The impossible negotiation

Published in AnalyzeGreece! on September 17 2015

Those who in the past few weeks are attempting to evaluate SYRIZA’s time in government whilst rejecting its pro-memorandum turn, are by definition asked to answer a thorny question: was Tsipras’ capitulation to the creditors a result of breaching the party’s electoral programme, or should we instead consider whether, apart from everything else, SYRIZA’s political plan was wrong? This matter does not only relate to theoretical accounts of everything that happened, because, based on the answers given, different political outcomes obtain regarding  “what comes next”. (περισσότερα…)


There is a new culture of resistance in Egypt


Kristin Jankovski is a German journalist who lives in Egypt. She has been closely watching Egyptian since its early beginnings. The interview was published by the Greek leftist newspaper Epohi on February 10

You are 3 years now in Cairo and you have witnessed the revolutionary movement since its beginnings. What is new and what remains the same in the current mobilizations?

Egypt is facing now a new culture of resistance which starts from having an open and free discussion in the street cafes and ending up with burning police cars. Before the 25th of January Revolution most of the Egyptians were scared to talk about politics or they just stayed away from these things. Opposition and anti-government protests got oppressed. The uprising changed a lot in the country. The social networks are a perfect tool to organize demonstrations. Since the 25th of January 2011 people get more and more connected to each other. They share opinions, they argue. They mobilize in facebook-groups, they meet each other at the protests, they are still sharing the same demands. In the beginning of the uprising the Egyptians started to find comrades. A lot of new and small parties were established which are able to mobilize their members. More and more facebook-groups are appearing which are standing for different demands. Most of the demonstrator are not following a political leader or an ideological thinker. Their growing and unstoppable anger is the main engine for the mobilization.

Why so many and so angry people get in to the street? I have read a piece of yours in which your focus was on mass poverty…

Bread, freedom, social justice – these are the demand of the 25th of January Revolution. Till now these demands are not fulfilled. The government seems to be dysfunctional. It is not able to provide the population with basic needs. The economy is in bad conditions. Half of the population is fighting for the daily survival. Life is hard in Egypt. And most of the people are tired and sick of it. The gap between the rich and the poor is immense. Prices are rising. The rule of law and justice seem to not existing in the country. People are disappointed by the government which has done nothing to transform Egypt into a democratic state. Nor it has done anything to fulfill the revolutionary demands. Instead it is oppressing anti-government demonstrations. Activists get kidnapped, tortured, killed. Women get badly harassed and raped at Tahrir square. NGOs and activists are blaming the government for hiring men to attack women. And unemployment and poverty are main reasons why people go down to the streets. They demand a better life in freedom and dignity.

But why so much violence and so many people killed?

Some Egyptians are ready to fight. They don’t fear security forces anymore. The police Is using strong teargas, rubber bullets and even live-ammunition to dissolve the protests. Demonstrators get killed by security forces. The state seems to have no proper solution for solving the domestic problems. So they are repressing and threatening the Egyptians. Since decades most of the population feel offended and they got treated incorrectly by the state. Now they express these emotions in anger and violent behavior. It is a psychological reaction. There are two strong forces standing in front of each other. Firstly the security forces which are defending brutally the current system. And the demonstrators which are fighting against that systems. Both sides want to survive. Both sides are having a life-instinct which made them using violence to defend themselves.

Western media made h huge coverage of the emergence of the Egyptian black block. Is black block so important? Ideologically is ti similar to the European black block?

As we know the western media likes to blow up news. The Egyptian black bloc Is not following a political party, it Is not following an ideological thinker. It appeared at the 25th of January 2013 for the first time. The want to fight against the government with violent actions. They block roads, burn public property, they throw Molotov-cocktails. It has groups in different governorates . Till now the Egyptian black bloc is not having the same importance like the European black bloc. Most of the members of the Egyptian black bloc are young men. The possibility is very high that the black bloc will play a big role in the upcoming protests.

