Greece: Possible Scenarios and Hope on the Left

Translated Thursday 10 May 2012, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Henry Crapo.

The formation of a coalition government following the legislative elections seems impossible. Despite the resounding success of the anti-free trade capitalism left, the KKE (Greek Communist Party) does not want to negotiate with the other progressive parties, whereas Syriza has just been asked to form a government.

Alixis Tsipras, the leader of the left-wing coalition Syriza, has three days to form a coalition government. The anti-austerity and progressive left-wing coalition, whose member organizations belong to the Party of the European Left group in the European Parliament, together with the French Front de gauche, came in in second place in the legislative elections and has 52 out of 300 seats in Parliament.

Syriza must therefore build an alliance numbering 151 seats in order to govern. Alexis Tsipras’s number one condition for forming a government together with his party is rejection of the austerity measures imposed by the troika [1]. Democratic Left [2], another progressive party with 19 seats, is willing to enter a coalition government, but another 80 deputies are still needed to form a government.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon whole-heartedly supports Syriza.

“I very particularly hail the election score of the Syriza coalition, which has been a partner of the French Front de gauche for several years. By becoming the biggest political force on the left, it has put the intervention of the left, following those of social democracy and free-trade capitalism, back on the agenda in Europe.”

The other important left organization is the KKE (Greek Communist Party). Despite its 26 deputies, it is refusing to enter any governing alliance. In an interview granted recently tol’Humanité, a KKE deputy explained their reasons in these terms: there is the left which wants to make capitalism more human, the compromising left (Syriza), and there is the left that favors a break and class struggle (the KKE), which wants the total overthrow of capitalism. For the KKE, these two lefts are irreconcilable.

What will happen if no left-wing governing coalition can be formed?

In an interview granted to l’Humanité on May 9, Syriza deputy Dimitris Papadimoulis explained, in no uncertain terms, the only three scenarios that are possible. The least probable is for the free trade capitalism parties to line up behind the radical left and accept its program. Another scenario, which seems every bit as complicated, would be for Pasok and New Democracy to find a third ally and continue their policy, although a majority of Greeks have rejected it. Finally, there is a hypothesis that contains a grain of hope – if no government can be formed, new legislative elections will be held in mid-June.

The left could then re-form – if Syriza and Democratic Left had formed an alliance right from the first round of elections, they would today be the biggest political force in the country by far, because they would have obtained the bonus of 50 seats that goes to the biggest party. Syriza is now openly hoping that the KKE will become isolated due to its refusal to join a governing coalition, and that a certain number of communist voters will join what would be a big “anti-austerity left-wing alliance.” This is a possibility.

[1] translator’s note: The troika is the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

[2] translator’s note: Democratic Left is a Greek democratic socialist and social-democratic political party.