- In English section
- Ultima modifica il 02 Luglio 2012
- By Marco Ferrara
In order to better understand the underlying political dynamics behind the Greek elections, Cronache Internazionali has interviewed Greek MEP Nikolaos Chountis of the GUE-NGL group, who is currently the sole SYRIZA representative serving at the European Parliament.
C.I.: A majority of Greeks have voted in favor of parties which promised to uphold the Memorandum. Do you think that this a product of fear, external pressures or of a rational decision on the part of the Greek citizens?
Chountis: In my opinion this is not true. Both of the ex-major parties that support the Memorandum (PASOK-ND) were voted by 40% of Greek voters. In the elections of 2009, before the Memorandum, they had been voted by 78%. On the contrary, our party has managed to rise its score from 4.6% (2009) to 26.9%. Therefore, I think that the political message of the people against austerity policies is clear.
Concerning the very limited victory of New Democracy, we have to say that the fear which was imposed by the dominant forces of the European Union, the Greek Mass Media and the representatives of N.D and PASOK, claiming that a vote to SYRIZA would guide to the disaster of Greek economy and society, affected a part of the voters, especially those who belong in the higher classes but also those of the elder ages.
In any case, I do not really believe that this limited victory of N.D is the result of a rational decision of the voters. If someone watches carefully the indexes of Greek economy, after the Memorandum, they will understand very easily that the continuing of the neoliberal policies is a totally irrational and destructive choice.
C.I.: Do you believe that a unity government with at its center a ND-PASOK coalition will have the political force to continue imposing austerity measures? Do you think that such a government will manage to fulfill its mandate, or is it doomed to failure in the next few months (some observers have already predicted fresh elections this autumn)?
Chountis: The new Greek government consisting of ND, PASOK and the Democratic Left has the vast majority in the parliament due to an unfair electoral law that gives a bonus of 50 seats to the first party. However, the austerity measures that the government will try to continue imposing to the Greek people will not have the public consensus. Greek people live an extended social and economic tragedy. According to the analysis of our party, a social revolt is very possible if the new government insists on denying to understand people's needs.
It does not necessary mean that SYRIZA will get the power automatically in a potential electoral battle. We should be prepared for a long political struggle and we should be very well organized, as the main oppositional party, in order to convince more citizens that our alternative proposals are the only solution to the crisis. Moreover, the duration of the new government depends on the mobilisation of the people which will be one of the most crucial parameters of the political situation in Greece.
C.I.: How do your colleagues at the European Parliament view SYRIZA’s political proposals? Do you believe, as some have stated, that there is consensus coalescing within the EU on the fact that austerity policies are not the solution to the problems of Greece and of the Eurozone as a whole?
Chountis: In the European Parliament several political groups participate, having ideological and political differences. There is not only one common view among them concerning the political reality in Greece and in the rest of Europe. We feel proud because all the colleagues of the GUE-NGL have expressed their solidarity to the Greek people.
In the other groups, a lot of MEPs have started realising that the policies which are based on the framework of tough austerity and strict fiscal discipline are not effective in order to confront the consequences of crisis. They are also concerned observing that the crisis spreads around the Eurozone and are looking for solutions away of Ms Merkel's doctrine. I think it will be the main contradiction in the European Union during the next period. Development and social justice against austerity and the deepening of the crisis.
C.I.: According to many political analysts, SYRIZA’s second place finish was the best possible result for the party, as it will be able to continue to oppose the Memorandum without having to propose and enact specific alternatives. Do you feel that your party would be ready to take on the responsibility of government and the inevitable tough choices that come with it?
Chountis: We called the Greek people to vote for us for a historical change in Greece, we did not say "we want to be in the second place". We tried and we will try to have an active role. Our governmental programme describes an alternative way in order to get out of the crisis with social cohesion and social equality.
Several public commentators argued against the ability of SYRIZA to lead the state during this hard period adding that the second place is convenient enough for us in order to avoid getting the responsibility of governance. This aspect is out of reality.
We would be an immoral organization without political and ideological values if we preferred the "easy way" of the opposition despite the fact that millions of our compatriots suffer every day under the policies of the Troika and its Greek political partners. There is no doubt to the low social strata, which voted massively for SYRIZA, that our efforts for a real change in Greece, and why not in Europe, are sincere either we got the power either not.
Finally, I would say that the tough political decisions against poor people is not an "one way road". If a left government had been formed, then the "tough decisions" would concern the rich, whose massive tax evasion is tolerated for decades, at the same time that workers are exploited and overtaxed.
C.I.: Several voices within the EU nations, most notably Chancellor Merkel, have openly given their support to the pro-Memorandum parties. Do you view this as a political interference in the internal affairs of your nation?
Chountis: The pre-election interference of several institutional and informal representatives of the European doctrine of austerity in our internal affairs was unprecedented and unacceptable. They were trying, until the very last day, to cause fear to the voters about SYRIZA. These attempts to terrorise people doubted directly the sovereignty of Greece as an independent state.
The external interference was accompanied by the attempts of the mainstream Greek Mass Media to manipulate the electoral body. Their role has been proved crucial. Having a well-organised method of "propaganda", they were presenting to the people only the declarations, specially of German officials, warning about "the grexit" of the Eurozone if the programme of SYRIZA would be adopted by the citizens. On the contrary, they were hiding declarations of many distinguished economists, political actors and intellectuals around Europe who supported the political positions of SYRIZA.
C.I.: Here in Italy (given our unfortunate history) we have witnessed with apprehension the rise of the extremist right-wing group “Golden Dawn”, which has captured 7% of the vote and has elected several delegates. Do you believe that this force is destined to grow given the difficult economic conditions? Are citizens voting them because of ideology or is it just a protest vote?
Chountis: "Golden Dawn" is not just an extreme-right wing organization. It is a neo-nazi terrorist and criminal group. Its members have a very aggressive, dangerous and, even, life threatening behaviour against those who are not Greeks or they just have a different ideology or simply a different view about politics. This fascist group attacks in a daily base immigrants and left citizens with knifes, sticks and globs often under the coverage of Greek police.
I wouldn't say that 7% of the Greek people look back to Hitler with nostalgia. The big part of the voters of Golden Dawn are desperate and vulnerable people, victims of economic and social crisis, usually in unemployment. Furthermore, we have to observe that "Golden Dawn" has transformed to a social network like "mafia" which is trying to combine populism and "protection" in order to find new supporters. We have already launched a campaign against this group, particular in the popular neighbourhoods of Athens, calling every democratic citizen to isolate this political gang.