Monday, 26 January 2015

Greek Elections Syriza Should Govern Alone

It looks as though Syriza will be two votes short of having an outright majority to form a Government.  The right-wing nationalist Independent Greeks, have said they would support Syriza's opposition to a continuation of austerity.  Syriza could, therefore, form a minority government and push through the main element of its programme without forming a coalition.  It should do so, and challenge the other parties to bring it down and force new elections.  Having come so close to having an outright majority, Greek workers would not understand, if it refused to form a Government.  They will understand if Syriza refuses to form a coalition that would inevitably involve it having to compromise on its core programme commitment.

Given that the Independent Greeks have signalled that they would support Syriza's anti-austerity agenda, they have no bargaining chips to demand a coalition, and Syriza should not give them any concessions.  In a way, the Independent Greeks and other minor parties in Greece are in a similar position to that the SNP would be in, if Labour formed a minority government.  They have no bargaining chips.  If they bring down the government, they will be punished in the subsequent election, for having done so.

Syriza, should form a minority government, in a similar manner to the way Harold Wilson did in 1974, making it clear that they will govern on a provisional basis, ahead of calling new elections to obtain the majority they require to govern without being beholden to other parties.  If Syriza cannot obtain such a majority, then as argued previously they should refuse to take office, and adopt a position of extreme opposition.

An interesting development last night in one of the TV interviews was the comments from the Chairman of the Athens Chambers of Commerce that Europe needed to develop a strategy for growth as an alternative to the failed policies of austerity.  Syriza's victory opens up the potential for social democracy to put forward such an alternative across Europe.  The german SPD has a pivotal role to play in that, because its coalition with Merkel gives them a bargaining position, demanding that such a growth strategy be developed across Europe, starting with a cancellation of Greek debt, as a condition for their continued support for her government.

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