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KKE Has Best Election Results Since the Fall of the Dictatorship November 10, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in Communism, Greece, KKE.
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So there were local government elections in Greece on November 7th. The KKE performed extremely well, taking 10.9% of the vote – up nearly 2.5% since last year’s parliamentary elections. Its highest vote in a single region was just under 16%, and the lowest it took in a single region was 6.8%. This represents the best result for the KKE in an election since the military junta collapsed in 1974. It’s an excellent result, and demonstrates the extent to which the KKE’s leading role in the protests against the austerity measures has won it increased support among the Greek working class in all areas of the country.

The General Secretary of the KKE, Aleka Papariga remaked that

It is correct when the commentators say that the KKE is the only political force which had a significant increase in the elections at a local and regional level.

She also described the increased vote for the KKE as the result of the Greek Communists calling on the people to use the local elections to send a message about national political and economic issues.

We called on the people to vote against PASOK and ND because of their deeds over the last 20 years and undoubtedly amongst these we must include the “memorandum”, the barbaric measures that have been taken, and those that will be taken from now on. We called on the people to rally, to struggle, to counterattack in order to tackle their urgent problems and also to create the preconditions of a more general overturning of these policies-a radical change in the balance of forces at a political level.

Although this is a fine result, Comrade Papariga stressed the importance of continued hard work

We understand that we must combat our own weaknesses in order to do what is most important: to contribute to popular unity, to the rallying of the people, to the organization of the people’s struggle on a daily basis so that we can avert the worst and also so that we can create the preconditions for this election result to liberate the dynamism of the people, so that we may see better days in our country.

It seems to me that the basis for the KKE’s current success was laid in the 1990s. The wave of anger and resistance that fuelled the anti-capitalist movement in many parts of the world left very little behind it. In Greece though, much of that wave was channelled into KNE (Greek Communist Youth) and the KKE (before anyone has an aneuryism, I looked for the results of other left groups discussed here previously and couldn’t find them on the websites of SYRIZIA or the CWI, so I’ve no idea how they did. It seems clear anyway that the KKE is the leading force on the Greek left both in parliamentary and extra-parliamentary politics). The result for today has been that when the crisis came there existed a militant, well-organised and well-disciplined party capable of leading the fightback. It also seems likely that those recruited into the KKE in recent years will similarly form the backbone of further progress in the decades to come.

The KKE is undoubtedly having a real impact on the class struggle and on class consciousness in Greece. We have seen the KKE take the leading role in mobilising the working class time and again, not just on the streets, but also politically. The success of the KKE in growing its influence among the working class gives the lie to those who argue that socialism can no longer prove attractive if we can involve ourselves in the lives of the people, and offer the right policies and the right analysis, with the right amount of principled militancy.

UPDATE: KKE ANALYSIS OF THE RESULTS

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1. KKE Has Best Election Results Since the Fall of the Dictatorship … | The Daily Conservative - November 10, 2010

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2. Damomac - November 10, 2010

Here’s a breakdown of the how the parties did nationally:

Pasok (social democratic) 34.6
New Democracy (conservative) 32.6
KKE (Communist) 10.9
Radical Left Coalition (Syriza) 4.5
Laos (far right) 4.1
EcoGreens (green) 2.7
Democratic Left (Syrzia split) 2.4
Antarsya (Anticapitalist Left) 1.8

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3. Garibaldy - November 10, 2010

Thanks Damomac.

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4. jaycarax - November 10, 2010

I think the most interesting figures of the recent local elections are the high rate of abstention and ballot spoiling.

Over 40% of the those able to vote decided not to.

Of the 60% of those who did vote, a staggering 10% spoiled their papers. (Nearly en par with the KKE’s performance)

I don’t think it would unfair to suggest that this high rate of vote spoiling may be attributed, in somewhat, to Greece’s large, influential (and growing) libertarian communist movement.

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5. Garibaldy - November 10, 2010

Interesting point Jay. The turnout is roughly mid-way between the turnout for the European elections last year (53%) and the national elections (70%). The vote spoiling is an interesting one. I suspect that there is a good deal of truth in what you say. I noticed Aleka Papariga explicitly appealed to people who had abstained to vote for the KKE where possible in the second round as the best way to challenge the cuts consensus.

