From Commons Transition Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

= a coalition of anti-austerity leftwing organisations that won the Greek elections January 2015


The New Greek Government Endorses Commons-Based, Peer Production Solutions

David Bollier:

"All attention in Greece and global financial circles has been understandably focused on the new Greek Government’s fierce confrontation with its implacable European creditors. Less attention has been paid to the Government’s plans to help midwife a new post-capitalist order based on commons and peer production.

A commons colleague, John Restakis,wrote about this possibility a week or so before the January 25 elections. Now, speaking to the Greek Parliament last week, the new Deputy Prime Minister Gianni Dragasakis explicitly stated that Greece will develop new sorts of bottom-up, commons-based, peer production models for meeting people’s needs.

Dr. Vasilis Kostakis, who works with the P2P Foundation’s P2P Lab based in Ioannina, Greece, has been following the situation in Greece closely. Kostakis, a research fellow at the Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance in Tallin, Estonia, writes:

Syriza seems to be adopting policies and reforming certain laws in a fashion that resembles the Partner State Approach practices, with regard to education, governance and R&D.

To mention a few:

· opening up the public data;

· making openly available the knowledge produced with tax-payers’ money;

· creating a collaborative environment for small-scale entrepreneurs and co-operatives while favoring initiatives based on open source technologies and practices;

· developing certain participatory processes (and strengthening the existing ones) for citizen-engagement in policy-making;

· adopting open standards and patterns for public administration and education.

These plans/initiatives could be seen both as seeds of a new model for economic development and as solutions to exiting politico-economic, or “structural” problems: revealing and controlling corruption, improving lax tax enforcement etc. It is true that from program to implementation, several steps are required, however the first step seems to have been made: Syriza appears to not only be aware of the advantages of free/open source technologies but also to realize the potential and the new political economy of this emerging proto-mode of production.

Thus, the question is, Will Syriza create (and will be allowed to create) the conditions for a transition towards a full-mode of Commons-based peer production?

Kostakis notes that Andreas Karitzis, member of Syriza’s think tank on digital policies and an unsuccessful candidate MP, wrote an article in the Greek version of the Huffington Post before the electiions. Karitzis mentioned his party’s commitment to free/open source technologies, transparency and participatory democracy. Syriza also apparently intends to develop the new CopyFair licenses for open hardware and support the creation of networks of distributed micro-factories (fablabs/makerspaces).

Amateur translator Eleftherios Kosmas – a member of a commons based collective like and a strong supporter of the commons – provided a translation of Deputy Prime Minister Dragasakis’ speech and considered the following remarks the most interesting:

I would like to, conclude with the permission of the President, with a general thought. Often in everyday life we all live events happening whose importance is only clear in hindsight. We live, then, not only in an historic era characterized by the crisis and the collapse of obsolete models, but we live a crisis that will eventually spawn new models and new social organization models, as was done in the past.

In this sense, then, this is an opportunity to take up the deficits of the past, to close this modernization deficit, but by addressing the contemporary social problem of unemployment, social security and social exclusion. This could establish a new paradigm in Greece and other countries of southern Europe, combining advanced forms of democracy, social self-motivation, social justice on a strong foundation of common goods, a society-centric model, which would give dignity and confidence in society hope to the people, optimism in the new generation.

Thus Greece, from being the guinea pig of austerity and destruction, could be a ground of pioneering ideas and policies, and the benefit would not be just for us. The world would become a security goal in a region of insecurity, and “aged” Europe could rediscover through the symbiosis of different development models inside.

Let’s not rush some to say that these are utopias because there are utopias that are realistic. There are those whose implementation depends not on supernatural powers, but by the unity and collective action of ordinary people in Europe, in Greece and worldwide. Thank you. Kosmas helpfully provides a link to Dragasakis’s speech in Greek here.

There are a number of knowledgeable and committed commoners internationally who have been in touch with Syriza officials, including a number of Greek commoners and P2P activists. Two of the most notable are Vasilis Kostakis and George Papanikolaou, who are the administrators of the P2P Foundation’s Greek branch. The Greek Government may wish to turn to the many concrete commons/P2P policy approaches on display at the Commons Transition Plan." (

How the victory was rooted in the Syntagma Square occupations

Costas Douzinas:

"The multitude in the squares became a demos of resistance and disobedience. We met people from other ideologies and histories, different times and places. The people remained singularities in plurality with a common political desire, to get rid of a corrupt and incompetent poitical systemt. The post-civil war divide between victors and defeated dissolved in the populas assemblies and the clouds of teargas. On May 6, the rainbow of the squares met again in the polling stations and voted for the unity of the left. The radical left won all the big cities where the occupations took place. In places wher civil disobedience campaigns dominated the previous period, the radical left won handsomely. Direct democracy acquired its parliamentary companion.

A hegemonic strategy chooses an antagonism that transverses the social diagonally and turns it into the cetnral line of confrontation unting classes, groups and people on the popular pole. The people, the multitude, the party cannot become poitical subjects without such a hegemonic intervention. The popular pole does not pre-exist the hegemonic intervention, it must be created in its confrontation with the power system. To succeed, a hegemonic intervention must marginalise, even temporarily, regional differences and local rivalries in the popular pole and promote the cetnral antagonism. The two camps, the people and the elite, are assembled on the sides of the line of antagonism.

