What Now for Greece?

The task in this election was to get a clear mandate from the voters to form a solid parliamentary majority and a battle-ready government that can deploy all possible levers for ameliorating Greece’s negotiating position, reject the most unacceptable dictates, relaunch the economy and work towards rebuilding productive capacity, renegotiate the debt, and introduce social justice criteria into public policy.

The struggle at the EU level is an indispensable axis. ‘In Europe today, Greece and the Greek people are synonymous with resistance and dignity, and we have to engage in this struggle together for another four years’, Tsipras rightly said. It is now up to us, but we have to do better than we have in the past. Our tasks are challenging ones: we have to analyse the obstacles that we have encountered, avoid dead ends, and outline a vision that is more credible, effective, and capable of mobilising struggles that have to be carried out together in Europe, identifying the assets that we have.
Recent months have made clearer than ever the highly political nature of the confrontation between the Tsipras government – the first government in neoliberal Europe led by an alternative left – and the famous ‘creditors’ – the European institutions and governments of the euro zone. A broad alliance of political forces and economic powers has been acting together to impede at all costs  this first attempt on the part of a European government to carry out another kind of policy in its country by refusing to bow to neoliberal dogma and the austerity consensus represented by all the other governments. ‘Union’ is increasingly rhyming with ‘division’,[1] euro with inequities, and ‘Stability Pact’ with austerity and the penetration of the crisis everywhere. This crisis is destroying what the populations have been able to accept as the meaning of the EU and is bringing the EU and the euro to the brink of an explosion.
Our left is facing a historic challenge. Will we be capable of conceiving and carrying out the class confrontation of this period of history at the same time in each country, all together in Europe, in order to give birth to a new Europe that makes sense to its peoples? Our responsibility is enormous.[2] If we do not manage to create a social and political dynamic on the left, it will be the populist right groups that benefit from this multi-dimensional crisis.[3]
In this crisis and confrontation in which all masks have come off, Europe’s political landscape is undergoing change. The two pillars of neoliberal consensus (‘Europe’s grand coalition’) – the conservatives and the social democrats – are watching their influence erode. The right-wing and extreme-right populists are able to benefit from the deepening of divisions in the various societies and from the crisis of politics, from the broadly shared sentiment that ‘politics’ cannot or does not want to do anything for those who need change most. The EU’s self-destruction greatly helps these groups. European social democrats, incapable of providing anything but neoliberal responses and constantly losing its social base, has long since plunged into a deep and lasting crisis.
But we too have every advantage in our project of changing the relation of forces in Europe. In many countries new left forces have formed in recent years that have at times succeeded in going beyond the fragmentation inherited from history by creating new political forms. An example is Syriza, which emerged from a process of bringing diverse forces together with many protagonists of the social movement and which has for many years now participated in the construction of arenas of struggle in Europe. New dynamics are developing on the left in Spain, in Ireland, and in Italy (with the re-entry of the radical left into the European Parliament through the list L’Altra Europa con Tsipras). In Great Britain, the left turn has taken place within the Labour Party and the trade unions with the victory of Jeremy Corbyn, which will have the additional effect of halting the rise of the UKIP. In other socialist parties as well, left-wing currents are being formed that are supporting the choice made by the Greek people and their government. In Germany, voices opposed to ‘a German Europe’ are asserting themselves, and the trade unions are deconstructing Merkel’s and Schäuble’s discourse. The European Green candidate for the presidency of the European Commission spoke at the final rally of the Tsipras campaign in Athens. In the struggles in solidarity with Greece, new alliances and common fronts can be formed. In France too, it is our – urgent – responsibility to contribute to this effort. Beyond the frameworks of the Party of the European Left, the GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament, and the Transform ! network we need to build broad European initiatives that bring together trade unionists, movements, intellectuals, and political protagonists. This can be done in part by the #Alter Summit, which was founded four years ago in anticipation of a time when we would have to take up the work of refounding Europe.
[1] ‘United Europe – Divided Europe’ is the title of the 2015 issue of Transform !.
[2] See the collection Écrits sur la Grèce: Points de vue européens, Collection Espaces Marx / Le Croquant,  September 2015.
[3] See Elisabeth Gauthier, Joachim Bischoff, and Bernhard Müller, Droites populistes en Europe ; les raisons d’un succès.  Collection Espaces Marx / Le Croquant, August 2015.

This op-ed was originally published in French in the daily newspaper "L’Humanité" on 22 September. It is availabe on "Mediapart" under the following link: http://blogs.mediapart.fr/blog/espaces-marx/220915/grece-et-maintenant-par-elisabeth-gauthier