And what about National Salvation Front? Does it really express the spirit of the burning streets?

No, the Salvation Front is too far away from the streets. It main leaders are Mohamed El-Baradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa. Old men with gray hair. Nor they are representing the revolutionary youth neither they are able to find a voice for the workers which are suffering the most under the current economical system.

Could-it be any way-out of today’s impasse? A military intervention is-it possible?

There is always a way out. It is the duty of the Egyptian people to work on Egypt’s future. Perspectives for the country’s transformation should find their way into public discussions. The grow of the consciousness has began and it will grow much bigger in the next years. It is the duty of the Egyptians to find a way out. Everything is possible in Egypt. Even a military intervention.

The interview was given to Yannis Almpanis


Political earthquake in Greece

These are the final results of the parliamentarian elections in Greece:

Nea Dimokratia (Right wing pro austerity program) 18,85%,  108 seats (33,47%  in 2009 elections)

SYRIZA (Coalition of the radical left, anti austerity) 16,78%, 52 seats  (4,60%)

PASOK (Socialists, pro austerity) 13,18%, 41 seats (43,92%)

Independents Greeks (Populist Right, anti austerity) 10,60%, 33 seats (this party is a split of Nea Dimokratia and it was formed two months ago)

KKE-Communist party 8,48%, 26 seats (7,54%)

Golden Dawn (nazi gang) 6,97%  21 seats (0,29%)

Democratic Left (moderate left, right wing split of SYRIZA) 6,11%, 19 seats (first time in elections)

Green Ecologists 2,93%, no seats (2,53%)

LAOS (populist extreme right)  2,90% (5,63%)

Democratic Alliance (ultra-neoliberal split of Nea Dimokratia) 2,55% (first time in elections)

Creation again (ultra-neoliberal) 2,15%  (first time in elections)

Action-Liberal alliance (ultra-neoliberal) 1,80% (first time in elections)

ANTARSYA (extraparlamentarian left) 1,19% (0,36%)

In brief:

  1. This is a political earthquake. It is an unprecedented collapse of the bi-party political system that dominated the country since the fall of the dictatorship in 1974. PASOK and Nea Dimokratia have no majority neither in votes, nor in Parliament.
  2. The voters have rejected in a very clear way the political forces that implemented austerity programs: PASOK, Nea Dimokratia, LAOS. People voted against IMF and EU policies.
  3. This is an unprecedented triumph of the Left in general and SYRIZA in particular. The total of the Left is 32,56%. This is a historic record, even better than the 25% of 1958.
  4. SYRIZA is the second country of the country. It took almost 4 times more than in 2009. It is No 1 party in the area of Athens with more than 20%. It is also number 1 in the ages between 18 and 35, No1 in unemployed and public sector employees, No1 in all the popular neighborhoods. This is a very clear class vote. People approved the 3 main positions of SYRIZA: a) rejection of the austerity programs, b) united front of the whole Left, c) formation right now of a leftist government that will end austerity.
  5. It is a real shame for our people that the Nazis are entering the parliament. The continuous anti-immigrants campaign of the Government has strengthened them. They have also taken advantage of the anti-political tendencies of Greek society. Now the Nazis will have hundreds of thousands of state money to fund their murderous gangs.
  6. It seems very difficult to form a new government right now. The only way to do so is to convince Democratic Left to enter a Nea Dimokratia-PASOK government. But it seems more realistic that new elections will be held on early June.

In conclusion, in Greece, class struggle is entering in a new more intense period. Will it be a new “Weimar Republic” or “the first Latin America-style leftist government in Europe”?

