Greece: Trying to understand SYRIZA - Paul Mason

Alexis Tsipras

Paul Mason on SYRIZA, a previously lesser known leftist political party in Greece which has surged ahead in the polls as voters have become disillusioned with the major pro-austerity parties.

This is less of a blog more of a series of notes to try and enhance understanding of who SYRIZA and its leader Alexis Tsipras actually are, and how they might behave if, as polls suggest, they become the winning party in a second Greek general election. I’ve been troubled by the lack of historical depth in most of the profiles published in newspapers; and of course my own knowledge is limited to English sources. I’ve checked this with two authoritative Greek sources. It should go up on my BBC blog soon. Get ready to hear about parties and political currents that most commentators believed were insignificant just a few years ago:

SYRIZA is an acronym signifying “Coalition of the Radical Left”. It’s key component is a party called Synaspismos, itself an umbrella group of the far left in Greece.

Alexis Tsipras is the 38 year old leader of the Synaspismos party, and rose to prominence as its candidate for the mayor of Athens in 2006. Tsipras originated from the youth wing of the Communist Party, the KKE.

Greek communism, like most of western communism after the 1970s, was split into two hostile parties: the KKE of the “interior” and that of the “exterior” – the latter denoting a Moscow-oriented party, the former denoting a Euro-communist, more parliamentary and socially liberal agenda.

Initially Synaspismos was the electoral alliance between the two KKEs. But in the early 1990s the main Moscow-oriented KKE quit the alliance, purging about 45% of its members, who then stayed inside Synaspismos with the Eurocommunists. These included Tsipras.

Synaspismos then evolved in an interesting direction. Reacting to the rise of the anti-globalisation movement, first of all the party itself became a highly diverse left umbrella group: of Eurocommunists, left-social Democrats, far leftists, and ecologists. It played a significant role in mobilizations against summits, beginning in Genoa 2001 and beyond. Meanwhile the main KKE remained a traditional Communist party, rooted in public sector and manual trade unions.

Then, in the 2004 election, Synaspismos came together with other small parties to form SYRIZA. These included a split-off from the British SWP, a split off from the main Communist Party and another group of eco-leftists.

Under Tsipras’ leadership, and invigorated by now including the entire left except the traditionalist KKE, SYRIZA grew the far left’s vote from 3.3% to 5.6% in the 2007 election – giving it 14 MPs.

The crisis which broke out in December 2008, after the police shooting of a 15 year old schoolboy led to two weeks of rioting by the youth and poor of Athens, further strengthened SYRIZA as a left pole of attraction. Though the parties inside SYRIZA remained in the low thousands of members, many young people began to identify with them – above all in a country where Marxism has massive prestige due to its role in both the anti-fascist resistance and in the 1946-49 Civil War. In addition, those migrants with the right to vote, hearing a rising chorus of anti-migrant rhetoric from the centre as well as the right, have flocked to vote SYRIZA.

Once George Papandreou’s PASOK party committed itself to supporting EU-designed austerity programmes, after January 2010, a huge political gap opened up on the left of Greek politics – which arguably forms a natural majority. Only the KKE and SYRIZA were opposed to austerity and of the two SYRIZA had a political leadership of youth, resilience and global vision.

(It is worth noting here the character of PASOK. It emerged in the inter-war years as a split from republican liberalism, and while it became a traditional social democratic party after the fall of the Colonels regime in 1974, its forms of organization, and mass base among civil servants and small business people, lead some to compare it to Argentine “Peronism” – that is left nationalism with a working class base. This affects the political dynamics the moment the PASOK leadership loses its claim to represent “the nation” in conflict with the EU.

As events pulled SYRIZA leftward, and swelled its support, one final split took place that may prove highly significant. Veteran leaders of the old KKE-interior – that is, the Eurocommunists – split from Synaspismos and formed the Democratic Left, led by Fotis Kouvelis – in March 2010. They formed a separate parliamentary group of 4 until the recent election massively swelled their numbers to 19. At the first congress of the Democratic Left, in March 2011, in an extraordinary move, the then serving PASOK prime minister, George Papandreou, attended, sat in the front row of the audience, and applauded.