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6. Damomac - November 10, 2010

Jaycarax,

True, the election saw unprecidented levels of abstention – it was 57% in Athens, 55% in Piraeus, 52.7% in Patras and 46% in Thessaloniki.

The liberatarian movement were calling on people to abstain – I saw plenty of handbills tossed around the steets of the city I live in. People are fed up with the existing political system. They could vote for the leftwing parties, but at the end of the day it’s always going to be the big two (Pasok and New Democracy) who will face each other in the run-offs.

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7. Garibaldy - November 10, 2010

The KKE has issued a much more detailed analysis of the election results. I’ll add a link above and the end of the main text. It points out that abstaining does not put pressure on those in a position to pass anti-people and anti-labour measures, or prevent them from being able to do so, and points out why it thinks the KKE is the best opposition party.

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8. Garibaldy - November 10, 2010

And there are two regions where the KKE is in the run off.

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9. Budapestkick - November 10, 2010

It’s good to see a good showing from the left (KKE + SYRIZA) though I wouldn’t be as jubilant as Garibaldy is about either KKE or SYRIZA. KKE’s main problem is its incredible sectarianism. I don’t use that word lightly in terms of how it’s usually flung around the left with gusto, but KKE, for example, hold their own seperate rallies and protests during the big mobilisations rather than joining the main ones. Additionally their role during the December Days youth revolt was quite pathetic, even attacking SYRIZA for taking an initially firm stand behind the students.

The number of spoilt ballads for me represents the failure of KKE and SYRIZA to present a viable alternative. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the KKE’s sectarianism and secondly, the fact that the ‘moderates’ in control of SYRIZA are inclined towards coalition with PASOK. The position of Xekhinima (SP’s Greek sister org, part of SYRIZA) is for a KKE-SYRIZA alliance on a genuine socialist programme. This force would represent about 15% of the vote (which could easily go up considering the knife-edge situation in Greece) and, if sufficiently militant, could attract those who have either become dispirited or have become attracted to anarchist or terroristic ideas.

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Garibaldy - November 10, 2010

Just out of curiosity Budapestkick, do you (or any other SP members) have a sense of what proportion of Syriza your sister organisation forms? As you say yourself, it is controlled by people who want a coalition with PASOK, and there was that rightward split recently as well. I note that the KKE statement says that Syn/Syriza has supported PASOK in certain municipalities. What are the chances that those inclined to coalition with PASOK will lose control of Syriza? As far as I can make out, they aren’t all that great, but perhaps I am wrong. If this is the case, then the call for a KKE – Syriza alliance seems highly unlikely to say the least. It also raises the question of why call for a vote that objectively makes a coalition with PASOK more likely rather than call for a vote for the KKE, or form a separate slate of non-KKE left groups that won’t ally with PASOK.

Certainly the number of spoilt ballots represents problems with persuading people of the importance of using the vote. To ascribe this in large part to KKE sectarianism, however, seems to me to be misrepresenting the nature of political culture in Greece. It’s far from unheard of for KKE offices to be attacked by other left forces, and you can find condemnation of the KKE from other groups very easily. So there is an absence of cooperation, but that’s hardly unique to Greece, and it’s hardly the sole responsibility of the KKE. Especially when some of those who talk of the need for greater unity among the militant left are in fact actually in alliances with more right-wing forces, as you’ve pointed out yourself. It’s no surprise that the KKE is wary of such calls in such circumstances. It certainly seems to me correct to describe elements of Syriza as opportunist.

As for those riots a few years ago, the easiest thing for me to do is link to what I said at the time

http://garibaldy.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/greece-political-action-the-correct-response/

I think you can see elements of continuity in the mindset behind those riots and the one that led to the murders earlier this year. Neither added much to the class struggle, but they did add to the arsenal of the right.

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Budapestkick - November 10, 2010

‘I think you can see elements of continuity in the mindset behind those riots and the one that led to the murders earlier this year. Neither added much to the class struggle, but they did add to the arsenal of the right.’

That was the KKE’s position too (roughly) and I have to say trying to equate mass protests of young people with the sort of terrorist activity that killed 3 bank workers is deeply offensive, especialy to the Greek working-class youth. It would be like comparing the students protesting last week to the Real IRA. The fact that the protests erupted in violence was the fault of a hated police force still associated with the colonels regime and a slim minority of the protestors. The actions of the youth in December 07 should be lauded (indeed there was wide public support for them). If it adds to the arsenal of the right, why did SYRIZA, the group most supportive of the youth movement rise to over 18% in opinion polls during it? (this only dropping after SYRIZA started to pull back from outright support).