Yannis Almpanis, 7/5/12


Egyptian revolution continues (report of a visit in Cairo)

It was the second time I visited Cairo. The first was last October, with my dear comrade Pedram Shayar. On October we witnessed the massacre of the Copts at Maspero, in front of the state television building. We also met with several activists of the “revolutionary youth”. The general political atmosphere was not so warm for the Egyptian revolutionaries. The reaction of Egyptian society to the Maspero massacre was relatively weak and only few thousands were participating in Tahrir’s Fridays.  Pedram summarized the experience in a sentimental article called “Arab autumn”. Three months later, the situation seemed quite different.

The first anniversary of the revolution

Just few days before the first anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, it was pretty obvious that January 25, 2012 would have been a political event of major significance. The January 25 mobilization in Tahrir square would have reflected the main dilemma that Egyptian society faces right now: should the revolution be continued until all its demands to be fulfilled, or the best alternative is to find a compromise with the de facto ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF)?
Those who believe in the continuation of the revolution (the so called “revolutionary youth”) called Egyptians to make of January 25 a day of re-launching the revolution. On the other hand, SCAF and Muslim Brotherhood (which had just won the 47% of seats in the newly elected Parliament) called Egyptians to celebrate the victory of the revolution. In order to make it a real celebration day, Government declared January 25 a national holiday. On the other hand, revolutionaries made a huge campaign to mobilize people under the banner of immediate end of military rule . For revolutionaries, January 25 was a great opportunity to regain massive social support.
On October, especially after Maspero massacre, revolutionary youth seemed to be isolated. But on November, after the huge mobilization in Tahrir and the bloody clashes in Mohamed Mahmoud str, revolutionaries went again in the game. For the first time that a huge part of  Egyptian population started to turn against military rule. And then, on December, after parliamentarian elections and the clashes in front of the Cabinet building, it seemed that society was turning again its back to revolutionary youth. So the first anniversary of the Egyptian revolution would have symbolized either the complete hegemony of the conservative forces, or the vitality and popularity of revolutionary youth.

“This is a revolution, not a celebration”

At the evening of January 25 all the activists I spoke with, were enthusiastic. Everybody agreed on the evaluation of the anniversary. It was definitely a victory for the revolutionaries. First of all, popular participation exceeded even the most optimist expectations. Hundreds of thousands flooded the streets of Cairo and all the major cities of Egypt. It was said that this mobilization was bigger than the one of January 28, 2011, which marked a turning point of Egyptian revolution. In addition to massive participation, revolutionary political platform was absolutely hegemonic. “This is a revolution, not a celebration” and “Down with military rule” were the main slogans of the crowd. The general mood was definitely that of a popular demonstration, not an official celebration.
I followed the demo from Mostafa Mahmoud mosque to Tahrir, and I was quite impressed seeing a huge number of obviously religious people chanting the slogans of revolutionary youth and not those of Muslim Brotherhood. Later in Tahrir, the political battle over hegemony continued. There were two stages. The one was controlled by the Brotherhood. The other was the one of revolutionary youth. On the one stage, celebration tone and verses from Quran. On the other stage, revolutionary slogans and radical speeches against SCAF.  At least once, activists approached the Brotherhood stage shouting “Liars!”. It was quite obvious in Tahrir that “Ihkwan” (the Brothers) were not able to control this movement.

