In Greece, 2019 is a year of four elections. This week, EP elections will be held and parliamentary elections will be held in the autumn following local and regional elections.
In recent years, the austerity policies implemented during the Syriza government have created reactions in the wider segments of the society, which is expected to be reflected in the results of the polls.
Lefteris Nikolau, candidate MEP of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and member of the International Relations Section of the CC, answered ICP's questions before the elections.
In Greece, this year May 26 is marked by a "triple election:" the European elections and the elections for regional and local authorities. It is known that the elections for the EP remain generally far from mobilizing people, and consequently, levels of participation remain considerably low. The KKE, even as a party represented in the EP, has always strictly opposed illusions about the character of the EU, which is an imperialist centre that serves the interests of European monopolies. What is the importance of the European elections for the KKE?
The bourgeois political system each time takes its measures, reconfigures itself, to ease the manipulation of the workers and to present new obstacles in the effort of the Communist Party of Greece. It is not holding the European Elections along with the local ones for reasons of “saving off” public financial resources. However, the KKE today stresses that our people has tried every “solution” that lies inside the walls of the EU and of the capitalist mode of development. The social-democrat administration – of the old and new social-democracy of SYRIZA, as well as all kinds of “new-liberal”, “conservative”, “euroscepticist” recipes all serve the system of capitalist exploitation and the dictatorship of the monopolies. That is why altogether the supporters of this system have taken and continue taking harsh measures against the peoples, that lead to big monopoly groups amassing more profits at the expense of our rights.
The workers that understand the dead-ends that the capitalist system is creating for their life, today have a choice: to support the proposal of the KKE for disengagement from the EU, with the power in the hands of the people, independently if they totally agree with us. In front of us we have a great responsibility: to prove that an important part of the working class, of the rest of the popular strata, and of their youth, does not accept the EU one-way, condemns the reactionary union of the monopolies, the rotten exploitative system that this union supports. To show to the workers of all the countries that the struggle to disentangle from the EU, with the power and the economy in the hands of the workers, for Greece for Europe of Socialism is getting stronger, is getting fortified.
The KKE is participating in the elections for the European Parliament, as you underlined, shedding light on the imperialist character of the EU, that cannot change. Exactly as we participate in the national elections, telling to the workers to not have illusions that through this bourgeois parliament capitalism can be “humanized”. We take part in these elections for the European parliament presenting to the people our complete proposal: for the need to strengthen the struggle of the working class, to form a social alliance with the rest of the popular strata, that will fight for each popular interest, fighting against capitalism and the monopolies.
This is a perspective that needs a strong Communist Party of Greece, in the workers' movement, in the workplaces, in the daily struggle in the streets and using each spot that we can win in local councils, in the national and European parliaments. We believe that further strengthening of the KKE will send a message of optimism and will be a step ahead for the enhancement of the struggle for the regroupment of the European and international communist movement in a revolutionary direction.
Contradictions within imperialists seem to arise. Europe is one of the main centers of the inter-imperialist rivalry. Do you think that these contradictions attribute further importance to the European elections of 2019?
The EU is concerned, both because unequal development in the EU is strengthening, its internal contradictions, particularly between the stronger capitalist classes in its interior, as well as because of its inter-imperialist competitions with the USA, Russia, China, and others.
It is the two sides of the inter-imperialist competitions: On one hand we have the constant struggle between the capitalist classes that constitute this “wolf-alliance”, that can lead Britain to leave the EU, but also other processes that appear in the interior of the EU under the mantle of “euroscepticism”. “Euroscepticism” is a bourgeois political current that frequently intertwines with nationalist, racist, even fascist forces and views. Such forces put forward protectionism as a choice for sections of the bourgeois class in states of the EU to defend against the worsening of the terms of competitiveness primarily of their industrial capital, particularly in conditions of deceleration of the international capitalist economy.
At the same time, the dominant line in the EU – the line of the German capitalist class – moves between the maintaining of the intergovernmental character of the EU decisions and the application in practice of an EU of “varied speeds”, of many “con-central circles”, applying strict rules in fiscal policy.
