Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Five years since the 2015 Greek referendum — The stance of the KKE was totally vindicated

By Nikos Mottas.

The 5th of July marked the fifth anniversary since the bailout referendum in Greece. The 2015 Greek referendum, a milestone event in the four year governmental term of SYRIZA coalition government, is one of the biggest political frauds in post-1974 Greek history. 

In the referendum, the Greek people were asked to choose whether or not they agree with the bailout conditions proposed by the so-called “Troika”, the EU Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank (1). The outcome was a triumph of the “No” vote with 61.31%, contrary to 38.69% of “Yes”. 

The 2015 Greek referendum was the peak of SYRIZA government’s demagoguery and deception towards the people. For a short but intense period, the country was divided between two camps: The supporters of “No” and the advocates of “Yes”. 

From one side, there was the social democratic government of SYRIZA, under Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, which openly advocated in favor of a “No” vote. On the other side, the “Yes” option was supported by other bourgeois powers, including the conservative New Democracy (ND) party, PASOK/KINAL, Potami and others, which advocated "Greece's participation in the EU at all costs". 

The dilemma between “Yes” and “No” was a fraudulent one. Both the two sides were actually playing a nasty political game on the peoples’ shoulders. Both sides were, in fact, supporting the EU and capitalist barbarity. 

While advocating for the rejection of Troika-proposed austerity bailout package, SYRIZA government had already prepared an almost identical (47+8 pages) package of anti-worker, anti-people measures. In fact, the SYRIZA government were calling the people to reject the Troika proposal while, at the same time, behind the scenes, they had agreed to implement an equally harsh austerity proposal. 

In this extraordinary case of deception, PM Tsipras wasn’t alone. The “No” campaign was openly supported by a number of smaller opportunist parties and groups of the extra-parliamentary Left (such as Antarsya, Troyskyite groups, etc), the stance of which fostered illusions among the working class. They were advocating an "exit from the EU", but without touching the core of the problem: The capitalist economy, the power and dominance of the monopolies. 

From the very beginning, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) warned the people about the political fraud. In a statement published a few days before the referendum, the Political Bureau of the CC of the KKE was pointing out: 
“The government in fact calls the people to verify its own proposal towards the lenders, (a proposal) which is the other side of the same coin. The government is deceiving the people in order to make them consent to its anti-people plans. The people must not choose between Scylla and Charybdis, but must rise up and express, with all the available means and ways, their opposition to the EU and her continuous austerity memorandums”.
The KKE said the whole truth to the people. It stressed out that the “No” vote – promoted by the SYRIZA government – was in fact a “Yes” to the governmental proposal which was almost identical with the one of the Troika. In a massive rally organized in Athens, just two days before the referendum, the General Secretary of the KKE Dimitris Koutsoumbas was pointing out among other things:
“Our people are being called on to take part in a referendum with a Yes or a No, which are only different in terms of appearance. Both the Yes and the No mean the acceptance of a new memorandum of anti-people measures, perhaps the worst that we have seen up to now. Both the Yes and No will lead the people to new torments and tragedies. Both the Yes and the No mean anti-worker, anti-people measures. The referendum is a pretext for a new memorandum agreement at the expense of the Greek people”.
Front Page of "Rizospastis", 2 July 2015.
"They are hideously mocking the people. Their "No" is a
"Yes" to a third austerity memorandum", reads the headline.
This is exactly what happened after the referendum. The SYRIZA government turned the “No” vote into “Yes”, thus reaching a new bailout agreement with the Troika. 

The referendum was actually utilized by Tsipras’ government as a “relief valve” for the concentrated anger and indignation of the people. SYRIZA manipulated the anger, the distress and the hope of poor popular strata in order to serve the interests of the Greek bourgeoisie within the E.U. establishment. 

The stance of the KKE is in sharp contrast with the stance of the bourgeois parties. The KKE kept a principled position in the 2015 referendum: It called the people to reject both the proposals of Troika and the government and to demand the country’s disengagement from the EU with the people in power. More specifically, the KKE’s proposal to the voters was the following: “NO TO THE PROPOSAL OF THE EU-IMF-ECB. NO TO THE PROPOSAL OF THE GOVERNMENT. DISENGAGEMENT FROM THE EU, WITH THE PEOPLE IN POWER” (2). 

Today, five years since the Greek bailout referendum the working people of Greece can draw conclusions. Everyone can see who told them the truth and who deceived them. 

Both the social democracy of SYRIZA as well as the conservative New Democracy party are enemies of the workers’ interests. Other bourgeois parties, such as PASOK/KINAL and Yanis Varoufakis’ MERA25, bear huge responsibilities for supporting and promoting reactionary, deeply anti-worker policies. 

The stance of the KKE in the 2015 referendum has been fully vindicated. It highlights that the working class, the people, must not fight under the false flags of bourgeois interests. The only option for the people is to raise their own banners, to strengthen the working class movement towards an anti-monopoly, anti-capitalist struggle, for the overthrow of the exploitative system.


(1) The question in the July 5th referendum was: “Should the agreement plan submitted by the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the Eurogroup of June 25, 2015, and comprised of two parts which make up their joint proposal, be accepted? The first document is titled “Reforms for the Completion of the Current Program and Beyond” and the second “Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis”.   

(2) During the Parliamentary session of June 27th, at the Greek Parliament, the governmental majority of SYRIZA-ANEL rejected to add the KKE proposal as choice in the referendum. Consequently, the KKE printed and distributed its ballot papers to workplaces, neighborhoods and outside the voting centers. 

* Nikos Mottas is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of "In Defense of Communism".