The Greek election this weekend could mark a seismic moment in European politics. Dan Swain rounds up commentary from across the web to help you keep informed while eagerly awaiting the results.
The battle lines in Athens today are about more than the conventional politics of who will form a government, its policies and prospects, but of the transformation of politics itself.
You can help support Kevin’s reporting by buying one of their ‘Syriza: Greek for Hope’ T-shirts. Kevin will also be liveblogging all weekend. His feed is available here.
Verso books have published on their website two valuable pieces of comment and analysis. The first, by Stathis Kouvelakis, political theorist and leader of Syriza’s Left Platform, talks about the possibility of and hope for a Syriza landslide:
It looks like there’s a wave of support heading Syriza’s way this Sunday. In the working-class districts of Athens the Right faces an utter rout. Meanwhile, outside the capital whole chunks of the right-wing electorate are now breaking for Syriza, following former PASOK voters. There is a calm atmosphere in the country, but at the same time real expectation is mounting. The conditions are ripe for a dynamic to build behind Syriza.
A far longer piece by Frédéric Lordon analyses the difficulties Syriza will face once in power, in particular in attempting to negotiate within the EU:
Syriza thus faces a simple choice: to bend over backwards, or turn everything upside-down. There is no third option. And if Tsipras imagines that he can keep Greece in the Euro and get anything more than a few peanuts, he is telling himself tales.
Stathis Kouvelakis is also the subject of an extensive in depth interview by Sebastian Budgen for Jacobin Magazine, which delves into the history of Syriza, its current state and the role of the Left Platform within it.
Should Syriza win, as it appears poised to do Alexis Tsipras will be Prime Minister. Here is his speech launching the Syriza election campaign, whilst in this interview he talks about his plans for government:
I’m optimistic about the developments – even though I’m sure that they won’t all come about smoothly. The insistence on strict budgetary discipline by the German government and a few smaller allies will undoubtedly add friction; however, there is a slow but growing dissent across Europe – including those whose dissent would have been unthinkable just a few months ago. For this reason, I believe that Syriza will be able to generate wider support for its political positions.
Panagiotis Sotiris, a supporter of the anti-capitalist Antarsya, has written for this website on the role of the left outside of Syriza, whilst Sotiris Martalis, a member of the International Workers Left (DEA), who are part of Syriza, also stresses the importance of extra-parliamentary struggles in an interview with Socialist Worker US:
One thing for certain is that the most important and biggest struggles haven’t happened yet, and we need to take part in them all together, but our struggle is a common one.
Socialist Worker US also includes an article which lays bare the extent of social collapse in Greece in recent years.
Ed Rooksby, a supporter of Left Unity in Britain, takes to task those who criticise Syriza for not being radical enough:
Secondly, Syriza’s proposed reforms correspond to the immediate needs and demands of ordinary Greeks – for jobs, better wages, affordable food and housing and so on. Indeed it’s precisely because of this correspondence that Syriza’s programme has resonated so successfully with Greek voters, bringing the party to the brink of office and thus putting imminent, real change on the agenda in a way that ostensibly ‘radical’ but wholly abstract revolutionary demands with little political traction never could.
One target of Rooksby’s criticism (though not the only one), is the deeply sectarian Greek Communist Party, the KKE, which will still likely get a substantial vote in the coming elections. Nikos Lountos offers a valuable history of this organisation and the roots of its support.
Paul Mason has also been covering and writing extensively about Greece and the prospects for a Syriza government. He has suggested, as we reported here, that they may be able to achieve more space within the EU than others believe. His most recent piece reports from a meeting between Syriza economists and others:
Beyond the specifics, I was struck by the mismatch of expectations in the room between largely centrist, or centre-right mainstream economic thinkers, and a man prepared to say: end austerity, promote co-ops, rebuild the welfare state and workers’ rights, kick the IMF out of EU decision making and slash back the power of a political oligarchy that has gotten rich throughout every crisis. If Syriza win – and it is still in the balance – these same levels of incredulity and mismatch will be played out in every European Union institution.
Michael Roberts reports on the same meeting, suggesting that “a compromise deal is most likely; giving Syriza some time to hope for recovery on a capitalist basis.”
Mason also produced this video describing the various parties in the election, their histories and prospects:
Finally, Syriza’s rise over the past 2 and a half years is strikingly illustrated by Wikipedia’s collection of polling data, which also shows the extent to which other parties which helped administer austerity have collapsed: