Local TUSC candidate, Damon Gibbons, recently visited Athens with the Debt Action Group. As part of his visit to Greece, Mr Gibbons met with politicians, community groups, trade unionists and activists, all united in calling on the Syriza government to take a firm stance in opposition to the Troika — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF.
These experiences were documented in a short film about the debt delegations visit that was released last month as Greece on the Edge. This short documentary goes some way in exposing the everyday experiences of ‘the Greek’ financial crisis and years of severe austerity.
Commenting on Sunday’s inspiring No vote, Mr Gibbons said:
“The Greek people have, once more, delivered a resounding verdict against austerity. If Europe were a democracy then yesterday’s ‘No’ vote would surely result in the Troika offering new terms: writing down the Greek debt and ceasing its demands for further privatisations and public spending cuts. But this is unlikely to happen. The Troika, wary of possible ‘contagion’ in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Ireland, will resist any deviation from the position that all debts, no matter how incurred or how damaging the repayments, must be recovered. Fear is changing sides.”
Currently in Athens, where he participated in the campaign for a No vote, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD for Dublin South West, Paul Murphy, wrote today about what might happen next:
“Three outcomes are possible. The first is that the Troika feels pressured by the scale of the No victory, wants to avoid a Greek exit from the eurozone and offers significant new concessions, including debt write-down or restructuring and allows the Greek government to tax the super-wealthy and corporations. In that case, a deal may be done.
“The second is that the Troika does not make significant concessions, but that the government, feeling the need to stay in the euro at any cost, does a deal which includes significant austerity and no reduction of the debt. That would not be welcomed by the Greek people. Those who mobilised for a No were not for a very slightly better deal, they were against austerity. A deal like that would likely split Syriza, demoralize a section of people, and push others to protest.
“The third option is that there is no deal. The statements coming from the German and EU establishments today indicate that they have not shifted their position one iota after yesterday’s vote. The German Minister for Economic Affairs has said negotiations for a new programme are ‘hard to imagine.’
“They may continue to insist on lots more austerity, with no debt relief. The resignation of Varoufakis may not be enough for them – they may want Tsipras himself gone. In that case, the financial terrorism against Greece will escalate in the coming days, with no further funding for the Greek banks pointing to a banking collapse. That would leave the government with effectively no choice (other than sign a humiliating deal) but to begin printing some form of parallel national currency in order to re-open the banks.”
Either way he concludes it is certain that:
“A rupture in Greece from the domination of the Troika and austerity would inspire further resistance. It can open the way for other countries to take that path, a step towards building the kind of Europe that we need – a truly democratic, socialist Europe that works for the millions, instead of the millionaires.”
The Socialist Party’s sister organisation in Greece, Xekinima, obviously campaigned hard for the No vote, distributing 100,000 leaflets in just five days and selling 2,700 copies of a special newspaper produced for the referendum. They pointed out how the powerful No vote “echoed the views and hopes of millions of workers across Europe who gave strength to and received inspiration from the struggle of the Greek workers.” But pressure still needs to be brought to bear upon the SYRIZA government, and Xekinima wrote:
“Following the landslide No vote, will the Greek government respond to the expectations of the Greek people? Or will it continue to have illusions in its so-called ‘partners’ and the various Institutions? Will it stand by the clear No mandate of the Greek people, refusing to retreat from its pre-election promises (i.e. the ‘Salonica Programme’)? Or will the SYRIZA government accept a new Memorandum and more austerity (albeit a bit milder than that of the previous government of the right wing New Democracy and ‘social democratic’ PASOK) in the cause of remaining within the Eurozone?
“If the Greek government attempts to come to a new agreement with the Troika, on the basis of a new Memorandum to satisfy their demands, it will have turned its back on the mighty No declaration of the Greek people. It has no right or mandate to take such action!”