Looking for a compromise between Brotherhood and SCAF

t is evident that Muslim Brotherhood is looking for a compromise with SCAF. Not only it agreed with SCAF the whole process of power transfer after the fall of Mubarak, but it also doesn’t participate in pro-democracy mobilizations. I was told that the Brotherhood chose not to break with the military because:
1.It has the fear of a military crackdown (like the one on the Brotherhood’s uprising in 1954).
2.It estimates that the continuation of the unrest in the streets will give space to more radical fractions of the movement, like the Left and the radical democrats.
3.It believes that it can dismantle military power step by step by controlling the new government.
SCAF wants three conditions to be satisfied in order to accept transferring the power to a civilian government:
1.The army should be recognized as the ultimate safeguard of the new Constitution. That will give the army the constitutional right to declare war and state of emergency.
2.Military budget should not be accountable to the Parliament. Furthermore, there should be no public control on army’s business (army’s business represent 40% of the Egyptian economy).
3.All the army personnel should have total immunity from crimes against protesters.
In brief, Egyptian army wants a Pakistan like “democracy” to be imposed on Egypt. This is a regime in which although some civil liberties are recognized, the real power is in army’s hands. On February 11, 2011, the military regime was forced to sacrifice Mubarak under the pressure of Tahrir uprising and a national wave of strikes. Nevertheless, the generals, under the leadership of field marshal Mohammed Tantoui, are still not willing to accept a real transfer of power to civilian rule.
It is widely believed that Muslim Brotherhood will accept one way or another the army conditions. In addition to that, Brotherhood sends the message to USA and Egyptian Capital that it is a responsible moderate political movement. After an unprecedented meeting the No2 of State Department William Burns, Brotherhood affirmed that it will respect Camp David treaty and that it will continue Mubarak’s economic policies. USA, which traditionally have a big influence on Egyptian politics, don’t have any problem with an Islamic government, as long as it doesn’t break with neoliberal framework and it doesn’t threat Israel. Besides that, Muslim Brotherhood confirmed its commitment to the protection of Egyptian tourism. That means there will be no effort to ban alcohol or bikinis in Egyptian tourist destinations.
Nevertheless, a compromise with SCAF is not an easy task for the Brotherhood. Accepting SCAF conditions creates anger among activists and dissatisfaction to that part of Brotherhood’s voters who are in favor of democratization process. Respecting Camp David might be difficult to be accepted by the militants of Brotherhood who were demonstrating for years against Israel. Cultivating good relationship with Egyptian tourist industry may open the space for the Salafi Nour party, whose coalition obtained a spectacular 24% of the seats. And not changing Mubarak’s economic policies means in reality that nothing will be done to decrease the immense poverty of Egyptian society. Revolution was not only about democracy, but also about bread.
Obviously Muslim Brotherhood has an impressive competence in political maneuvers. But the task remains difficult even for them.

Revolutionary youth demands immediate transfer of power

The term “revolutionary youth” signifies tenths of organizations which made the initial call for the Tahrir mobilization and organized the battle against Mubarak regime. The most important seems to be April 6 Movement, but none of them have more than some hundreds members. Nevertheless, they have an impressive power of mobilization and exercise critical influence to Egyptian politics. Some of their features are similar to Western Occupy movements: insistence on direct action, mistrust to political parties, strong democratic culture, secularism. On the contrary, they have some other characteristics which are probably linked to the specific political tradition of Egypt: patriotism, strong participation of liberal democrats in the heart of the movement, consideration of fighting against corruption as high priority, strong sensibility about Palestinian issue (without the wish of military escalation with Israel). It didn’t seem to me that revolutionary activists are the most poor of Egyptian society. On the other hand, the huge political events they create, they seem to be the only existing framework in which the socially excluded can find space to express their demands. Leftist activists (especially from Socialist Popular Alliance and Revolutionary Socialists) have a fundamental role in this movement. Nevertheless, the political agenda of the movement is still basically democratic, not leftist. Revolutionary youth fights of course for “social justice” and “bread”, but they are not very clear what they mean by that, in terms of a concrete political program. On the contrary, they are very clear on the question of democracy: immediate transfer of power to civilian rule, democratic Constitution which will not exclude women or Christians, new fair electoral law which will ban from election all the former cadres of Mubarak party, punishment of the police and army stuff who killed or injured protesters, end of emergency law and military trials for civilians.
As time goes by, activists realize that the endless sit-in in Tahrir cannot be as productive as it was in the past. They are starting to think (especially after the Islamic victory in the elections) that they should go to neighborhoods and workplaces to meet and discuss with ordinary people. The first move towards that directions was the launching of the so called “Liars” campaign. Activists go to neighborhoods and project videos that reveal the lies and the brutality of the regime. A public discussion follows the films. This campaign is considered to be a big success. Furthermore, the creation of new independent trade unions and a wave of strikes seem to open a new political perspective and contribute significantly in the radicalization of society.
Although revolutionary youth still doesn’t have the majority in the society, it is far stronger now than it was last October. Activists believe that if the insist on the popular mobilization, they can make strong pressure to Brotherhood and SCAF. It is highly possible that this pressure will undermine the implementation of “Pakistani model”.

