Communist-backed student movement emerges as leading force in in Greek university elections

Panspoudastiki KS, which is backed by the Communist Youth of Greece, won 19,632 votes, securing over 35.04% of the total votes polled for the student unions of 266 universities across Greece on May 10

May 13, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Student celebrate at the Athens Polytechnic. Photo:902. gr

For a second consecutive year, the communist-backed students’ group Panspoudastiki KS emerged as the leading force in the elections held for student unions of 266 universities across Greece on May 10. Panspoudastiki KS secured  19,632 votes, securing over 35.04% of the total votes polled. The Democratic Renewal Vanguard-New Democratic Student Movement  (DAP-NDFK) backed by the incumbent New Democracy (ND) party in Greece got 14,441 votes (25.77%), and the social democratic PASP backed by PASOK secured 5,299 votes (9.46%). In 2022 too, Panspoudastiki KS, backed by the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), had emerged as the leading force by displacing the DAP-NDFK. Activists of the Panspoudastiki KS and KNE organized celebratory marches in various places, including the Athens Polytechnic.

Panspoudastiki KS was formed in 1974 by progressive students in higher education institutes across Greece with the backing of communists. The demand for free and universal education, the struggle against anti-student policies, and defense of students’ rights are key parts of its agenda. 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 past few 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.

Following the elections, the Secretary of the KNE, Thodoris Kotsandis, stated that “Thousands of young people sent a message of hope and optimism with the sweeping victory of the Panspoudastiki in the student elections! […] The great victory of Panspoudastiki is a clear warning to the current and next government that students will be determined to face the attack on their rights!”

“We continue together! We have taken a step forward; now let’s make a leap forward in the parliamentary elections on 21 May!” he added.

In an interview on May 12, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Dimitris Koutsoumbas congratulated Panspoudastiki KS.

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).