On the eve of the June 17, 2012 elections in Greece, Green Left correspondent Afrodity Giannakis reports from Thessalonika, on the hopes and fears of a people being forced to bear the burden for a global capitalist economic crisis built on the greed, speculation and corruption of the rich and powerful minority.
A large public forum was held in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley on May 16 to officially launch a community cooperative that local people hope will become an example for the rest of the country. The launch came almost a year since Heinz announced it would shut down its tomato processing plant in the nearby town of Girgarre. The closure left 146 workers without a job and affected about 600 people whose livelihoods depended on the factory.
The sensational outcome of the Greek elections on May 6 in which SYRIZA, a coalition of left-reformist and radical left groups, came second to right-wing New Democracy (ND) with nearly 17% of the vote, came on the back of the catastrophe being imposed on the Greek working class. It is being forced to pay for the crisis of Greek and European capital. This catastrophe has resulted in Greek workers and pensioners, already on some of the lowest wages and social security entitlements in Europe, having their incomes directly cut by as much as 40% over the past few years.
The rulers of the world are panicking over the results of Greek democracy. As stock markets plummet globally, the crisis in Greece has become the main item for discussion for the world’s most powerful politicians at the May 19-20 G8 meeting at the US presidential retreat, Camp David. See also: Greece: Mass anger, left gains shows urgent need for united front Mark Steel: Starve the Greeks and they'll feel better
Up until now the argument has been that there's no alternative. We have to slash public spending and wages because there's so much debt that otherwise there'll be chaos, absolute chaos. The joy of this method is it saves having to make a case for your actions, so it ought to be used more often. Journalists accused of phone hacking could say, "I had no choice but to listen to a dead soldier's voicemail because otherwise there'd be chaos, absolute chaos. Just look at Greece, they didn't hack any phones and look at the mess they're in, there was no alternative."
Economic collapse drives workers into hunger and destitution. Foreign powers extort huge payments, forcing the national economy toward bankruptcy. The government forces workers to pay the costs of capitalist crisis. This description of Greece in 2012 applies equally to Germany in 1921. How should a workers’ party respond? The German Communist Party (KPD) proposed a simple fiscal policy: tax those who own the country’s productive wealth.
Greece will hold new elections in June if last-ditch negotiations on forming a coalition government fail once again. In May 6 elections, the country's two main parties — the conservative New Democracy and the center-left PASOK — suffered catastrophic losses and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), was catapulted from minor-party status into second place. See also Greece voters revolt against cuts
The victory of Socialist Party (PS) candidate Francois Hollande in the French presidential election on May 6 set off a wave of hope across Europe. On May 9, the Spanish government announced that it was nationalising the country’s fourth biggest bank, Bankia, to keep it from collapsing. What do these seemingly unrelated events have to do with each other? Enormous expectations are being loaded onto the shoulders of the former French PS national secretary. In recession-stricken Spain, Portugal and Greece, people hope he will put Europe’s economies on a path to growth and job-creation.
The results of the May 6 elections in Greece sent a message that has been heard around the world: Working people want an end to the austerity agenda that has plunged Greece's economy into depression and slashed living standards everywhere. The highlight of the vote was the result for the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), a broad left party. SYRIZA came second with 17%, ahead of the social democratic PASOK (13%) and just behind the conservative New Democracy (ND ― 19%). See also
Compared with a southern Europe stricken by ever-rising unemployment and government attacks on social welfare and democratic rights, Luxembourg can feel as if it is on another, much more pleasant, planet. The richest country in Europe ― with Gross Domestic Product per capita at least 30% higher than that of the US, unemployment at 5.9% and the second-lowest public sector debt to GDP ratio ― this most important financial centre after London’s City would seem to be floating above the crisis.