Greece, like all the other capitalist
countries afflicted by the recession, is running a big deficit on its
government budget. Tax revenues have
collapsed and more benefits are having to be paid out to the unemployed.
Deficits for the European Union countries as a whole tripled from 2.3% to 6.9%
from 2008 to 2009 because of the slump.
The recent elections in Greece saw a
massive shift to the left in Greek society, with a total of 56% of the
electorate voting for the left parties. The PASOK alone received almost
44%. This is a vote that rejects the austerity measures of the outgoing
conservative ND government. The problem is that the PASOK leaders are
promising more of the same. For the workers this vote was a victory -
but they did not vote for more cuts. This now opens up the prospect of
class struggle in the coming period.
Under capitalism there is a steady unremitting pressure on workers’ living standards from the capitalist class, particularly as they compete with one another, and with bosses all around the world, to cut costs - especially labour costs. This need for employers to attack the wages and conditions of European workers has been intensified by the onset of crisis. There are huge discrepancies between national rates of pay within the European Union. Naturally bosses would like to exploit these differences. And the European Court of Justice is trying hard to help them.