News Release

French and Greek Elections


RICHARD WOLFF, rdwolff at
Wolff is author of the new book Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism. He is professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Program for International Affairs at the New School University in New York City.

He said today: “Recent elections in France and Greece show politics moving sharply to the left. The basic reasons are shock and then mounting anger. After five years of global capitalist crisis and government bailouts chiefly for the financiers who caused that crisis, the people are told to pay the costs of crisis and bailouts by suffering austerity (reduced public services when most needed plus reduced government jobs when unemployment is already severe). The usual parties and the usual politics are exposed as bankrupt servants of a capitalism that no longer can ‘deliver the goods’ and keeps dumping ‘bads’ on most people. Demands for major leftward social shifts win millions of new supporters, especially among the young.”

COSTAS PANAYOTAKIS, [in NYC] cpanayotakis at
Panayotakis is an associate professor of sociology at New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York and author of Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy.

He said today: “With yesterday’s elections, a new phase in the struggle over the Greek austerity program is beginning. The meteoric rise of the anti-austerity left continued, with Syriza, the coalition of the radical left, receiving 27 percent of the vote. However, with the help of scare tactics regarding the economic risks of a Syriza government as well as with the embrace of an anti-immigrant message aimed at voters of the extreme right, the pro-austerity camp rallied around the conservatives, giving them 30 percent of the vote and a chance to form a coalition government. Such a government’s continuation of the austerity program will likely add to the social and economic devastation that this program has already wrought. The strengthening of the left will, however, also strengthen the movements resisting these policies. The struggle over how, and to whose benefit, the Greek crisis will be resolved is certainly not over. If the left does not prove successful, the beneficiaries may not be the mainstream parties presiding over Greece’s ongoing social and economic collapse but the neo-Nazis, who once again managed to enter the parliament by capturing 7 percent of the vote.

See: “Extremes And ‘Extremes’: On The Rise Of Anti-Austerity Parties In Greece And Europe.

Radical Left Surges in Greece as Economy Collapses