Monday, January 26, 2015
Syriza-ANEL coalition posted by Richard SeymourIt is too early to be comprehensive, or much more than speculative, but with the results finally in, Syriza is just shy of an overall majority in parliament. The negotiations over a coalition government were purely a formality: Syriza and the Independent Greeks (ANEL) had worked out a coalition deal some time ago. So, I just want to make a few points about that.
1) On balance, this is better than working with some pro-memorandum party and it sends a clear signal to the EU and troika, but;
2) ANEL are a hard right split from New Democracy. They've flagged up a possible deal with Syriza months ago, but they made it clear that there were 'national' and 'orthodox' issues that they would not back down on. This means hardline anti-immigration policies, confrontation with Turkey over Thrace, the imposition of orthodox religion in education, and authoritarian measures to assert public order. This doesn't mean they'll get everything they want, but anything they do get hurts Syriza at its base;
3) ANEL are of course not fascist, but nor are they exactly democrats. They've said that they think Greece should be governed by an emergency committee that stands above parties and will restore national sovereignty. If they are true to type, they will be networking with the authoritarian elements inside the state and with reactionaries across the parliamentary benches, from whatever office they're given. They are totally untrustworthy and there will be repercussions from this;
4) This does dilute the overall leftist thrust of the victory. The KKE could have made a difference here, and their insane stance of refusing to negotiate with Syriza plays a significant role in this outcome. It should be said that the KKE has no problem aligning with the right when it suits, as when it voted with Golden Dawn, Independent Greeks and others to oppose anti-racist legislation. This stance is purely a product of invested ultra-sectarianism on their part.;
5) But the Syriza leadership does have form in working with ANEL, as it did in 2013 over the Cypriot banks emergency. I think this is partly because the Syriza leadership underestimates the sources of reaction in Greek society. Tsipras has said that he thinks anti-immigrant feeling is not caused by racism but displaced despair over austerity, thus implying that reversing austerity alone would be sufficient to undercut its bases. This is what opportunism means - putting immediate tactical advantage ahead of long-term strategic issues. And this won't be the only manifestation of that.