||
|Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow (ANTARSYA)||
9. Some personal comments on the election results from Vangelis, who has been sending the GSC daily reports from Greece: “The Left in Total received 1.9m votes in May which has now increased to 2.3m ie by 20%. ND made illegal immigration its main point in the last week alongside the costing of economic measures. From 2.25m votes in May ND and PASOK together increased their total vote by 10% to 2.5m votes. Syriza in the final week stated the following, in Proto Thema which the media replayed and replayed -immigrants would get unemployment benefits and would get to bring their families to Greece. … The KKE whose slogan was a Strong KKE lost half its electoral base, it is now where Syriza was in 2004 and 2009. It’s now the last party in Parliament with 12 MPs. The KKE lost severely in the working class districts of Piraeus and central Athens, hovering around 3%. Abstention became a historic high at 37.5% of the vote; in certain areas like Florina it reached 60%. The farming areas in Crete switched from PASOK to Syriza. PASOK lost 1% but around 100,000 votes. GD (fascists) marginally lost 15k but maintained its electoral base in contrast to what the KKE argued that people should ‘correct their voting behaviour’. IG lost many votes that probably went to ND after its anti-immigrant turn. LAOS was wiped out and this will be the future of Democratic Left.”
10. GSC LETTER IN THE GUARDIAN (1 June 2012) http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jun/01/save-europe-many-not-few
“The Greek people’s democratic rejection of the policies of austerity on 6 May could not be clearer. Christine Lagarde told the Guardian that the Greeks must pay their taxes (It’s payback time: don’t expect sympathy, 22 May; Christine Lagarde’s Greek comments provoke fury, 28 May). This is an issue. Last year alone, $8bn in collectible taxes in Greecewere in arrears – half the country’s annual deficit. But if those of us outside Greece want to comment on this issue for the Greeks, let’s be clear where this money is. In Greece, as in the UK, the problem of tax avoidance and evasion is caused by the wealthiest. The Greek shipping magnates and their families live virtually tax-free. Their shipping assets alone are estimated at $85bn. Fleets are based offshore to avoid taxes, and the wealth is secreted in offshore accounts. In short, they enjoy a position that Christine Lagarde, on her tax-free salary from the IMF, will be familiar with. It is those opposing austerity in Greece who are calling for action to make the wealthy in Greece pay their share. The Greek people voted against austerity and are demanding action on corruption at the top. The progressive, anti-austerity Greek politicians are campaigning for an overhaul of the tax system, for a public inquiry into where the money borrowed went to, and for corrupt MPs to be no longer immune from prosecution.
“The EU memorandums imposed on the Greek people are not democratic, just or humane. They will also fail to restore stability to the euro, as will abandoning Greece, building so-called “walls against contagion”. In 2008, banks in Britain and Iceland were bailed out and nationalised to stop what was feared would be a worldwide collapse of the finance sector. We need similar radical action now. But this time it shouldn’t be to shore up the super rich, but to benefit all society, starting with the interests of the Greek and European “99%”. It is not true that there are no alternatives to austerity. What is true is that there are no alternatives that don’t challenge the right of the 1% to carry on amassing vast wealth and contributing no social benefit. The bravery and determination of the Greek people in the face of bullying and threats from the EU/IMF and World Bank and their own corrupt political and economic leaders should be applauded by all of us. – Tony Benn and Rachel Newton, Secretary, Greece Solidarity Campaign”
“Congress notes the increasing cuts in public services, including education, in countries across Europe and the severe attacks on education workers’ pay and conditions. Greece is at the cutting edge of the neo-liberal austerity measures that are being introduced across Europe. Greek people face an avalanche of cuts to pay debts incurred by bankers and politicians. These cuts are exacerbating the economic situation.
Congress notes that in Greece: unemployment is 20% overall (50% for young people); public sector workers’ wages have fallen by up to 40%; the minimum wage has been cut by 20%; the EU-ECB-IMF ‘Troika’ imposed an unelected banker as Greek PM; that on 6 May, as soon as they had the chance, Greek electors switched their vote to parties campaigning for a lifting or renegotiation of the debt; Greek workers and students have launched waves of strikes, occupations and mass demonstrations that have rocked the political establishment in Europe.
Congress welcomes the widely-supported development of a European Front to Defend the People of Greece and all those facing austerity. Congress salutes the ordinary Greek people for their collective strength in resisting the damage of austerity by campaigning and giving each other practical support. Congress is appalled by the vicious severity of public sector cuts, including education cuts, imposed on Greece.
Congress believes: workers and students in Europe are being made to pay for a crisis they didn’t create; investment in education and training remains one of the best ways out of the current economic and social crisis; it is important to encourage education union solidarity across Europe.
Congress resolves: to support the EI/ETUCE action and campaign on the economic crisishttp://etuce.homestead.com/ETUCE_Crisis.html; to publicise the ‘Appeal for solidarity with the people of Greece’ and to explore further ways of developing links with Greek education workershttp://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/2012/02/sign-the-appeal-for-solidarity-with-the-people-of-greece/; to continue to campaign for progressive alternatives such as the Financial Transactions Tax; to publicise the issue of Greek solidarity and encourage debates about the Greek crisis at every level of the union; to support all broad-based UK initiatives of solidarity with Greek workers and students; to organise a speaking tour of Greek strikers in 2012; to develop links with Greek education unions by exchanges and visits involving lay members; to ask UCU branches to twin with Greek union branches/villages/towns – if necessary, with the advice of a Greek regional university union branch and the European Front, in order to offer our solidarity and support; to publicly support the Jubilee Debt Campaign call for the immediate cancellation of Greek debt by the Troika, and to invite EI/ETUCE, other trades unions, professional bodies and civil society organisations to support this call.”