Simultaneously, the inter-imperialist contradictions with the USA, Russia, China and other forces for natural resources, energy and commodity routes, market shares are getting more acute and the EU, on these grounds, seeks the enhancement of its militarization.
Of course, the relations and competitions in the interior of the EU and with other forces will be affected by a series of political developments, not only by the elections for the European Parliament, that has concrete responsibilities, but also by the internal political and economical processes in each EU country.
For the communists the issue is to actively fight so that the defiance expressed against the EU (for example, 74% of the Greeks have a negative opinion regarding the EU), is not trapped in solutions that will not affect the system, such as “euroscepticism”, but to be transformed into a powerful current aiming at the disengagement from the EU and NATO, with power and the economy in the hands of the workers, in order to build an economy and society based on our own needs, and not for the capital’s profits.
Regarding the discussions about the EU, the KKE rejects at the same time two political tendencies called cosmopolitanism and euroscepticism. What is the position of the KKE on the question of EU? In what terms do you propagate it among masses?
The KKE sees the EU for what it really is: a reactionary imperialist union of European bourgeois states, aiming at serving the profits of the big European monopoly groups, in their clash with their competitors from the USA, China, Russia, India. Its reactionary character oozes out from every pore. This is proven by the measures that are taken in all countries aiming at intensifying exploitation, flexible working relations; crushing the right to strike; tearing down the rights in education-health-care that have been achieved with hard battles. More than 110 millions live around or below the poverty line, more than 16 million are unemployed, while unfathomable riches are amassed in the hands of the parasites of the bourgeois class, and dozens of billions of Euros are wasted each year for military interventions and spending, in collaboration with the imperialist organization of NATO.
EU’s anticommunism and anti-people hatred cannot be hidden, even from its relevant declarations; declarations co-signed by old and new social-democrats, new-liberals, extreme-right leaders of the EU, as it happened recently on the 9th of May – the day that the peoples of Europe headed by the Communists and the Red Army crushed Nazi-fascism.
Contrary to the forces that speak for a vague exit from the EU, or only from the Euro, the KKE speaks for disengagement from the EU, from NATO and every other imperialist union, with power in the hands of the working class and the people. The way-out for the working class and the popular strata cannot be a capitalist Greece with drachma, inside or even outside of the EU. Such a “solution” cannot lead to the improvement of the people’s life, since the inexorable laws of capitalist exploitation will continue to rule.
The KKE is not “slicing” its strategy for socialism-communism into “pieces” and stages. We believe that the demand to disentangle from the imperialist unions of the EU and of NATO is an integral part with the struggle against the monopolies, that their interests guide the principles of functioning and of configuration of the EU, and against capitalism, that in its imperialist stage, creates such unions, such as the EU and NATO.
Today, the communists in Greece struggle inside the working class and popular movement against anti-peoples measures and decisions of the EU and of the bourgeois governments, such as the abolishment of the historical achievements, of 8 hours of work daily, of public free health-care, education, against the cut-down of the worker’s income for the increase of the profitability of the capital, or against the destructive consequences of the “Common Agricultural Policy” for the poor and medium-sized farmers that are led to extinction in favor of the concentration of agricultural production in the hands of big monopolies.
The communists lead the struggles, the strikes, the demonstrations of the youth, the take-overs of national roads by the farmers. We prove to the people the negative consequences of the country’s participation in the imperialist plans and organizations and in the same time we uncover that only the working-class and popular movement that aims against the real enemy can express the real interests of the workers, to not be trapped in bourgeois management and to utilize in its own favor the contradictions between capitalist classes and imperialist centers, that are becoming more acute in this period, and to open up the road towards Greece and Europe of Socialism. That is why only the line that the KKE is proposing, that incorporates the goal of the disengagement, as an integral element of the wider struggle for the overthrow of the capital’s power, can guarantee continuity, duration and victorious perspective for the people’s movement.