‘Just out of curiosity Budapestkick, do you (or any other SP members) have a sense of what proportion of Syriza your sister organisation forms?’

Xekhinima, our sister party, has about 500 members and is part of a left bloc within SYRIZA consisting of various groupings to the left of the leadership.

‘What are the chances that those inclined to coalition with PASOK will lose control of Syriza? As far as I can make out, they aren’t all that great, but perhaps I am wrong. ‘

The possibility of the left taking control of SYRIZA isn’t that unlikely. The left bloc has become more tight and organised and the split has seen the exit of a lot of right-wingers. Also, the relatively poor showing at the elections means that there will probably be a debate within the party about how to go forward. However, I’d like to see the Xekhinima analysis due for the CWI website before making any further commment on this.

‘If this is the case, then the call for a KKE – Syriza alliance seems highly unlikely to say the least. It also raises the question of why call for a vote that objectively makes a coalition with PASOK more likely rather than call for a vote for the KKE, or form a separate slate of non-KKE left groups that won’t ally with PASOK.’

I don’t agree that this is the case but I think it makes a lot more sense to fight for that position within a relatively large grouping where there is a possibility that they could be won round to that position than to do so from the outside. However, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of leaving SYRIZA if it made sense politically to do so. Incidentally, as SYRIZA is organised in a semi-federal fashion, our organisation and candidates are able to call for a KEE-SYRIZA coalition despite the SYRIZA leadership doing otherwise (This is one of the reasons that while the SYRIZA vote fell or stagnated at the last national election, the 3 Xekhinima candidates increased the SYRIZA vote on their respective areas)

Again, it’s better that we try to win SYRIZA over to our position from the inside than to stand outside of it away from politicised workers and young people.

‘Certainly the number of spoilt ballots represents problems with persuading people of the importance of using the vote. To ascribe this in large part to KKE sectarianism, however, seems to me to be misrepresenting the nature of political culture in Greece.’

To an extent, but I think a united left with a strong programme would make a difference. As I explained in my first post, both the KKE and SYRIZA have some guilt to bear.

‘It’s far from unheard of for KKE offices to be attacked by other left forces, and you can find condemnation of the KKE from other groups very easily.’

Maybe so, but I think that the seperate demos by KKE do indicate that there is sectarianism at work there. I really couldn’t imagine any left group in Ireland having seperate protests to the mass mobilisations like the pensioners protests, student demos etc., even if they were big enough to make this viable.

Elements of SYRIZA are opportunist but if KKE were to offer a political alliance then that pressure from without combined with pressure to the left of SYRIZA could force a change of direction and leadership.

P.S: In case I sound somewhat contrarian I should be clear that I am very happy to see the KKE and ANTARSYA doing well, but is important to be critical about the tactics of the left, especially considering Greece’s current situation.

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Garibaldy - November 10, 2010

The continuity in mindset is in trying to force the situation through riots. You regard the rioters as a slim minority. Others see them as a much larger proportion. I’d be inclined to see them as more than a slim minority myself, and what happened fit in with an ongoing programme of using mass mobilisations as cover for riots and attacks on banks, multinational shops etc. This has been going on for years. The petrol bombing of the bank that led to the deaths was part of this programme as far as I can see, even if the deaths were unusual and possibly unintended. It’s easy to see how this type of thinking shades into terrorism, as it did with Novemeber 17 and the more recent anarchist bombings. Assuming of course that there isn’t some murkier elements at work. I don’t think what I said was at all like comparing the Real IRA to the students. Not in the slightest.

As for adding to the arsenal of the right, it aids in justifying intensifying the coercive powers of the state, and mixing up serious politics with infantile ones. This is why, as far as I can see, the KKE is so clearly against such activity. If you read the KKE statements on police actions during the Decemeber thing, it is quite clear that the KKE was totally opposed to police actions, and apportioned much of the blame to the police too.

Thanks for the info on the CWI in Greece. I see you say there were 3 candidates from that party. In terms of proportion, as opposed to plain numbers, do you know how many candidates Syriza put up? Or what percentage of the candidates belonged to the left bloc?

