Commentary. Many Greeks became political exiles in Italy, thus starting the many “’68” discussions the embryonic form of which would become il manifesto.

Why il manifesto has a special bond with the Greek left

It is no accident that in Greece someone had the outlandish-sounding idea of making a new newspaper and slapping the name “manifesto” on it. Not only the same name as ours, but also the same masthead design as ours. It is no accident because everybody knows about il manifesto in Greece because of the historical relationship we have with Syriza. Our relationship with the Greek left has lasted since 1967, since the coup of the colonels more than half a century ago.

It was then that many Greeks – especially students – became political exiles in Italy. Thus, starting from the many “’68” discussions in which they took part – in which the embryonic form of what would become il manifesto two years later had a prominent presence – the split in the old Greek Communist Party finally took place. The party split into two wings: the so-called “external” wing, so called because its leadership was closely dependent on Moscow, and the “internal” wing. It was a decision that had been a long time coming, and of which there had already been signs in practice, in the pre-coup period, when both CP groups were part of EDA, the formation that represented the left when the Communists were outlawed.

The Italian Communist Party (PCI) clearly agreed with the internal wing, but its relations with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union made it impossible to have official ties with the splinter group. As a result, it was with us, in the form of Manifesto-PDUP, that the new Greek party formed a special relationship, headed by great comrades like Leonidas Kirkos and heroes like Kostas Filinis. For many years, since I had already been following Greek affairs for a long time on behalf of Paese sera, I took part in the party’s congresses on behalf of Italy. I had long had close ties with them, and in fact I was in Athens at the time of the coup and had the honor of being the first journalist arrested by the colonels on that occasion.

A lot happened in the world afterwards. In Italy, the PCI dissolved. The USSR is no more. And in Greece, too, the political geography changed: the “internal” CP became the rallying point for a new leftist formation into which other political groups also converged, first called Synapsismos, then Syriza.

With Syriza, the link with il manifesto was strengthened even more, because this newspaper informed and supported the extraordinary achievement of Tsipras, who from a vote share of under 10% managed to reach 36.8% in 2015. It was a battle that the Italian left followed with great passion, participating directly in all the large demonstrations that took place in Athens at that time. Bella Ciao was sung at these protests: small delegations had also arrived from other countries, but there were so many of us that we had to gather in the main hall of the university.

When the Tsipras government came to power, a historic event for Greece, the KKE, the “external” party that has always retained a small parliamentary presence, angrily voted against it. In the last elections, Syriza didn’t manage to beat the right-wing coalition. But few seem to have taken notice of the fact that Tsipras’ party nevertheless got the highest percentage of votes of the entire European left, both communist and social democratic, north and south.

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