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Communists and Elections

Informational article of the International Department of the CC, KKE.


KKE’s response to the results of the recent parliamentary elections in Greece

and comparisons to corresponding results from Germany and Portugal

On October 4, 2009, early parliamentary elections were held closely following analogous electoral procedures in Portugal and Germany. Certain presentations of the election results abroad expressed analyses that “Greece took a turn to the Left”, or that a “victory of the Left” had been achieved.

These analyses were based on the combination of the percentages of 3 parties: the social democratic party PASOK, which is a vehicle for harsh anti-popular policies and constitutes one of the two basic “pillars” of the bourgeois political system; the “new left” formation SYRIZA, (a meshing of euro communist and former communists, that originated from the base of a social democratic programme); and KKE that struggles daily for the interests of the working class and the people’s strata, heading towards  a transformation of society, the overthrow of the power of the bourgeois class and the building of socialism. This arbitrary combination of dissimilar political forces in the name of the “Left”, clearly shows that this meaning does not correspond to the real political and social divisions of society, when they place together e.g. forces that support the imperialist body NATO (such as PASOK), the EU (PASOK and SYRIZA) and KKE that wages battles against both these imperialist bodies and demands the withdrawal of our country from both of them. Such a combinationof political forces who have ‘bought’ the argument of the bourgeois class regarding the “competitiveness” of the Greek economy: (PASOK, SYN), with KKE with which they clash along the entire ideological-political front on this and other concepts of the bourgeois class, with KKE, who bears the greatest burden in the struggle against the anti-popular restructuring and that determinedly takes on the forces of capital.


Basic facts regarding the election results

KKE amassed 517,138 votes in the recent elections, which is 66,612 less then the 2007 elections, where it had 583,750 votes. The result of this small loss was that the electoral percentage dropped from 8.15% to 7.54%. KKE lost one seat in parliament, electing 21 deputies (instead of 22) in the 300-seat parliament. At the same time, we must note for readers abroad, that in the 2007 elections, PASOK was experiencing a serious crisis and a victory for New Democracy (ND) was considered certain. For this reason, we must take the election results from 2004 into consideration as well because then the ruling party PASOK was defeated and ND came into power due to strong popular discontent. At that point KKE had received 436,561 votes and the percentage reached 5.9%. Conclusively, in 2007, KKE had achieved a significant electoral increase for a communist party; about 150 thousand votes, or more than 2%.

In addition, in the 2009 elections, the forces of the bourgeois two-party system, (PASOK and ND) amassed in total 77.4% of the votes. This percentage is the lowest amassed by the two-party system parties since the 1981 electoral battles. PASOK gathered 43.92% (+5.8%) while ND had 33.48% (-8.4%).

An increase was noted by the nationalist party LAOS, gathering 5.63% (+1.8%), however in an analysis of the results it must be considered that the liberal party ND, which constitutes the “reservoir” from which LAOS draws its forces, lost more than 8% of its vote.

SYRIZA retreated from 4th or 5th political position, receiving 4.6% (-0.4%). This retreat was covered up by all the jubilation expressed in part by the bourgeois mass media that support social democracy and who had become anxious since the polls showed that SYRIZA was marginal given its predicted electoral percentage to get into the parliament (3%); especially since it had covered all of the demagogic “curve” from 18-20%, that was polled 15 months earlier, reaching the lower limit of 3% in just one year.  

Finally, the party “Ecologists – Greens”, despite the overwhelming support it enjoyed from the mass media and corporate circles, could not at this time amass votes over the limit of 3% to elect parliament members, gathering only 2.5%.


Certain qualitative facts on KKE’s electoral results

The electoral results of KKE show that the Party gathers the highest percentages in the city centers, where on average it amasses 8.8%. In the sub-city areas, the percentage is 6% and in the strict agricultural areas, it is 6.1%. KKE receives high percentages (from 10% to 20%) in the working class neighborhoods of Athens, Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Patras and other large cities.

On the island of Ikaria that served in the past as an exile island for communists, and where KKE traditionally enjoys high electoral percentages, the Party came in first, with 37%.

However, as sociological research shows, the electoral strength of KKE is greater than the percentages that it received among the youth ages 25-34 (11%), and the productive age groups 45-54(9%), salaried private sector employees (11%), the unemployed (11%), and university students (11%).