Epilogue: a soccer tragedy

I left Cairo having the feeling that Egyptian revolution doesn’t face an imminent danger of counter-revolution led by the islamists. If islamists hadn’t been able to control January 25 anniversary, how could they organize a far bigger project? It seems that the real dangers for the revolutionary are two: The fist is the economic collapse of the country due to the continuous unrest. People might get tired of demonstrations and arrive at the conclusion that an end should be put to revolution in order to boost economy. The second danger is linked to the deterioration of security status of the country. It seems that the SCAF follows a “chaos strategy” in order to legitimize continuation of state of emergency and military rule. Criminality has significantly increased and police does very little to contain it. The tragedy in Port Said, where hundreds of policemen did nothing to protect Ahly fans, might be part of such a strategy. If chaos prevailed, a military intervention would appear as salvation for ordinary Egyptians. Nevertheless, any SCAF or Muslim Brotherhood plans have to deal with that admirable Egyptian revolutionary youth. Egyptian revolutionaries opened the path of freedom with their own blood. There is no chance they will give in now.

Yannis Almpanis, Athens, 5/2/2012


Protests against the power of big banks in Germany‏

from the list of European Social Forum

Dear friends!

Yesterday, together with Campact and Naturfreunde (Friends of Nature),
and the support of many other organisations, among them trade unions,
the German Left party and the German Green party, Attac Germany
organised further protests against the banking system. Also many people
of the occupy movement joined the protests.

In Frankfurt more than 10.000 people encircled the banking quarter, in
Berlin 8.000 people encircled the German parliament.

Here you can find two videos in English from Russia today, who made
interviews with Max Bank and Jutta Sundermann, both members of the board
of Attac Germany.:
And a report in spanish:

Report of Iranian from the protests in Berlin:
(Sad, that broadcasting stations like rusia today and press tv don't
make videos like this, when there are anti-government-protests in their
own countries)

Here some more impressions from the camps and protests in Frankfurt and

Stephan Lidner


Banks and EU on the head of Greek government

After a week of unprecedented Byzantine conspiracies, tactical games, and scandalous manipulation of public opinion, Papandreou finally stepped down from Prime Minister. Lukas Papademos, ex vice president of European Central Bank, was nominated as PM. Papademos new government is supported by PASOK (socialists), Nea Dimokratia (New Democracy-conservatives),LAOS (Popular Orthodox Alert-racist extreme right) and Dimokratiki Symmahia (Democratic Alliance-ultra neoliberal spit of Nea Dimnokratia). The two major left parties, KKE and SYRIZA, said that the formation of this government was a parliamentarian coup and they asked for snap elections right now. The Left didn’t participate in any negotiations and left leader didn’t even go to the institutional “Council of political leaders” called by the President of the Republic. Democratic Left (right wing split of SYRIZA) will also vote against Papademos. The new government has the task to vote and implement the October 26 bail out agreement with EU and IMF. After that, there will be snap elections, probably on February 19.

Papandreou ended his career in a tragedy and in a farce, at the same time. The tragedy took place in Cannes, during the G20 meeting. In this pretty French city, Merkel and Sarkozy dictated the question and the time of the Greek referendum. Papandreou had declared that he would have organized a referendum about the bail-out agreement on January. In Cannes, he accepted a referendum on Greece’s participation in Euro zone that would have taken place on December 4. After he accepted everything he was asked for, the Greek PM took the plane back home and left Sarkozy and Merkel to discuss and make decisions about the future of Greece. ATTAC France described the incident as “loss of democratic sovereignty”. In fact, it was more than that. It was the humiliation in live broadcasting of 10.000.000 people, a shame for Greeks and Europeans as well. Our grandparents sacrificed their lives in the great antifascist war for the right of European peoples to determine themselves. Now this right is abolished by markets, banks, EU and the leading countries of Europe.

