As a communist, if I were Greek I would certainly be active in the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) and this Sunday the party would have had my vote. That said, I must say that on the night of 25 January I had a tremendous joy in the victory of SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) in the parliamentary elections and shared the joy of so many thousands celebrating in Klafthmonos Square filled with red flags, many communists, and a tricolor Spanish republican flag. It was, without doubt, a unique moment in the history of Europe in recent decades, opening the gate to a different future for a country battered and broken by economic fascism and socially threatened by the rise of political fascism. Not only that, it opened the gate to the hope for change in the southern European countries, including Spain.
SYRIZA’s victory raised many expectations; and many speculations arose regarding the position that SYRIZA or the KKE could adopt with a view to seeking points of agreement, despite the fact that the messages sent by both parties were not encouraging, fundamentally due to their conflicting visions with respect to questions such as the debt, the euro, the NATO, and the necessary policy vis-à-vis the Greek oligarchy — the questions that are of course no small matter.
After the hangover from Sunday night, the morning of 26 January brought the news of a possible pact between SYRIZA and the right-wing ANEL (Independent Greeks), with which SYRIZA shares a common vision regarding the austerity policies without questioning the relation between the euro and debt payment. The pact would allow SYRIZA not to remain at the mercy of the KKE, whose red lines Alexis Tsipras’s party does not seem to be able to accept today. The announcement, nevertheless, was not made by SYRIZA, but by ANEL making public a vote of confidence in SYRIZA, perhaps with the intention to foreclose the possibility that SYRIZA and the KKE would one day come to some kind of understanding.
After ANEL’s announcement, what is certain is that SYRIZA is no longer at the mercy of the KKE’s willingness to give its support, but it remains fettered by itself and its own contradictions: whether to accept governing with the right’s vote of confidence or to look to the left and agree to negotiate with the Communist Party; whether to follow a policy about austerity in tune with the nationalist right or to really wrestle with the European Union and the euro.
The KKE, for its part, has an opportunity to demonstrate that the analyses it made in recent years are correct and that the only exit for the working class and popular classes in Greece lies in the break with the Europe of the euro and of the NATO and the confrontation with the Greek oligarchy and fascism fed by them.
In any case nothing will be decided today or tomorrow, and the electoral battle will have its continuation in street and workplace battles. The future of Greece and Europe will be determined over the coming months — on one hand by the policies carried out by the new government headed by Tsipras, whether it submits to, comes to an agreement with, or confronts the European Union; on the other hand by social mobilization in the streets to force the adoption of policies in favor of the working class and popular classes.
If SYRIZA’s victory does not bring the restoration of popular sovereignty, the break with the Troika’s demands, and the improvement of living conditions for the workers and popular classes, the failure can immediately reinvigorate the fascist and xenophobic positions of the Golden Dawn. Therefore, the role that the KKE may play, forcing SYRIZA to confront the European Union, the oligarchy, and fascism (prosecuting it and even making fascist organizations illegal), will be crucial.
It does not seem that SYRIZA’s and KKE’s positions can be reconciled at present. Hence, only social struggle in the streets, workplace organizing, strikes, and popular mobilizations can synchronize the two parties’ positions.
Today, more than ever, a strong Communist Party, organized and on the offensive, is vital in Greece. Beyond the (more or less grounded) criticisms toward the KKE, one thing is certain: the Communist Party has never lied to the Greek people. The KKE has been an unbreakable force for 96 years, and it has played an essential role in social struggle in defense of wage workers, peasants, the self-employed, retirees, students.
That is why many trust that the KKE will rise to the occasion in this new time, keeping up the pressure and mobilization in the streets and keeping Greek fascism at bay, and we hope that the SYRIZA government — which is the party that has greater responsibility at this moment — will create the conditions for convergence with communists and will not give in to the Greek and European oligarchies’ demands.
So, despite the joys and sorrows that may be felt in the coming days, I wish to reiterate my felicitations for the victory of SYRIZA and at the same time my conviction that the KKE can and must play today an essential role for the future of Greece and Europe.
Javier Parra is Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Valencian Country (PCPV-PCE). Follow Parra on Twitter @javier_parra. The original article “La responsabilidad histórica de Syriza, el momento del KKE” was published by laRepublica.es on 26 January 2015. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).