The third vote, tomorrow, to try to elect a president in Greece, normally a figurehead, could well turn out to be the hinge point which starts, if not a landslide, then at least a series of momentous changes that could steadily unwind the grip of austerity across the EU. Right on cue, the entire Establishment both in Greece and outside Greece and grandees like Juncker of the EU Commission have been pouring fire and brimstone on Syriza and its leader Tsipras, and promising absolute catastrophe if the existing Conservative government in Athens doesn’t get its way. Well, of course they would say that, wouldn’t they? What is at stake is not the election of a new president, but a vote of confidence in the current conservative Samaras government. Samaras’ aim, if he can win this third vote (he has already lost twice), is to use it as a springboard to ram through massive further cuts so as meet the austerity targets imposed by the troika (the EU, the ECB, and IMF) as a condition for further bailout payments. But even that is not what is ultimately at stake.
Why the EU Establishment in all its forms is panicking is because it is their own power and their own ideology which is now at risk. The issue, as everyone in Greece understands, is: do they swallow another colossal round of spending and benefit cuts when a quarter of the population are out of work, poverty has rocketed from 23% before the crash to over 40% now, and when health services have been hammered while demand has risen? Or do they take advantage, if this third vote is lost, of an early snap general election to vote in a party, for the first time in Europe, which rejects austerity as the way to counter debt and prolonged depression? Syriza is championing the demand, which has desperately needed to be heard in Europe ever since the bankers’ crash, that repayment of debt should come from economic growth, not from massive budget cuts. At the same time it is seeking a European debt conference to remove a part of the debt, exactly as was granted to Germany in 1953.
There are still several things that can go wrong (or right, as the anti-democratic and pro-tax avoidance scams Juncker would say). Even if there is a snap general election in Greece and Syriza wins (which on the polls looks very likely), there are already dark rumours that all EU funding will be cut off from Greece. This would reveal the Brussels Eurocrats for what they really are – an unelected political elite determined to keep power for themselves and on their own terms and if necessary tear up the rules in order enforce compliance on any populist party democratically elected. Then there is the risk of a coup since the neo-fascist New Dawn elements have infiltrated the police. This is becoming a naked struggle for power between the Left Syriza offering hope and a way out of the failed ideology of endless austerity, and the massed cohorts of the Right promising apocalypse now if the people of Greece dare to vote for their own interests.