Now, how to make sense of this, and why does it matter?

The mainstream PASOK party split before the May 2012 election. Six sitting MPs joined the Democratic Left, while others tried to form an anti-austerity left social democratic party, led by charismatic female MP Louka Katseli. The latter disappeared without trace. But the PASOK left and its voters now co-exist with the former Eurocommunists in a fairly moderate, anti-austerity but essentially left social democratic, pro-Euro party – the Dem Left - which now has 19 seats.

SYRIZA massively scooped up the votes of leftist, progressive, socially liberal young people, as well as the trade union voters not specifically aligned with the Communist Party, to gain 52 seats.

The Communist Party itself, while growing its vote, did not break out of its traditional demographic base – manual workers, older lifelong Communists with family loyalty traced back to the pre-war workers’ movement. The KKE gained 26 seats.

In the negotiations to form a government this week the PASOK leader, Venizelos, got the Democratic Left as far as agreeing to a programme to “progressively disengage” from the Troika-imposed austerity. But they could not persuade SYRIZA to join, and without SYRIZA, the Dem Left knew it would be the captive of a PASOK/ND coalition.

As new elections loom, obviously one possible outcome is the return of voters to ND and PASOK. But the latest polls do not signal this. They signal a growth in support for SYRIZA, which is seen as a consistent opponent of austerity on the left, and which has narrative and momentum among the traditional base of all other leftist parties.

If we look at the demographics of the left, there are the following:

  • anarchist minded youth, living alternative lifestyles among the poor, who will only vote for SYRIZA or not at all. (Anecdotally, even some members of the “black bloc” were reported to have joined SYRIZA, after accepting the futility of constant rioting/counterculture.
  • Middle-class and professional workers, including many public servants who’ve been hit by tax rises, wage cuts, arbitrary deductions, loss of entitlements and job losses
  • Private sector trade unionists
  • Migrants and the urban poor
  • Small businesspeople who formerly were the base of PASOK but who have been radicalized by the tax rises, tax clampdowns and repeated heavy policing of demonstrations, and who are the most likely to be ruined by any longterm structural reform in Greece.
  • The success of SYRIZA then seems down to its ability to attract voters and activists from all these groups, eating into almost every part of the left including the old Moscow-style KKE.

    In the process of negotiations over the past seven days, Tsipras and his close advisers have further upped their own credibility by being seen to play the game of constitutional negotiations; sticking to their economic rejection of austerity stance, but in general not going out of their way to alienate, rhetorically, natural PASOK, Dem Left or KKE voters.

    In the NET poll, taken while Tsipras was making his doomed attempt to form an anti-austerity government of the left, SYRIZA scored 27% - compared to its election showing of 17% - clearly demonstrating that it had created momentum as the pole of attraction for left voters wanting a showdown with the EU. PASOK was losing ground to both SYRIZA and the Dem Left. Some KKE voters were saying they would switch votes to SYRIZA in a second election.

    When I spoke to leading members of SYRIZA in summer 2011 they were privately very pessimistic about the possibility of forming a government – even an alliance of all the left including splits from PASOK. At that time they said the most obvious solution would be an above-politics left-nationalist figure, a “Greek Kirchner” or “Greek Morales”, and that the absence of such a figure would make it impossible to form what Marxists refer to as a “workers government” – ie a radical reforming government with the participation of the far left, but limited to parliamentary means.

    Now however, the charisma of Mr Tsipras, the fear of a far-right backlash, the depth of the crisis and the seeming inability of PASOK to recover may thrust Tsipras himself into the Morales role. Of all the left party leaders he is the least encumbered by a rigid ideology, because SYRIZA remains highly diverse and internally democratic as a party. And he is tangibly a generation younger than the other leaders. (PASOK’s further problem is that its younger politicians tend to be on the technocratic right of social democracy).