After Cannes, it was obvious that Papandreou was finished. It was obvious to everybody, but not to him and his party clan. Despite the revolt of many PASOK MPs and some major Ministers, Papandreou finally achieved a compromise: he would get a confidence vote in Parliament and then he would resign (as it finally happened). So it was the first time in world political history that a government gets o confidence vote in order to immediately step down… With this unbelievable compromise Papandreou managed to stay in the game and to retain control of PASOK. He will probably lead his party in the elections. On the other hand, his rivals managed to kick him out of the PM office and open the road to his succession. Both of them avoided a split of the party that would have been inevitable in any other way. Generation to come will find extremely difficult to understand how such an incompetent person as Papandreou, made such a political career.

After the confidence vote in government’s resignation, the negotiations started. We have to admit that the whole thing was more immoral than negotiations between Italian political parties during Andretti era. Until the eve of confidence vote, Antonis Samaras, leader of Nea Dimokratia, was an intransigent opponent of IMF-EU austerity plans. He used to say that such policies destroy any perspective of economic growth (something which is absolutely true). Nevertheless, he never clearly explained what his real political agenda was. In reality, Samaras wanted to get votes of the people who are angry with austerity plans, but without having the commitment that he will make something different when he comes to power. In the eve of the confidence vote, Samaras amazingly announced that after the disastrous Papandreou governance, October 26 bail out agreement became inevitable. He also announced that Nea Dimokratia will vote in favor of the agreement, although until that time it voted against the notorious “Memorandum” (the initial fundamental agreement between Greek Government with IMF and EUY) and all austerity laws which followed it. That was a real sock for that part of the Right wing working people who are totally against Memorandum and participated in the “squares” movement. It is believed that Samaras will pay a heavy political price for this sudden turn.

Why did Samaras make this move? The main reason is that he was extremely pressed by EU and Greek capital. The Europeans said that they wouldn’t have given any more loans if Greece had gone to immediate snap elections. They added that the formation of a “government of national unity” is the necessary condition for Greece in order to take the money. EU also shaped the task of the new government: it should vote and implement the bail-out agreement, the 2012 budget and all the “necessary” austerity laws. Only after that “Greeks can go to elections”, as it was said by a German officer. After the European ultimatum there was a massive Media campaign in favor of the “national unity government”. SEV (the League of Greek Industries) and all the major bankers also pressed in that direction. Even the archbishop made a similar appeal. So Samaras , a real neoliberal demagogue, he couldn’t do otherwise if wanted to be part of the official political game.

Why EU and banks don’t want the immediate snap elections? Because the elections will create instability for the regime and they will reinforce political parties which are against austerity plans. In the polls the two major neoliberal parties get together 35% and all the Left parties get more than 15%. If we add to this numbers the massive abstention, it becomes evident that it will be extremely difficult for any new government to insist on austerity policies.

Finally Lucas Papademos was nominated as Prime Minister. Papanadreou and Samaras didn’t want Papademos because they were afraid that a Papademos government might threat the bipartite political system. Nevertheless, they could not resist to the pressure of EU, banks, Media and the ultra-neoliberal fractions of their parliamentarian groups. Papademos is a person that EU and the banks absolutely trust. He is a banker and he is not elected by anybody. As a result, it is believed that it would be more difficult to make political pressure on him. Papademos is the ex vice president of European Central Bank. As president of Greek Central Bank was the architect of the financial tricks that let Greece to enter the euro-zone. In Greece these tricks are called “creative accounting”, in Europe “Greek statistics”. So the architect of Greek statistics is the EU’s choice for the office of Greek PM.

