In the student union elections held in universities and technological institutes across Greece on Wednesday, May 18, the Panspoudastiki KS (All Student Cooperation Movement), supported by the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), emerged victorious with 33.43% of the votes. The pro-government, right-wing DAP backed by New Democracy (ND) received 26.65% votes and the social democratic PASP backed by PASOK won 11.39%. Leftist list EAAK gained 8.26%, while SYRIZA-backed BLOCO managed to secure 2.24% votes.
Working class sections in Greece including the KNE, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the All Workers Militant Front (PAME) congratulated the university students for making the right choice against the challenges posed by the conservative ND-led government in the country which has been promoting commercialization of higher education and militarization of campuses, and cracking down on dissent. Following the declaration of the results on Wednesday evening, the jubilant students and activists of the KNE took out victory processions in Athens and in other cities across the country.
The student movement in Greece has a great legacy of fighting authoritarianism, imperialism and fascism. The renowned Athens Polytechnic uprising of 1973 was a key moment in the struggle against the US-backed right-wing military junta (1967-1974).
Panspoudastiki KS was formed in 1974 by progressive students in higher education institutes across Greece with the backing of the Greek communists. By raising the demand for free and universal education, fighting anti-student policies, and defending students’ rights, Panspoudastiki has grown from campus to campus. It has also joined the KKE, KNE and PAME in the popular struggles of youth and workers protesting the anti-people policies of the various neoliberal regimes that brought crisis and chaos to the country.
In 2009, radical student activists across Greece launched the Students Struggle Front (MAS) as a vanguard of student protests and Panspoudastiki became the electoral front of this student movement. Over the last couple of years, the militant student movement led by MAS has waged massive struggles against anti-student policies in higher education to defend the future of students and youth during the COVID-19 crisis and against the government’s plan for increased police surveillance and patrols inside campuses to crack down on dissent and opposition. Such radical struggles waged by the MAS has increased the popularity and influence of the Panspoudastiki KS. The movement received nearly 35% of the votes in 232 of the 266 departments of higher education across Greece. The last elections held for student unions was in 2019, in which the DAP secured first place and Panspodastiki came in second.
On May 19, KKE general secretary Dimitris Koutsoubas congratulated Panspoudastiki and the student community, saying that “the message of the student elections, with Panspoudastiki emerging as the first force is a message of optimism, a message of struggle against the government’s plans to slander and stifle the students’ voice.”