    When I interviewed a SYRIZA spokesman earlier this year I explored the problem of a far-left party, which is anti-NATO etc, taking power in a country whose riot police have been regularly clashing with that party’s youth since 2008. The message was that they would be purposefully limited in aim, and that the core of any programme would be a debtor-led partial default – that is, the suspension of interest payments on the remaining debt and a repudiation of the terms of both Troika-brokered bailouts. What SYRIZA shares with the Dem Left and PASOK it its commitment to the EU social model: they are left globalists. Hence they could make any attempt to force Greece out of the Euro look, to the Greek population, like a Brussels/Berlin inititative, no matter how it looks to the rest of the world.

    So, for example, speaking on condition of anonymity a one of SYRIZA’s MPs told me today: “The austerity programs don’t work and we have to persuade our European partners about it. SYRIZA is a responsible political force, it’s in favour of a new paradigm without rejecting the Euro. What SYRIZA is rejecting is the actual monetary policy of the Eurozone; we want to reform the ECB. We have to seize the opportunity: in Europe now there are more voices in favour of the need for growth, less austerity; the Hollande election in France may change things, creating a new framework. Greece could benefit from this, but only if there is a government in Athens with the political will to radically change things.”

    If, in the next election, SYRIZA scores 26% it would get about the same number of seats, under the vote redistribution rule, as ND got this time – say just over 100. If, on top of that the Dem Left vote holds up, with about 20 seats, and the Communists retain their 26 seats, that is very close to the 150 they would need for a majority.

    It is being rumoured that SYRIZA may soon transform itself into a single party and extend membership to a far left group called Antarsia (which gained 1%) and the Louka Katseli group from PASOK which failed to gain seats, and the Eco-Greens, who polled below 3%. That would extend its reach even further both to its right and left.

    Even without a majority, a SYRIZA-DL minority could attempt a legislative programme that relied on the abstention of some of PASOK’s remaining MPs, tacit “non-opposition” form the KKE, and, paradoxically, the non-opposition of the right wing anti-austerity party Independent Greeks (conservative nationalist). One current obstacle to this is the KKE’s historic enmity to SYRIZA and indeed the entire rest of the Greek left.

    Whatever the outcome, the above explains how a combination of historical factors, the position of the EU and a demographic radicalization of young people propelled one of the furthest left parties in any European parliament to within a few steps of forming a government; and provoking a showdown with the EU that would doubtless see Greece’s suspension or exit from the Euro.

    At the same time it explains that the resulting government may, in effect, be little more than a left-social democratic government, despite its symbology and the radicalism of some of its voters. By forcing the mainstream parties into positions where they could not express the will of the majority of centrist voters, the EU may end up destroying the Greek party system as it has been shaped since 1974.

    Originally posted: May 12, 2012 at Paul Mason News

    Posted By

    Juan Conatz
    May 13 2012 01:53


    Attached files


    Jun 27 2012 07:58


    Roughly 25% of SYRIZA are people not affiliated with any party (ranging from revolutionary communists to refugees from Greece’s collapsed mainstream political parties).

    And there is also an even larger movement around SYRIZA that came out of the Squares Movement and other places.

    SYRIZA also contains a revolutionary communist faction, mainly characterized by the Communist Organization of Greece (KOE), but also including other individuals and some small additional organizations.

    Right now there is unity. At some future point, there may prove to be disunity as events and the people move.

    I had an interesting conversation with a young member of the Internationalist Worker’s Left (DEA), who tells me that there are revolutionary and reformist poles in SYRIZA. He says in a way that I found rather simplistic that the Trotskyists and Maoists in SYRIZA compose the revolutionary pole, and that the Eurocommunists are the reformist pole, and that in the struggle between these two, SYRIZA is quickly moving to the left.

    I also spoke to a supporter of Kokkino (Red), another small organization inside of SYRIZA. He tell me that his organization is trying to solve problems between revolutionaries and reformists by demanding that Kokkino and other organizations receive more seats on the leadership of SYRIZA, and that SYRIZA then merge into a single unified party.