The new government is the most reactionary Greek government after the fall of the dictatorship in 1974. It is not elected by the people and it is mainly formed in order not to let the people express their will. Nevertheless, we should not forget that Papandreou stepped down because of massive popular resistance. And it is popular resistance that will beat as well the new puppets government.

Yannis Almpanis, 11/11/11


Papandreou government will probably fall until Friday

As you have probably read in mass media from all over the world, political situation in Greece is changing rapidly. Yesterday, Papandreou announced that there will be a referendum on the bailout package agreed with EU, IMF and IIF (International Institute of Finance, the international syndicate of banks). The Greek PM also asked for a confidence vote by the Parliament, which will be held on Friday evening. Of course everybody was amazed by this announcement. There is a very negative reaction by international markets and EU leaders. Furthermore, there is a revolt inside PASOK parliamentarian group and practically all the mainstream commercial media are accusing Papandreou of destroying the country and putting at risk its participation in the Euro-zone. At this moment, Papandreou is politically isolated. The most probable scenario is that he will not get a confidence vote on Friday and we will go for a snap election on early December.

But why Papandreou took this obviously suicidal decision? First of all, massive angry protests during the National Day of October 28 ( made clear that the government hasn’t any social support. In addition to that, October 28 protests proved that the government is rapidly losing control of the country. A government cannot rule if its MPs cannot drink a coffee in public because they are afraid of been attacked by people passing by. Popular unrest led government to a dead end.

In such cases, normal politicians resign and open the road for snap elections. But Papandreou is no normal politician. He is a PM whose father and grand-father were also PMs. Papandreou is one of these great Greek families who think of the country as their own personal asset. They have no doubt of their hereditary right in political power. As a result, resignation is out of the question.

Besides that, Papandreou is a person of very low political abilities. He saw in the referendum a way of escape from his political impasse. He thought that if he blackmailed Greek people (yes=bailout – no=default, yes=euro-no=drachma) he would have won the referendum. As a result, he would have bought some political time. Of course, bourgeois politicians who have elementary political sense, they are too afraid of this referendum. They see it is highly possible that NO will prevail, something that might open the doors of hell for European capitalist economy.

For the Movement the challenge now is to continue massive mobilization in order to take back everything has been stolen from us since 1,5 year. A Papandreou fall would be an important symbolic victory, but it wouldn’t change anything in everyday life. A real change is what we are asking for. And a potential government of “national unity” (Right, Extreme Right and Socialists) might be a really tough opponent.

Yannis Almpanis, 1/11/11


Massive angry protest stops military parade

October 28 is the National Day of Greece. On October 28, 1940 Mussolini asked Greek government to surrender. When the Greeks replied “NO”, Italians invaded the country. Surprisingly, Greek army won the war over the wanna-be Roman Empire of Mussolini. Only after a second German invasion, Greek army collapsed. Every year after the Liberation, on October 28 Greeks celebrate the historic “No” with a huge military parade in Thessaloniki and school parades in all municipalities.

But this year’s October 28 was different. All over the country, parades turned to anti-government and anti-austerity demonstrations. People who lost their jobs, students and pupils, “indignados”, professors and teachers, everyday working people with no political background, expressed their anger for the IMF-EU-Greek government austerity plans. They demanded government officials to leave the parades and in many cases politicians were forced to leave.

In Thessaloniki there was the most massive protest (photo). Thousands of demonstrators were shouting “Bread, Education Freedom. Dictatorship was not over in 1973” and “Government are traitors”. Finally, Carolos Papoulias, the President of the Republic, had to leave for security reasons. For the first time since Liberation, the Armed Forces didn’t parade on October 28. A very angry Papoulias said “I was an antifascist partisan when I was 15. I don’t allow anybody to call me traitor”. People accuse Papoulias for signing all the austerity bills voted by the Parliament.