Assessment of the results

The CC of KKE estimates in its initial conclusions that “the electoral result, as far as KKE is concerned, is low in relation to the prestige and the influence that the Party has gained through its political action and it does not correspond to its role in the development of the struggles that have taken place, without which the results would have been unfavourable (…) KKE waged a tough battle under conditions of economic crisis, an upturn for the social democratic forces. Despite the fact that it did not succeed in reinforcing its forces, it showed resilience, it managed to thwart the attempts to remove it from third position in the parliament, to apply ideological pressure, to destroy as much as possible the greater part of its political and electoral influence. KKE’s endurance throughout the dilemmas, the fears, the blackmail and manipulation, shows its capabilities, its correct line, and its readiness for tomorrow to be MORE DECISIVE on the front line.”

It is obvious that in PASOK’s electoral victory the logic of “the lesser of the two evils” played its role which social democracy played on, as well as the mechanisms of ‘buying votes’, through a system of promises and exchanges in the working class sector, that made use of the harsh fact of unemployment and poverty, under conditions of a global capitalist crisis, intensifying the insecurity and the pressure for quick fixes. Clearly, there are other reasons for this result, such as the anti-communist campaign that was developed in Greece during the previous period and to which we have referred to analytically in a previous article on the Euro elections of 2009.

There are as well more generalized reasons, such as the effect of the situation in the workers’ trade union movement in Europe and in Greece, the weak bonds of the party organizations of KKE with new working class strata that approach the Party yet require additional efforts in order from them to become stabilized. During this period, the party organizations of KKE are studying the first conclusions drawn by the CC as well as the weaknesses and the experience that has been gathered through their action.

The result indicated that the efforts to oust KKE from 3rd position that have taken place during recent years, also aided by the intervention of the American factor, did not succeed. These efforts which are supported by powerful publishing centres who control the electronic mass media, aimed either at SYRIZA’s ascension, or that of LAOS, or of the “ecologists” to the political position that is maintained today by KKE.


External factors

We need to keep in mind that, as the Statement of the CC of KKE states, “We find ourselves in a period where intra-imperialist contradictions are sharpening in the area.”

The effort of Russia to promote its own plans for oil pipelines and natural gas in Europe, in conflict with similar plans of the USA, are reflected in the agreements that have been signed by the previous government, and are also reflected in the participation of Greece in some of these Russian plans (oil pipeline Burgas-Alexandroupolis, section of the natural gas pipeline “South Stream”). In parallel, the efforts of China to make inroads in European markets have led it to (through the COSCO company) to acquire an important section of the basic port of the country, its base for commercial containers.

Both Russia and China aim at the materialization of specific plans to upgrade their role in international affairs, to form alliances with sections of European Union capital, gaining shares in the European market, as well as in the wider region.

It is not by chance that the American President, Barack Obama, rushed first of all of the foreign leaders, before the electoral results had even been announced, to hail the victory of PASOK and George Papandreou. This was not by pure chance as prior to the elections G. Papandreou made various skeptical comments against the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, while the situation with the other Russian plan for the “South Stream” pipeline remains unclear.

During the entire pre-election period this specific issue became a point of reference and exploitation and clearly demonstrates that the intra-imperialist rivalries play a role in the internal political conflict between bourgeois political forces in the country. Except for this, prior to the elections, PASOK left open a possible revision of the agreement with the Chinese COSCO. A section of the bourgeois Press directly “nailed” G. Papandreou stating that if he were to be elected he would faithfully serve American plans, while related innuendos were also made toward the former ND Minister of the Exterior, Dora Bakogianni, who is now laying claim to the leadership of the ND party.

“Wherever there is smoke, there is fire”. It is a fact that various monopoly circles, both national and foreign, and the great powers are interested in having the support of the varied political forces for their plans. The most characteristic example is provided by Mr. Alex Rondos, whom we should keep in mind went from being a  G. Papandreou advisor (Minister of the Exterior in the former PASOK government), with a role in the overthrow of Milosevitz, in Serbia, to becoming an advisor in the services of American supporter President of Agriculture, M. Saakasvili.


The position of KKE on the issue of intra imperialist disputes

Here we would like to refer to KKE position on the two aforementioned examples:

KKE emphasizes that the construction or not of oil pipelines and natural gas pipelines and the transformation or not of Greece into an “energy center” does not mean at all that the access of Greek working people to energy resources will become easier(cheaper). What it will mean is that it will enrich the profits of those private associations who will benefit from the specific projects. The benefit is just as direct (from the exploitation of the pipeline), as it is indirect (with the alliances that will be created with sections of capital from other countries, e.g that of Russia, of Italy, of Germany, etc.)