    Later, I asked a young KOE supporter what he thought of this solution. He tells me that this is a structural attempt to solve what are actually deeper line problems.

    In his view, the way to “transform SYRIZA” is through bringing new generations of radicals into SYRIZA, and at the same time “leading through line.” In other words, he wants KOE to develop a program that wins out because of its correctness and ability to lead, not the numbers of seats. And according to him, the scene inside SYRIZA are quite dynamic and fluid, and cannot be understood in such a static and structural way.

    Jun 27 2012 11:35

    The influence of Keynesian economists on Syriza...

    Yanis Varoufakis: Syriza and the Yanis strategy

    Economics expertise in Greece seems to be a small world and quite a few of the players on both the pro- and anti-bailout sides are academics from the economics department at Athens University. See for example:

    Yanis Varoufakis: Open letter to a good friend and colleague (who happened to become Greece’s Finance Minister yesterday…).

    Jun 28 2012 10:57 Interpreting the results of the Greek elections

    Julien Febvre wrote:

    While a large part of Greek society has placed its hopes to SY.RIZ.A. the fact that many left-wing and democratic-socialist parties – either the radical ones like the Chilean Partido Socialista and the Sandistas of Nicaragua, or the more moderates as the German Sozialdemokratische Partei – betrayed their promises, and more or less followed strict Neoliberal policies, is largely ignored. Similarly, SY.RIZ.A as a party entrapped within parliamentary values could very easily become in the future another bourgeois power that will contribute very little (or not at all) to the revolutionization of Greek society, especially if we take into account the fact that Tsipras does not intend to withdraw Greece from European Union and the Eurozone, and does not threaten the aristocracy of the Orthodox Church (which exercises great power in political life, and despite that it possesses enormous wealth, is a subject of tax exemption). Tsipras also talks about economic growth. Given that economic growth is the essence of capitalism Tsipras promises little more than social democracy, and SY.RIZ.A is probably another capitalist (reformist) party.

    Under these circumstances, where most of the Greeks are exhausted by the cuts, the “solutions” proposed by SY.RIZ.A. could benefit temporarily the majority of the Greek citizens, but in no way should be considered as permanent answers for all the problems of Greek society. The principles we need to follow in order to pursue a radical social transformation, are the ones that contribute to the formation of a truly democratic political consciousness. Hence, in the long (but not very distant) future the ideological and political hegemony of the central leadership of  SY.RIZ.A. upon the movements will not allow them to become a grate revolutionary force, able to pursue deep changes and to overcome the lack of democracy, cronyism and corruption that plagues the country. Therefore, all libertarian forces of society must take the game in their hands instead of laying their hopes on a party which the stronger it gets the higher is the risk to become bureaucratized, and to rescind from the most innovative and radical trends. At this stage, the role of the social movements is to contribute to a further radicalization of the rest of society based on truly democratic values to the greatest extent possible, and secondly, to become independent from the idea that only through a central leadership social emancipation can be achieved. Consequently, if we want to talk about the birth of a new political force organized from below, truly democratic, with horizontal structures and libertarian projects, able to set the foundations for a society of equality, egalitarianism, and transparency, we must not let ourselves to the hands of a party which despite the fact that seems much more promising than other parliamentary monstrosities, it can demobilize the movements as did Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a populist Argentinian social democrat who used “radical rhetoric to ride a wave of popular unrest” according to Leonidas Oikonomakis.

    Leonidas Oikonomakis wrote:

    Upon his election, Kirchner refused to implement the IMF’s conditionalities, which included further cuts in social spending and a shrinking role for the state in the economy, while at the same time announcing that he would pay back to the country’s private creditors 30 cents on every dollar that it owed to them, using the effective threat of a total default instead. Of course, he paid back the IMF in full, but refused to continue receiving loans (and orders) from it.

    In addition, Kirchner introduced policies that raised the minimum wage, protected workers’ and unions’ rights, and expanded social security programs to more unemployed and workers in the informal sector. He increased public spending on education and housing, and put limits on the prices of the formerly state-owned enterprises privatized by Menem. Moreover, Kirchner’s government took a solid stance on the prosecution of criminals involved in the 1976-83 dictatorship.

