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John Passant

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June 2012



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Greece and Egypt: a tale of two elections

In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood has claimed that its candidate, Mohammed Mursi, has won Sunday’s presidential election 52% to 48% over Ahmed Shafiq, the former Mubarak Prime Minister and candidate of the old regime, the military and counter-revolution.

The official tally has not been released and it may be that this claim by the Brotherhood is aimed at preparing its forces for a fight with the Army and its supporters over vote rigging and a possible declaration on Wednesday or Thursday that Shafiq has won.

This is especially the case since SCAF (the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces) has consolidate power in its hand in what appears  a soft coup.

Last week Egypt’s highest court (with Mubarak appointed judges) ruled Shafiq could stand in the elections and dissolved Parliament.

Power returned to SCAF, and the generals claimed all legislative power and will control the Budget.

They proclaimed that there will be no new parliamentary elections until a new Constitution is drawn up. The Armed Forces will appoint the people to draft the constitution. They will in effect draw up the Constitution. 

The counter-revolution has struck in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood are not the organisation to fight it.

Indeed their leadership, or some elements of it, are likely to try to negotiate with the generals for some crumbs. The younger members, those who made or were part of the revolution, are likely to see the world very differently.

As Hossam El-Hamalawy from the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt put it in Jadaliyya:

This coming wave of repression will not finish off the revolution. Again, it will take several years for the dust to settle. The revolutionary camp lacks the essential tools to fight back, in other words, a national organization for the… most advanced sections of the labor and youth movements, and a coherent united front that coordinates between the different revolutionary groups in the capital and the provinces. And in such tough times, when the counterrevolution is in full steam, the need for such an organization becomes more urgent.

In Greece the battle is more polarised along class lines and the struggle more often fought in class terms – through strikes and demonstrations of workers and others. Even the parliamentary struggle is infused with and determined in part by the class struggle. 

The Conservative New Democracy won just under 30% of the vote and as a consequence of coming first in the overall vote will receive an extra 50 seats. The left-wing radical group SYRIZA came second with just under 27%, followed by the old Labor type party PASOK with a little over 12%.

The others in the diagram below are a split off from New Democracy, the Independent Greeks on 7.5%, Golden Dawn, the fascist party, on just under 7%, the Democratic left, a moderate split from SYRIZA on just over 6% and the KKE, the Greek Communist Party, with about 4.5%.

The vote for the KKE fell from 8.5% in May to 4.5% in June, that is, a 4% fall, that for the Independent Greeks fell about 3% and for PASOK almost 1%.

SYRIZA’s vote went up another 10% from its May vote of 17%, most of it coming as far as I can tell from the KKE, PASOK and the far left party ANTARSYA. 

We need to remember that in  June 2009 SYRIZA’s vote was 4.5%. 

Here are the results, taken from an article in LINKS:

What does this mean? Despite the naysayers who call this vote for SYRIZA a defeat or setback, or talk about the need to be sober, austerity will continue to wreak havoc and fuel opposition. 

The Greek economy is in ruins. Unemployment is running at over 22% and for the young it is approaching 50%. Growth fell last year by up to 7% and is predicted to fall again this year by around the same or slightly less.

Wages have been cut in real terms by 30% and 48% of Greeks live below the poverty line.

The Conservative New Democracy, even with an extra 50 seats for finishing first, does not have enough seats to form a government. In all likelihood it will enter into a coalition with PASOK and then have a relatively comfortable majority (about 162 seats in a 301 seat chamber) to continue to impose austerity.

The bailout package to which the new Government is committed effectively requires cuts equivalent to 5% of GDP.

This idea of expansionary austerity has failed everywhere it has been tried. In the UK it hasn’t restored growth; it has destroyed it. 

With SYRIZA vowing it will oppose any austerity, the new Greek Government’s expansionary austerity may well provoke even further class struggle.  

It may also increase the attractiveness and combativity of the fascists. The left has to unite to fight Golden Dawn and cut this cancer of Nazism out before it spreads to the vital organs.

The future will be determined by the class struggle.

As a leading member of  ANTARSYA has said (and ignoring if you can the Maoist claptrap):

Now, we are facing the task of helping the movement and social mobilization that will eventually overthrow this government and open up new paths of hope.

The future lasts a long time and surely more than singular events. The protracted people’s war continues. With determination, unity in struggle and a radical program we can still win.

I agree. It is the class struggle in Greece which offers hope. It is the class struggle in Egypt which offers hope.



Comment from john neeting
Time June 19, 2012 at 9:29 am

ha ha ha! Seems the world masters have boxed everything with a bow. Sure Egypt is a democracy [ cough, cough]You can vote for either party. The democratic militant islamic party [?] OR the militant, military party. Either way, they loose. How many egyptians will be asking years from now “what happened?” what a joke on the rest of the world let alone the dumb egyptians.

Comment from Jack Hartyn
Time June 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Egypt if left alone by the western world will solve its own problems. The Egyption armed forces have since the British left ruled Egypt. They obviously wish to continue that power, believing only they can provide a stable government. The next dominant organised force the Muslim Brotherhood wishes to rule the country, ostensibly as a parliamentary democracy, if this be the political will of the Egyption people then so be it. It is their country, and their inaleanable right to choose a government of their choice without any outside interference.

Greece very unfortunately is an international cot case and again unfortunately has always been so. They have a quite deserved reputation amongst other trading partners as always looking for ways and means to avoid payment for goods supplied. They seem to be, as a trading nation,litigious. They appear to embrace democracy yet seem as individuals to avoid paying the monetary costs of supporting such parliamentary democracy. The question arises, no matter the colour of the elected government, why were they allowed to join the Euro Block in the first instance? Was it an effort to stabilise the Euro to a lower level to enable the more export orientated productive northern european zone members to receive the benefits of a lower valued Euro ?

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