I appreciate the logic of your position in trying to win over Syriza, even if I think it unlikely. However, it seems to me that to ascribe the KKE’s refusal to give up its position of not working with unprincipled right wing and opportunist elements to sectarianism is misleading. The KKE has stuck to its principles during some difficult times, kept its focus on class politics and hard work on the ground. Other major European CPs went the opposite route of altering their politics or trying to adjust to alliances with right wing and opportunist elements. The difference in their fates is instructive – one need only look at Italy or France to see the damage done not only to the parties involved but the left as a whole. It’s unreasonable to characterise the KKE’s refusal to give up its positions to get in bed with an alliance that is dominated by more right-wing elements but that might become more left wing if the KKE asks really nicely as sectarian, especially given the origins of the dominant element in Syriza. If the same thing was happening in Ireland, I imagine we would be much more likely to describe it as principled.

Regarding demonstrations and the rest. There is a much stronger tradition on the continent of holding demonstrations according to political affiliation, just like with trade unions etc.

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Budapestkick - November 10, 2010

Looks like we’ll have to agree to disagree, but just to answer some points you raised.

‘Thanks for the info on the CWI in Greece. I see you say there were 3 candidates from that party. In terms of proportion, as opposed to plain numbers, do you know how many candidates Syriza put up? Or what percentage of the candidates belonged to the left bloc?’

I honestly don’t know. Maybe Mark P has more info.

‘Regarding demonstrations and the rest. There is a much stronger tradition on the continent of holding demonstrations according to political affiliation, just like with trade unions etc.’

Perhaps, but I’ve spoken to Greek activists who think it’s unacceptable practice.

‘The KKE has stuck to its principles during some difficult times, kept its focus on class politics and hard work on the ground. Other major European CPs went the opposite route of altering their politics or trying to adjust to alliances with right wing and opportunist elements. The difference in their fates is instructive – one need only look at Italy or France to see the damage done not only to the parties involved but the left as a whole.’

I agree, especially in the case of the PCR in Italy.

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Garibaldy - November 10, 2010

Agreeing to disagree seems sensible. And agreeing where we can on the evils of travelling to the right.

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10. Jim Monaghan - November 10, 2010

Who is in each alliance
Jim

3. Greek municipal elections – breakthrough for the anticapitalist left
Posted by: “Thanasis Kampagiannis” antidoto17@yahoo.co.uk antidoto17
Date: Tue Nov 9, 2010 5:57 am ((PST))

The government party PASOK lost 1mn voters and the Right (New Democracy) half a million voters, even if they tried to pose as anti-austerity.

The Communist Party did well. They now have 10.5% of the voters (from 7.5% in the national elections). They rose in votes (65.000 votes more) and got high percentage due to the abstention (it was high, sth like 40%-45%).

Synaspismos and SYRIZA (eurocommunist left and allies) did badly, they split before the elections, presented multiple ballots. If u add them up, they did not fall, but still it was a bad night for them).

The big news is the anticapitalist left. ANTARSYA presented 11 lists in the big prefectures (which are overall 13). It got 100.000 votes (in the national elections one year earlier it got 25.000 in the whole of Greece) which means 1.8%.

ANTARSYA elects loads of councillors everywhere. 7 in the prefectures (one at each prefecture). It also elects people in the municipalities, one in the municipality of Athens (Petros Konstantinou, who is a member of the CC of Socialistiko Ergatiko Komma – SEK, the sister organisation of the british SWP). The 3 out of the 7 elected councillors in the prefectures are members of NAR (left breakaway of the greek CP back in 1989), the other 3 are members of SEK and one is non-alligned.

It is a huge breakthrough for the anticapitalist left, ANTARSYA was at the national tv the night of the election, the elected councillor Aggelos Xagios (a member of ANTARSYA and NAR) said that the anticapitalist left is now a growing national force.

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11. Damomac - November 10, 2010

Just come clarification:

Since the Democratic Left (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Left_%28Greece%29) broke away from Synaspismos, the main component of the wider Syriza coalition, non one in Syriza advocates any alliances with Pasok. There have been very few joint Syriza/Pasok electoral lists in this location elections, although the Democratic Left has supported candidates backed by Pasok.

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