    And of course, Kirchner did little to hide his intentions, which were to save the Argentine state from implosion and reconstruct the capitalist system in the country, reversing the extreme neoliberal measures that the previous governments had taken and replacing them with a more humanistic or social democratic orientation.

    Kirchner’s measures brought middle class Argentinians back home from the streets — to the normalcy they were asking for. At the same time, while it cannot be denied (and it should not be underestimated either) that this certainly helped middle and lower class citizens to get back on their feet, it should also be noted that Kirchner’s measures clearly played a decisive role in the demobilization of the country’s once powerful social movements.

    Some piquetero leaders were coopted and given positions in the government while certain civil society organizations were offered state subsidies. Those who insisted in their resistance were treated with police repression, isolation, and exclusion from the public sphere.

    The rest was a matter of time. Soon, the radical experiments on direct democracy and life beyond capitalism lost their  momentum, giving way to Kirchner’s ‘capitalism with a human face’ (which, no matter how you mask it, remains capitalism, albeit slightly more regulated by the state). “In other words,” As Benjamin Dangl summarizes, “Kirchner was handing out crumbs, when what many demanded was revolution.

    In a way, the challenges faced by the piqueteros were nothing new. Throughout history, social movements around the world have been faced with an eternal and seemingly intractable dilemma: how to bring about lasting social change? While some have opted for a revolutionary road to capture state power, others chose the electoral road to obtaining state power. Others still have chosen to ignore the state altogether and build alternative institutions of direct democracy and autonomous self-management from the grassroots up.

    Ahead of the Greek elections, and against the backdrop of widespread excitement around Europe about the expected electoral victory of a ‘radical’ left-wing party, maybe we should turn back and try to remember what happened in other parts of the globe when a left-wing party answered the eternal dilemma facing social movements with a decisive choice for the ‘parliamentary path’ to state power.

    Maybe then we‘ll be able to answer the question asked by James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer: “Why do social movements consistently lose out to electoral institutional politics once the center-left takes over a regime?” And maybe then, at last, we will realize that we need to come up with new slogans to keep the Greek squares from falling prey to the same fate as the one that befell the piqueteros of Argentina.

    Jun 28 2012 10:48

    Syriza looks to Chavez


    During an interview with Telesur on Tuesday night, Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Greek left wing coalition SYRIZA, emphasised Venezuela as an example, as a model to follow to leave behind the capitalist, consumerist model that is presently dominant in Europe.

    “The example of Venezuela is characteristic. Hugo Chavez was able to achieve important things for his country through a peaceful process. He carried out the nationalisation of the natural sources of production. And he did so while under the constant attacks of the big end of town”, he said, pointing out that for many years, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela all followed the same recipe of neo-liberal shock measures that they’re applying today in Greece.
    Tsipras said that the social, economic and political development of Latin America is a “shining example” that he will consider if elected Greek prime minister in Sunday’s general election.

    Aug 1 2012 07:17

    trying to understand... what? they are a political party.. what else is there to understand?

    Jan 21 2013 12:38

    SYRIZA, after the 2012 elections, also rallied the majority of the working classes who still refer, in a rather general and abstract way, to the ideological tradition of the left. Certainly, after the collapse of “actually existing socialism”, more than two decades of ideological dominance of neo-liberalism have dispersed confusion and disorientation in the working class and popular strata. But SYRIZA (and previously SYNASPISMOS) have never attempted to come to terms with this situation with a clear and honest self-criticism on the restrictions and the attitude of the historical leadership of KKE-interior and then SYN towards the bureaucracies of “really existing socialism”. Even more, the general ideological weakness and organizational decline of the Left opened the way for the growing stronger trends of xenophobia and racism within Greek society, and finally allowed, under the conditions of sharp economic crisis, the emergence of right-wing and neo-Nazi parties.