The construction of energy pipelines, just like every project for the energy infrastructure, would be useful for the working class only within the framework of a Peoples’ Economy, which would insure the utilization of transport pipes and domestic energy resources, based on peoples’ needs and not capitalist profit. Something like this, of course, demands something radically different, popular-workers’ power, that is socialism.


At the same time, the Communist Party of Greece denounced the privatisation of the ports and the signing of the specific agreement with COSCO. KKE demanded both before and after the Parliamentary elections that there should be “no review, no renegotiation, but complete annulment of the agreement with COSCO as well as of all the laws that the governments of PASOK and ND have voted concerning the privatisation of the ports”.  The communists supported the Piraeus docker’s continuous strike against the privatisation of the port.

In general, KKE calls upon the workers not to comply with any imperialist power, as some suggest arguing that it is for the sake of “national interests”. Behind the latter lie the often colliding industrialists’, ship-owners’ and bankers’ interests and certainly not those of the working class and the other popular strata.  


What does the percentage of the Communist Party of Greece express?

The rivals of KKE, capitalists, and their system mechanism attempt to dictate their criteria regarding the evaluation of the electoral results. They conduct biased analyses to undermine the impact that the theses of our party have on people.       

Reality demonstrates the upward course of KKE in recent years. Its influence has grown both in the workers’ - popular movement and in the elections, through rallying significant parts of the working class, of the popular strata and of the youth to struggle against big capital, its political and trade union representatives and anti-popular policy in general.  

Reality shows that the Communist Party of Greece is a revolutionary party that concentrates and educates forces in the struggle for socialism. It does not have parliamentary illusions. It does not believe in the progressive rise of its electoral percentage from one electoral encounter to another that supposedly may eventually lead to the formation of a “socialist government” through elections.  KKE has rejected as dangerous and inadmissible the idea of participation and support of “centre-left” or “left” governments that will manage the capitalist system. The policy of alliances of the Communist Party of Greece projects the need to build the anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly, democratic front, where the social and political forces that are willing to fight against monopolies and imperialism will converge and bring forward a frame of struggle for popular power and economy.

The Communist Party of Greece is well aware that the ideological and political consciousness of the workers’ masses requires a process of successive confrontations with capitalists, with the ideology and political power of the capital, with its institutions that include its political parties and its “differentiated” supporters. 

The electoral abandonment of the bourgeois parties and the electoral support of the Communist Party of Greece is an act of confrontation with the establishment of exploitation, an act of emancipation.


The electoral percentage of KKE has no relation to the electoral percentage of the “mutated” forces

That is why the electoral percentage of KKE cannot be compared with the results of the so called “left” parties that serve to manage the capitalist system (PASOK and SYRIZA) or with the results of parties or coalition-parties of our country or other countries that have “mutated communist forces” as their core (for example SYRIZA in Greece, Die Linke in Germany and Bloco in Portugal). Despite their declarations those forces fit into the system. They are forces of capitalisms’ management. They support the imperialist centre of the EU spreading illusions that it can be “humanised”. They cannot be models of revolutionary parties’ development because they have resigned from the revolutionary world view of Marxism-Leninism and the traditions of the communist movement. Often, these particular forces are protagonists in the anticommunist propaganda reproducing the bourgeoisie’s charges against the socialism that was built in the USSR and in the Eastern European countries in the 20th century. In fact, these parties try to disorientate or relieve popular radicalisation. Their coincidental growth in percentage has to do with the difficulties that the classical social-democratic parties face in many EU-countries in this period. For instance, the rise of SYRIZA according to gallops 1,5 years ago was a result of the corresponding deep collapse of the main social-democratic party of Greece, PASOK. When PASOK got over its internal problems and the bourgeoisie decided to trust it with the governmental power, supporting this choice by all means, PASOK easily managed to take regain its “lost ground” from SYRIZA. 

KKE stresses that the need for change in the correlation of forces and therefore for rallying around the Communist Party requires realisation of the need for confrontation with capitalist exploitation, not only for the perspective of its abolition but also for the satisfaction of immediate demands, such as the improvement of working conditions (wages, workday, pension, insurance), the survival of poor farmers or small-shop owners and manufacturers, the guaranteeing of public and free Education, Healthcare and Welfare for the people. 