Three such policies were promoted in the squares and adopted by the radical left manifesto. First, an attack on the austerity measures which have led to economic collapse and the dissolution of the social fabric. This is an attack not on the debt but on the elites desire of debt and their attempt to re-arrange the social contracts using the debt as excuse. Secondly, defence of popular sovereingty and national indepedence. The IMF and the EU imposed a state of exception, suspending the legality and legitimacy of the social state. Greece was introduced to a colonial and postcolonial condition without ever being a colony. Popular sovereignty and national independence are therefore the second line of defence and antagonism. Independence can be interpreted in a radical way, as in the anti-colonial struggles, or in a reactionary xenophobic and racist way. Hegemonic intervention is necessary to prevent the exploitation of national independence by the nationalistic right but also because in times or great crisis and fear, the certainty and homeliness of national identity becomes a safe and dangerous haven.

The third line places the defence of democracy at the centre of antagonism. Neoliberal globalised capitalism has persistently and violently attacked liberal democracy. The Post-political condition, hte promotion of technocratic and expert governance in place of government has undermined democracy and turned citizens away from the machinations of elites and parties. Only a different conception of democracy can assemble popular resistance for its defence. This was the achievemnt of the squares. For the first time since the establishment of liberal democracy and its recent decay, the squares performed a direct form and inscribed its possibility in the political and institutional archive.

The hegemonic strategy that emerged in the squares changed the political discussion transfering the line of antagonism from the debt and its repayment to the re-foundation of the social bond, the protection of popular sovereignty, finally, the re-setting of institutional and constitutional parameters. These were also the three axes of the radical left: the freedom of the disobedient citizen, the equality of direct democracy and social justice, finally, the solidarity and power of the plural singularities in assembly. In the elections the multitude became a people and voted the radical left." (

The Impact of the Greek Elections of May 6, 2012

1. Costas Lapavitsas:

"Syriza has caused an earthquake by denouncing March’s bailout. It has called for a moratorium on debt payments, an international commission to audit Greek debt, aggressive debt write-offs, deep redistribution of income and wealth, bank nationalisation, and a new industrial policy to rejuvenate the manufacturing sector. These measures are exactly what the Greek economy needs. Implementing them depends entirely on rejecting the recent bailout and stopping payments on the debt.

Syriza believes that the measures can be introduced while the country remains within the eurozone. It has been unwilling to call for Greek exit, thus increasing its appeal to voters who worry about the aftermath of exit and believe that the euro is integral to the European identity of Greeks. In my view, and that of many other economists, it would be impossible for Greece to stay in the eurozone if it went down this path. Moreover, exit would be both necessary and beneficial to the economy in the medium term, and remains the most likely outcome for Greece. If Syriza really wanted to contribute to solving the crisis, it should get itself ready for this eventuality.

Nonetheless, the pressing issue at the moment is to free the country from the stranglehold of debt and austerity. As long as Syriza is prepared to take action to achieve these aims, and the Greek people wish to give it the benefit of the doubt on the euro, its role can be positive. At the very least, it offers a chance for Greece to avoid a complete disaster that might truly lead to the rise of fascism.

The current round of domestic political negotiations is unlikely to lead to a government being formed, especially one that could continue to implement the terms of the bailout. There will probably be new elections in the near future and Syriza stands every chance of winning decisively, thus forming a coalition government of the anti-bailout forces. But for this, Syriza should realise its own limitations, and actively seek to create the broad political front that Greece needs.

It is important to seek unity at all times, avoiding both gloating and the ancient factionalism of the Greek left. Syriza will need the active co-operation of the rest of the left if it is to muster sufficient forces to deal with the storm ahead. It is equally important to improve its appeal to experienced and knowledgeable people across society, for it will need many more in its ranks.

Finally, if there is a new government led by Syriza, it will rely on the support of people across Europe to tackle the catastrophe inflicted on Greece by the eurozone crisis. The first major battle against austerity is about to begin in Greece, and all European people have an interest in winning it." (

2. Matthaios Tsimitakis:

"A winner stands out. This is Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), a previously minor party of the left. In the May 6 election, SYRIZA came in second place, tripling its share of the vote from the 2009 election. SYRIZA received 16.78 per cent of all votes, just two percentage points fewer than the conservative New Democracy party. SYRIZA “won” the elections not just because it came to be the rising force against an inept and corrupt political system, but because it managed to persuade the Greek public of two things:

1. That Greece’s problem is really a structural European problem; and

2. That the troika (the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the European Union) are waging a class war against workers’ rights, in Greece as well as the rest of Europe, with fiscal discipline as their main weapon.

This is extraordinary not only because of the historical significance of having a radical left party leading the conversation, but because it managed to bypass attempts to polarise the political agenda around issues such as illegal immigration, national security and social order, instead bringing to the forefront the issues of economic justice and social coherence.