    The rallying of workers to SYRIZA took place mainly in the parliamentary arena. It was not a product of the development of party structures and the activity of party members in the labor movement, nor did it come from the new resistance movement of popular assemblies and popular local self-organization. The presence of SYRIZA in mass mobilizations remains half-hearted, limited and linked to its rise in parliamentary elections. The election campaigns of SYRIZA rely much more on “contact” with the popular strata through the media and advertising slogans, and much less on the direct contact and activation of the potential of its social base. The public speeches of Tsipras move increasingly towards promises of a better management of the bourgeois state and the capitalist economy. Moreover Tsipras (like the young A. Papandreou) tries to rise above the party apparatus and to address directly popular feelings and hopes for a painless, parliamentary way out of the crisis nightmare — within the institutions of the EU. The popular strata rally reluctantly and without enthusiasm around SYRIZA, because they sense both the gravity of the situation and the utopian character of the easy promises.

    An important section of the SYN party cadres is already integrated in the state bureaucracy. The election program of SYRIZA remains strictly within the framework of management of the bourgeois state. The legendary declarations for “debt rescheduling” through the institutions of the EU are of dubious credibility and are restricted to the rescue of the remnants of the welfare state and the rather vague “productive reconstruction” of the capitalist economy. The prospect of socialism, with planned economy, nationalization of banks and large companies, as the only real alternative to the crisis of capitalism was not really mentioned in pre-election period, and much less in post-election proclamations. The word “socialism” has been expunged, seemingly forever, from Tsipras’ vocabulary.

    Even worse, with the rapid rise of the fascist Golden Dawn (GD), SYRIZA restricts itself to defending the institutions of a bankrupt bourgeois democracy. It is a democracy that sinks into general disrepute, immersed in scandals that reflect the mutual recriminations of panicked capitalist politicians. At the very moment when the socialist perspective should be advanced against the corrupt regime, SYRIZA provides space for the screaming and the demagogy of the GD gang. At the very moment when SYRIZA should decisively confront the fascist terror in the streets and neighborhoods with mass mobilizations, it resorts to invoking bourgeois legitimacy and relying on the cops – who are heavily infiltrated and corroded by fascism. Also, the first attempt to integrate or eliminate the radical “components” of SYRIZA began much earlier with the proposal of the SYN leadership for a single party apparatus last September. This mutation is supposed to make it more reliable in the eyes of the ruling class.

    Certainly, the chance of obtaining governmental power in a European country like Greece, by one of the traditional left parties like SYRIZA for the first time after decades, alarmed the European rulers. Not due to the risks posed by SYRIZA, but because of the general instability and uncontrolled developments likely to unfold as broad layers will perceive such a left government as their own victory, and because of the chain reactions likely to occur in other European countries. They know very well that the conditions of the economic crisis have created a social powder keg that could explode at any time, regardless of the desires, plans and estimations of a left reformist leadership.

    On the other hand, the majority of the European radical left seems to be hypnotized by the prospect of an electoral victory of SYRIZA. Most of the European left parties rushed to give unconditional support to the SYN party leadership, without much understanding of the relationship of class forces within Greek society, its reflection on the political scene, and the true nature and history of the SYN party. Certainly the desire for a victory of the left in Europe, after nearly three decades of continuous decline, is fully justified and understandable. But substituting one’s desires for the reality under current conditions is extremely dangerous. Even worse are the unjust characterizations and attacks on those forces trying to establish a consistent anti-capitalist and communist left under these difficult conditions.

    Feb 16 2013 00:57

    Paul Mason's latest update on Syriza and interview with Tsipras:

    'Blackmail, terrorism and tension' - Greek left turns up rhetoric

    Aug 2 2013 13:29 ... an article by a member of DEA (close to ISO/USA) about the congress of SYRIZA in July

    Jan 23 2015 18:04

    Greek elections on Sunday

    Jan 23 2015 18:13
    Mark. wrote:
    A throwaway, but probably accurate, assessment of Syriza in an interview with Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis:

    I would caution anyone who reads too much into the titles of parties like the Radical Left [i.e. Syriza]. The Radical Left Party is not that radical. If anything, it is, more or less, where the socialist party used to be 10 years ago. So it’s a centre-left party in reality, with some radical elements that are, more or less, marginalised within it.

