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Carl Davis

Rigged Vote Returns Monarchy in Greece

(9 September 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 36, 9 September 1946, pp. 1 & 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

In a plebiscitary election held on Sunday, September 1, an overwhelming vote was cast to recall King George II to the throne of Greece. Like all plebiscites organized by dictatorial regimes, this vote is suspect, especially when it is remembered that the imported King was once before driven from the country by a popular revolt.

The regime which organized the plebiscite was a pro-monarchist government kept in power by British bayonets against the wishes of the people. The man who organized the plebiscite is John Theotokis, the same person who organized a similar vote in 1945 which returned a 97.5 per cent vote in favor of “His Majesty.” But it wasn’t long after this vote that “His Majesty” was driven from the country by the popular resentment against his regime.

This time, too, the reactionary regime composed of semi-fascists, monarchists and collaborators organized the “Ja” vote. Voters were given two ballots, one marked “George” and the other, “Democracy.” They were told to drop their favored ballot into the box and to crumple the rejected one and throw it upon the floor. Although the final tabulations have not yet been reported, indications are that the King’s majority is very large.

How is this to be explained against a background of mass opposition to the King, not only of long ago, but of recent months?

Several Reasons

There are several explanations, all of them contributing to a greater or lesser degree to the final result.

  1. Greece is now a pawn in the big power struggle taking place in Paris. She is the object of aggression by the Russian satellite states, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, each of which want to carve off Greek territory and people. At the same time, the British have installed themselves as Greece’s protector because the country is strategically situated in the Mediterranean, which is Great Britain’s life-line to empire. The policy of the reactionary Greek ruling class is indistinguishable from British imperialist aims. In this way is reflected the U.S.-British-Russian conflict, inside of Greece.
  2. The reactionary regime, kept in power by British arms, organized a reign of terror against all opposition to it and to the return of the monarchy. The regime is composed of the same elements which opposed a vote on the monarchy in the days following the liberation of the country from German occupation. Like Stalinist Russia in Poland, the reactionaries withheld an election long enough to consolidate their power in the country and to wage a campaign of extermination against the working class and all other opposition elements. Once having consolidated power and ruling with police brutality, they agreed to hold a plebiscite, which was boycotted by the influential Stalinist party of Greece. This reign of terror enhanced the power of the monarchists.
  3. But these two factors do not explain everything about the vote, for it must be acknowledged, even with the above facts in mind, that the King received a tremendous vote. One of the reasons for this is to be traced to policies pursued by the EAM, under Stalinist domination. At one period, the EAM embraced all the important elements of the Greek resistance movement. It played a heroic part in the struggle to drive the Germans from the nation. It was at one time the real ruler of Greece. But Stalinist policy paralyzed the mass movement.

As a result of the agreement reached between Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill that Greece must remain a British sphere of influence, the EAM was halted in its tracks.

The British moved troops into the country and placed the reactionaries in power. The Stalinists at the head of the EAM adopted a policy of surrender to the Teheran decisions and proceeded to war against the genuine democrats, the revolutionary elements which made up an important part of the movement. While the Stalinists proceeded to decimate the EAM of its best forces, they also helped to fortify the regime they were to quarrel with later.

Last Word Unsaid

The reactionary policy of the Stalinists contributed to disorganization and disorientation of the movement of the Greek masses, many of whom undoubtedly turned to the existing regime out of desperation; the feeling of hopelessness engendered by the fact that the mass movement fell completely under control of the Stalinist totalitarians calling themselves Communist Party.

Thus, after the heroic struggle of the EAM, after the prospects of a new regime, a new workers’ democracy, the movement of the masses has been turned back. The elections were a setback for the people of Greece; a defeat for the working class. The reaction, under the monarchy, has triumphed for the moment on a parliamentary plane. But this only signifies that the real struggle will commence anew. The last word in this conflict has certainly not been said. It will be said when the Greek masses drive the unwarranted and imported monarchy from the shores of their country and begin again the work of reconstituting a democratic workers’ Greece. But to be able to do that effectively, they will have to defeat Stalinism along with the monarchy.

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