Today’s events are a considerable blow to Papandreou government. Yesterday Papandreou tried to present as a national triumph EU’s decision for cutting 50% of Greek debt. Nevertheless, it seems that people don’t share Papandreou propaganda. First of all, the agreement dictates that for the next 10 years austerity will be very strict. It is certain there will by thousands of new lay-offs in public sector, a complete sell-off of public property, and new salary cuts. In addition to that, European “surveillance” over Greek government is considered as loss of national sovereignty. There is a wide spread feeling of national humiliation and many say that this “the second German occupation of the country”.

It is highly possible that on November 10 there will be a new general strike. Keep an eye on us; this is a real hot country.

Yannis Almpanis, 28/10/11


Say no to censorship!


This is the official spot of Athens Biennale  (23/10-11/12).  It is directed by Yiorgos Zoes, one of the most promising young Greek directors. His film Casus Belli received 6 awards in the festival of Drama, Greece 2010.  It was also selected at the festivals of Venice, Rotterdam, Clermont Ferrand.

Greek state television ERT has forbidden the broadcast of  Zoes” spot. As it is obvious, this is an act of brutal censorship that violates our fundamental rights of freedom of speech and artistic creation.  There is a growing feeling in Greek society that our country looks more and more like the third world countries ruled by the IMF. This is a country of mass poverty and authoritarian rule.

In the circumstances, it is a democratic duty to reveal everything that the authorities are trying to hide. Please circulate widely Zoes’s work. Defend freedom of artistic creation in Greece. Say no to censorship!

Yannis Almpanis, 25/10/11


October 20: second day of 48h general strike (clashes between demonstrators)


The 48th general strike of October 19-20 has been by far the most successful strike in Greece since the fall of the dictatorship in 1974. It was the first time since many many years that private sector had a huge participation in a labor mobilization. And nobody I asked can remember any other day of action where so many shops and small business were closed or so many middle class people got in the streets. The success of the 48h strike is an unquestionable proof that Papandreou government has lost any social consensus. This is a clinically dead government which still remains in office due to the institutional framework, despites the real balance of power in the society.

The austerity bill was finally voted by 153 socialists MPs. Louka Katseli, former minister and close friend of Papandreou, refused to vote article 34 which in reality abolishes collective labor agreements and promotes individual negotiation between employers and employees. She was immediately thrown out of the PASOK parliamentarian group. In addition to that, a significant number of PASOK trade unionists have left the party, par example in the railway. Since the inauguration of the austerity plan, one and a half year ago, 5 socialist MP’s have been expelled from the party for refusing to vote several austerity bills.

October 20 rally in Syntagma square was marked by fierce clashes between Communist Party militants and anarchists. Communist Party occupied the upper part of Syntagma square, just in front of the Parliament. Its “service d’ ordre” didn’t allow anyone else to pass, even trade unions which are in the front line of resistance against austerity plan. The anarchists tried to break the communist blockade in a totally unproportionally violent way, communists reacted, and the whole thing exploded in violent clashes between demonstrators. Although KKE (Communist Party) considers itself as an “owner” of the movement and many demonstrators got angry with the blockade in front of the Parliament, there can be no moral and political excuses for the anarchists who attacked communists with petrol bombs and stones. Blood is not water, human beings are not replaceable.

During the rally, Dimitris Kotzaridis, trade unionist of PAME (sectarian KKE trade unions) died from heart attack. He had no wounds, but we are still waiting for the toxicological tests to come out, in order to see if tear gas had had to do anything with his death. Anyway, Kotzaridis was a militant who died fighting for a better world and he will always be remembered for that.

Although clashes between demonstrators are a real setback for the movement, the general political picture is not changed. Greece is a country falling into the abyss of default, working people’s lives are ruined, government is a “dead man walking”, and everything can explode in anytime.

Yannis Almpanis 23/10/11