Despite the apparent fragmentation of the political system of this small but symbolically important corner of Europe, the elections – considered by some European leaders to be an unacceptable luxury – have already had a cathartic effect. The elections seem likely to undo the state of emergency that the country has lived through, when every two or three months it needed to ensure the next instalment of the rescue package by imposing further austerity measures.

The elections also restore, to a certain extent, the self-confidence and pride of a people who have been repeatedly slandered in an almost racist fashion – not only by parts of the international press, but by its own government and its representatives in European and international fora.

sipras has managed to restore some dignity by turning the struggle for economic equality into a struggle for respect, justice, and democratic rule. Soon after he received the mandate to form a coalition government from Greek President Karolos Papoulias, Tsipras made the following statement:

“3,300,000 citizens abandoned the two parties of the memorandum and put an end to the plans for the elaboration of 79 new austerity measures in June, the plans for 150,000 lay-offs in the public sector and the extra measures of 11bn euro, which were supposed to be elaborated, starting next month. The Greek people decided: Neither 151 seats, nor 51 per cent, for the parties that support the memoranda.”

Tsipras also demanded that Greece’s two main parties (PASOK and New Democracy) withdraw their signatures from the bailout agreement before he negotiated a coalition government with them. He declared a set of five pre-conditions, among which were the cancellation of all anti-worker laws, the establishment of an audit committee to investigate the legitimacy of the Greek debt, and the cancellation of the bailout agreement.

As was expected, he failed to form a government. But he now dominates the political game in Greece, and is having an impact in the rest of Europe, too. During the two days that he held the mandate to form a leftist government, prices in stock markets fell, Fitch revised the possibility of a “Grexit” from the euro from 40 per cent to 50 per cent, and conservative European leaders felt forced to start putting pressure on newly elected French president Francois Hollande not to challenge the European stability pact.

Greeks are asking for a European Union that will not punish them for their politicians’ sins, but help them get their state together and put it back on the path of growth (one should not forget that Greece was the world’s 25th wealthiest state until a couple of years ago). SYRIZA might have a strategy to express this demand, and even achieve something for the benefit of the people." (


Unitary party

In July 2013, a SYRIZA Party Congress was held to discuss the organization of the party. Important outcomes included a decision in principle to dissolve the participating parties in SYRIZA in favour of a unitary party. However, implementation was deferred for three months to allow time for four of the parties which were reluctant to dissolve to consider their positions. Tsipras was confirmed as leader with 74% of the vote. However delegates supporting the Left Platform (Greek: "Αριστερή Πλάτφορμα") led by Panayiotis Lafazanis, which wants to leave the door open to quitting the euro, secured 30%(60) of the seats on SYRIZA's central committee.[47] A modest success was also claimed by the "Communist Platform" (Greek section of the International Marxist Tendency), who managed to get two members elected to the party's central committee.[1]

2014 elections

Local elections and elections to the European Parliament were held in May 2014. In the European elections Syriza placed first with just over 26.5% of votes cast, ahead of New Democracy on 22.7%. The position in the local elections was less clear-cut, due to the number of "non-party" local tickets and independents contending for office. Syriza's main success was the election of Rena Dourou to the Attica Regional governorship with 50.8% of the second-round vote over the incumbent Yiannis Sgouros. Its biggest disappointment was the failure of Gabriel Sakellarides to win the Athens Mayoralty election, being beaten in the second ballot by Giorgos Kaminis with 51.4% to his 48.6%.

Situation in 2015

Still radical

While Rosa Luxemburg may adorn its offices, Syriza is not the revolutionary force that her Spartacists represented in Germany a century ago.

As the party draws closer to real power, it has softened many of its sharp edges and tried to build bridges, even with City hedge funds. Syriza is vowing to keep Greece within the eurozone and has reassured creditors it will refrain from unilateral decisions on the debt issue.

Far from being destructive, Syriza's political proposals offer a reasonable way out of austerity and a chance to replace existing bailout laws with new ones, argues political economist Yanis Varoufakis.

"The first priority is renegotiating with creditors. Syriza needs to speak the language of truth about the continuing triple bankruptcy of the country - public debt, banks, private sector - something no Greek government has done so far. Then they need to table positions that the average German will find reasonable."

But Syriza and its 40-year-old leader are still seen by many in the Greek and European establishment as unknown and potentially dangerous quantities.

Mr Tsipras has warned markets that they "will have to dance to the tune" of his government, while Syriza promises to boost public spending, reverse privatisations, increase salaries and pensions and repeal bailout laws liberalising the markets.

Nikos Samanidis emphasises that the prospect of power has not blunted the radical nature of the party, despite its meteoric rise from relative obscurity to frontrunner in little over two years.

"The rich, the elites, the markets, the super-rich, the top 10%, yes, they obviously do have reason to worry," he says.

"They will lose their privileges. Our voter base has expanded greatly, but the grassroots, radical nature of Syriza has been preserved thanks to the crisis. Our party has not and will not sever its ties with the streets, with the social movements it arose from." [Category: New European Left]]