    Varoufakis is a left social democrat who I think is fairly sympathetic to Syriza, so this comment wasn't necessarily intended as criticism.

    That was from 2012. Yanis Varoufakis is now standing for Syriza and I expect will end up negotiating with the EU.

    Jan 23 2015 22:09
    Jan 25 2015 13:56

    Paul Mason - last minute thoughts about the Greek election

    Jan 25 2015 16:46

    Greek elections 2015: a quick rundown of the electoral system

    Why Greece’s ‘also ran’ parties are crucial

    Jan 25 2015 17:25
    Jan 25 2015 17:41

    Paul Mason - Exit polls put Syriza on course for victory

    Jan 25 2015 18:07

    Roarmag - What would a Syriza victory mean for the movements?

    Markos Vogiatzoglou wrote:

    During the last two years, the Greek movement has produced significantly fewer impressive mobilizations compared to the 2011-’12 period. Many attribute this to a broadly diffused expectation that could be summarized in the following sentence: “Everyone is waiting for SYRIZA to come to power.” This is also related to the fact that the 2011-’12 protests produced minimal concrete outcomes. Therefore, many activists chose to devote themselves to smaller scale actions (such as neighborhood-level interventions through the social solidarity structures, or the anti-fascist struggle), where movement activity stands a higher chance of having a direct impact on people’s everyday lives.

    It should be noted that SYRIZA is not a movement party, at least not in the sense Podemos is in the Spanish context. SYRIZA is particularly weak in traditional social movement milieus such as the unions and the universities. Yet, many among its members and (even high-ranking) officials come from grassroots movements or still maintain contacts with street-level politics.

    It is therefore reasonable to expect that a left government will initially assume a friendlier stance towards the movements compared to the extreme oppression all mobilizations met during the crisis period. This is particularly important for the more militant activists (social centers, squats, anti-fascists) who may now find the much-needed time and space to regroup and reorganize. Generally speaking, some sort of re-organization in terms of action repertoire and re-orientation in terms of agendas and claims will be almost mandatory for everyone.

    The price movements will have to pay is their unavoidable co-optation by a government that will be offering no revolutionary perspective whatsoever. Greece has a very negative tradition in this respect: during the early 1980s, the post-dictatorship movement was literally devoured by the newly elected, then, social-democratic PASOK government. Many expect a repetition of this sad era, whilst the more optimistic hope that today’s turbulent situation will not allow for sinister relations between activists and the state to expand beyond an unavoidable minimum.

    Jan 25 2015 18:24
    Jan 25 2015 18:48

    Today, across Europe, the left is excited by Syriza topping the polls in the Greek election. Some on the left have gone so far as to suggest the election itself will mark the end of austerity policies, in the terminology of the Anglo left, an end to the idea that There Is No Alternative (TINA). Another indication that something of significance is happening is that ahead of the election a new wave of capital flight has started from Greece with an estimated 8 billion transferred out of the country over the last few weeks.

    From an anarchist, non electoralist perspective we might hope that Syriza’s election represents the high water mark of the swing to electoralism that came out of the defeat of mass resistance to the imposition of the crisis. That won’t be today or tomorrow, it will take a period of weeks for Syriza to have been in power long enough to demonstrate that the problem with the old electoral left was not reducible to corrupt social democrats and lying politicians. Rather it is in the nature of the electoral system, a system that takes in young idealist transformers and spits out older, corrupt defenders of the status quo. A process we have seen recently in Ireland with both the previous Green Party and current Labour Party governments.

    Read on at

    Jan 25 2015 20:06

    Interior Ministry election website - the results so far{"cls":"main","params":{}}

    A rather clearer results page here

    Live stream (in Greek)

    Juan Conatz
    Jan 25 2015 20:18

    From that US Uncut Facebook page 0_0