Class struggles, party and trade union building

KKE works in this direction aiming to build more and more Party Base Organizations (PBO) mainly focusing on production and other workplaces.  Communists are in the forefront of all struggles, small or big ones that PAME (All Workers’ Militant Front) organises. PAME is a front of class-oriented organizations. Big industrial confederations, district trade union organisations (Labour Centres) and a big number of trade unions participate in PAME and organize the struggle of the working class in our country against the employers, the anti-popular governments, the compromised General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the Confederation of Civil Servants Unions (ADEDY).

Thus, during the summer for example, the class orientated Federation of Workers in the Food and Beverage Industry which participates in PAME, organised a big strike that brought to a standstill the production in big factories. As a result, the workers won several new gains.  Similar struggles have been fought in many sectors and workplaces. Definitely in workplaces where such struggles took place the workers appreciated the struggle of the communists even more. And we don’t say that without evidence; during the very short pre-election period communists managed to get into thousands of factories, construction sites and other workplaces, where they discussed the political positions of KKE, during worker’s brakes and at workers meetings.      


Regrouping of the labour and trade-union movement – a basic element of the struggle

The liberation and emancipation from bourgeois dilemmas that trap people into bourgeois power is a subject matter of class struggle.  

The electoral bourgeois institutions do not determine whether KKE will be a party that rallies the majority of the working people, a party recognised by other popular forces as vanguard. On the contrary, this is the process that determines the fate of those institutions, their destabilization and the need for their overthrow. 

Thus, the problem of the labour movement is not primarily its political deception in the national, the EP elections or even in the local elections. The primary task is for the labour movement to deal with this deception within the labour movement itself. Therefore, the main issue becomes the regrouping of the movement.           

Regrouping of the labour movement means that the majority of the workers are organized in their trade unions; that it organizes struggles for all the employees in an enterprise, in a sector or in all sectors,  no matter if a segment of the employees works under a better  labour or pension agreement; it means that the labour movement is organized and organizes struggles not only against a specific capitalist but against the government of capitalists; not only against the governing bourgeois party but against all bourgeois parties that as “opposition” parties use the labour and trade union movement to achieve their rise to the bourgeois government management, only to serve the interests of the monopolies.      

In other words the regrouping of the labour movement necessitates a militant workers’ majority that is organised in the trade unions, struggles for its rights and is capable of isolating the influence exerted by PASOK, ND, Labour Centres and Confederations, so that GSEE becomes an “empty shirt” and that will expose the hollow “leftist” rhetoric of Synaspismos/SYRIZA. PAME must become the leading force of the trade union movement that mobilises hundreds of thousands of employees in all urban centres.  


The shortcomings of party forces must be overcome

The subjective and objective difficulties that KKE faces can be overcome with a stronger impetus, above all with a stronger ideological power. Our ideological persuasion concerns primarily the strengthening of our ideological front, the elaboration of our positions in each sector or in districts, the study of the history of our party and the international communist movement, the quality of our publications and our media, the party schools for Marxist education etc. Furthermore, it also concerns our ability to work so that all these aspects become a fundamental element of the internal functioning of the PBO, of the communist groups in schools, hospitals, factories, shopping centres, trade union boards, mass organisations etc. It has to do with our ability to make each group of communists, no matter if they are members of the Party or not, each group of KNE members more capable of fermenting and spreading our ideology and organising the masses. The communist trade unionists must play the leading role in this action.  

Our organisational power must also grow stronger. We have to think more creatively, to take multifaceted and bold steps for the acquisition of the required knowledge and competence. This refers to the functioning, the content and the action of the PBO. This process will bring substantial, qualitative changes in the functioning, the content and the activity of trade unions, mass organisations, youth and women associations. Furthermore, the forms of organization and rallying of forces as regards the trade union struggle, but also the struggle for cultural, educational entertainment must become more attractive. However, they should neither lose their class political character nor substitute the struggle for the satisfaction of these needs with the responsibility of the state.    

KKE assumes its responsibilities. It has experience and finds itself in a state of readiness and better ideological-political unity and maturity compared to that of the parliamentary elections in 2007, regardless of its electoral percentage. It will employ all its capabilities for organizing the people’s counterattack against the plans of monopolies, the new government, the EU and international imperialism. This process will bring about ideological and political maturity for new segments of employees; it will forge the class struggle and produce changes in the balance of forces.




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