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Greece: If the Troika does not back down?
Let the Greek people decide!
As we go to press the stand-off between the Greek Syriza government and the European Union (EU) finance ministers was continuing. The meeting on 16 February which discussed the bailout terms and their associated austerity measures had ended without agreement. But further discussion was possible.
The EU had offered a six months extension to the bailout, but on condition that there was no rolling back of the austerity measures agreed under the previous Greek government. Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis rejected this. But huge pressure was being put on the Greek government to back down under the threat of an exit from the euro.
Hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated across Greece in support of the Syriza government's stance in negotiations with the Troika (the European Central Bank, The International Monetary fund and the EU). In polls, three out of four Greeks support the government's position which is seen as standing up to the Troika. This shows the huge potential, if linked to a clear socialist programme, for the mass mobilisation of workers and youth to resist.
In an article posted on Xekinima's (CWI Greece) website on 10 February, Andros Payiatsos looks at the options facing both sides in the dispute and the role of the working class in seeking a solution to Greece's ongoing crisis
Greece's clash with the EU will be very hard. German leader Merkel and the clique that runs the EU are not willing to accept the cancellation of the memoranda policies (austerity deals signed with previous Greek governments) that they have imposed over recent years.
At the time of writing, all possibilities are open. It is possible for a compromise to be found between the Greek government and the EU and for Greece to remain in the euro zone. Syriza has already backed down on a series of issues in relation to its initial declarations but the EU leaders demand more and threaten that otherwise Greece will be forced to abandon the euro and go for a national currency.
This attitude of Merkel and co. is something that the Syriza leadership should have predicted and be prepared for. It wrongly estimated that it could have 'negotiations' through which it could convince the European leaders with 'logical' arguments.
The Syriza leadership repeatedly reassured the Greek people there was no chance of a 'Grexit'! This was a serious mistake, because it leaves the Greek working class unprepared for such developments. But there is, however, time to fix this mistake.
Merkel and the EU leaders will not hesitate to throw Greece out of the euro if Syriza's government does not bend to their pressure and retreat from its pre-electoral commitments.
The Greek working people back the government's bold stand against the EU - precisely because they feel that the government has entered a major battle against the Troika. Polls put government support at 72%.
Nothing can stop the Greek working people from claiming back their livelihoods, which the memoranda have deprived them of... except an about-turn by Syriza!
The mass of the Greek workers are worried - and they openly say so - that the Syriza government may back down. And for this reason they were relieved to hear Alexis Tsipras's speech in parliament on 8 February in which he emphasised that Syriza will not back down on any of its promises (despite the fact that on a number of issues Tsipras had watered down Syria's pre-election promises).
So what should Syriza do if the Troika puts a knife at the throat of the new government and demand 'submission or Grexit'? Syriza should without any hesitation appeal to the 'popular verdict'. Either by means of a referendum or with new elections (if a political crisis results) in which Syriza should put the question squarely in front of the Greek working people: Keep the euro and the memoranda or go for a national currency and pro-workers' policies.
If Syriza goes ahead with such a bold counter offensive then the Troikians, inside and outside Greece, will suffer a crushing defeat!
Exiting the euro on its own will not solve the crisis of Greek capitalism. The re-introduction of a national currency must by necessity be combined with bold socialist policies: like capital controls, state monopoly of foreign trade and democratic public ownership of the big corporations and banks - and a class internationalist appeal to the workers of the rest of Europe. Only in this way will a national currency work as a tool of recovery for the economy and to the benefit of the working people of Greece. Xekinima has explained numerous times that it is not the currency that causes the crisis, but the internal logic of the capitalist system: Though the currency does define, to a significant extent, the precise characteristics of the economic crisis.
The leadership of Syriza is unfortunately very far from this kind of thinking. It continues to believe that it can come to an agreement and a compromise with the European leadership, with the perspective of 'a different' EU, which is more sensitive to the needs of the weakest, more 'social' etc.
The class struggle is entering a new phase; the struggles of the working class and of social movements can radically change the agenda. It won't be the first time!
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